Well, here are almost on the start of September.  With all that is going on and that is going to continue to happen, its really hard to believe that time has gone by so fast.  But as I talk to people, there is still quite a bit of anxiety as to what the future holds. 

So while things might have felt like that things started to get better, it could be slowing down again because of the uncertainty of both COVID19 and the Presidential Elections.  But whatever is going to happen, there is one thing that remains for sure:  In the world of Cybersecurity, we still have to be on our toes now more than ever.

In this regard, pretty much all of the businesses in Corporate America today rely upon the use of outsourcing, or relying on external, third party vendors to help carry out most of the business functions. An entity may rely upon other entities domestically, or even across into another country, which is so commonly done with software development projects. 

But no matter how all of this is carried out, whenever you, the business owner rely upon a third party, you have to make sure that they come up to snuff with the security standards that you set forth.

So for example, if XYZ company needs to procure some parts from a different supplier, they have to make sure that their levels of security come into compliance with that of XYZ.  After all, you will most likely be sharing confidential information and data with them, so you need to make sure that they have strong levels of Cybersecurity as well.  But now, it even goes beyond further than that. 

Although you may have signed contracts in place, you still need to make sure that your external, third parties are also being prudent on their own to mitigate any Cyber threats that are posed to them. 

After all, the reverse can happen:  Although what you share with them is at risk, but also, if they become of a Cyberattack, that could very well transcend down onto you because of all of the interlinkages that are being shared.  So, just what are the signs that you need to look out for if suspect your vendor is prone to a security breach?  Here are some clues:

*They have become a victim of a Ransomware attack:

This is a topic that was covered in some depth in yesterday’s blog.  To recap, this is when your computer and files are hijacked.  In order to gain access to them again, you pretty much have to pay a ransom to the Cyberattacker, which is in the form of a virtual currency, such as that of Bitcoin.  If your supplier has been hit in this regard, you really need to keep your guard up.  The primary reason for this is that the Cyberattacker likes not only to hit upon the supply chain, but they also like to move in what is known as “lateral” manner.  Meaning, once they hit your vendor, more than likely, you will become their next target.  The primary idea here is to totally eradicate the “operational efficiencies” of your business.

*Watch for unusual network behavior:

This is always a given, but when you hire an external, third party, you have to be even ultra-watchful.  After all, you will be sharing your shared resources with them, and probably even vice versa.  But the Remote Workforce has compounded this problem even further.  For example, many suppliers now simply use their mobile device (whether it is company issued or not) to keep track of orders and workflows.  One of the best ways you can make sure that the integrity of your IT/Network Infrastructure remains as safe as possible is to have your vendor implement Mobile Device Management (MDMs) packages onto their mobile devices.  This actually serves as a win-win for all parties involved, because not only do you get to see what specific shared resources that they are accessing, but it also provides your vendor real time updates as to any threat variants that they could be vulnerable to on their mobile device.

*You are not being told everything:

Whenever you sign or renew a contract with an external, third party vendor, you have to include a clause that stipulates that they have to be forthcoming of the security practices that they currently have on hand, and what remediative steps are being done to patch up any unknown vulnerabilities and gas.  While obviously you cannot demand to know of every granular detail, your supplier should be able to tell you enough of what is happening to the level where it impacts the business relationship that you have established with them. If they are not forthcoming, or if you feel that they are hiding something, then this should be a huge red flag to you.

*Not updating plans:

The COVID19 pandemic can be literally considered as a worldwide disaster.  Nobody was expecting that it would hit such a worldwide level, especially here in the United States.  But let’s face it, along with this kind of thing, natural disasters can and will happen, completely out of the blue.  These includes the likes of hurricanes, tornadoes, horrible winter storms, earthquakes, tsunamis, etc.  Thus in this regard, not only should you have a concrete Disaster Recovery (DR) and Business Continuity (BC) Plans into place, but you have to make sure that your suppliers also have this in hand as well, no matter what part of the world that they may be located in.  But importantly, you need to make sure that they are practicing this on a regular basis and updating with lessons learned.  If they are not doing this, or are not disclosing it to you, then this should also be another huge, red flag to you as well.  Its not just the BC and DR plans, but your vendor’s Security plans need to be reviewed and updated regularly as well.

*Unusual nuances that are happening:

Given how connected the world is today amongst individuals and businesses alike, any strange network occurrence that happens in one area, can cascade down into a different area.  Therefore, you need to keep a careful eye on those things such as Zoombombing, weird domain names coming into your Network Infrastructure, and especially those of Phishing based Emails, and Robocalls.  Although these may just occur from time to time, on a very irregular basis, the knee jerk reaction is to simply disregard them as “system glitches”.  But this is far from the truth.  In all honesty, these are the warning signs of an impending Cyberattack that is about to happen.

My Thoughts On This

In the end, you are ultimately responsible for safeguarding the digital assets that reside in your company.  Obviously in todays’ world nobody wants to give away too much about each other’s operations or processes, but there should be some level of transparency on both sides. 

And if you are simply not getting it from your supplier, then you need to perhaps move onto another one who can be more transparent with you.

Really, it’s a tit for tat.  They help you, and you help them in return.  That’s how the business relationship should be, sort of a like a marriage, which is all about give and take.  One other thing:  If your supplier has been hit by a security breach, and the Personal Identifiable Information (PII) datasets that you own have been compromised, you will be held responsible, not your supplier.  Thus, now is the time to take action!!!