Unsecured vendor access creates the perfect storm for cyber attacks

Unsecured vendor access creates the perfect storm for cyber attacks

Unsecured vendor access creates the perfect storm for cyber attacks

Bomgar, a leader in secure access solutions, announced the results of its Vendor Vulnerability research, which finds that third-party vendors can be a significant security risk if their access to IT systems are not managed and monitored correctly.

  • Vendor Vulnerability study finds an increasing trust and dependence on third-party vendors with access to IT systems is opening organisations up to cyber-security breaches.
  • Sixty four per cent of organisations expect to experience a serious information breach this year as a result of vendor activity, according to Vendor Vulnerability research from Bomgar.

The study[1] explores the visibility, control, and management that organisations in the US and Europe have over external parties accessing their IT networks. It also uncovers the level of awareness organisations have over the potential risks - such as cyber-attacks and data breaches – that vendors accessing systems remotely can pose. Finally, the report looks at the policies and processes organisations have in place to protect themselves, and their third-party vendors, from these issues.

81 per cent of respondents admitted that high profile data breaches, such as the 2013 attack on Target[2], have increased their awareness of the need for better third-party vendor controls. Yet only a third (35 per cent) are confident they know the exact number of vendors accessing their IT systems. The Vendor Vulnerability research reveals that on average 89 third-party vendors access a typical company’s network each week, and that number is likely to grow. Three quarters (75 per cent) of those polled stated the number of third-party vendors used by their organisation has increased in the last two years, and 71 per cent believe the numbers will continue to increase in the next two years.

The report uncovered a high level of trust in third-party vendors, but a low level of visibility of vendor access to IT systems. 92 per cent of respondents say they trust vendors completely or most of the time, although two-thirds (67 per cent) admit they tend to trust vendors too much. Astonishingly, only 34 per cent knew the number of log-ins to their network attributed to third-party vendors, and 69 per cent admitted they had definitely or possibly suffered a security breach resulting from vendor access in the past year.

Unsecured vendor access creates the perfect storm for cyber attacks

Matt Dircks, CEO of Bomgar:

“Third-party vendors play a vital and growing role in supporting organisations’ systems, applications, and devices. However, they also represent a complex network that many organisations are struggling to appraise and manage correctly."

“It’s clear from the research that there’s a high level of trust in third-party vendors, but very little visibility or control over what they’re doing when connected to the company’s network. This combination of dependence, trust, and lack of control has created the ‘perfect storm’ for security breaches across companies of all sizes. If a hacker can compromise and pose as a legitimate vendor, they may have unfettered access to networks for weeks or even months; plenty of time to steal sensitive data or shut down critical systems.”

Interestingly, it is not that organisations don’t understand the risks - amongst those surveyed there was a general awareness of the threats posed by ineffective management of vendor access. Of those polled:

  • 56 per cent believed the threat around vendor access was not taken seriously enough; only 22 per cent confirmed that they are very confident that their company is fully protected from the threat of third-party vendor breaches.
  • Almost half (44 per cent) take a “full or none” approach to vendor access, rather than granting granular levels of access for various vendors.
  • A mere half (51 per cent) enforce policies around third party access, 55 per cent have not reviewed their policies in the past two years.
  • Two thirds (64 per cent) think their organisation focuses more on cost than security when outsourcing services.
  • 74 per cent are concerned about IT breaches originating from connected devices during the next year and 72 per cent see vendors using their own sub-contractors as a further risk, adding in the complexity of fourth party risk.

Dircks continues:

“There’s clearly a gap in many organisations’ ability to limit their exposure to cyber-attacks that stem from hackers piggy backing on third-party vendor access.

Without the ability to granularly control access and establish an audit trail of who is doing what on your network, you cannot protect yourself from third-party vulnerabilities. Bomgar’s Secure Access solutions are quick to deploy and easy to use, allowing companies of all sizes to immediately gain control of vendor access and spot any anomalies or potential threats. It is only when access is secured that organisations are able to truly reap the benefits of utilising third parties and harness the possibilities of today’s connected world.”

Using Bomgar’s solutions, Horizon Beverage has not only increased visibility and control of its vendors, they’ve also improved efficiency.

Scott Pepi, Tech Support Manager, Horizon Beverage:

“Now that we have Bomgar Privileged Access Management in addition to Bomgar Remote Support, I can more efficiently manage our vendors and support reps as separate entities, but with consistent technology. This addition was seamless for us. Bomgar just works, all the time.”

A free copy of Bomgar’s Vendor Vulnerability research can be downloaded at: www.bomgar.com/vendorvulnerability.

For more information on Bomgar click here


[1] Research conducted in February 2016 on behalf of Bomgar by Loudhouse. 608 respondents included 201 UK, 203 US, 102 French and 102 German decision makers with visibility over the processes associated with enabling any external parties to connect to their systems remotely.

[2] http://bit.ly/1dJQq9d, “Target data breach: Why UK business needs to pay attention”, Computer Weekly, March 2014.

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