The Security Risks Involved With Third-Party Remote Access

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Security Risks

If organizations do not closely monitor the health of their third-party ecosystem, the rippling effects of the pandemic might affect their ability to resume business operations for good.

Giving any third-party provider access to the systems of an organization is a big security risk. Even if there is no malicious intent, they unknowingly have a dangerous role in data breaches.

It can cost an organization millions of dollars and will only continue to become larger and frequent. With the pandemic resulting in the majority of the operations being done through remote work, third parties are now increasingly being allowed access to the systems and networks.

Almost half of all data breaches involve a third party. Even though organizations are implementing different solutions, trying to protect against third-party cyber-risk, they are not efficient and end up giving too much access to third parties.

Cybercriminals often invade a company’s system through third-party access because it is sometimes the weakest link in the network and often have access to multiple customer networks. This allows hackers to obtain a lot of data for the effort of a single hack.

Organizations need to be careful with the access they give to third parties and watch out for the most common routes hackers take to gain access.

Weak Remote Access Policy

Almost every organization uses Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), especially now that there is an increase in the need for remote access. Once hackers get access to the VPN, they can penetrate the rest of the network like a hot knife through butter.  Third parties should have secure access only to the systems, networks, and information they require.

A vendor access management solution can help protect data against the risks that come with third-party access. With this solution, users can access the resources they need while being compliant with the regulations and industry requirements.

Read More: Coronavirus Phishing Attacks – Most of Them Have US IP Addresses

Ransomware Threats

Another common threat that insecure third-party access can bring is ransomware. Attacks involving ransomware have caused havoc across many industries that provide crucial infrastructure.

Ransomware attacks are not just expensive; they are a danger to public safety. Organizations need to have a robust cybersecurity strategy that can track third-party activities and indicate a sign of a breach before it happens.

Phishing Attacks

Phishing is still the number one method employed by hackers to gain access to corporate networks. CISOs say it has become extremely sophisticated and that a majority of the data breaches result from phishing attacks.

Even if organizations conduct internal phishing tests to educate employees on how to outmanoeuvre a phishing attack, it does not account for third parties. The third-party vendors and contractors could be untrained and susceptible to a phishing attack that could inadvertently compromise the network, especially if it’s through a VPN or another tool that wasn’t made for vendor connections.

The ongoing pandemic provides the perfect conditions for phishing, as cybercriminals use fear and panic to pressure people into clicking malicious links.  It is essential for all parties involved to have security awareness training against phishing attacks, to ensure nothing is compromised.

Read More: Vishing- the latest version of phishing attack tactics

Threat Related to Privileged Credentials

External third parties should never have access to privileged credentials. Even if there are no bad intentions involved, a bad actor can enter their machine and take advantage of the credentials to gain entry into the network and systems. Organizations must oversee and audit all third-party activity regularly.

A time of unplanned change comes with huge risks. There are ways to support a remote workforce and third-party vendors without compromising security.  Organizations should holistically think of their data governance and protect its data wherever it resides. If there are no reliable, third-party, and vendor management programs in place to secure vendor access, the sins of the third party may well become the sins of the company.