Secure Your Supply Chain in 2024: Identifying Third-Party Vendor Risks With Threat Modeling

In this blog post, we will discuss how to strengthen your supply chain by leveraging the threat modeling process to identify threats from third-party vendors and secure them.

With globalization and digitization, organizations have become more dependent on third-party vendors that offer a wide range of products, services, and delivery methods. Although such alliances are undoubtedly responsible for boosting productivity as well as profitability levels, they also usher in an added level of threat or exposure to potential malicious activities from the supply chain.

No matter how strong a corporation may be like a huge fortress surrounded by walls and garrisoned by thousands of soldiers to secure all important information and data from theft and destruction, yet there is always an external way out from the castle itself which leads directly into the heart of the treasury—the vault. This is an example of what could happen if we are relying on untrusted third-party vendors with subpar security measures.

To begin, we will investigate the constraints associated with the usual means of estimating danger and then examine some advantages that can be achieved through threat modeling from the viewpoint of vendors; finally, we will give specific steps to be taken to create a reliable third-party universe.

The Expanding Attack Surface: Third-Party Vendor Risks

Third-party vendors increase the threat landscape.

The volume of third-party vendors an organization associates with grows on a regular basis. These may include software providers, cloud service providers, manufacturing firms, and marketing agencies who have customer data that is sensitive.

One of the factors that you can consider when evaluating third-party vendor risks is their classification; several common types are identified as such.

Data breaches: Vendors may experience data breaches exposing your company’s confidential information.

Software vulnerabilities: in software are dangerous enough to leave open doors to attackers.

Insecure access controls: One possible reason why your network can be open to unauthorized users is the inadequate access controls established by vendors.

Supply chain attacks: Supply chain attacks are a form of infiltration where an actor may deliberately target your vendors to get into your systems using a trusted partner.

There is a set of risks that can affect your organization so much that it could cause financial loss, damage to reputation, and fines from the authorities.

Traditional Risk Assessment Methods: Limitations and Gaps

Many organizations rely on traditional risk assessment questionnaires to evaluate third-party vendors. These questionnaires often cover basic security controls and rely on self-reported information from vendors.

However, this approach has limitations:

Limited Visibility: Questionnaires often fail to uncover deep-seated threats within vendor systems.

Subjectivity: Responses can be subjective, making it difficult to compare and assess vendor security posture accurately.

Static Analysis: Questionnaires provide a snapshot in time and may not capture changes in vendor practices over time.

These limitations highlight the need for a more proactive and comprehensive approach to vendor risk management.

Threat Modeling for Effective Vendor Risk Management

Threat modeling is a structured approach to identifying potential threats, analyzing their impact, and designing mitigation strategies. Threat modeling within a vendor risk management area refers to pinpointing the threats in a vendor’s environment and comprehending how these threats can be exploited to compromise your business.

Here’s how threat modeling for vendors can enhance your risk management strategy:

Proactive Approach: One of the best strategies to follow is being proactive; for example, in threat modeling, you would be able to identify the security concerns in advance.

Structured Analysis: In structured analysis, threats in the vendor’s environment are assessed systematically and in a holistic manner to cover all domains using a structured framework.

Bring the Impact into Sight: Try to understand the extent of damage that can be caused when your organization is under a successful attack.

Assessment can be modified for each particular kind of vendor and the products and services delivered.

Mitigating Supply Chain RisksThrough Threat Modeling

Preventing cyberattacks can be done by using threat modeling, and the document discusses how this can be implemented to address risks in the supply chain.

To make an analogy, threat modeling can be seen as a process where your organization and the vendor collaborate. For those who do not know yet, this is how to incorporate the exercise of threat modeling in your vendor risk management activities:

  1. Identify critical vendors: Among the vendors that have access to sensitive data or critical systems, choose the most important ones.
  2. Gather information: To get the relevant security documentation such as security policies or incident response plans, initiate an inquiry process.
  • It is recommended that you engage representatives from both your security team and vendor to conduct a Threat Modeling Workshop.
  • Map attack scenarios to understand the threats of your organization, collectively brainstorm potential threats and attack vectors, and predict their impact level.
  • To develop and implement security controls that will mitigate threats, it is important to cooperate with the vendor to find appropriate measures.
  • We need to create a documented record of the risks, proposed prevention measures, as well as accountability in relation to the actions being taken.

By collaborating with vendors through the threat modeling process, you not only gain valuable insights into their security posture but also foster a stronger partnership focused on mutual security.

Building a Secure Third-Party Ecosystem

Creating a stable supply chain goes beyond threat modeling once and in all directions; it needs to be considered as a system and should be comprehensive.

Ongoing Monitoring: On a regular basis, keep an eye on the vendor security level by using penetration testing, vulnerability scanning, and security questionnaires.

Contractual Clauses: In a vendor agreement, ensure to put down clearly defined security requirements as well as responsibilities for both parties.

Continuous Improvement: In continuous improvement, work together with vendors on the implementation of security enhancements which are based on monitoring and threat intelligence.

Bear in mind that when it comes to protecting the supply chain, you cannot spend too much time on this. Inclusion of threat modeling as part of your vendor risk management process helps you identify and eliminate weaknesses before they can be exploited.

Protect your organization from the growing risks posed by third-party vendors by speaking with one of our cybersecurity experts today about implementing an effective threat modeling program for your supply chain. click here to contact us here.