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Third-Party Breaches

A third-party breach occurs when an attacker targets an organization through its connections with third-party suppliers, vendors, contractors, or partners.

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Many organizations fail to realize that by interacting with third parties, they could be handing threat actors the keys to the back door.

Even though these third parties aren’t under your organization’s control, they usually have access to your networks, applications and resources. If a threat actor compromises one of your suppliers, vendors, contractors, or even business partners, they can gain unauthorized access to the sensitive information stored here, resulting in a data breach. This information could be tampered with, destroyed, stolen, or held at ransom by attackers. Of course, this is devastating for the organization affected, forcing them to endure legal implications, loss of stakeholder trust, and a blow to their finances.

How Do Third Party Data Breaches Happen?

  • Compromised Credentials: Most common cause of a third party data breach is through the use of compromised credentials to gain access into the third party network, and then move laterally to your organization. These credentials may have been bought on the cyber underground from a previous data breach, or pried from a third party employee in a phishing attack.

  • Social Engineering Attacks: Phishing attacks are an example of such an attack. By impersonating a legitimate source or using an emotional appeal, a threat actor can contact and trick an unwitting member of staff into revealing their log in details or download malware simply by asking. The threat may already be waiting in your inbox!

  • Unsecured Assets: Delaying the latest patch update will provide threat actors with vulnerabilities to leverage for entry to your network. Also, the cloud services used by many operations often operate a shared responsibility model for cyber security, leading to customer generated misconfigurations in the infrastructure which may permit unauthorized users access to confidential data stored there.

  • Malware: An employee in a third party can inadvertently download malware, such as keyloggers, onto their operating system which sends sensitive data, such as logins for the organizations they serve, back to a command and control server.

What Can You Do to Stop a Third Party Breach?

  • Audit Your Vendors: Before onboarding or purchasing your third party service, it is critical to perform a comprehensive risk assessment that covers their cyber security systems and incident response. This way you can understand the risk they pose to your organization before they become the weak link in your supply chain.

  • Principle of Least Privilege (PoLP): Don’t give third party vendors more access than they need to complete the job. Organizations following this rule will reduce their attack surface.

  • Leverage Cyber Threat Intelligence (CTI): CTI can ensure you aren’t always on the back foot when it comes to protecting your organization from data breaches. By providing you intelligence on active and emerging threats that might affect your third parties, and therefore your own organization, you can take steps to prevent these attacks or mitigate their effects.

How Can Intel 471 Help?

We are your window into the cyber underground. Our unparalleled CTI offers unique insights into attackers’ intents and motivation to change the odds of an attack. Our intelligence can help you monitor your third parties to prevent a third party breach impacting your organization by:

  • Mapping an Attack Surface: Intel 471’s Attack Surface Protection suite will identify all known, unknown, and rogue assets within your third parties’ attack surfaces. From a long-forgotten API endpoint to a misconfigured cloud storage bucket, you can locate all vulnerabilities that a third party supplier must address before a threat actor can gain access, and maneuver your cyber security defenses to preempt an attack from these vectors.

  • Continuous Monitoring: In the event of a data breach, you need to know about it as quickly as possible in order to mitigate its impact. We perform continuous monitoring of your attack surface and our underground sources and provide timely alerts to notable changes or if any data related to a third party (or your organization) is leaked or put up for sale, so that you can act with immediacy to prevent a data breach from this vector.

  • Knowing Your Adversaries: Our ‘boots on the ground analysts’ are native speakers of the languages and the underground ecosystems inhabited by threat actors. This gives us a unique insight into how they operate. By providing you up-to-the-minute intelligence about the tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) of attackers, you have all the information you need to prepare for and mitigate the next strike.