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How Far Does Your Cybersecurity Umbrella Extend?

by VPNHaus | 09/15/2015 |VPN

Network administrators: No matter how impenetrable you think your network defenses are, there are always going to be remote access vulnerabilities that threaten the integrity of your walls. Often, it's a threat that originates from outside the immediate range of your defenses, and it's one you may not have any visibility into.

Recently, these threats have started to originate from third-party partners – a company's vendors, suppliers, agencies, firms and other outside service providers. These are often smaller companies with less sophisticated remote access defenses that, when they become a target of cyber crooks, provide a path for an attacker right into the heart of another company's network.

Target found this out the hard way, after its network was breached when attackers gained entry by acquiring network credentials though a third-party HVAC vendor. So did Lowe's, after one of its vendors backed up customer data on an unsecure server and unknowingly exposed the information to the broader Internet. Goodwill, too, suffered a breach because of a vendor, this time a retail POS operator that acknowledged its managed service environment "may have experienced unauthorized access."

While it may seem odd for big-name companies to provide such privileged access to third parties and, in the process, put themselves in harm’s way – either deliberately or inadvertently – it's actually quite a common situation.

As Brian Krebs reported in the aftermath of the Target breach, large retailers often provide HVAC and energy vendors with privileged network access so they can alert retailers around-the-clock in the event something goes wrong in one of their buildings. As a source told Krebs, "Vendors need to be able to remote into the system in order to do maintenance or to troubleshoot glitches and connectivity issues with the software."

Every company has a relationship with some sort of third party, which explains why attackers have increasingly honed in on them. One vendor's Rolodex alone may contain hundreds of other companies with which it has a privileged relationship. The comparison to a real-life criminal trying every door in an apartment building – one we've made before – works here too. If a cybercriminal doesn't have any luck attacking one partner of a vendor or supplier, he'll just move on to the next one.

So what are network administrators to do to protect their organizations?

Unfortunately, all the usual best practices aren’t as effective. You can educate your own employees, but your ability to educate a vendor or supplier is limited. You can create and enforce a Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) policy for your employees, but not a vendor or supplier's. And so on.

One solution is to adopt the right technology that enables a network administrator to be more vigilant and responsive to the threats he can control. While it may be impossible for a network administrator to have full visibility into the networks of its partners, a centrally managed remote access VPN, as part of a redundant network defense structure, provides IT with an end-to-end view across its own network, enabling an administrator to respond to threats in near-real time, before they spread.

Enterprise IT departments manage thousands of remote users and their devices everyday. A remote access VPN assures them that, at least, their own users are protected, even if they can’t guarantee the users of their partners are.

Read More:

The Target Breach: How Network Security Best Practices Could Have Prevented It</a>

Remote Access VPNs For Dummies

 

Remote Access VPN For Dummies</em>, we cover:

- The full VPN landscape, including hybrid IPsec/SSL VPN solutions
- The evolution of remote access VPN
- How to provide users with secure remote access
- How to simplify remote access VPN and reduce costs

Download Now

Remote Access VPN For Dummies</em>, we cover:

- The full VPN landscape, including hybrid IPsec/SSL VPN solutions
- The evolution of remote access VPN
- How to provide users with secure remote access
- How to simplify remote access VPN and reduce costs

Download Now

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