Your enterprise is aware of the risks they assume when working with a third-party vendor. But what about the vendors used by those third parties? They have their own digital supply chain of vendors, IT infrastructures, dependencies, and resources. And each element in these supply chains exposes you to more and more potential risk. Multiply that by the number of vendors you know of (and then the vendors you don’t know about), and you’ll discover your ecosystem extends farther than you imagine.


What Are Fourth Parties?

As an example, many websites reference images, JavaScript, or CSS to from external sources. If the host IT infrastructures are vulnerable these assets may be compromised and abused.

These fourth parties expose users to the risk and vulnerabilities when their browser pulls together all the pieces to form the service or application. This means traditional security tools rarely examined these risky assets.

How Your Company Connects To Fourth Parties

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.

Protecting Your Ecosystem From Fourth-Party Vulnerabilities

Your company probably monitors and audits the security of your third-party vendors, but you may be assuming they do the same for their own vendors. You can’t make that assumption anymore.

First, make sure your contracts with these vendors ensure a certain level of security. If you do experience a breach, you can leverage your contract for liability purposes. However, that only solves a small part of the problem in a data breach. You need a clear picture of your cyber supply chain and the vulnerabilities from your vendors’ vendors.

 

Map Your Online Ecosystem

Find out where those fourth parties are, so you can protect your organization from breaches. With a full map of your external attack surface, you’ll discover the full length of your supply chain in your online presence.

While the first step in remediating vulnerabilities may be a security scorecard for your third-party vendors, that score will quickly become outdated as vendors change and add their own third parties.

Cyberpion provides an easy-to-read map of your online ecosystem updated frequently, in order to quickly identify the third, fourth, and nth parties down your supply chain. Then, Cyberpion gives you the best practices to protect your website from any potential exposures due to these fourth parties

While you may not be able to monitor your fourth-party vendors as closely as third parties, you can keep your users secure and protect your enterprise from fines or loss of trust.

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