Partner Data Breaches: You're Only as Strong as Your Weakest Partner

Partner Data Breaches: You’re Only as Strong as Your Weakest Partner

A security system is only as strong as its weakest link. That’s one of the lessons your enterprise IT team can learn from the recent spate of partner data breaches.

If partners can connect to an enterprise’s internal network, or enterprise employees regularly exchange files with partners, the weakest link might turn out to be on a partner’s network.

Obviously, your enterprise IT team will never be able to conduct continuous security audits of all its partner networks. Nor will you likely be able to forbid all communications with outsiders like partners. Business must get done, and business frequently involves collaboration with partners outside the enterprise.

So you must find a way to accommodate external communications without jeopardizing security or employee productivity. And those external communications include secure file sharing: the exchange of sensitive information—everything from product plans to medical charts to invoices—with partners outside the organization.

Best Practices for Mitigating Partner Data Breaches

When designing and implementing enterprise security solutions, you should begin by assuming that partner networks are unsafe and partner data breaches are a real threat. You should assume that inbound communications carry malware, and that outbound communications leak confidential data. You should then implement a secure file sharing solution that takes every prudent measure to reduce risks and minimize the chance of a cyber attack while still making communication fast and convenient for your employees.

To avoid partner data breaches, enterprises should follow these best practices when evaluating and implementing secure file sharing solutions for inter-organization communications:

  • Keep control, and stay vigilant. Implement secure file sharing solutions that enable IT, security, and compliance teams to monitor and control communications, including ad hoc communications with partners. Just because information is flowing outside the enterprise does not mean that IT teams should cede oversight and control. To avoid partner data breaches, look for solutions that include a CISO dashboard so you see which files are being accessed, sent and received.
  • Make secure file sharing simple and convenient. If the secure file sharing solution you put in place is easy to use, employees and partners will not be tempted to look for a potentially risky shadow IT work-around, like Dropbox or Google Drive, increasing the risk of partner data breaches. Instead they will work with a centrally monitored solution that’s easy to use. Encourage good habits with simple secure file sharing.
  • Make sure security encompasses mobile computing. Like your own employees, your partners’ employees are increasingly using mobile devices to hold and to share sensitive information. Provide employees and partners with a solution that ensures secure mobile file sharing, from any location to avoid partner data breaches.
  • Implement real-time AV, ATP, and DLP scanning at all touch points. Enterprises should ensure that secure file sharing, email, and other partner communication channels be integrated with technologies that protect malicious files from coming in and sensitive information from leaking out of the host organization. A security integration with these and other security technologies extend your security perimeter to protect the files moving in, through, and out of the organization.

A secure file sharing solution, like the Kiteworks secure file sharing and governance platform, allows organizations and their enterprise IT teams to reduce the risk of partner data breaches while keeping partnerships productive and profitable.

Additional Resources