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Guarding Your Data: The Dangers of Third-Party Breaches

One of the most insidious cyber threats that today’s businesses can face is a third-party breach. Not only do these breaches result in financial losses and reputational damage, but they serve as a reminder of the vulnerabilities of our digital ecosystem. This week we’re exploring the dangers of third-party breaches, the impact they can have on your business, and how Identity and Access Management (IAM) can help to reduce the risk of them happening.

Understanding Third-Party Breaches

Our world has become increasingly interconnected in recent years. For many organisations, third-party suppliers and vendors are critical to their business. Unfortunately, that can open them up to cyber risks. Research from Verizon found that 62% of system intrusions originated from a third party.

A third-party breach occurs when cyber criminals are able to infiltrate an organisation’s network through vulnerabilities in their partners’ systems. These breaches can take various forms, ranging from malware attacks and phishing scams to insider threats. SecurityScorecard recently found that 98% of companies are associated with a third party that had previously suffered a breach. 

Third-Party Breaches in the News

A cyber incident that hit headlines last year was the ransomware attack on the British Library. This attack, which took place in October, impacted the organisation’s digital services and compromised user and staff data. It was attributed to the Rhysida ransomware group, and this year it was revealed it was caused by a third-party breach. Cyber criminals were able to use compromised third-party credentials to gain unauthorised access to the Library’s network.

They got in via a Terminal Services server, which has been installed in 2020 for remote access during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite warnings about the risks of increased third-party access, security measures like MFA weren’t fully implemented. This made it easier for the attackers to infiltrate the system and steal 600GB of data. The attack also destroyed servers, hindering recovery efforts. The British Library is currently rebuilding its infrastructure and implementing enhanced security measures.

The Repercussions of Breaches

One of the most obvious impacts of third-party breaches is the exposure of sensitive data. This can include customer information, intellectual property, or even businesses’ proprietary data. Once this data is in the hands of malicious actors, it can be sold on the dark web, exploited for financial gain, or used in targeted attacks against the affected business, its stakeholders, or its customers.

The aftermath of a third-party breach often has substantial financial ramifications. The costs associated with such a breach can include forensic investigations, regulatory fines, and legal fees if there are lawsuits from affected parties. The loss of customer trust can also result in decreased revenue in the long term.

The most profound (and long-lasting) impact of a third-party breach is damage to the organisation’s reputation. News of a breach can spread fast, amplified by social media and news outlets. This can cast doubt on the organisation’s ability to safeguard sensitive information. This loss of credibility can ruin relationships with customers, and investors, making it challenging to regain trust and restore brand integrity. According to EasyDMARC, 60% of companies affected by a third-party breach are likely to close because of reputational damage.

The Role of IAM 

Given the stakes of third-party breaches, organisations should adopt a more proactive approach. When it comes to safeguarding assets, Identity and Access Management (IAM) is crucial. Here at Infosec K2K, we offer a range of IAM solutions. With the help of our partners, we provide a robust framework for controlling access to your network.

IAM ensures users (including third-party suppliers) are only granted necessary permissions. This reduces the risk of privilege escalation and unauthorised access. Additionally, IAM solutions can include multi-factor authentication (MFA). This strengthens authentication and prevents credential-based attacks. This way, companies can reduce the chance of compromised credentials being used to breach their networks.

IAM platforms can also allow continuous monitoring and real-time auditing. This allows us to detect unusual activities in your network and act promptly. Not only does this ensure regulatory compliance, but it shows companies are performing due diligence when sharing data with third parties. IAM supports collaboration by establishing role-based access controls for your employees, your customers, and third-party vendors. This establishes trust and minimises your firm’s potential attack surface, enabling more effective collaboration.

Third-party breaches are a formidable threat to modern organisations, posing risks to financial stability and brand reputation. As demonstrated by the recent attack on the British Library, the repercussions of these breaches can be far-reaching. It’s clear IAM is a vital tool for any organisation’s cyber security. By embracing IAM, businesses can enhance visibility, control, and security across their network, protecting their data against the dangers of third-party breaches in an increasingly interconnected world.

Whatever solution you’re looking for, we can help. The experts at Infosec K2K can offer you specialist guidance, and help you find the product that’s the best fit for you.

Get in touch with us to find out more about how we can help you.

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