Yet another security incident shines a spotlight on third party risk. Mercedes-Benz recently disclosed that sensitive personal information of almost 1,000 customers and interested buyers was made accessible on a cloud storage platform by a third party vendor.
The information was entered by customers and potential buyers on dealer and official Mercedes-Benz websites between January 1, 2014 and June 19, 2017. It consisted mainly of self-reported credit scores, driver license numbers, social security numbers, credit card information and dates of birth.
According to the press release: “To view the information, one would need knowledge of special software programs and tools – an Internet search would not return any information contained in these files.”
This is because no Mercedes-Benz system was compromised, but rather the information was accidentally left publicly accessible on a cloud storage platform by a vendor. By now, the issue was fixed and the affected users were notified.
However, the underlying concern remains: these types of incidents could be prevented by working more closely with third party vendors to lock down cloud databases. A diligent third party risk assessment process would certainly expose these gaps and provide tools to remediate and monitor any risk that arises from engaging with a vendor. Especially when the vendor handles sensitive data like in this case.
The Mercedes-Benz data exposure highlights an issue that was recently analyzed in the 2021 Verizon Data Breach Investigation Report. As the number of companies switching business-critical functions to the cloud increases, so does the potential threat to their operations. Organizations should look for third party vendors that are specifically suited for the cloud and address unique challenges related to data storage, accessibility and security.
But how to assess a vendor’s security posture to determine whether they will take proper care of an organization’s data?
Vendor Risk Management and the importance of monitoring third parties
Vendor risk management (VRM) is the process of ensuring that the use of service providers and IT suppliers, including cloud providers, does not create an unacceptable potential for business disruption or a negative impact on business performance.
- Categorizing vendors (including all sorts of suppliers, providers and third parties) according to the criticality of their business function
- Defining the requirements each type of vendor will need to fulfill according to their criticality (SOC 2, pentest, PCI compliance, SIG Core, etc.)
- Understanding their inherent risk and impact on the overall health of the network
- Continuously monitoring vendor activity instead of performing point-in-time assessments
A vendor risk management or third party risk management (TPRM) program can reduce the frequency and severity of data breaches, data leaks and cyber attacks involving third and fourth-parties, which can increase the level of security and ensure business continuity.
Download our free strategy guide: Building a scalable third party risk management program
As you can see, performing security risk assessments can ultimately prevent your organization from becoming the next breach story in the news. Are you ready to take your vendor risk management to the next level?