As companies outsource more of their business to third-party providers, their risk profile grows. Third-party risk, while potentially opening your systems to criminal threat actors, also increases the likelihood of unintentional insider risk. According to a study by the Ponemon Institute, less than half of all respondents report managing outsourced relationship risks is a priority in their organization. Yet, 67% of respondents say the number of cybersecurity incidents involving third-party vendors is increasing.
Risks arise when employees are not vigilant about what third-party browser extensions they’re using or what links they’re clicking on. With security teams often blind to third-party security measures, users (including supply chain partners) could be ushering in a cyberattack on your organization without even knowing it. In fact, 59% of cybersecurity professionals confirm that their organizations experienced a data breach caused by a third party. Your organization needs to proactively mitigate the possibility of an attack due to unintentional insider risk: let’s dive in to find out how.
What is Third-Party Risk?
Third-party risk occurs when digital supply chain partners leverage outside parties to increase the effectiveness of their product (i.e. a submission form widget, online payment processor, etc.). In other words, the third-party applications your organization’s website uses may have 4th party applications of their own. Third parties rarely inform companies about their data sharing with nth parties. In fact, an average of 40% of primary vendors share sensitive and confidential information with other vendors! This results in many backdoor avenues for threat actors to infiltrate your enterprise’s website to steal proprietary information.
An insider attack may occur through a 3rd party, because partners may have weak security measures. The average number of third parties with access to confidential or sensitive information has increased by 25% [from 2016 to 2017] from 378 to 471 third parties, providing many loopholes for threat actors to gain access to confidential data. We can only expect these numbers to increase in 2022 and beyond.
When third-party vendors (and the nth parties they’ve brought along with them) are present unbeknownst to your employees, unintentional insider threats and potential user risk can come into play. With users unaware of these additional downstream parties, their innocent online behaviors could accidentally initiate a cyberattack. For example, a global hospitality brand fell victim to a data breach when two of its employees’ login credentials to a third-party vendor application were compromised. Unfortunately, the organization’s security team was unaware of the dangerous activity of these users for approximately two months. Had these particular users’ risk levels been identified and safeguarded against just a few months earlier, the breach could have been prevented.
This is why it’s important to be mindful of which employees have access to sensitive information, as third-party risk makes these employees higher value targets and puts confidential data in jeopardy. Entrust responsible employees with this kind of access level, as users with lower risk scores are more likely to usher in a cyberattack that leads to this data being compromised.
How are Organizations at Risk of Unintentional Insider Threats Caused by Third-Party Partners?
Third-party risk is prevalent in many industries, but especially for organizations whose websites conduct transactions via submission and/or payment forms. For example, when a third-party vendor is hijacked and your organization is using it on your site, your risk profile is increased. The Ponemon Institute found that 42% of organizations experienced cyberattacks against third parties that resulted in the misuse of their company’s sensitive or confidential information. For an organization that deals with a plethora of confidential information (like healthcare or financial institutions), this can be devastating.
According to the Ponemon Institute’s study, 56% of respondents confirm that their organizations experienced a data breach caused by one of their vendors. Any organization can fall victim to user risk amplified by third-party vendors. For example, an employee can be working in an unsafe browser session, accidentally leaving the door open for threat actors to compromise your system. Or, a user may have made the mistake of downloading the wrong file onto a company device, and instead, actually downloaded malware. With the added risk associated with third-party vendors, it is ideal to have preventative cybersecurity measures in place to lower the user risk level of your organization.
How to Reduce Unintentional Insider Threats and Keep Your Third-Party Vendors
What can your organization do to become more prepared to mitigate user risk but keep the third-party vendors you need to provide your customers with a great user experience?
With Elevate Security, security teams can monitor and adjust workforce users’ access levels and permissions to sensitive data. CISOs and leadership teams also gain visibility into employees’ risky actions at the individual, departmental, and enterprise-wide level. Now you can predict who and where in your organization you may encounter a cyberattack, and take action to prevent one entirely. With the ability to assess risk scores and adjust access levels and permissions accordingly for specific employees, your organization’s applications and proprietary information are better protected.
Dive into the Elevate Security Platform and learn more about how its innovative technology and user risk profiling mitigates user risk.
With reliance on third-party relationships and the increasing complexity of enterprise-wide tech stacks, it’s time to stimulate a discussion around building a security culture that better protects all of us. Emphasizing personal responsibility to elicit behavior change across the organization, especially when interacting with third parties on the web, will fortify your cybersecurity armor.
Keep your organization protected from unintentional user risk and third-party risk — get a demo of the Elevate Security Platform today.