If your business relies on one or more vendors to supply you with products or services, you’re probably sharing data with these partners in order to facilitate an effective relationship. However, any time data changes hands, security is always a concern.
If data is intercepted by someone outside of the connection, your business could face a number of problems— damage to your reputation, liability concerns and more. In order to prevent data breaches and protect your company from these problems, you must put measures in place to keep all of your data as secure as possible, both inside and outside of the corporate network.
Below are some vendor management best practices you can use to ensure that the data you collect and share is as safe and secure as it can be.
1. Utilize a Firewall
A firewall is a filter that controls your network's incoming and outgoing traffic based on a set of established rules. Utilizing a firewall creates a barrier between your network and networks you don't control, such as those of your vendors. Firewalls can prevent viruses and other malware from entering your network and can also keep track of all attempts to access your network, alerting you when suspicious activity occurs.
2. Invest in Data Loss Prevention Software
According to CIO, data loss prevention software programs can be used to prevent users from transferring data outside of the corporate network or saving it to a mobile device. These programs can also be used to control the ability of end users, such as your vendors, to transfer sensitive information outside of their own networks.
3. Encrypt Data
When implementing vendor management best practices, one of the most important IT security strategies to include is data encryption. Encryption is the process of transforming or scrambling data so that it cannot be interpreted easily by people or other machines. When data is encrypted, it can't be deciphered even if a hacker is able to access it. Likewise, encrypted data is also more difficult to manipulate, so hackers won't be able to change the information during transmission without the recipient noticing a problem.
4. Keep Remote Connections Secure
When users access your network over an unsecured connection, your data becomes even more vulnerable. However, by creating an encrypted connection between your network and remote devices, you can prevent unauthorized remote connections. Securing remote connections can also reduce the chance of data falling into the wrong hands as it travels outside of your network.
5. Educate Employees
According to the National Cyber Security Alliance, employee training is key to preventing data breaches. Consider requiring your employees to complete a comprehensive data security training program before they have access to the corporate network. During training, be sure that your employees learn the following:
- Only use secure remote connections to access the corporate network.
- Avoid installing unauthorized software on company computers.
- Avoid opening unsolicited emails or following suspicious links.
- Create strong passwords and avoid sharing them with anyone.
The National Cyber Security Alliance also recommends encouraging employees to report any suspicious activity they notice when accessing the company's network.
6. Consult a Professional
If you don't have an in-house IT team, or if the members of your team aren't experienced in data security, consider working with a third-party IT consultant or company to ensure that your data is well-protected.
7. Plan for Vulnerabilities
Even with multiple security measures in place, data breaches are always a possibility. In addition to implementing the vendor management best practices, your company should also design a procedure for recognizing problems when they occur and dealing with them as quickly and effectively as possible.