Why To Consider Partners As Potential Insider Threats Too

BeyondTrust, November 1st, 2011

In early September BeyondTrust CMO Brian Anderson covered the news around Stanford Hospital & Clinics medical privacy breach that resulted in 20,000 patients’ personal data being publicly available on a website for nearly a year. At the time the breach was first reported by The New York Times, it was unclear how the data made it onto the website.

Recently, after a $20 million lawsuit related to the breach hit Stanford Hospital & Clinics, the hospital released a statement holding a third party billing contractor responsible for the data breach. According to an October 5th New York Times article, the data breach happened “because a billing contractor’s marketing agent sent the electronic spreadsheet to a job prospect as part of a skills test, the hospital and contractors confirmed this week. The applicant then sought help by unwittingly posting the confidential data on a tutoring Web site.”

Thirty-nine percent of all data breaches involve third-party outsourcers – this according to data pulled from a recent Ponemon Institute study. The lesson we can all learn from the Stanford incident is that organizations, be it a healthcare provider or a national retailer, 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.