Third parties leave your network open to attacks

With the Target example as the high-water mark, enterprises need to worry about the lack of security on the part of third-party providers that have access to internal systems.

By Ryan Francis
June 9, 2017

To mitigate these types of threats, the most sophisticated endpoint security solutions can sense and analyze enough data in real-time to ensure that breaches and intrusions are observed in real-time, he added. "These new solutions leverage advancements in machine learning, artificial intelligence and analytics so organizations can quickly observe and fill unintentional, and sometimes intentional, holes left by third-party organizations."

With the growing landscape of global privacy regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the ability to control the uses of data throughout its life cycle will be critical. Strong access management controls can help, but often data masking and anonymization need to be implemented to manage access to key data fields, said Focal Point Data Risk's Data Privacy Practice Leader Eric Dieterich.


What's the solution?

Third-party access requires a layered security approach with dynamic contextual access control applied throughout, said Gerry Geble, vice president of business development at Axiomatics. For example, one layer of security is to dynamically control who can access your network. Another layer would be to control access to APIs, data and other assets once these third parties are on the network.

Caccia advises that third-party access to assets is a perfect scenario for behavioral analytics, where the system baselines normal behavior of users on the network, even with limited knowledge of who those users actually are. "User behavior analytics (UBA) should be table stakes for any firm that works with partners extensively; it's the best - perhaps only - way to understand and control what once-removed users are doing on your network and with your data," he said.

Henderson recommended that companies make sure governance policies around vendor management are bolstered and reinforced. This should include policies around regular and random audits of those vendors. Those audits should have the ability to return quantifiable and definable metrics.

Also when it comes to creating and drafting contracts with these vendors, it's critical that the appropriate sections clearly define the security and privacy obligations expected of the vendor are included.

"I like the idea of inserting data canaries into the record sets that are shared with third parties and then watching for those canaries to pop up in dumps online. You would be amazed at how often data leaks onto the web and shows up in places like pastebin," Henderson said. "Other things that make me nervous about this problem are quite simply the fact that all the staff, resources, tools and technologies can often be defeated by nothing more than some middle manager somewhere dumping a huge amount of customer data into a spreadsheet then sending it off via email to some previously unknown third party contracted by a business unit to run a bulk email campaign."

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