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What are the security risks of third-party apps?

More and more businesses rely on third-party apps for their day-to-day operations. However, with the convenience of these apps comes a series of security risks that can compromise your company’s data and reputation. It’s crucial to understand these risks and take the necessary steps to boost your software security and protect your business data.

Understanding the security risks of third-party apps

Third-party apps are applications developed by external vendors that are integrated into a business’s operating system or platform. These apps can range from project management tools to marketing automation software, to office productivity suites and customer management systems.

In the modern business landscape, where connectivity and mobility are paramount, third-party applications have become essential for accessing services and data. Yet 54% of businesses do not vet third-party vendors adequately, posing significant security risks and opening themselves up to potential cyber-attacks.

Types of third-party risks

Data security risks

One of the primary security risks associated with all types of third-party apps is the potential for data breaches. Risks can occur when a third party neglects to implement security measures, leading to the loss of data. Such a situation may result in data privacy infringements, as well as liability and compliance punishments for big businesses.

Increased security risk arises when a third-party application is granted access to information that is not necessary for its intended purpose or when an application is authorised to access information without the user’s awareness or consent. If these apps are not adequately secured, cybercriminals can use them as a gateway to access your business’s confidential information, leading to severe outcomes such as financial loss, regulatory or legal costs, and loss of reputation.

Data collection

Third-party apps often require access to sensitive information, such as customer data, financial records, and intellectual property.  Third-party apps collect and use data for different reasons and there is always the risk this data can be hacked, leaked, sold, or shared without content.


Businesses must consider compliance and regulatory requirements when it comes to safeguarding data from unauthorised access. These frameworks are established to protect sensitive data, such as customer information. By complying with these regulations, organisations can implement proper security measures and fail-safes to ensure the protection of important data.

Compliance and regulatory frameworks nowadays have strict rules and regulations, and failure to abide by them can lead to significant penalties. One such example is the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which came into effect in May 2018. Organisations that handle the data of any European citizen are obligated to comply with GDPR guidelines, and failure to do so can result in severe fines and consequences. A third-party application that is granted permission by an end user to access sensitive data could lead to data leaks which result in your business violating compliance regulations like GDPR when customer data is exposed without safeguards in place.

Best practice for third-party apps

Protecting your business from third-party app security risks requires a multi-faceted approach. Here are some best practices that can help you safeguard your business from these threats:

Use reputable third-party apps

The first step in protecting your business from third-party app security risks is to use reputable apps. Before integrating a third-party app into your business’s software, conduct thorough research on the app and its developer. Look for reviews and testimonials from other businesses that have used the app, and check for any security breaches or vulnerabilities associated with the app.

Limit the use of third-party apps

To mitigate the dangers of third-party apps, it is highly recommended to restrict their usage. This can be achieved by minimising the number of apps employed, which can greatly minimise the possibility of unauthorised access to confidential data and data breaches.

Conduct third-party app security audits

Regularly auditing your third-party apps can help identify any vulnerabilities or security risks. An app security audit involves reviewing the app’s security controls, assessing the app’s architecture and design, and testing the app for any known vulnerabilities. An audit can help identify any potential security risks and provide you with the information you need to mitigate those risks.

Implement security controls

Implementing security controls can help mitigate the risks associated with third-party apps. For example, you can implement access controls to restrict access to sensitive data, monitoring tools to detect suspicious activity, and encryption to protect data in transit and at rest.

Invest in employee security awareness

Businesses should ensure that their employees are trained in app security to prevent any potential threats. This includes instructing them to refrain from using unauthorised apps and to report any suspicious activity regarding third-party apps.

Establish a disaster recovery plan

In the event of a security breach, having a disaster recovery plan in place can help minimise the damage and get your business back up and running quickly. Your disaster recovery plan should include steps for isolating infected systems, restoring data from backups, and communicating with stakeholders.

Eliminate the risk of third-party apps

As the use of third-party apps continues to grow, businesses need to stay vigilant and proactive in their efforts to protect against security threats. Partner with the managed security team at Intelliworx to ensure that your business is securely using third-party apps, and take a proactive approach to app security, enabling you to capitalise on technology’s benefits while mitigating the potential risks.

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