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Third-party apps: What are the risks?

As businesses continue to rely on technology to streamline their operations and reach their target audience, the use of third-party apps has become increasingly common.

While these apps can provide a range of benefits, from improved productivity to enhanced customer engagement, they also come with hidden dangers that can put your business at risk. From data breaches to cyber-attacks, almost 30% of third-party apps connected to business environments are considered high risk and can compromise your company’s sensitive information and leave you vulnerable to serious financial and reputational damage.

What are third-party apps?

Third-party apps are software applications that are developed and distributed by companies other than the one that owns the platform or operating system on which they are used. These apps are designed to provide additional functionality to users, such as communication tools, productivity software, or gaming apps.

Examples of types of third-party applications used in today’s business world include:

  • Video conferencing tools
  • Accounting and finance
  • ERP and logistic tools
  • Marketing and data analytics
  • Web development
  • Office applications
  • Calendar and task management tools
  • Sales and CRM.

In today’s increasingly connected and mobile-driven business world, third-party apps are a necessity for interacting with services and data and are a vital component of the public cloud. Despite the functionality provided by robust third-party apps, they can bring risks to your organisation.

Risks associated with third-party apps

Third-party apps can pose a variety of threats to your privacy. Understanding these threats is essential to take the necessary steps to protect your personal information.

Data collection and sharing

Many third-party apps collect and use your personal information in ways that you may not be aware of. For example, social media platforms may collect location data, browsing history, and even contacts. This information can be used to create targeted advertisements, sell to third-party data brokers, or even be hacked and stolen.

To make matters worse, the terms and conditions of these apps are often lengthy and written in complex legal language, making it difficult for users to understand what they are agreeing to. In some cases, users may unwittingly permit their data to be collected and shared with third parties.

Data breaches and security risks

One of the most significant risks associated with third-party apps is the potential for data breaches and security risks. Third-party apps often require access to sensitive information, such as customer data, financial information, and intellectual property. This can occur when a third-party app is given access to information that it does not need to perform its intended function, or when an app is granted permission to access information without the user’s knowledge or consent.

If a third-party app is not properly secured, this information can be accessed by unauthorised users, such as cybercriminals or hackers. Unauthorised access to sensitive information can result in data breaches and security risks that have serious consequences for businesses, including financial loss, reputation damage, and legal liability. In addition, unauthorised access to sensitive information can result in the loss of trust from customers, who may be hesitant to do business with a company that has experienced a breach.

How to assess the risks of third-party apps

To protect your business from the risks associated with third-party apps, it is important to assess the risks of each app before using it. This can be done by conducting a thorough review of the app’s security features, privacy policy, and terms of service.

Security features

When assessing the security features of a third-party app, it is important to look for features such as encryption, two-factor authentication, and regular security updates. These features can help to protect sensitive information and prevent unauthorised access.

Privacy policy

The privacy policy of a third-party app outlines how the app collects, uses, and shares user data. When assessing the privacy policy of an app, it is important to look for information on how user data is stored, who has access to it, and how it is protected.

Terms of service

The terms of service of a third-party app outline the responsibilities of both the app developer and the user. When assessing the terms of service of an app, it is important to look for information on data ownership, liability, and dispute resolution.

Best practices for using third-party apps safely

In addition to assessing the risks of third-party apps, there are several best practices that businesses can follow to use these apps safely:

Limit the number of third-party apps used: One of the best ways to reduce the risks associated with third-party apps is to limit the number of apps used. By using fewer apps, businesses can reduce the potential for data breaches and unauthorised access to sensitive information.

Use trusted app developers: When choosing third-party apps, it is important to use trusted app developers who have a track record of providing secure and reliable apps. This can be done by conducting research on the app developer and reading reviews from other users.

Keep apps up to date: To ensure the security of third-party apps, it is important to keep them up to date with the latest security patches and updates. This can help to address any security vulnerabilities and reduce the risk of data breaches.

Train employees on app security: Finally, businesses should train their employees on app security best practices, such as avoiding the use of unauthorised apps and reporting any suspicious activity related to third-party apps.

Leverage business technology and stay secure

While third-party apps can provide many benefits to businesses, they also come with significant risks. Partner with the managed security team at Intelliworx who can ensure your business is following best practices for using third-party apps safely. By taking a proactive approach to app security, your business can leverage the benefits of technology while minimising the risks.

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