The Difference Between Due Diligence and Due Care in Cybersecurity

Due diligence and due care are commonly used interchangeably, but in the world of cybersecurity, they have distinct meanings that must be understood. Both terms are involved with protecting your organization’s sensitive systems and data, but they each describe specific practices. 

Additionally, these terms are used beyond cybersecurity, in everything from law to finance, which only causes more confusion. So it’s necessary to define both in a cybersecurity context and explore how they help protect your company. Using these terms correctly improves communication and unites cybersecurity efforts.

A Verizon study found that 82% of breaches involved the human element, such as social engineering or human error. The same study found that 62% of system intrusion incidents involved a compromised partner.

Additionally, it’s estimated that total cybercrime damages will total US$10.5 trillion annually by 2025. Companies can no longer afford to misunderstand these vital terms, leading to poor communication and disjointed, less effective security programs. 

In cybersecurity, due care means taking reasonable steps to secure and protect your company’s assets, reputation, and finances. In addition, due diligence is the process of identifying and mitigating risks brought on by third parties. 

Read on to learn more about the differences between these terms and how they help shape your cybersecurity processes and overall security posture.

Due Care vs Due Diligence: What’s the Difference?

Protecting your company’s assets is vital, and both terms describe a set of practices that aim to keep data and systems secure. So let’s start by summarizing the focus and differences between these terms.

Due care is having reasonable processes, policies, and procedures in place to continually protect all IT assets. Risk management, including assessments and mitigating controls, are all part of due care. Negligence is the lack of due care, and depending on your cybersecurity insurance policy, it can lead to not having coverage for incidents.

Due diligence is focused on assessing and managing risks posed to your IT assets via third parties, including vendors, clients, and partners. Proper due diligence enables an organization to understand and mitigate these risks. Therefore, due diligence is often considered a specific set of processes under due care. 

What is Due Care in Cybersecurity?

What is due care, and how does it affect your cybersecurity posture? 

Due care is the establishment and continual improvement of your cybersecurity processes, with an emphasis on risk mitigation and control monitoring. The broad scope of this term means it catches most of your cybersecurity practices. 

Some of the critical elements of due care include:

Proper Standards, Policies, and Procedures

You can look to popular cybersecurity frameworks, such as NIST CSF or ISO 27001, to see how policies and procedures create the foundation of any cybersecurity program. 

Depending on your industry, you may face regulatory requirements that specify the policies and procedures that must be fully documented and practiced. If you don’t have legal requirements, there may still be an industry-expected certification that will test your cybersecurity policies. 

If you’re just starting, you can look to NIST CSF and other frameworks to guide your cybersecurity program, setting you on the right path towards provable due care. Additionally, using the right compliance platform can further improve your ability to stay up to date with regulations and industry-expected policies and procedures.

Cybersecurity Awareness Training

Cybersecurity awareness training tackles that human element problem directly. All it takes is clicking on a link in a malicious email, and the attacker can sidestep next-gen intrusion detection systems and access your sensitive data. 

Creating robust and ongoing awareness training educates employees throughout the company about their role in protecting your company. Ideally, employees will understand how to identify and stop attacks, alongside learning how to avoid human errors that can cause damage.

It’s crucial to document all employee training. Proving training helps prove due care, essential for cybersecurity insurance claims, compliance, and avoiding regulatory fines.

Continuous Controls Monitoring and Refinement

You implement controls to mitigate identified risks, but none of your controls are “set it and forget it.” Controls must be continually monitored to ensure they protect against the given risk adequately. If not, then the control should be evaluated and improved. 

Your documented policies should inform your monitoring process, helping you stay on top of residual risks and improve controls as necessary. In addition, you’ll be practicing due care, which is essential for cybersecurity insurance claims and meeting regulations.

Leveraging a GRC platform can help automate and simplify control monitoring. Automated reporting helps you understand the effectiveness of your controls over time, allowing you to more easily understand when a control might need an update.

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What is Due Diligence in Cybersecurity?

Due diligence focuses on identifying and mitigating cybersecurity risks invited by any third party you do business with. It requires understanding your vendors’ security posture and what might happen if an incident occurs. 

A few critical aspects of due diligence include:

Identifying All Third Parties and Fourth Parties

Having a comprehensive understanding of every party involved in your operations is the first step in due diligence, which includes:

  • Partners
  • Contractors
  • SaaS providers
  • Vendors
  • Clients
  • Any other entity with access to your systems

You need to know everyone you’re working with (third parties) and the companies they work with (fourth parties). From there, you can start evaluating all relevant risks and protect against them.

Comprehensive Third Party Risk Management

Third-party risk management (TPRM) is at the core of due diligence. TPRM involves thoroughly understanding every third party’s cybersecurity policies, programs, and posture. It often begins with a cybersecurity questionnaire that is then evaluated and validated. 

From there, potential risks are identified, prioritized, and mitigated with specific controls. In addition to continuously monitoring these controls, you must also monitor the third parties for any changes in their cybersecurity ecosystem. 

Dictate Security Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

Due diligence also involves security-focused contractual obligations for both parties. Specify your third party’s obligations regarding security, which might include maintaining specific levels of compliance or keeping you informed of any meaningful changes they make. SLAs help set expectations and give you recourse should a vendor not meet those expectations. 

Simplify Due Care and Due Diligence with the Right GRC Platform

Due care and diligence require an accurate and in-depth understanding of your overall risk management landscape, whether internal or external. In the past, this was handled with spreadsheets and other painstaking manual processes. 

Fortunately, you can leave spreadsheets behind with a modern GRC platform that gives you a real-time view of risk management, compliance, and third-party risks. Centraleyes is a next-gen cloud-based GRC platform that makes due care and diligence more straightforward than ever. 

Ready to see how Centraleyes can help? Contact us today to talk to a GRC expert and discover how our platform can transform how you manage risks.

Start Getting Value With
Centraleyes for Free

See for yourself how the Centraleyes platform exceeds anything an old GRC
system does and eliminates the need for manual processes and spreadsheets
to give you immediate value and run a full risk assessment in less than 30 days

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