Could Your Business Partners Be Your Weakest Link?

BeyondTrust, May 3rd, 2011

The drive for greater company-wide efficiencies and overall cost-savings has made the reality of outsourcing a significant part of 21st century business practices. But, by handing over your data and network access to third-parties, no matter how trustworthy, your enterprise could be at risk of suffering a serious and damaging data leak.

According to a new study from the Ponemon Institute, 39 percent of data breaches involve third-party outsourcers. Many companies experienced this problem first hand when a recent, very highly publicized data breach by email marketing service provider, Epsilon, affected some of the nation’s largest banks, and technology and retail brands. Although this specific breach only involved the release of names and email addresses, the exposure of more confidential information, traced back to outside vendors, is occurring on a much more alarmingly frequent basis.

The lesson we can all learn here is that companies not only have to monitor their own security, but also that of their associates and vendors. While it is important to provide the information and access necessary for third-party resources to do their jobs, at the same time it’s irresponsible to allow vendors free reign over sensitive data or network assets. An all or nothing approach to granting users access doesn’t work here. Effective privilege identity management coupled with comprehensive knowledge of your partners’ and vendors’ security policies and practices is the best way to safeguard your company’s most valued assets.