The importance of third-party security continues to grow in all industries. More complex cyber supply chains expose your organization to more potential risks and vulnerabilities.

Today, security breaches via third-party vendors represents over half of all attacks against an organization. As this trend continues to grow, security teams must implement tools and procedures to defend against these attacks

What Is Third-Party Security?

Third-party security protects an organization from the risk associated with third-party vendors. Companies have traditionally spent time and money securing their perimeter and on-premise systems but have given little focus to the security practices at their vendors.

Why You Need Third-Party Security

Once you start working with a third-party vendor, they may gain authorized access to your customer or employee data or incorporate their service into your online presence. Many of these vendors or contractors have a smaller information security team, and they cannot guarantee the same level of security as their enterprise customers. This limited security posture makes them a prime target for malicious actors.

Additionally, while your contract may be with this third party, they use their own vendors, such as communication platforms or data storage, that create additional risk for your organization. Therefore, third-party security measures need to go beyond your direct vendors on to the vendors’ vendors.


Types Of Third-Party Security Breaches

Cybersecurity becomes more sophisticated every day, and so do cybercriminals. They often target third-, fourth-, or nth-party vendors to get the highest return on investment.

Magecart: When an organization uses a third-party payment processor, hackers breach and infect the processor to seal credit card data.

Public Cloud Infrastructures: Many third-party security teams overlook the data buckets used by their vendors. If these cloud storage services are left unprotected, they can reveal Personally Identifiable Information for millions of users.

Social Engineering: When a vendor gains access to your organization’s system, now their employees can become the targets of social engineering campaigns. Cybercriminals perform highly researched attacks, create spoof emails with close resemblance to trustworthy addresses, and request credentials or essential documents.

Implementing Third-Party Security

In order to implement third-party security measures, your team needs to ask more questions of your vendors, possibly visiting them on-site to ensure protocols are in place.


Perform Necessary Due Diligence Before Signing

Before working with a third-party vendor or platform, due diligence is critical. If their system has already been compromised, hackers will gain access to your data next.

Just like you perform your own cybersecurity supply chain assessments, you should ask the same questions of your third-party security before you even sign a contract: Do they have a response and notification plan? Do they document the resolution process? Do they perform their own penetration testing?


Build Third-Party Security Into Vendor Contracts

After you’ve performed due diligence and you’re confident you’re not bringing over any compromising data, it’s time to build a contract to protect both parties going forward.

Require standard testing for both phishing, penetration, and overall social engineering. Cybercriminals target larger organizations through their third-, fourth-, and Nth-party vendors, so now the vendor employees need awareness and training around these vulnerabilities.

Organizations should require vendors to document findings and remediation plans for issues, as well as perform testing annually, at the minimum.

Thorough confidentiality agreements and access management also need to be documented in the contract.


Set Expectations

Having a high standard for third-party security expectations demonstrates your priority. If a vendor is unwilling to undergo regular audits and assessments from your team, that should be a red flag before signing a contract. When they know they’ll be audited, they are more likely to audit their own vendors and create a safer cyber environment for all parties involved.


Assess Vulnerabilities Independently

While contracts are essential and detail expectations, don’t rely on them exclusively for protection against third-party data breaches. Assess vulnerabilities regularly and independently through scans of your entire external attack surface.

Cyberpion’s External Attack Surface Assessment provides your current security posture, ranks vulnerabilities by risk level, offers best practices for remediation, and gives insight into your entire sprawling attack surface.

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