Businesses, regardless of their size, have plenty of reasons to be concerned about the potential for a costly security breach. After all, a single breach can decimate a company’s finances and brand integrity. The chances of getting hacked have also dramatically risen. FBI records confirm that, on average, there are nearly 1,000 acts of cyber crime each day. But businesses that are serious about such threats are still highly vulnerable if their tech partners are not as vigilant.
The weakest part of the security chain is the one criminals will exploit. Oftentimes that weak link is a tech partner. Many of the most devastating data hacks, ransomware attacks, and thefts of business or customer financial information occur that way. Cyber criminals find a back door through a vendor to breach an otherwise secure system. Even major banks and Fortune 500 corporations have been victims of such tactics, so every organization needs to vet technology partners. That’s especially vital for businesses that do not have their own IT department. Don’t hand over the keys to the business, in the form of access to computer systems, to just anyone.
A Due Diligence Checklist
Before engaging a technology partner, perform due diligence.
Determine whether they represent added strength or unwanted liability. Learn about their own security history and protocols. Primary areas to inquire about include their level of ongoing computer security training for all employees. Their passwords should be robust and changed frequently. They should utilize tools like data encryption and secure cloud backup. Studies confirm that most businesses victimized by cyber crime are not PCI compliant. Tech partners need to demonstrate full compliance and adherence to industry best practices. They must never allow unauthorized physical or electronic access to any systems containing privileged and confidential data.
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Proof of Concept
A potential partner may insinuate through marketing and advertising that they are up to the task. But businesses are too valuable to rely solely on unverified vendor claims. Make sure that tech partners can support their promises with a measurable and transparent track record. Independently confirm the professional credibility and credentials of tech vendors. Review their client list. Businesses can examine a vendor’s case studies and other evidence of solutions they have provided to similar customers. Inquire about their industry leadership, and whether or not they have any history of technological innovation and implementation.
If a tech partner does not have a well-designed cyber incident response plan, that’s worrisome. Make sure they have a plan and rehearse it regularly, like a fire drill. They should also be capable of helping their business clients develop their own response plans. Tech vendors should offer clients expert cyber security tips, insights, and evaluations, as a routine component of customer service. The best vendors aren’t merely interested in selling products and services. They want to nurture long-term collaborative relationships, and to help their business clients stay safe, profitable, and successful. That kind of tech vendor becomes an additional asset, playing the interactive role of a strategic technological partner.