Social Climate Tech News

Wed 08 2024

How Third-Party Vendors Could Be the Chink in Your Cyber Armour

by bernt & torsten

In the sprawling world of cyberspace, an overlooked aspect of corporate cybersecurity could expose organizations to unseen threats. Organizations often use third-party vendors to augment their IT capabilities and could be the unsuspected enablers of uninvited intruders. Keywords such as cybersecurity, data breach, and ransomware no longer surprise us, but internal threats may still raise eyebrows. Like unseen bacteria waiting to affect a patient, unsecured third-party vendors could create a backdoor for threat actors to infiltrate your organization.

In a hospital, we expect medical professionals to practice good hygiene as part of their job to protect their patients. If neglected, this seemingly straightforward act can lead to devastating consequences. The analogy holds for cyberspace. IT vendors need to assume the role of the healthcare workers in our analogy. They must take 'cyber hygiene' precautions to secure their systems and, consequently, ensure your organization from potential breaches. Cybersecurity is not an afterthought but a necessity in today's interconnected world.

Backdoor attacks have rapidly become a significant concern in cyberspace. Just like a burglar bypasses the front door and sneaks in through the back entrance, hackers often target the less monitored areas of an organization's IT system— the third-party applications. By compromising these vendors, attackers obtain access to the organization, similar to breaching the alarm system, providing them entry points less likely to be detected.

But why target vendors? Why not go directly after the organization itself? The answer lies in gaining a bigger bang for their illicit buck. Infiltrating an organization directly could prove a Herculean task due to well-funded and robust IT systems that resist such intrusions. Vendors, on the other hand, can provide an easier path and a greater reward. By compromising third-party applications, attackers can potentially gain access to multiple organizations that the vendor services, exponentially increasing the impact of their attack.

Breaching vendors also allow malevolent actors to use disruption tactics. Creating a series of incidents or increasing the frequency of breaches can erode trust in cybersecurity measures, leaving organizations feeling helpless and out of control. This approach undermines the credibility of cybersecurity vendors and causes panic and mistrust amongst organizations, leading to an erratic and disorganized response.

In conclusion, relying on third-party vendors while ignoring their cybersecurity measures is akin to medical professionals neglecting hand hygiene—it's a disaster waiting to happen. In our interconnected world, the cybersecurity health of one organization can impact many others. It has never been more vital for organizations to scrutinize the security systems of their vendors before establishing a relationship. To prevent backdoor attacks, organizations need to understand that securing their front door isn't enough – every point of access, especially those involving external vendors, must be tightly controlled and monitored.

In cybersecurity, all players, organizations, and vendors must bear security first, mirroring healthcare workers' strict adherence to hygiene for patient safety. The world may not be security-first, but for organizations and their vendors, being anything less is a risk they cannot afford.