3 Ways Automation Can Help Manage Risk in Your Third-Party Ecosystem

Third-party ecosystem automation

Third parties and suppliers are critical to your organization’s ability to meet its goals and execute its strategies. But these relationships are not without risks. Forrester recently concluded that a “…reliance on third parties was among the top drivers of increased levels of enterprise risk.” Indeed, supply chain hacks, such as SolarWinds and Kaseya, are never far from the headlines for their disruptive and damaging impacts.

Risk professionals are aware of the risk posed by their third-party ecosystem, but often lack the tools and resources to vet vendors and suppliers effectively. A recent study found that only 36% of organizations report having resources to vet all new and existing vendors over the last 12 months.

According to Forrester, many TPRM programs are still managed using spreadsheets, which contributes to this problem. When TPRM is handled manually, it can burden security and risk management teams as they chase down answers to security questionnaires, analyze responses, prioritize risky vendors, and track remediation activities.

An approach like this lacks consistency and cannot be scaled to screen hundreds, let alone thousands, of third parties.
A better approach is to automate your TPRM program, so that you can:

  • Continuously detect cybersecurity vulnerabilities in your vendor pool – during onboarding and for the life of the relationship.
  • Summarize findings in an easy-to-digest format.
  • Better prioritize risk management and increase efficiencies.
  • Effectively work with vendors to mitigate threats.

How to automate your TPRM program

There are several options for automating your TPRM program:

1. Automate the vendor validation process

The first option is to leverage an automated tool that lets you quickly and confidently ensure new vendors are within your organization’s risk tolerance – prior to onboarding. Look for a tool that fits seamlessly into your current vendor assessment process while augmenting the process with automated workflows.

With an automated approach to vendor assessments, you can:

  • Tier vendors according to criticality to your business.
  • Validate vendor responses quickly.
  • Make better risk decisions with a process powered by trusted security ratings and cyber risk analytics.

2. Continuously monitor changing vendor risk profiles

In between annual cyber risk assessments, use automated, continuous monitoring to keep tabs on your vendors' evolving security postures.

You can proactively identify new vulnerabilities and threats by continuously monitoring your third-party ecosystem, rather than reacting to them. The ideal solution should include a near real-time alerting capability so you can move quickly to mitigate the risk of a breach through a vendor. It should also include a feature set that allows you to share your findings with your vendors for more collaborative remediation.

Continuous monitoring also strengthens your reporting efforts. Using automation, you can pull dashboard reports quickly and easily that display risk trends across your third-party ecosystem. You can also predict the likelihood of future breaches - down to a specific vendor.

3. Automate critical risk discovery

Don’t wait for a major security event to happen, get one step ahead of them.

Through automation, you can take cyber risk monitoring and vulnerability remediation to the next level. Developments in TPRM technology now provide greater visibility into significant security events and vulnerabilities that impact your third-party ecosystem, so you can take action swiftly to mitigate threats.

Modern toolsets let you automate your security monitoring process with powerful data and cybersecurity analytics that make it quick and easy to find and remediate threats – including zero-day vulnerabilities and events – that impact your third parties. 

With automated insights that are updated daily and dashboard views, you can prioritize risk according to several factors:

  • Severity details.
  • The number of vendors in your portfolio who are exposed.
  • Confirmation details of a specific vendor’s exposure (such as evidence of a publicly disclosed vulnerability or CVE on their network).

With these insights, you can quickly and more precisely respond to security events and assure board members and the C-suite that accurate and rapid remediation steps are being taken to protect your organization.

Implement TPRM automation at scale

Each of these options needn’t be standalone. With a powerful, comprehensive end-to-end TPRM offering – that integrates with your existing vendor risk management tools – you can automate your third-party assessment, validation, vulnerability detection, and reporting program at scale so you always stay one step ahead of risks.