A new study conducted by researchers from American University explored the work that is necessary for companies to ensure that their data -- and their customers’ data -- remains secure.
The study revealed that regardless of how firm a company is on security, they could be more susceptible to a data breach if one of their affiliated vendors is more laid back on the issue.
“Companies that want to be the most effective at preventing cyber-attacks need to look at every entity that handles their data,” said researcher Ayman Omar. “If you have one weak link, the entire operation is compromised. If I’m running a company that has strong cybersecurity measures in place, but my third-party vendors don’t, the company is still at risk.”
The researchers explained that a company’s vendors will often reap the rewards of the company’s cybersecurity efforts, as those protections will extend to cover beyond just the company in question. However, this study also found that those efforts need to be reciprocated on all ends, as all of that shared data can become more vulnerable to hackers when there aren’t comprehensive cybersecurity practices put into place.
Moving forward, the researchers suggest that companies put competition aside in their efforts to protect their data and their customers’ data, and work alongside potentially rival companies to ensure that data remains secure.
“It’s in the best interest of companies that normally compete with each other to combine investments to make cybersecurity supply chains better,” said Omar.
Being mindful of public networks
With many companies now offering free WiFi to their customers, a recent study explored how public networks can be susceptible to cybersecurity attacks.
The researchers found that routers used in many public spaces or in consumers’ homes contain two networks -- one that contains more private data and another that is for guest use. However, hackers are able to work in shared channels that gives them access to both the public and the private network, which can help them steal data from either one.
To avoid such issues, the researchers suggested having entirely separate devices designated for personal use versus public use. They explained that doing this can prevent hackers from stealing or sharing information.
“All of the routers we surveyed regardless of brand or price point were vulnerable to at least some cross-network communication once we used specially crafted network packets,” said researcher Adar Ovadya. “A hardware-based solution seems to be the safest approach to guaranteeing isolation between secure and non-secure network devices.”