Control Third-party Communication Apps to Protect Your Third-party Workflows
Much like a busy office building with employees and guests coming and going, it’s impossible to monitor all information leaving and entering your organization. Everyday third-party communication apps, such as email, shared folders or file storage, are the doorways leading bad actors straight to your company’s PII, PHI, and IP. To protect these crown jewels, you must limit the number of entrances to your content to shrink the threat surface, the virtual space where your organization is exposed to attacks targeting third-party workflows.
Who Are Third Parties in Business?
Third parties in business organizations are any entities that are not directly involved in the activities of the company, yet still have some type of involvement with the company. Examples of third parties include suppliers, customers, banks, investors, and the government. These parties may be involved in the company’s operations in various ways, such as providing goods or services, or providing financing. They may also have an interest in the company’s success, either through direct ownership or through contractual agreements.
The Risk of Third-party Apps
Third-party communication apps present a variety of risks to organizations. First, employee use of these apps can lead to a data breach, as the data exchanged between employees may not be encrypted, and the third-party provider may not be compliant with data security standards. Additionally, these apps may not be suitable for the organization’s industry and could even be in violation of industry regulations. Finally, these apps may also expose an organization to malware, as malicious actors may be using the same platform as legitimate users. By embracing third-party risk management, organizations ensure that their data and the third-party communication apps used to move that data are secure and they increase their chances of demonstrating regulatory compliance.
Third-party workflow threats have a common theme: a user is the actor, and a file is the agent. Complete protection requires a defense that spans the full breadth of the associated threat surface: the collective paths of all files entering and exiting your organization. A comprehensive defense entails securing, monitoring, and managing all third-party workflows, including secure email, SFTP, and secure file sharing, among others.
In my last blog post, I discussed the importance of seeing who in your organization is sending what to whom by creating a CISO Dashboard. In this post, I’ll share another strategy to protect your organization from third-party workflow threats: control and defend third-party communication applications.
Restrict and Enforce the Number of Communication Apps Used in Your Third-party Workflows
Users share files from multiple endpoints: email, Web browsers, mobile apps and enterprise apps like Oracle and Salesforce. The fewer third-party communication apps you have to monitor, manage, and secure, the better. Restrict the number of applications coming onto your network by prohibiting unauthorized software installation and deploying a cloud access security broker (CASB) to block unauthorized cloud services.
Reducing the number of doors, the verified apps in your organization, can help in the event a contractor, accountant, or other digital supply chain vendor, gets breached. Hackers will try to access your network through your less secure partners and one of the biggest gateways into an organization is through external applications. Financial tracking apps or communication apps, for example, are porous systems attackers can breach, leading them straight to the heart of your organization and your most sensitive data. By limiting the number of gateways to your organization, you reduce the entry points these attackers have into your enterprise.
How to Use a Third-party App to Control Your Third-party Apps
Organizations can use a third-party app to, believe it or not, control and monitor third-party apps. First, they can use the app to manage access permissions, ensuring that only authorized users can access the apps they need while blocking unauthorized users. Furthermore, they can manage user activity and track usage to get real-time insights into how the apps are being used. Finally, organizations can use the app to set policies, ensuring that users abide by the organization’s data security guidelines while accessing third-party apps.
What Is the Best App for Team Communication?
The best app for team communication in an organization should be secure, user-friendly, and comprehensive. It should provide a secure platform for members to communicate and share sensitive information without risk of third-party access or data leakage. It should be intuitive and simple to use, allowing members to communicate quickly and efficiently. Additionally, it should provide a wide range of features such as file sharing, group chat, videoconferencing, and task assignment. This versatile range of features will enable organizations to facilitate effective collaboration and communication between teams.
Third-party Apps vs. Native Apps
The choice between using third-party apps or native apps will depend on the organization’s specific needs and preferences. Third-party apps often offer more flexibility, customization, and scalability, but native communication apps may provide a more intuitive user experience and better security features. Organizations should thoroughly evaluate their needs and preferences in order to determine which type of app is best suited for their needs.
Demonstrate Compliance With Data Privacy Regulations
Controlling which applications employees use to share sensitive content is not only essential to protecting PII, PHI, and IP from compromise, but it’s also necessary for demonstrating regulatory compliance with industry regulations such as HIPAA, GDPR, GLBA, NIST 800-171 and others. These regulations have strict requirements for handling, storing and exchanging customer data so that data privacy is ensured every step of the way. Failure to comply can lead to hefty fines, public embarrassment, lost revenues, class action lawsuits, and more.
Securing third-party communication apps is a critical strategy for protecting your sensitive content however it’s not the only one. In my next blog post, I’ll discuss how to make authorized third-party file sharing easy for employees so they don’t look for shadow IT alternatives.
To learn more about how to build a holistic defense of the third-party workflow threat surface, schedule a custom demo of Kiteworks today.
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