Building a Fortified Wall: Effective Third-Party Risk Management Against Cyber Threats

In today’s interconnected business environment, companies regularly rely on third parties for critical business functions like supply chain, IT services, and more. While these relationships can provide efficiency and expertise, they also introduce new cybersecurity risks that must be managed. More than 53% of businesses worldwide have suffered at least one cyber attack in the past 12 months and one in five firms attacked said it was enough to threaten the viability of the business. Recent high-profile breaches like the SolarWinds attack have highlighted the dangers of supply chain compromises. Implementing a comprehensive third party risk management program is essential for security. In this post, we’ll explore key strategies and best practices organizations can use to defend against cyber threats from third party relationships.

Limit Access and Segment Third Parties

Once a third party relationship is established, limit their access to only what is required for their role. Segment them into their own virtual network or cloud environment isolated from your core infrastructure. Implement the principle of least privilege access for their credentials. Disable unnecessary ports, protocols, and services. Lock down pathways between your network and the third party. The goal is to reduce their potential impact and restrict lateral movement if compromised.

Continuously Monitor for Threats

Monitor third party networks vigilantly for signs of compromise. Deploy tools like intrusion detection systems that generate alerts for anomalous behavior. Monitor for unusual data transfers, unauthorized changes, malware, and other IOCs. Conduct vulnerability scans and penetration testing against your third parties’ environments. Audit their logs and security events for issues impacting your security posture. The goal is early detection that can limit damage from a third party breach.

Practice Incident Response Plans

Even rigorous security can still experience incidents. Develop plans for quickly responding to a breach impacting a third party. Define escalation protocols and response team roles. Maintain contacts for your third parties’ security staff. Institute plans for containment, eradication, and recovery activities to limit the impact on your organization. Practice responding to mock third party breach scenarios to smooth out the process. Effective incident response can significantly reduce the damage from real world attacks.

Foster Strong Relationships with Third Parties

While security requirements and controls are critical, also focus on building strong relationships with your vendors, suppliers, and partners. Collaborate to improve security on both sides. Offer guidance and training to enhance their practices and controls. Recognize those who exceed expectations. Build rapport at the executive level so security is taken seriously. Cybersecurity does not have to be adversarial – work together to protect against shared threats.

Third party risk management is essential in modern interconnected business ecosystems. Businesses can no longer rely solely on their own security – all external connections must be assessed and managed.
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AITech Interview with Manav Mital, Founder, and CEO at Cyral

Can you tell us about your background and how it led you to found Cyral?

Cyral is the intersection of my passions and proficiencies. I have been on a long entrepreneurial journey. I started out as an early hire at Aster Data, which was one of the first companies to talk about Big Data, where I ran most of the engineering team. Then I founded Instart, which was in the CDN space where we focused on managing infrastructure at cloud scale. Cyral presented itself as the intersection of these two experiences — managing data at cloud scale. When I saw that companies were moving their sensitive data off-premises to the cloud, I realized they need a different way to manage the security and governance of data, and the answer is Cyral.  

Can you explain the importance of data security governance and its impact on organizations?

The number one thing most security leaders are worried about is a data breach. Companies increasingly gather sensitive information about their customers that they are tasked with keeping out of the hands of hackers. When everything began migrating to the cloud, breaches became much more common since there are so many ways for a hacker to access a database. Data is everywhere, and there isn’t a structured enough system to protect it.

Data security governance is its own category like IT security or application security, and more organizations are finding a need to address it with a specialty team or service dedicated to protecting sensitive information.

How does Cyral’s solution differ from traditional security tools, and how does it address the challenges of securing modern cloud-based environments?

Modern technology solutions are an adaptation of the past. They either take the way a company functioned in a data center and move it to the cloud, commoditize technology from big, enterprise solutions for others, or have developers recreate the work that once belonged to an IT team. Cyral does something new.

Other security tools are not database aware and have no way of knowing what’s in a company’s database or whether a user should be allowed to access a specific field or record—it’s often all-or-nothing access. Cyral addresses this issue with its complete suite of discovery, authentication, authorization, and auditing controls. Several people within the same organization can input a query into their Cyral-protected database, and depending on their role or other defined factors, each would see a different result. In fact, Cyral is the first security solution to provide all the features of database activity monitoring (DAM), privileged access management (PAM), data loss prevention (DLP), and data security posture management (DSPM) for a company’s sensitive datasets from a single platform.

Can you discuss the role of generative AI in data security and the potential risks it poses to organizations?

Generative AI is a reality for technology, so I see it working in data security in two ways. As it stands, security products make a lot of noise. They send alerts and false positives often, driving security leaders to spend time across multiple dashboards and data streams just to understand what’s happening. I anticipate that generative AI will begin to be incorporated into security products to help reduce the noise and make security analysts more productive. It will more accurately pinpoint a threat and where it is then send security teams to the right place to investigate.

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