Minimize Damage From Third-Party Attacks



According to a report by Ponemon Institute, 80% of organizations think that evaluating the cybersecurity risks attached to third-party services is critical. Despite this, almost 60% of organizations admit that they are either not at all prepared or only somewhat prepared to handle third-party cybersecurity risks.

Another study conducted by the Ponemon Institute on behalf of Opus revealed some shocking results. According to the study, 59% of companies have experienced a data breach due to their vendors and third parties last year. Despite this, an organization shares confidential information with 583 third parties. That’s not all, security professionals predict that we might see an exponential rise in the number of third-party attacks in the future.

Instead of targeting the business directly, cybercriminals will look to identify and exploit vulnerabilities in third-party products and services to target customers. What’s even worse is that detecting these types of attacks is difficult. As hackers continue to ramp up their efforts and increase the effectiveness of their malicious campaigns, it is imperative for businesses to take steps to prevent third-party attacks and minimize the damage caused by these attacks.

In this article, you will learn about six effective tips to prevent and minimize damages from third-party attacks.


1. Have a Zero Trust Approach

With companies strengthening their security system and protecting their sensitive data, hackers have found a new way. They are now targeting third parties in order to gain access to your sensitive business data instead of trying to directly access it. That is why it is imperative for businesses to adopt a zero-trust approach.

In a zero trust model, each request passes through a strict vetting process to identify security issues irrespective of whether it comes from inside or outside the enterprise network. This can drastically reduce the impact of data breaches, preventing hackers to move laterally through the network by using your credentials and export data. Additionally, it can also make it more difficult for hackers to create a backdoor which they can exploit for future attacks.

When you adopt a zero-trust approach, it is less likely that users have access to applications and data they don’t need. This can shrink the scope of damage threat actors can do even if they can gain access to your data because they won't have the level of privileges required to do widespread damage.

Effective Tips To Minimize Damage From Third-Party Attacks

2. Define The Normal


One of the biggest mistakes most businesses make is that they don’t draw a line between what’s acceptable and what is not. Due to this, they could not differentiate between normal, suspicious and malicious activities taking place on their network. Even if you can not do that for all the software, at least do it for the most used and most important software.
When you know exactly what’s normal and what is not, identifying anomalies won’t be a problem. Dirk Schrader, Vice President and security researcher at New Net Technologies suggests organizations should have system integrity monitoring in place. More importantly, they should co-relate every suspicious activity with their baseline network connections.


3. Improve Network Visibility


There are instances when cyber attackers try to get a foothold in the network, wait for opportunities and as soon as the opportunities arise, they pounce on it and move laterally and steal data through the network. You need to have better visibility into the network as well as the right control in place.


Oliver Tavakoli, Chief Technology Officer at Vectra said, “Regardless of the initial vector of the attack -- which often varies with the seasons and the alignment of the moon and stars -- the key to cyber resilience is to invest in visibility and detection and response capabilities for what comes next.” Researchers have also found that once the attacker manages to bypass the initial entry vectors, they use sneaky tactics. That is why you need network detection and response tools as well as endpoint detection and response products in order to identify the target after the first infection.


4. Safeguard Web Apps


Did you know that 70% of the code is executed on the user browser when a user accesses your website? All this code directly reaches the user browser without any quality and security checks from the business. What’s more, it directly comes from third-party servers. They can easily disrupt this process by launching DDoS attacks and if you don’t have DDoS protection in place, your website will become inaccessible/


What this means is that if any of these third parties are breached, this will give attackers access to all the information visible through your browser. To resolve this issue, you need to keep tabs on third parties, vendors and supply chain, partners. Implement a system that can help you detect and block any code changes made by third parties. Moreover, you should have a mechanism that alerts you about any third-party components which are behaving oddly.


5. Enforce Checks To Ensure Code Integrity


It is important for your business to implement quality checks on the code you create to ensure its integrity. Not only do you need controls in place for monitoring code repositories but also be aware of the chain of custody of all that code. This will help you in identifying whenever a piece of third-party code has been tempered and who has the right to make changes to your code. Block any code changes which have been made without your permission and authorization.


6. Keep A Close Eye On Public Communication


Most businesses use software, tools and platforms for internal and external communications and cyber attackers know that. As a result, they try to inject malware. Since tracking incoming and outgoing network traffic can be tough in those situations, most businesses tend to ignore it and pay a huge price for it.


Security experts advise businesses to constantly monitor all the edge systems for changes. Define what’s normal in that communication environment and it will make it easy for you to detect whenever there is a variation. You can take immediate action and minimize the damage.


How do you prevent third-party attacks? Share it with us in the comments section below.