Fourth parties are typically organizations supporting your third-party vendors in delivering their services to you. Most likely, you do not know these vendors and do not have any business or contractual relationship with them.
For example, you may use a website advertising and analytics service from a third party. But that platform uses another service to graphically display the analytics. The graphics service is the third party to your third-party vendor.
Maybe you put a Facebook or Google “Pixel” on your website to track visitors for retargeting advertising. Facebook and Google are your third-party platform, but they embed another pixel inside their pixel, DoubleClick, to manage campaigns.
While these fourth parties are usually necessary and helpful on your website, they can quickly be mismanaged, leaving your online presence exposed to risk.
Impact Of A Fourth-Party Vulnerability
Recently, the most common example of a fourth-party vulnerability occurs when vendors leave data/ storage buckets unprotected. Many companies store their data with a third-party, who then stores the data in an Amazon S3 data bucket. If that bucket is not secured to the same standards as your enterprise, you risk losing your clients’ data.
Ultimately, the impact of a fourth-party vulnerability is the same as a third-party vulnerability: regulatory or compliance fines, loss of customer data, theft of intellectual property, and loss of brand reputation.
But fourth parties are much more difficult to monitor, even though they pose the same risk.