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Are third party software applications exposing businesses to cyber-threats?

When it comes to vulnerability management, you cannot fix the flaws you don’t know about.  In a nutshell, visibility is everything. The more you know about the security of your applications and infrastructure, the better equipped you are to keep it safe from malicious intrusions.  Regular vulnerability scans are a vital component of any effective Cyber Security strategy. To maintain an airtight security posture, it is important to carry out regular vulnerability scans which can uncover security flaws in your systems and applications.

Although no business is ‘immune’ from falling victim to a cyber-attack, a proactive approach to security and managing vulnerabilities can greatly reduce cyber-risk. This deep visibility into the security of your applications is highly valuable as it allows you to evaluate your security weaknesses and their impact on business operations. Without this information you are unable to put a comprehensive incident response plan into action.

The security of third-party software and web applications

A supply chain web application is software which is outsourced from a third-party company or individual. This means that that the program is fully coded and designed by a different company rather than by your in-house teams. Within corporate environments, it has become common practice to deploy software which is open sourced or created by third parties. For many businesses, they have a range of out-sourced software which they use for critical business operations such as emails, security, CRM’s and accounting systems.

Open source applications are popular as they often save businesses time and money.  However, many businesses do not dedicate the time to detect vulnerabilities within the software. Although you may endeavour to install the necessary security controls to protect your data, do not assume that these applications are without security flaws. If these programs are not tested for security holes, vulnerabilities can fester, and your systems could be exposed to malicious attacks.

A recent study conducted by Veracode found that 90% of third-party code does not comply with enterprise security standards such as the OWASP Top 10. This is rather shocking as third-party application security is essential for today’s IT security compliance landscape.

Now that GDPR is well underway, businesses are required to thoroughly test their web applications following stringent guidelines. Ensuring that you are fully compliant with regulations such as ISO 27001, GDPR and Payment Card Industry Standards can be overwhelming if you do not seek expert advice.  However, you can take the leg work away from achieving compliance by utilising vulnerability management tools like AppCheck.

How can regular testing help my business reduce third party risk?

Unfortunately, as many businesses are failing to test the security of their outsourced code, hackers are targeting vulnerabilities within the software layer. Cybercriminals know that they only need to find one unpatched flaw within your software applications to reap huge financial rewards. They often focus their access attempts on third-party portals as they know they aren’t guarded by sufficient security measures.

Back in 2018 British Airways suffered a catastrophic breach which resulted in a whopping £183.39 M fine from the ICO. Due to a website vulnerability, hackers were able to steal 500,000 data records, including the credit card number, expiry date and three-digit security code during the online reservation process.

To diminish the risk of bad actors successfully infiltrating your systems, you must develop a process for testing these ‘blind spots’ within your applications. Regular vulnerability scanning helps you to identify security risks, prioritise remediation and harden the overall security of your organisation.  By having an increased awareness of security flaws within your third-party software, you can rest assured that software weaknesses will no longer leave you ‘ripe for the picking’.

Regular vulnerability scanning provides invaluable insight into your overall security posture. Whether there is a change to your IT infrastructure or a need to prove you are following regulatory compliance, ongoing scans help to identify areas for improvement and actionable insights. Early next year we are hosting a webinar alongside AppCheck which will discuss this topic in more detail, please let us know if you would like to join. Otherwise, if you would like to find out more about our vulnerability scanning service head to our web page or call us on 0121 663 0055 to speak to one of our expert security consultants.

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