Protecting the privacy and integrity of the data you manage and transmit is one of your company’s prime responsibilities. Start by understanding data breaches.
What is a Third-Party Data Breach?
Cyber attacks that result from the criminal actions of an outside entity for the specific purpose of sabotaging, damaging, copying, or stealing the information a company stores, manages, or transmits are known as data breaches.
When those criminal intrusions target an organization’s suppliers or partners or take advantage of data stolen during a previous incident, they are known as third-party data breaches. Protecting against a third-party data breach is particularly complicated for businesses even if they have instituted strict cybersecurity measures for their networks and employee behaviors.
Encouraging primary, secondary and tertiary suppliers and associates to be similarly vigilant can pose quite a challenge. The solution lies in a combination of a collaborative approach toward security and an emphasis on remaining constantly updated and vigilant.
Top 3 Data Breaches of the 2010s
As businesses become more interconnected and reliant on external networks and complex supply chains, they are increasingly vulnerable to third party breach. The following are three of the most infamous examples:
• In 2017, the Republican National Committee hired a company to gather information about approximately 200 million voters, which was eventually leaked and compromised. Sensitive details included voters’ names, addresses, phone numbers, dates of birth, and voter registration data.
• In 2018, information about as many as 383 million Marriott guests and 1.85 million encrypted passport numbers was obtained by hackers. The data applied to customers of Marriott’s Starwood brand, which Marriott was in the process of acquiring. Lack of scrupulous attention to data security during the transition transferred the risk and consequences to Marriott, technically making it a third party data breach.
• In April of 2019, the account names, likes, comments, and other preferences of 540 million Facebook users were compromised when a third-party developer, Cultura Colectiva, left the records on the Amazon S3 server without a password. Although the Cambridge Analytica Facebook breach garnered more media attention, this one affected more customers.
What to Do When You Experience a Data Breach
Upon learning that a breach has occurred, prompt action and close collaboration with all vendors, partners, suppliers, and other third parties are essential. Every day that goes by without the leaks being plugged and the damage repaired means the loss of more capital.
It is therefore crucial to meet with every stakeholder to discover weaknesses so that all parties can cooperate in correcting or minimizing the consequences.
Your next step involves implementing measures to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future, either in your own company or in your vendors’ systems.
If there has been a third-party breach of contract, it may have taken place only at the third-party company’s facilities or through interactions between the contractor’s systems and yours. In these third party breach of contract situations, you must bolster your internal safety measures while also urging your partners to do the same.
Requiring that they do so as a condition for continuing to do business with you can be a motivating factor. Developing a comprehensive data breach risk assessment strategy with the help of a top-tier company such as iTrust Services can provide your company with the support and expertise that can be a game-changer for your data security.
How Dangerous Is a Third Party Breach in 2020?
When data has been stolen or a password has been compromised in a third-party data breach, the consequences can be catastrophic for businesses and their customers.
Millions of dollars can be lost in a matter of days, heavily impacting investors, customers, and the organization. The public attention that is inevitable after such an event may also lead to a hard hit to the company’s reputation and short- or long-term profits as a result.
Since the criminal intrusion comes via a partner or vendor company, the primary organization has far less control over predicting or preventing it. The only way to guarantee that such an incident does not happen is to never communicate with other organizations, which is virtually impossible in today’s interdependent commercial landscape.
How to Prevent a Data Breach
While no company can guarantee that they will never be the victim of a breach caused by a third party entity, some steps can be taken to minimize the chances.
• Institute multifactor authentication. This puts another level of security into place, requiring a user to first enter their password and then input a one-time code before privileges are granted. Even if a password has been compromised in a third-party data breach, this precaution will render it useless to hackers.
• Provide training for staff that boosts awareness of how phishing schemes work. That is one of the best ways to lower the chances of employees inadvertently revealing sensitive information to senders that appear trustworthy but in reality, are not. Respected consultants like iTrust offer this instruction as part of their suite of security services.
• Audit third party companies for compliance. At your own expense, obtain verification that the organizations with whom you work are meeting their cybersecurity obligations and complying with industry standards. Be sure to do so in a way that minimizes impact and disruption. If one of your partners refuses to undergo the process, you may want to rethink whether you should continue to do business with them.
• Ensure that the third party has a robust vulnerability management strategy and that they are putting it into practice. To that end, request recent results from penetration testing, compliance frameworks, and risk assessments.
• Only grant network and data access to those who need it when they need it.
These cornerstones of cybersecurity can help to protect the vital data without which your organization would be unable to function.