As your company or organization grows, so does your cybersecurity risk. While you may be working with secure third-party vendors and platforms, how do you track each level of vendors beyond them?

If the average company works with over 150 vendors, and those vendors work with another 150 vendors, your exposure increases exponentially with each vendor that you work with.

What Are Nth Parties?

Nth parties pose the same risk to your enterprise as third parties but are significantly more difficult to track: they are the vendors, services, applications, and IT infrastructures of your vendors’ vendors. That’s right: they are connected to your organization by “nth” degrees of separation within your cyber supply chain.

Unfortunately, malicious actors target vulnerabilities in these far-removed parties to breach your organization. For example, via a single piece of compromised third-party code on your website, threat actors can install a keylogger to capture customer data.

Or a hacker can steal employee credentials of a vendor, then work their way through their systems until they access any data you’ve hosted on their servers.

The kill-chain is the same as if they were a third-party vendor directly connected to your organization, but the multiple degrees of separation between you and the vendor make this difficult to monitor or defend, making nth parties an easy target with a high return on investment.

Most Common Nth Parties

The most common Nth party breaches occur within website scripts and open-source products. For example, a company may use an analytics tool which requires a script to track user activity on the page. The enterprise used a third party to generate the tracking code, the third party used their own third party to run the application, and that application may get breached: leaving a little piece of malicious code on your site.

While the actual breach was far removed from your company (and your security team), it all means the same thing for your users: interacting with your website resulted in theft of their data.

Monitoring Your Nth Parties

Part of monitoring the cybersecurity of your Nth parties is updating your third-party contracts to make sure you’re not liable for breaches on their platforms. Make sure that language in your terms and conditions applies to every vendor beyond the third-party itself, and that you have the right to audit the vendors of your vendors.

Many times, when you require this level of security contractually, your third-, fourth-, and nth-party vendors will begin to monitor their connections better and improve the cybersecurity environment overall.

However, contractual liability does little to protect your reputation when users experience a breach due to connection with your organization.


Updated Vendor Inventory

The first step in monitoring your nth parties is knowing who they are. You may have an up-to-date third-party vendor inventory, but do you know which applications and platforms they use?

Cyberpion maps your entire external attack surface, so your team can address vendors’ vulnerabilities without spending all their time searching for the vendors.


Eliminate Vulnerabilities

Because the external attack surface is built on public-facing and loosely coupled online assets, the attack surface is exposed to the entire internet. Now, the challenging is knowing where to look – as well as the time and effort it takes to dive into each of your vendors’ vendors’ vendors. This exponential multiplication of parties makes the task insurmountable even for a large information security team.

After you’ve reviewed your current vendor inventory, Cyberpion displays and prioritizes the vulnerabilities. Your team can get to work following best practices to protect your enterprise from those vulnerabilities, while maintaining a robust and effective online presence for your users.

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