Explore the intricacies of third-party risk management

Find out how you can safeguard your data and systems

Third-party risk management and supply chain compromise

Many organisations rely heavily on third-party vendors to streamline their operations, extend their capabilities, and enhance their efficiency. This approach has many benefits. But it also creates new security risks. What would happen, for example, if a third party or a supply chain you depend on had its systems compromised by a cyber-attack? 

Lately, we’ve been seeing a significant number of data breaches that have negatively impacted the Australian public and business community. Recent examples include the ClubsNSW OutABox data breach. Such breaches add to a growing realisation that our data is at risk. Increasingly, it seems less like a question of whether a breach will occur, than when.

That’s why you to have effective third-party risk management provisions in place. It’s time to recognise, if you haven’t already, that this is no longer just a checkbox activity. It’s a critical component of any robust cyber security strategy - and key to keeping your own, your customers’ and your stakeholders’ data safe. 

In this blog, we'll explore the intricacies of third-party risk management, the implications of supply chain compromise, and the essential security controls you need to implement to safeguard your data and systems.

Understanding third-party risk management

Third-party risk management (TPRM) is about identifying, assessing and mitigating risks associated with external vendors and partners. These risks can arise from a variety of sources, including data breaches, cyber-attacks, regulatory non-compliance, and operational disruptions. If you want to be sure your organisation’s information, assets and operations remain secure, regardless of external dependencies and relationships, effective TPRM is vital.

The threat of supply chain compromise

A supply chain compromise occurs when a cybercriminal exploits a vulnerability within a third-party vendor or other partner to gain unauthorised access to an organisation’s network, data, or systems. 

Such attacks can range from pretty basic to highly sophisticated, and they can often be hard to detect. High-profile incidents like the ClubsNSW OutABox breach, underscore the devastating impact supply chain compromise can have on organisations and public alike.

The ClubsNSW data breach saw shortcomings in cyber security governance, cyber security controls, and general awareness lead to more than a million Australians having their data compromised. This highlights the importance of assessing your risk profile, understanding who has access to your data, and making sure you have appropriate security controls in place. 

Essential security controls for robust TPRM

To mitigate third-party risks and protect against supply chain compromise, organisations need to implement strong security controls, assess those controls regularly for effectiveness, and hold third parties to account for ensuring data is protected. 

Here are some critical components to consider:

1. Security management framework

A comprehensive security management system is the foundation for effective TPRM. This should encompass the policies, procedures and practices governing how security risks are managed and mitigated. It should be aligned to industry-recommended frameworks like NIST, ISO27001, or whichever best fits your business. 

Key elements in your security management system would include:

  • Risk assessment
    Regularly evaluate third-party vendors to identify potential risks and vulnerabilities. This should include gaining insight into how they handle their own cyber security obligations, requirements and controls. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or request sight of reports and other evidence.
  • Vendor selection
    Establish strict criteria for selecting vendors, so you can be sure they measure up against industry-standard security practices, your own objectives, and appropriate data-protection goals. Due diligence is key to choosing the right vendors and third parties for your business. You need to understand their risk profile, any recent cyber events that have impacted them, and what steps they take to manage security proactively.
  • Contractual agreements
    Incorporate security requirements and obligations into your vendor contracts to ensure compliance with your security policies and expectations. Don’t be afraid to put a ‘right to audit’ clause in your contracts, so you can regularly assess how a vendor is upholding industry-recommended cyber security practices.

2. Data classification

Categorising data based on type, sensitivity and criticality is fundamental to protecting sensitive information and ensuring you implement appropriate security controls in your own environment and in your third-party contracts. Too many businesses don’t fully understand their data, their systems, and who has access to what. This can result in a significant risk of data compromise. 

Third parties will often request access to more data than they strictly need. For smaller businesses in particular, it can seem easiest simply to give them whatever they ask for - rather than questioning why they need it. But this can significantly increase the risk profile of that data. 

That’s why it’s so important to classify your data, and understand what you need to do to ensure the security of each category of data you hold. Doing this proactively, before you come to making decisions about third-party data access, will ensure that data protection is a business enabler, not a blocker. In the long term, being disciplined about data classification will safeguard the data your business handles. 

