Because information security has become increasingly important and businesses are heavily relying on worldwide connectivity, Cyber VRM solutions are necessary to protect against emerging cyber threats and secure data effectively. However, managing vendors, in addition to their cyber risks, can be a challenging and time-consuming effort that requires more efficient solutions.

The answer is an automated Cyber VRM program that can quickly and effectively become the core solution for managing vendor cybersecurity risk. Automated processes save significant amounts of time and resources to allow organizations to manage the non-cyber risks that fall into a vendor risk management program (VRM). This article will discuss how Cyber VRM processes can be automated and the benefits of an automated solution.

What is Cyber VRM?

Cyber VRM solutions strictly manage cybersecurity risks for third-party vendors or service providers. With the growing complexity of vendor supply chain management, organizations must prioritize their vendors' cybersecurity to avoid potential data breaches or data leaks. Compromised third parties can quickly lead to an entire system breach, leading to the exposure of sensitive data.

Cyber VRM is a branch of third-party risk management (TPRM) and vendor risk management (VRM) that focuses solely on cybersecurity risk management. Most TPRM and VRM solutions are also required to address non-cyber risks like environmental, financial, reputational, operational, legal, and regulatory risks.

Learn about the top VRM solution options on the market >

How to Automate Your Cyber VRM Program

The best way to automate your Cyber VRM program is to use a dedicated Cyber VRM solution like UpGuard Vendor Risk to streamline the third-party cyber risk management process. Dedicated Cyber VRM programs can use artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) processes to:

Learn how to choose automated vendor risk remediation software >

Benefits of Automating a Cyber VRM Program

1. Shorten the Vendor Risk Assessment Process

Assessing vendor risk as part of due diligence evaluations can often take weeks to a few months to complete if done manually through IT security teams with spreadsheets. For example, it could take vendors a few weeks to complete their security questionnaires and then another few weeks for the security teams to audit and document the responses. Cyber VRM programs can quickly cut down the time spent evaluating new vendors to speed up the decision-making process.

Learn how to get your questionnaires completed faster >

In addition, manual questionnaires may not always include adequate questions depending on the vendor's industry. Automating the security questionnaire process allows organizations to better manage the risk assessment and onboarding process with pre-built or customized questionnaires.

Cyber VRM programs can also expedite the risk assessment process with instant security ratings, data leak detection, and security history to determine if the vendor is meeting minimum security requirements. Vendor tiering allows organizations to classify the risk of the vendor (Low, Medium, High, Critical). The Cyber VRM platform can then produce a high-level report that allows executives and stakeholders to determine if the vendor's risk profile is worth taking on.

2. 24/7 Vendor Monitoring

Vendor assessments don't stop after they are onboarded — their security posture must be tracked and monitored around the clock to ensure they are keeping up with security requirements set by the organization or acting in accordance with industry and regulatory standards. Vendor monitoring by UpGuard Vendor Risk assesses six main risk categories:

  1. Website risks
  2. Email security risks
  3. Network security
  4. Phishing & malware
  5. Reputational risk
  6. Brand protection

More importantly, the vendor monitoring process also ensures your organization continues to follow industry regulations and best practices. Depending on the industry, failing to meet compliance standards can result in significant fines or penalties.

Learn how to implement an effective VRM workflow >

3. Quickly Identify, Mitigate, & Remediate Security Risks

The vendor security lifecycle can be condensed into three main parts: identification, mitigation, and remediation of potential security risks. Automated Cyber VRM programs can scan the internet and dark web in real-time for data leaks, identify the security gap, and immediately begin mitigation processes to discover the source of the leak. The Cyber VRM platform should be able to prioritize and begin mitigation of the exposures with both automated software and world-class security analysts.

The managed services of a Cyber VRM solution provide comprehensive support for the organization to manage its most critical vendors and relieve that responsibility from its security teams. Vendors are immediately alerted to detected risks, and automated workflows allow organizations to track the remediation process to know when the breaches have been fixed.

The goal of the automated platform is to limit the amount of time the data leak or breach has been unpatched to prevent further data exposure.

4. Improve Vendor Relationships & Maturity

An automated platform should be intuitive, comprehensive, and engaging for organizations to manage vendor communication and cyber maturity over time. However, a Cyber VRM platform must be complemented with a strong Customer Success team to maintain individual relationships with the vendors and empower them to improve their security controls continuously.

Depending on the size of your organization, there could be dozens to hundreds of vendors that require oversight and monitoring. Cyber VRM solutions can assist organizations in assessing performance and defining vendor success metrics as part of their vendor maturity program. Organizations looking to scale and grow their internal security controls must also ensure that the vendors they work with are growing.

5. Easily Scale Your Cyber VRM Program

Current TPRM and VRM security programs often have trouble onboarding vendors efficiently enough as the organizations continue to grow. Rapid growth in mid-sized and enterprise-level organizations means they need a Cyber VRM solution like UpGuard Vendor Risk for scalability with company operations, which also includes managing fourth-party risk.

Automated solutions allow businesses to easily monitor cloud-based vendors, manage data storage, and perform faster risk assessments during the onboarding process. Continuous monitoring of vendors also helps organizations manage vendor maturity while limiting the risk of data leaks and breaches. Additionally, Cyber VRM programs also allow businesses to manage the vendor's own third-party risk as part of their fourth-party risk management process.

Learn how to use ChatGPT to improve your cybersecurity posture >

How UpGuard Can Help

UpGuard leverages automation technology to streamline processes distruping Cyber Vendor Risk Management efficiency. One example of such a feature is AI Autofill by UpGuard. 

AI Autofill suggests questionnaire responses based on a vendor's previous questionnaire responses, removing the headache of managing historical questionnaire responses in spreadsheets and the frustrating manual copying and pasting efforts associated with this practice.

UpGuard's AI Autofill feature suggesting a response based on referenced source data.
UpGuard's AI Autofill feature suggesting a response based on referenced source data.

UpGuard's AI Autofill feature suggesting a response based on referenced source data.

With UpGuard's AI Autofill feature, vendor questionnaire lifecycles are significantly reduced, dramatically improving the overall efficiency of your Cyber Vendor Risk Management program.

Watch this video for an overview of UpGuard's AI Autofill feature.

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