Many organizations have improved their vendor risk management programs. But they still have a long way to go in optimizing these efforts, according to the annual Vendor Risk Management Benchmark Study released by the Shared Assessments Program, a collaborative consortium, and Protiviti, a global consulting firm.

The study found that organizations across all industries, and in particular financial services, are increasing their focus on managing vendor and third-party risks. The maturity levels associated with different vendor risk management program areas have improved noticeably, the report said, yet awareness levels and compliance measures aren't where they need to be.

The study examined information from nearly 400 senior executives, risk management and audit professionals, who rated their public and private organizations using the Shared Assessments Program's Vendor Risk Management Maturity Model (VRMMM), a benchmarking tool for evaluating the quality and maturity of third-party risk programs including cyber security, IT, privacy, data security and business resiliency controls.

Among the key findings: Vendor risk management is garnering more attention and maturity levels are on the rise; there’s a clear correlation between boards of directors with high engagement in and understanding of cyber security risks and organizations with higher levels of reported process maturity; 36% of boards have a high level of engagement in and understanding of cyber risks in their own organization; 26% understand and are engaged in reducing cyber risks in vendors that directly support their organizations; and organizations in all industries are increasing their focus on managing vendor and third party risks.

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