Trust is one of the most powerful currencies in business, but it’s hard to earn and easy to lose.
One of the quickest (and easiest) ways to lose trust is through a data breach. Just ask the likes of Target, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Experian, and Home Depot. Survey data found that 87% of consumers would not do business with a company if they had concerns about its security practices.
A data breach is more than just a concern. To customers and business partners, it's confirmation that companies can't be trusted to secure sensitive information. Getting this trust back is no easy task. It's something that promises can't produce and money can't buy. As a result, businesses are best served by building trust on a foundation of knowledge and transparency.
Trust is a valuable — but often hidden — benefit of third-party cyber risk management (TPCRM).
Third-Party Problems: The Impact of a Breach
Relying on third parties to provide services is now a requirement for effective business operations, especially with the exponential growth in the number of people working remotely since the pandemic began. Unfortunately, the benefits that third parties provide are quickly overshadowed by a breach, regardless of the magnitude. Actively managing third-party risk can help you earn and protect the trust of your clients and community by showing them you are dedicated to the security of their data.
The impact of third-party vulnerabilities are many, including:
If third parties fail to provide adequate data security and a breach occurs, companies could lose millions in finding, addressing, and remediating the issue. In addition, businesses may need to subsidize the cost of credit monitoring for affected customers.
In a digital-first world, companies fail or flourish based on their reputation. Third parties that can't keep data safe open companies up to reputational review by customers. From social media sites to news articles to direct customer complaints, reputation risk is real — and unrelenting. Read more about the human impact of a breach and what brands rarely consider.
Regulatory risks are also a concern. For example, while industries such as law, healthcare, or finance may outsource some of their data storage and processing to third parties, they're ultimately responsible for what happens to this data. If a data breach occurs they could be subject to audits, fines, or more in-depth investigations. See how to verify vendor compliance more effectively, to protect your brand.
It's also possible that a third-party data breach could create operational disruption. Consider a manufacturing firm with a third-party component supplier. If this supplier suffers a breach and must shut down production lines for days, weeks, or months, this creates a downstream impact on manufacturing timelines and logistics.
What a Data Breach Really Costs
The monetary costs of a data breach are substantial. According to the IBM 2022 Cost of a Data Breach report, the average cost of a data breach in the United States is now $9.44 million. What's more, it typically takes companies more than 270 days — or 9 months — to find and contain a breach in their organization. Not only does this mean more opportunity for attackers to find and exfiltrate valuable data, but it also gives them time to establish and secure network backdoors that can provide continual access, in turn making them harder to remove.
Despite the negative financial impact, however, the monetary losses are often the least costly part of a data breach. How so? The costs cover a specific set of events: Companies identify a breach, determine what's been stolen or deleted, take action to repair the damage, and hopefully take steps to ensure it doesn't happen again. Once these costs have been paid, companies can often return to business as usual.
The loss of trust that comes with a data breach, meanwhile, can lead to significant and ongoing costs. Put simply, it's human nature. If consumers and business partners aren't confident that companies can keep their data safe, they won't spend money. Consider a healthcare company that suffers a patient data breach. Even if the company informs customers of the breach and provides assurances that new security measures have been put in place, consumer trust has been betrayed. What's more, it doesn't matter if the breach was due to internal negligence, external action, or an issue with third-party providers: Customers pin the blame squarely on the company that collected and stored their data.
Consider that 48% of U.S. consumers now report being victims of a data breach, and 53% of those surveyed say that companies should offer compensation of some type to victims. The result is a landscape where breaches are common but customers aren't prepared to accept this as par for the course. Instead, they're holding companies to higher standards. If these standards aren't met, customers will both make their displeasure known and take their business elsewhere, in turn setting companies up for an ongoing loss of revenue.
Bottom line? If companies can't deliver on third-party trust, they can't expect customers and business partners to stay loyal for long.
Challenges with Existing Third-Party Risk Management Efforts
While companies now recognize both their reliance on third parties and the inherent risk of these third-party connections, many still lack the capability to effectively manage this risk.
In large part, this is because the two most common approaches to risk management — spreadsheet assessments and security rating tools — rely on moment-in-time evaluations of third-party risk. Consider spreadsheets. While they offer an easy reference point for risk evaluations, most of the data contained in these spreadsheets come from questionnaires completed weeks or months ago, meaning it's almost certainly out-of-date.
How Third-Party Cyber Risk Management Can Help Build Trust
If businesses can implement an effective third-party cyber risk management program, they can both reduce the risk of a breach and minimize the impact on consumer trust. But this type of TPCRM requires more than a once-a-year third-party risk assessment. It requires ongoing visibility – and can only be achieved if you have access to dynamic data.
Third-party cyber risk management (TPCRM) solutions should enable ongoing visibility into your ecosystem while also providing you with the tools to identify and prioritize your riskiest vendors – so you can protect your organization, customers, and brand with confidence.
This is the hidden benefit of TPCRM solutions. By making it possible for companies to identify, evaluate, and address third-party risk — before it leads to a breach — businesses can build (and keep) customer trust.
5 Key Components of an Effective TPCRM Program
Manage all the third parties or vendors in your ecosystem through one pane of glass. Chasing assessments, requesting updates, and managing data are time-consuming. Utilizing risk assessments on an Exchange is a smart, resource-saving way to augment your TPCRM program while allowing your risk professionals to focus on more strategic tasks – like growing your business.
Protect your organization by being proactive, not reactive. Complete third-party due diligence before you sign contracts, not after. See how CyberGRX can help you vet and onboard vendors to accelerate decisions while also managing your risk.
Know which third parties pose the most risk to your enterprise. Evaluate your third-party’s approach to security as it relates to the service you are looking to outsource – spot data risk sooner and mitigate third-party risks faster.
Understand what influences a vendor's risk score: if something is listed as high risk, understanding why it’s ranked as high risk can be more important than the ranking itself. For example, is the vendor's financial health in bad shape? Is there a high rate of turnover at the management level? Have they had a recent breach? All of the above? It's also worth asking what if any, controls they have in place to manage these factors. A 360-degree view of a third party or vendor is critical in truly knowing their level of risk.
Identify and prioritize gaps that will have the most yield. These insights can create mitigation strategies that are easier to manage and implement.
Identifying and mitigating risks in your third-party ecosystem is one of the easiest ways to protect the investments you’ve made in building trust and your brand.
Tapping the Hidden TPCRM Benefit
Reliable and in-depth third-party cyber risk management doesn't happen by accident. Instead, tapping the hidden trust benefit means leveraging solutions capable of continuously monitoring third parties to provide a real-time view of vulnerabilities. Equipped with this data, companies can take targeted action to reduce data breach risks, bolster consumer confidence and build continual trust.
To learn more about how CyberGRX can help build confidence in your third-party risk management program, we invite you to book a demo. We'll ask you for a list of your third parties, upload them into our database, then show you your blind spots and biggest risks. See what you don't know and book a demo today.
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