Cybersecurity Risk Assessments Are Coming, Be Prepared (As Featured on 

Defendify recently published an article on speaking to third-party cybersecurity risk assessments, increasingly a part of life for Small Business. Check out our takeaways for cybersecurity providers here, and don’t miss the original article on

It’s a typical morning and you get an urgent call from a client: they received a third-party risk assessment from their biggest customer. “We can’t afford to lose this customer,” they share, “We have all of this in place, right?” You scroll through the document: hundreds of questions on each component of their cybersecurity program, from technology to training. What do you do?

If you haven’t yet been in this situation, you might soon. Helping clients prepare for and complete third-party risk assessments is increasingly a part of doing business as a provider.

For more on third-party assessments and their impact on Small Business, listen to Episode 3 of The HiltDefendify’s new podcast, featuring Justin Riehl, results-driven GRC and Vendor Risk Management Executive.

What are third-party risk assessments?

In a general sense, a risk assessment is a review of policies, procedures, and functions at an organization through the lens of risk. While risk assessments can focus on many types of risk, cybersecurity risk assessments specifically look at an organization’s risk of a data breach or cyberattack.

Large, enterprise businesses have long been running risk assessments on their own organizations, but are beginning to realize that their smaller, third-party vendors’ cybersecurity practices and posture can put them in danger as well.

The goal of the third-party risk assessment is to determine how the vendor protects the customer’s sensitive data. Topics typically covered on these questionnaires include:

  • Data storage, protection, and classification
  • Company cybersecurity processes and policies
  • Employee training and awareness
  • Technology solutions
  • Regular Ethical Hacking and other testing processes

The Only Prescription is More Cybersecurity

Risk assessments are often high-stakes, and not completing or not passing an assessment can mean your client loses business. It’s very challenging to make significant cybersecurity improvements on short order after receiving an assessment with a fast-approaching deadline, so the key is to be prepared ahead of time. A holistic cybersecurity program that goes beyond antivirus and firewalls helps to not only protect your customer, but also to prepare them for an assessment.

Your opportunity to assist doesn’t end when you’ve deployed protection. Your clients may need help preparing the questionnaire itself, particularly the more technical questions, and will likely need documentation on their testing and technology. You can prepare for this process by securely storing all your customers’ important documentation and notes in one safe place and confirming regularly that their information is up-to-date and in line with the latest requirements.

Third-party risk assessments are inevitable for many of your customers, but they’re nothing to fear. We’d even suggest they should be embraced as they can provide an opportunity—and sales argument—for many of the improvements you’ve probably been preaching for years. In the end, the reality is a bit of preparation, both in terms of security steps and organization, can go a long way towards a successful assessment.

Read the original article on

Stay Safe,

Your Friends @ Defendify

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