Security breaches are on the increase in these modern times, and this includes a specific type known as third-party risks. So, what are third-party risks and what risks do they have on cybersecurity? Read on to find out everything you need to know about issues in this area.
What are third parties and what are the risks that come with them?
A third-party is an organisation involved in a certain situation aside from the two primary organisations.
Third parties do hold particular risks in terms of possibly being a threat to an organisations’ customer and employee data, operations, and financial data. Third parties can possess sensitive data which is something companies need to bear in mind. The operations at risk can include operations from the company’s supply chain and other exterior parties that supply services and have access to these privileged systems. This is crucial since these exterior parties often don’t have advanced security protection.
Examples of where third parties pose a big threat is in industry, particularly in healthcare and hospital systems. These systems rely on many vendors to carry out functions daily. These thousands of relationships within different services can create risks for these industries. Therefore, companies should be aware of the risks that may come with third parties, and they should be prepared with processes in place to manage vendors, customers, and contractors amongst other relationships too. Managing these threats are significant in terms of protecting a business’ data. It should include rigorous review, assessment, and management of these vendors throughout the whole relationship.
Major supply chain attacks
Cybersecurity teams across the world are working to contain supply chain attacks, constantly attempting to respond to huge developing threats on a global scale.
These types of attacks target a company by attacking through a third-party vendor, meaning that companies should be extra cautious when dealing with third parties. Whilst the risks that come with these vendors can vary, they can pose a significant challenge because the threat might not be obvious until there is some malicious activity. This type of attack can result in many different businesses being exploited by a third-party, allowing attackers to exfiltrate payment information, impact the customers, and make the company less reputable. It’s obvious from this example that third-party risks are not something to be taken lightly.
Other types of attacks
Aside from major supply chain attacks, other threats can result from third-party risks. These can include intellectual property theft, credential theft, network intrusion, spear phishing, fireless malware, and data exfiltration, just to name a few.
So, why are there so many different attacks? The truth is that, unfortunately, cyber attackers are always developing new and sophisticated methods to make security breaches, whether this involves a third-party or not. They usually work to identify vulnerable parts in a computer system that will enable them to access highly confidential data in a system. With cyber-attacks working out the usual security methods that cybersecurity uses, organisations continually need to work to develop new higher security methods to stop new breaches.
Taking action on third-party risks
As mentioned above, companies must be aware of how they can help prevent or deal with these third-party risks. One of the first steps a company should take is to hire the right people for their company. Employees should be experienced and trained with skills that can benefit the company, quickly addressing and containing a third-party risk management policy. They should be highly educated in identifying and containing risks, and this could be done through a training course.
Efficient third-party risk management programmes can be put in place by professionals, beginning with rigorous screenings that can give a good understanding of vendors. This will help companies choose appropriate vendors to allow access to their private networks. Furthermore, constantly evaluating and monitoring the risks related to the vendors is important.
It might also be worth putting third parties into risk assessment categories. For example, this could include information security, resiliency, and financial categories. As the programme’s policy begins to develop, it’s worth tracking and reporting on the progress of risks on each course of the risk management strategy. This makes the strategy stronger and allows a company to be more aware of what they’re dealing with. Finally, it might be worth drawing up an incident response plan that is tested regularly, so that companies can be in a more prepared position to deal with a risk from a third-party if one does take place.
So, you should be able to see that third parties can pose great risks to companies across the world. With companies relying on hundreds of third-party vendors and contractors, it’s not surprising that cybersecurity threats are on the rise, especially with their new and sophisticated advances. With reputable, profit, and customer losses, it’s important to have the right practices in place to prepare against third-party risks.