Third-party risk management is never something that should be neglected or left to guesswork. Unfortunately, third-party data breaches have proven to be catastrophic for organizations worldwide. Recent attacks such as the SolarWinds breach and the Kaseya incident demonstrate the need for increased third-party risk management.
According to IBM, last year saw the highest average cost for a security breach in 17 years. Consider these insights about third-party security incidents from the same report:
- The average data breach in the United States costs companies $4.24 million in 2021.
- Companies with remote workers paid $1.07 million more to recover.
- The most common attack vector was compromised credentials, responsible for 20% of all data breaches.
Does your company have a plan to manage dangerous third-party risks?
Risk of working with vendors, suppliers, partners
Allowing third-party access to your network makes some workflows much more effortless. However, organizations assume a certain level of risk during the process. Companies can easily control their cybersecurity ecosystem, but they can’t control how third-party users approach vulnerabilities and cyber threats.
Here are some examples of the risks that businesses can be exposed to while working with third parties:
- Lack of proper network security — Ports can be left open, misconfigured, or unauthenticated, and network protocols may be left un-updated for long periods of time. Unpatched applications can leave the companies at risk of an attack since attackers are known to scan the internet for open ports until they find one that is unprotected that they can exploit. A recent example of a data breach due to poor network security is third-party cloud storage provider, Cancer Centers of Southwest Oklahoma's network breach last year, resulting in the leak of protected information of thousands of patients.
- Patching frequency — Attackers can easily exploit unpatched software vulnerabilities since many companies make their vulnerabilities public. Automatic updates help keep this kind of attack at bay. However, it can be difficult to assess how often a third-party vendor patches their code. The Accellion data breach from last year is a prime example of an incident happening due to unpatched software vulnerabilities.
- Credential management — Without robust authentication protocols, third parties can leave the door open for attackers to easily enter your network. Cybercriminals can find leaked credentials in online forums, steal them using phishing attacks, or simply use brute force with default credentials. Organizations in the healthcare industry were among the most targeted last year due to poor credential management, such as weak access controls and passwords.
How to protect your network from third-party vulnerabilities
Criminals are increasingly taking advantage of third-party software vulnerabilities to execute higher-level attacks. In addition to operational technology and IoT endpoints, there are other factors that IT teams and developers must look at to protect business networks from third-party vulnerabilities.
1 - Set up a business VPN
A business VPN allows your company to extend its private network between various machines in different locations without allowing access to the entire network. Easily share data and collaborate with third parties without compromising your network security.
A VPN is a virtual tunnel that securely carries data from one user to another across the internet. VPN solutions prevent unauthorized users from tapping into your network and other connected devices. Employees and third parties can connect and communicate to your business network privately, knowing that the connection is secure.
2 - Implement modern authentication protocols
Classic username and password combinations are not enough to secure crucial business data. Modern authentication protocols are more secure and more difficult for hackers to crack.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology, or NIST, suggests implementing a zero-trust network architecture that uses least privileged access and encryption principles to keep organizations secure. Multifactor authentication also adds an extra layer of protection by forcing users to prove their identity in multiple ways before accessing business apps.
Companies should also be aware of credentials leaked online and cybercrime trends that might affect your security ecosystem. You can expect to pay at least $60 an hour for a freelance developer who can gauge a vendor’s network security and check for possible open databases.
3 - Continuous network scanning
A scanner that continuously monitors your network and flags vulnerabilities according to their threat level is essential in today’s cybercrime environment. Using active and passive scanning techniques to identify and evaluate software vulnerabilities makes your business infrastructure more resilient to third-party risks.
Your scanning software should also sweep third-party web apps and any SaaS your company utilizes for operations and communication. Ensure you use an up-to-date scanner to prevent serious injection attacks, security misconfigurations, and other vulnerabilities. Numerous external monitoring tools can gauge your level of protection and identify areas of concern.
Third-party security is essential
With more and more third-party security incidents making headlines, it is clear that vendors and suppliers pose a significant threat to network security. Fortunately, next-gen third-party risk management software offers a powerful solution to identify and mitigate vulnerabilities. OpenVPN Cloud with Cyber Shield provides built-in capabilities to prevent threats, establish a zero-trust network, and authenticate user access.
Don’t become the next SolarWinds. Secure your organization and protect your network from third-party vulnerabilities.