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Cyberpion 2021 Predictions: Third-party attacks will increase pushing organizations to more carefully evaluate online vendors

 vmblog 2021 prediction series 

Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2021.  Read them in this 13th annual series exclusive.

Third-party attacks will increase pushing organizations to more carefully evaluate online vendors

By Dr. Nethanel Gelernter, Founder & CEO, Cyberpion

If the recent SolarWinds supply chain attack that targeted the U.S. government has taught us anything, it's that cybersecurity must extend beyond the walls of organizations. While the recent headlines have been dramatic, this trend of attacking companies through their supply chains has become a growing threat for years.

To improve operations and better serve customers, enterprises have increasingly turned to many third-party online solutions. These technologies, on closer inspection, represent thousands of points of vulnerability and provide hackers a larger attack surface to exploit. Some of the biggest threats exist beyond company firewalls that can't be detected with anti-virus software. Security teams will need to do more to ensure their ecosystems of connected partners and vendors are monitored and secured in 2021.

Here are my predictions about third-party, supply chain attacks in 2021.

Security attacks stemming from online ecosystem vulnerabilities will accelerate.

We will see more attacks on enterprises through third-party vendors as online ecosystems expand at an increased pace. These connected technologies will continue to be used as organizations seek to accelerate their digital transformation projects. As a result, there will be more opportunities for hackers to increase their attacks targeting and leveraging online third-party connections.

Organizations will recognize the need to look deeper into their third-party vendors beyond scoring solutions.

Traditional third-party scoring solutions often assess vendors who are directly connected to an organization, and often only look at the public-facing veneer of a vendor. This analysis misses a critical aspect of today's IT infrastructures: vendors have typically built their IT on technologies and infrastructures of additional vendors. Analyzing the public marketing site of a vendor has little to do with the vendor's true infrastructure that it relies on to deliver online products and services to its customers.

Additionally, the type of connection an organization has to a vendor has a role in determining their true risk - but many "risk scoring" solutions do not differentiate at this level. Multiple organizations can be connected to the same vendor in different ways and it doesn't affect the "risk score," even if they use different services and solutions of the vendor. Moreover, as every vendor relies on additional vendors, the infrastructures to which the organization is connected might not be known to the enterprise. Because these threats can exist anywhere in the chain of vendors, organizations will need to look deeper into these connected ecosystems to assess the full threat landscape they are exposed to.

While the SolarWinds story might be the first time that businesses hear about these kinds of attacks, it likely won't be the last as exploiting online ecosystem vulnerabilities will be one of the preferred attack methods for hackers in 2021.


About the Author

Dr. Nethanel Gelernter, Founder & CEO, Cyberpion

Nethanel Gelernter 

An experienced security researcher with a deep academic and industry background, Nethanel's research field is practical cybersecurity with a focus on modern attack vectors. His work has impacted some of the most popular online services, and triggered design changes in many of the most popular web applications.

Published Tuesday, January 19, 2021 7:48 AM by David Marshall
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