Learning Center September 16, 2020

7 Essential Third-Party Risk Management (TPRM) Tools

With 44% of data breaches caused by a third party and only 15% of vendors disclosing that a breach had taken place, it’s no surprise that many organizations are prioritizing investment in their third-party risk management (TPRM) programs. In fact, 74% say their organizations urgently need to make TPRM more consistent across the enterprise.

Those who still rely on inefficient manual processes face a higher risk of a cyber breach, as well as reputational or regulatory repercussions. With the right TPRM tools in place, IT and security teams can streamline, and maximize the effectiveness of their tools and procedures so they can keep up with the demands of their businesses.

While multiple factors will determine the exact needs of a particular organization, here are seven tools that are essential to managing any vendor ecosystem.

1. Vendor risk questionnaires

Most organizations require their third parties to complete a questionnaire as part of the initial onboarding process and then repeat the exercise at intervals. When performed manually by exchanging emails and spreadsheets, these assessments can be time-consuming, and many security leaders feel they don’t have all of the information needed to carry out an effective assessment of a vendor’s security posture.

In order to gain transparency and streamline the process of gathering and verifying vendor risk data, security leaders are using technology to automatically validate questionnaire responses with objective cybersecurity data points. Users of some platforms can further target their assessments by utilizing templates that map to specific regulatory frameworks, or by customizing their own to match the risk profile of a given supplier.

2. Continuous monitoring

While cybersecurity questionnaires play an important role in gathering risk data, they are point-in-time appraisals that do not account for important security posture changes that can occur after due diligence and between assessments. An effective TPRM program leverages continuous monitoring capabilities to fill the security gaps that can arise during these intervals.

Having a means of data collection throughout the vendor lifecycle allows security teams to automatically track events that can impact the security posture of a supplier, such as changes to leadership, financial viability, or cyber vulnerability. Access to real-time security data also allows organizations to verify that their suppliers are adhering to the terms of their service-level agreement (SLA), and to make performance-based decisions around re-contracting.

3. Security ratings

As vendor ecosystems increase in both size and complexity, many organizations do not have the capability to manage third-party risk across business lines on their own. Security ratings users gain the benefit of the continuous monitoring capabilities mentioned above, as well as insight into cyber risk attributable to third-party suppliers.

Security ratings allow the user to evaluate their vendors’ cybersecurity posture with dynamic and objective metrics that provide ongoing visibility into any company’s security control weaknesses and supply chain vulnerabilities. With user-friendly dashboards that segment third-parties into portfolios based on risk and the type of data they handle, security professionals can quickly identify, prioritize, and resolve their most important security issues.

4. Automated, scalable workflows

Many organizations have seen a recent increase in TPRM activities, and those who are still manually sifting through data could be putting their resources and expertise to better use. By automating rote, repetitive tasks, security teams are free to focus on higher-level efforts.

Cybersecurity platforms enable customizable alerts such as automatically informing the appropriate team member when a security issue or ratings change takes place. Other actions, such as automatically deploying a vendor questionnaire or moving a supplier into a new risk portfolio for further investigation, can also be automatically triggered in response to security events.

5. Integrations and APIs

37% of respondents to a recent study reported technical barriers, such as incompatible systems, to be their main obstacles to sharing third-party data across the enterprise. While we mentioned the importance of security ratings, it’s also critical to ensure that all of the tools teams are using communicate with one another.

By integrating cybersecurity insight with their existing workflows, security teams can maximize the effectiveness of their existing TPRM tools without changing the way they work. APIs also provide a powerful way for security leaders to optimize and scale their operations by customizing their own integrations.

6. Collaboration tools

In order for organizations to succeed in securing increasingly complex vendor ecosystems, cybersecurity and third-party risk management need to be team sports. Adding transparency and context around security issues is important to tracking remediation status and fostering meaningful business relationships.

The ability to comment publicly on security ratings issues allows companies to let their business partners know that they’re on the case. Other features such as in-platform chats and contacts save the time and effort of tracking down the appropriate party within a vendor’s organization while working together to resolve an issue.

7. Security reporting

The benefit of communicating cyber risk in a uniform risk language—such as a letter grade—extends all the way up the ladder of an organization. Using technology to generate engaging data-driven reports in a matter of moments, security leaders can help business executives make informed, risk-based TPRM investment decisions. 

How SecurityScorecard can help

Security should enable, not impede business processes. Increasing the maturity of your TPRM program with these capabilities can help make cybersecurity an asset that supports business continuity, rather than a costly bottleneck.

SecurityScorecard’s TPRM tools are helping companies streamline and scale their programs. By freeing up valuable time and resources, security teams gain the agility needed to enable business success in a changing risk environment.


Threats move fast. We move faster.