How Common Are Third-Party Security Breaches?

3 minute read

June 2022


In terms of operational agility and cybersecurity, third-party service providers can be a double-edged sword. Teaming up with a company dedicated to a specific task or discipline your organization needs can produce a huge efficiency boost. At the same time, without information about their security posture, it’s hard to discern how much risk your communications, their software, or their infrastructure may pose. 

The good news is you can reduce your exposure using a third-party cyber risk management solution.

What Is a Third-Party Breach?

A third-party breach refers to one in which sensitive data gets stolen from a third-party vendor or when a hacker uses their system to penetrate yours. The general principle that drives many third-party breaches goes like this: In many cases, you need to provide third parties with access to sensitive information, so if a hacker can leverage this access, they can easily access high-value data. In other cases, threat actors breach a third party and use the connection to infiltrate your network.

How Common Are Third-Party Breaches?

Third-party breaches like this are very common. In a study by the Ponemon Institute, 59% of respondents confirmed that they had experienced a data breach caused by a third-party vendor. The infamous SolarWinds attack is one of the most recent headline-grabbing examples of a breach caused by a third-party vendor. 

Also, the Kaseya attack, which was launched using REvil ransomware, is another sobering reminder of the danger posed by third-party vendors. In this attack, a wide range of companies that used Kaseya as their third-party IT solutions provider all got hacked around the same time on July 2, 2021. The REvil ransomware first locked up their files, denying users access, and then demanded a ransom payment. If it weren’t for each company’s partnership with Kaseya, July 2nd would’ve been business as usual.

The impact of third-party breaches varies depending on your business and its infrastructure, as well as the nature of the attack. Common consequences include:

  • Financial loss
  • Reputational damage
  • The theft of sensitive customer data
  • Legal battles over leaked or exploited customer information

It’s imperative, therefore, that you minimize your exposure to these threats.

How Do You Prevent Third-Party Breaches?

Here are some ways to stay a step ahead of third-party breaches:

  • Vendor selection. In the vendor selection process, you can perform a cyber risk assessment, quantifying the level of risk each prospective vendor presents.
  • Continuous monitoring. By continually monitoring your vendor environment, you can detect risky activity before its impact hits your company full-bore.
  • Zero trust architecture, including segmentation. With zero-trust architecture, every person, device, network, and app is presumed to be a threat, and can’t access your system until it proves otherwise. Also, with segmentation, your network is divided into regions, making it so an attack can’t spread beyond that portion of your network.

How CyberGRX Mitigates Third-Party Risks

The CyberGRX system contains in-depth risk assessments of over 80,000 third-party vendors—and the number of profiles is constantly growing. Using this information and customized reporting structures, CyberGRX provides organizations with:

  • Threat profiles for third-party vendors
  • Full visibility into the range of risks each vendor presents
  • Flexible reporting avenues that enable you to sort according to compliance areas or benchmarks, as well as compare one vendor against another

With CyberGRX, you can confidently wield your third-party vendors as powerful productivity weapons. Instead of being leery of looming liabilities, you have the peace of mind you need to embrace each vendor’s capabilities while limiting your risk. Request a demo today to see how CyberGRX can work for your organization.

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About Us

ProcessUnity is a leading provider of cloud-based applications for risk and compliance management. The company’s software as a service (SaaS) platform gives organizations the control to assess, measure, and mitigate risk and to ensure the optimal performance of key business processes. ProcessUnity’s flagship solution, ProcessUnity Vendor Risk Management, protects companies and their brands by reducing risks from third-party vendors and suppliers. ProcessUnity helps customers effectively and efficiently assess and monitor both new and existing vendors – from initial due diligence and onboarding through termination. Headquartered outside of Boston, Massachusetts, ProcessUnity is used by the world’s leading financial service firms and commercial enterprises. For more information, visit