How to Secure Third-Party App Data
By Tobias Geisler Mesevage
Third-party applications are an effective way for businesses of all sizes to reduce overhead and complete tasks that they don’t have the bandwidth for in-house. But, while they are cost-effective and intended for easy implementation, third-party apps also tend to be the most vulnerable access point for hackers looking to exploit security weaknesses.
As third-party apps becoming increasingly more popular among businesses for email management, VPN connections, and lead management, businesses must take action to implement security measures to secure their data from malware and hackers.
The 2014 Trustwave Global Security Report found that “85% of the exploits detected were of third-party plug-ins, including Oracle Java and Adobe Acrobat, Reader and Flash.”
Whether using outsourced, open-source, or commercial off-the-shelf third-party apps, businesses must stay vigilant to properly protecting their data. Implementing security assurances with third-party apps is critical.
Ensure your data is protected and secure from malware and hackers by using these best practices when it comes to third-party apps:
Knowledge is power. Creating an app database is critical to protecting your data. The database should include:
- Which third-party apps does the app business use?
- What data does the vendor have access to?
- What is each third-party app used for?
- What is the best point of contact for each vendor?
Security Policies & Procedures
When considering third-party applications, always ask developers about built-in security framework and testing. And require that the third-party developer follows your company’s policies when it comes to data security.
Look for third-party app vendors and developers that have received certifications of compliance against industry-recognized security standards.
Disaster Recovery Plan
Make sure the third-party app vendor has a disaster recovery plan in place, which will determine who they access and recover mission-critical data in the event of a disaster – natural or humanmade.
Ensure the vendor is using data encryption, which makes the data indecipherable without an access key. And, also be sure to ask how they are protecting the encryption keys.
As hackers evolve, so should your cybersecurity risk assessment and management. Businesses should have an ongoing practice of assessing third-party vendor security policies. Make sure vendors are aware of this strategy when they agree to work with the company.
Make sure you have the most up-to-date version of the app, which should include all security patches released by the developer. Don’t ignore notifications for updating an app because they may include an important security patch. Likewise, if your business discovers a security flaw, report it to the vendor and request a security patch.
While hackers may gain access due to the weak security framework of a third-party application, it’s your company that has to deal with the fallout from the hack. You will be responsible for explaining it to your customers, vendors, and employees. Your company will also be responsible for cleaning up the mess it creates.
Ensuring strict data security with third-party apps is not only good business, but it’s also good for your reputation.