The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has recommended mapping your supply chain as an effective way of preventing cyber risks.
By mapping your vendor base, you can identify all of your vendors and what they provide, and enforce certain security requirements onto them.
We’re going to cover how you can do this by utilising Gatekeeper as your central source of truth when it comes to your vendor and contract data.
Without having visibility of every vendor and contract you work with, you will find it difficult to map your base and stop cyber security risks.
The status quo of using spreadsheet databases that require manual data entry and can only be accessed by certain people in the business isn’t going to cut it.
What about your Chief Information Security Officer who wants to understand the basis of the contract with every vendor? Or your product team who utilises a system integrator model and wants to understand the transfer of data in your vendor base?
Not to mention your Data Protection Officer who needs to understand the data flows of personal data with your vendors.
Why Map Your Vendor Base?
Mapping your vendor base is critical for understanding your supply chain and the potential cyber risks that may arise.
It enables you to enforce certain security requirements onto your vendors, reducing the risk of a cyber attack.
By regularly reviewing your vendor contracts and performance, you can identify any potential issues before they become major problems.
You’ll get the added benefit of seeing how your vendors connect with one another. Their connection might be based on them providing services to a certain area within your business or having access to a particular data set. You’ve got infinite options here to connect your vendors together to help build that picture.
I once mapped the entirety of an aerospace supply chain I was leading to try and figure out where we might lose time if there were sub-contractor delays that ultimately, on paper, I had no control of.
It was an incredible exercise to get more proactive around risk management and to retake control of the vendor base which I’d encourage more of you to explore.
How to Map Your Vendor Base
The first step in mapping your vendor base is to collect information about all of your vendors and the services they provide. This includes their contact information, the products or services they provide, and any contracts you have with them.
One way to do this is by using a Vendor and Contract Lifecycle Management Platform like Gatekeeper. This platform allows you to store all of your vendors and contracts in one place and track their performance over time.
Once you have gathered all of your vendor information in one place, you can start analysing it for potential cyber risks. One critical step is identifying any vendors that have access to sensitive data or systems and ensuring that they are meeting your security requirements.
You can also use tools like our Market IQ Suite to assess your vendors' cyber security and assign them a score. This score can help you prioritise your risk mitigation efforts and ensure that your most critical vendors are meeting your security standards.
One important factor to consider is sub-contracts. You need to consider the additional tiers in the supply chain and ensure that your security standards are met throughout the entire supply chain.
One way to ensure that your standards are met throughout the sub-contractors is to include a “Flow Down” clause in your vendor's contract. This clause will state that the vendor must put in place with its vendors a contract that meets the same standards they have with you.
To track this in Gatekeeper, I’d create a Custom Data field within the Vendor or Contract Record that identifies the sub-contractors that my vendor works with.
I’d then create a saved view that highlights the sub-contract landscape.
Additionally, within the files area in my vendor or contract record, I’d store any insights on documentation about the rest of the supply chain that my vendor provides.
This is the level of visibility you’ll need to mitigate any cyber risks moving forwards.
The Importance of Mapping Your Vendor Base
Mapping your vendor base is essential in today's world where every week there is some new cyber exploitation being used by hackers.
Vendor Mapping provides a comprehensive understanding of the vendors and their services, which in turn helps in several ways, such as:
- Identifying all of your vendors and the services they provide can help in creating a more comprehensive database of vendors for future reference. It can also help in identifying the vital vendors for your business, and deciding which ones you should prioritise.
- Enforcing certain security requirements onto your vendors can help in ensuring that they all comply with your business's security policies. This can help in mitigating the risks associated with third-party vendors. It can also help in identifying the gaps in your security policy that need to be addressed.
- Monitoring your vendors and ensuring that they are meeting their contractual obligations, which can help in improving the overall quality of service they provide. This can also help in identifying areas of improvement and identifying high-performing vendors and this means you can use that data across the vendor base to drive improvements.
- Identifying potential cyber risks and taking steps to mitigate them, which can help in reducing the risk of a cyber attack. Mapping your vendor base can help you identify the vendors who pose the highest risk and take steps to mitigate those risks.
Mapping your vendor base is an essential step in preventing cyber risks. By knowing all of your vendors and what they provide, and enforcing certain security requirements onto them, you can reduce the risk of a cyber attack.
Using a Vendor and Contract Lifecycle Management Platform by Gatekeeper and the MarketIQ Suite can help you gather and analyse the information you need to make informed decisions about your vendor base.
If you’re exploring ways to unlock visibility into your vendor base whilst combatting the ever-increasing complexity of vendor risks, book a call with our vendor & contract management experts to see how Gatekeeper can help you.