Considerations for businesses looking to classify their data and protect it appropriately include:

  • Identifying data types
    Determine the various types of data your organisation handles (e.g. personal information, financial data and intellectual property)
  • Classify data
    Categorise your data into different levels of sensitivity (e.g. public, internal, confidential and highly confidential)
  • Apply controls
    Implement security measures based on your data classification (e.g. encryption, access controls, and monitoring). The higher the sensitivity and classification, the stricter the controls should be.

3. Regular reviews of access control

Access control is a fundamentally important security practice that determines who can access your data and systems. 

To prevent unauthorised access and make sure access permissions remain aligned with current roles and responsibilities, it’s important to review your access control measures regularly.
Best practice for access control reviews includes:

Audit access rights: Audit users’ access rights regularly to ensure they are appropriate and necessary for their job functions
Implement least privilege: Adopt the principle of least privilege, limiting users to the minimum level of access they need to perform their duties
Monitor access: Continuously monitor access to critical systems and data to detect and respond quickly to suspicious activities
Review administrative accounts: Regularly review administrative access to your systems and data to ensure that only those who need it have it

Third-party monitoring: Implement additional controls to monitor third parties who access your data and ensure they only have access to the data and systems they require - a critical component of managing your third-party risks.


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Managing third-party risk effectively and protecting your organisation against supply chain compromise requires a proactive approach and a firm commitment to core security controls. 

By implementing a comprehensive security management system, practicing diligent data classification, and regularly reviewing access controls, you can significantly reduce your exposure to third-party risks. 

At a time when cyber threats are increasingly sophisticated and pervasive, investing in strong security controls is not just best practice, it’s a necessity.

How can Solis help?

Solis stands out as a best-in-class proactive partner for SMBs looking to adopt robust third-party risk management (TPRM) strategies. 

Here’s why:

Industry experts

Industry-leading knowledge

With years of experience, the Solis team knows the cyber security threat landscape inside out. We help businesses recover from data breaches and cyber incidents every day, so we fully understand how third-party and supply chain compromise can affect an organisation. Our unique experience and insight ensure your business gets best-in-class, industry-leading guidance on TPRM.

Proven success

Our track record speaks for itself. We’ve helped countless SMBs recover from major incidents and data breaches and worked closely with them to implement proactive controls, enhance their security posture, and mitigate their risks.

Tailored solutions

Customised TPRM

Every business is different. Each needs a different solution. That’s why, at Solis, we provide tailored TPRM solutions to fit your precise needs. Our aim is to make your strategy both more effective and more efficient. We’ll work collaboratively with you to design and implement the best-fit solution for your business, helping you transform your approach to TPRM and keep your data safe.

End-to-end support

From risk assessments to continuous monitoring to regular reviews, we provide comprehensive support throughout the TPRM lifecycle. We understand that, as your business evolves and grows, so do your threat landscape and risk profile. We’re here to work with you over time, updating and upgrading your cyber security solution as your business moves confidently into the future.

Advanced technology

Industry leading tools

We have a range of partnerships with industry-leading vendors, spanning threat intelligence, managed detection and response (MDR), penetration testing, and vulnerability management. Solis supports and enhances your TPRM efforts with real-time monitoring, automated assessments and detailed reporting.

SMB focus

Cost effective

We’re dedicated to delivering enterprise-level security to SMBs - at a price that won’t break the bank. Through us, you gain access to experts with global experience gained from working for many years across every aspect of cyber and technology security.
We’re focused on keeping your organisation safe from cyber harm by making sure you have the right protection and the right expertise to guide you.

Ongoing education

We’ll work with you to empower your team with tailored training sessions, making sure that you’re up to date with TPRM best practice and fully prepared to manage and enhance your TPRM capability. We’re not one of those “Engagement complete, thanks” services. We’re here to help you transform your capability and equip you with the tools and skills you need to maintain your new solution.

Our customer service

Rapid response

Whenever you need us, our team is on hand to help. We treat every client with the same respect, priority and service standards. We work hard to make sure we’re always the clear first choice for our clients. Your security is our paramount concern. We’re not just here to sell you are service. We’re committed to your success.

Long-term partnership

By keeping ahead of the latest market trends, threats actors and attack types, we make sure we always have knowledge we need to deliver effective tailor-made protection for your business. We invest in our clients’ security, and we’re committed to building long-term partnerships that ensure you survive and thrive in today’s and tomorrow’s digital landscape. Once you’re part of the Solis family, you can rest assured in the knowledge that we’re here for the long haul and we’ll always have your back.