Many recent high-profile breaches have underscored two important cybersecurity lessons: the need for increased scrutiny in evaluating access and controls of partners handling valuable customer data, and the imperativeness of assessing a third party’s (hopefully multi-layered) approach to cyber resilience.

Given the average number of tech tools, platforms and partnerships today, having a clear and consistent partner evaluation process is critical for the protection of customer data and in limiting overall risk of exposure to cyber attacks. It is not an area where a business can “cut corners” to save time or dollars if the partnership cost seems too good to pass up – the long-term risk is simply not worth the short-term gain.

Recently, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) included security ratings or scorings as part of its cyber risk reduction initiative. This is significant as it showcases there’s a need for consistent industry measurement to give businesses an objective, quantifiable way of determining an entity’s cyber risk and the level of trust they may incorrectly give to their partners who handle their data. While severalagencies and government stakeholders are starting to use security ratings, this idea of a uniform scoring system is still a pretty novel concept that will continue to evolve.

In the meantime, here are four questions businesses should ask when determining a partner’s cyber resilience to reduce the possible risks that come with giving external parties access to sensitive data.

What are your current standards for protecting customer data?

IT Vendor Risk Management A Complete Guide - 2021 Edition by [Gerardus Blokdyk]