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3 Ways To Prevent Third-Party Data Breaches

January 25, 2022

Managing Third-Party Risk Is a Crucial Component To Protecting Your Business Data

Have you ever wondered how megacorporations with an army of cybersecurity experts on their payroll still end up as victims of security breaches?

The answer, more often than not, lies in the threat of third-party data breaches.

The Dangers of Third-Party Data Breaches

3-Ways-To-Prevent-Third-Party-BreachesEvery business relies on countless third parties to keep its operations running smoothly. These are the software solution providers, hosting and infrastructure management services, IT managers, online platforms, and countless other vendors.

Despite your best efforts at securing your own network, you may still be open to threats because of third-party negligence.

A classic example of this is what happened to Target. In a cyberattack that cost the US retailer $39 million in damages and a steep drop in its share prices, investigations found that it wasn’t a direct lapse in Target’s own digital systems.

As it turned out, it was the heating and ventilation contractor whose systems were hacked first. The attackers then used the contractor’s login details to infiltrate Target’s network and carry out an attack that affected 40 million Target customers.

Another costly example of third-party data breaches is what happened to Uber. In October 2016, the company was hit with a colossal cyberattack where attackers stole the data of 50 million riders. How did hackers infiltrate the cyber defenses of the ride-hailing Silicon Valley unicorn?

Uber engineers, like most organizations, used GitHub to store and collaborate on their codebase. But attackers managed to bypass GitHub password protection and accesses an Uber engineers account. Due to this third-party breach, cybercriminals could read private source code, which helped them discover the passkey to one of Uber’s most important servers and download the data of millions of customers.

Unfortunately, these examples are not some outliers either. A report by Ponemon Institute shows that 51% of data breaches are caused by third parties.

How to Protect Your Business Against Third-Party Risks

3-steps-to-avoid-third-party-data-breach.pngThere are three primary steps you can take to prevent third-party security breaches from spilling over into your network.

  1. Vet Your Vendors: During the onboarding process, never skip your due diligence and see what safety protocols the vendor has in place to protect your data. If a boilerplate privacy policy is the only thing your safety is hinging on, then you know they’re not serious about protecting your business. Furthermore, you should not take them on their word alone. See if they have a third-party verified security rating. If your budget allows it, you should also consider hiring a cybersecurity expert to audit their systems.
  2. Only Share What Is Necessary: You should not grant any more data or infrastructure access than what is absolutely necessary. The less you share, the lower your risk will be. Many businesses make the mistake of giving vendors unnecessary access to their network. What happened to Target is a realistic example of what can happen otherwise. Your relationship with your vendors is always evolving, so you should monitor and change their access levels regularly.
  3. Adopt a Zero Trust Network Policy: What this means is that every device on your network should run independent verifications regardless of the origin of the connection. This means that if someone tries to access an admin account from your company network, they should still have to pass a multi-factor authorization test to continue. These measures are especially important for connections originating from outside of your business network. All of this is to ensure that a single breached device won’t compromise your entire network.

At the end of the day, it is always better to expect the unexpected. That is why we highly recommend Dark Web monitoring services in addition to the above suggested steps. With Dark Web Monitoring, if your data ever lands in the hands of unscrupulous characters, you will be able to minimize the damage by responding as soon as it is put up for sale.

For more information on our cybersecurity services, please contact us at ask@optistartech.com or visit here to schedule a free consultation with one of Optistar’s Senior IT Consultants. 

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