Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Perimeter

1/7/2012
10:06 AM
Commentary
Commentary
Commentary
50%
50%

Partner Management 3: How To Assess Prospective Partners

Regulations require organizations to periodically assess security and compliance practices; the key is to understand how to do so effectively -- without breaking the bank

Every organization that shares protected information with partners needs to ensure that those entities will protect the data adequately while in their care. A data owner’s responsibility begins with assessing prospective partners’ security and compliance practices, and continues throughout the life of the relationship.

Organizations faced with this responsibility often ask the same questions:

1. How do you assess an partner’s security and compliance practices?
2. Should all service providers undergo similar assessments?
3. How can we control the cost of assessments?

Let’s take these one at a time.

1. How do you assess?
Organizations need to ensure that the vendor or partner will meet the requirements of the applicable contract or regulation. At a minimum, this means asking a set of questions about who has access; how information is stored, transmitted, and processed; and how information is encrypted (particularly while stored, while on removable devices, and while transmitted on public networks). The more prescriptive the particular regulation, the specific the questions need to be. The answers to the questions can be collected in person, in response to a questionnaire, or in third-party assessment. The method for assessment should be based on the risk a particular partner represents and your budget.

2. Should all partners be assessed equally?
No. Organizations should determine the inherent risk associated with a partner and base the depth and thoroughness of the assessment on this measure. For example, if the organization is entrusted with large amounts of critical data and a compromise would be extremely damaging to the business, then it makes sense to visit the vendor and conduct a detailed review. On the other hand, if the vendor has only controlled and restricted access to the information or would not pose a major risk if it failed, then a questionnaire might suffice.

3. How can assessment costs be controlled?
The first way to control costs is to ensure that detailed assessments are conducted only on critical vendors. Another method is to use the results of third-party assessments (assuming you can verify the trustworthiness of the assessor). The PCI Security Council established Qualified Security Assessors and the assessment process for this very reason. Other industries, including finance and healthcare, have organizations that provide assessment frameworks and methods that are commonly used. There are also international security standards, like ISO 27001 and 27002, and accounting standards (e.g., SAE 16) that provide frameworks for assessing operational, security, and compliance practices.

Regardless of the method used to assess or the organization assessing the partner, the important point to remember is that you must satisfy yourself that the partner will meet your compliance requirements. In the event of a compromise or an audit, you will need to state why you believe your method effectively met your compliance requirements.

Richard Mackey is vice president of consulting at SystemExperts Corp.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Stop Defending Everything
Kevin Kurzawa, Senior Information Security Auditor,  2/12/2020
Small Business Security: 5 Tips on How and Where to Start
Mike Puglia, Chief Strategy Officer at Kaseya,  2/13/2020
5 Common Errors That Allow Attackers to Go Undetected
Matt Middleton-Leal, General Manager and Chief Security Strategist, Netwrix,  2/12/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
6 Emerging Cyber Threats That Enterprises Face in 2020
This Tech Digest gives an in-depth look at six emerging cyber threats that enterprises could face in 2020. Download your copy today!
Flash Poll
How Enterprises Are Developing and Maintaining Secure Applications
How Enterprises Are Developing and Maintaining Secure Applications
The concept of application security is well known, but application security testing and remediation processes remain unbalanced. Most organizations are confident in their approach to AppSec, although others seem to have no approach at all. Read this report to find out more.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-20477
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-19
PyYAML 5.1 through 5.1.2 has insufficient restrictions on the load and load_all functions because of a class deserialization issue, e.g., Popen is a class in the subprocess module. NOTE: this issue exists because of an incomplete fix for CVE-2017-18342.
CVE-2019-20478
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-19
In ruamel.yaml through 0.16.7, the load method allows remote code execution if the application calls this method with an untrusted argument. In other words, this issue affects developers who are unaware of the need to use methods such as safe_load in these use cases.
CVE-2011-2054
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-19
A vulnerability in the Cisco ASA that could allow a remote attacker to successfully authenticate using the Cisco AnyConnect VPN client if the Secondary Authentication type is LDAP and the password is left blank, providing the primary credentials are correct. The vulnerabilities is due to improper in...
CVE-2015-0749
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-19
A vulnerability in Cisco Unified Communications Manager could allow an unauthenticated, remote attacker to conduct a cross-site scripting (XSS) attack on the affected software. The vulnerabilities is due to improper input validation of certain parameters passed to the affected software. An attacker ...
CVE-2015-9543
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-19
An issue was discovered in OpenStack Nova before 18.2.4, 19.x before 19.1.0, and 20.x before 20.1.0. It can leak consoleauth tokens into log files. An attacker with read access to the service's logs may obtain tokens used for console access. All Nova setups using novncproxy are affected. This is rel...