Third-party apps: what are the security risks?

In today's digital age, third-party apps have become an essential part of our lives. From social media platforms to productivity tools, we rely on third-party apps for convenience and efficiency.

However, with the increasing use of these apps, there are also increasing security risks. Third-party apps are often built by developers who have access to sensitive information, and the security measures they implement may not be as robust as those of larger companies. The Ponemon Institute and IBM reported that 51% of businesses do not properly vet third-party vendor security and privacy procedures before allowing them access to company data.

As a result, these apps can leave your personal and professional data vulnerable to cyber threats.

Why is third-party risk management important?

Third-party risk management helps organisations identify and manage the dangers associated with using third-party vendors. These vendors provide a wide range of services, from cloud computing to social media platforms. However, using third-party vendors also comes with added risks. These risks can include legal and compliance issues, malicious code, hidden trackers, and increased network-level threats.

With the increase of third-party app usage, sensitive information is often stored or transmitted through these external platforms, making them an attractive target for cybercriminals. A breach in one of these apps can lead to unauthorised access to a company's data or even complete disruption of its operations. Implementing robust risk management processes enables organisations to identify vulnerabilities and address them before they can be exploited.

A third-party risk management plan should include:

  • A thorough review of the terms of service and privacy policies of any third-party apps you use.
  • A comprehensive assessment of the security measures implemented by the third-party vendor.
  • Regular monitoring of the third-party vendor's security practices.
  • Contingency plans in place in the event of a data breach or other security incident.

Legal and compliance risks

Third-party apps can collect a vast amount of personal and professional data, which can be used for nefarious purposes. This data can include everything from your name and address, to your browsing history and social media activity. If this data falls into the wrong hands, it can be used for identity theft, cyberstalking, and other malicious activities.

To mitigate these risks, it is essential to carefully review the terms of service and privacy policies of any third-party apps you use, and limit the amount of personal and professional data you share with these apps.

Malicious code

Malicious code is code that is designed to harm your computer or steal your data. This can include everything from viruses and worms, to Trojan horses and spyware.

Defend your information and devices from malicious code by using robust antivirus software and other cyber security tools, such as firewalls and advanced threat intelligence software.

Hidden trackers

Hidden trackers are pieces of code that are embedded in third-party apps and can track your online activity. This can include your browsing history, location data, and social media activity.

Protect yourself from hidden trackers by carefully reviewing the terms of service and privacy policies of any third-party apps you use. You can also use a virtual private network (VPN) to encrypt your online activity and protect your privacy.

Increased network-level threats

Third-party apps can often access your network and can potentially introduce vulnerabilities. This includes unauthorised access, and network or malware infections.

To protect yourself from network-level threats, it is important to use strong passwords and two-factor authentication. You should also be careful about the types of websites you visit and the files you download. Finally, you should always be vigilant about the types of emails you receive, as these can often contain malicious code disguised as legitimate messages.

Third-party app usage best practices

In addition to having a comprehensive third-party risk management program in place, there are also several best practices to implement across your organisation, and ensure your users follow. These include:

  • Identify potential vulnerabilities in your network and systems that could be exploited.
  • Monitor the app’s security and performance.
  • Limit sensitive data and functions to authorised users with role-based access controls.
  • Limit permissions granted to the app.
  • Limit the amount of personal and professional data you share with third-party apps.
  • Use reputable antivirus software to protect your computer from malicious code.
  • Be careful about the types of websites you visit and the files you download.
  • Implement a strong password policy and multi-factor authentication to protect your network.

Defend your data against third-party security risks with expert help

While third-party apps offer a great deal of convenience, they also come with increased security risks. It is important to be aware of these risks and take steps to mitigate them with the right risk management plans and precautions.

The cyber security specialists at Essential Tech can create a third-party risk management plan tailored to your business needs and the apps you use. Talk to them today about enhancing your security maturity before you get caught out.

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