Threats And Risks Of Using Third-Party Software

The value chain and other external stakeholders that offer goods and services and also can access protected systems pose a danger to an organization’s data security, financial details, and other operations.

This is particularly important because these third parties sometimes lack similar security requirements and defense as an enterprise.

Addressing this threat is an important part of securing a company’s data, and it must be done on a real-time basis.

Third-party vulnerability should be avoided, and businesses ought to have governance mechanisms up and running for all parties in their supply chain. The contents of this article will help with this particular issue.

Why do Companies Use Third-Party Software?

The use of third-party goods and services is a necessary aspect of operating a company. Organizations rely largely on cost-cutting to optimize their solutions, necessitating the use of outside experts.

Third-party companies can offer on-time delivery of goods and services, adherence to regulatory regulations, and overall company performance optimization.

Components of Third-Party Software

Third-party programs consist of code modules, libraries, and other elements which are either bought or available for free access from a third-party provider.

It combines open source code and proprietary off-the-shelf elements, which are pre-built components that may be used right away rather than having to start from scratch, decreasing application development duration.

The Risks and Threats

Since open-source code is a fundamental building block for most third-party applications, therefore, staying secure with open-source software has to be a top priority for developers. They need to understand the legal and technical risks of such codes and their respective management. Here are a few of the most common risks.

  1. In the case that possible exploits in any open-source program are uncovered, cybercriminals take full advantage of firms who are hesitant to update their existing open-source apps with newly disclosed vulnerabilities.
  2. As organizations create and distribute software at a rapid pace, it becomes challenging to handle open source licensing when numerous open-source elements are used in a particular proprietary program. Non-compliance with either of the provisions of the various licenses might result in lawsuits being brought up against the firm.
  3. Given the lack of normal commercial procedures, there is always the danger of intellectual property infringement whenever a piece of proprietary code finds its way within open source codes. Such infringements are punishable by law and if they occur there could be penalties and heavy fines involved.
  4. Because a corporation may fail to monitor and maintain open-source tools as updated versions become published, open-source elements used by the firm may demonstrate a lack of operating performance. These updates must be applied on a regular basis since they frequently resolve high-risk vulnerabilities. To monitor projects that aren’t updated regularly, businesses should maintain efficient inventory management. Management of such updates is a crucial step to ensure not putting the business at risk.
  5. Manually transferring open source elements through email or manually copying and then pasting the code using open source libraries exposes a company’s programs to prospective vulnerabilities. This is essentially malpractice engaged in by developers that exposes the business to unnecessary risks.

How To Manage These Risks

Open-source software is a huge part of the digital ecosystem. In fact, the very browsers being used today like Google are all built with open-source code.

Thus, it comes as no surprise that most third-party software is also built using open-source code. While it makes no sense to stop using such software there are many threat mitigation practices developers can use to make their organizational digital ecosystems more secure.

The main focus of all these measures is to ensure proper verification and the carrying out of due diligence to sufficiently address the inherent risks of third-party software.

Security Control

The incorporation of essential security controls should be done as early as during the acquisition process. There need to be basic criteria laid beforehand for making the right choice of third-party software.

This needs to include a strict policy of requirements of sufficient evidence from the vendors. Such evidence must prove that the software being acquired is compliant with organizational requirements.

All documentation that is a part of this evidence should include security technology details, as well as audits and security assessments conducted on the code. And finally, the transfer of third-party should be performed over a secure network or a binary repository only.

Verification Control

Once the acquisition of third-party code is set into motion enterprises must conduct their own verifications of the services and modules being acquired.

While doing this emphasis should also be on the fact that all known vulnerabilities of the code have been addressed by the vendor. Secondly, just like any individual needs to ensure that their software is up to date and patched up the same has to be true for third-party service providers.

Therefore, enterprises must take the initiative themselves to ensure the up-to-date maintenance of the code to be acquired. There should also be a determination of a plan that indicates whether any software modules aren’t supported any longer.

Infringement Control

Third-party applications are notorious for posing infringement risks. Developers need to work with legal teams to ensure there’s no such risk being transferred to the organization with the acquisition of such applications.

Software Technology

There are software composition analysis tools that should be utilized by developers to track the open licenses of applications being used by an enterprise. Their frequent use aids in identifying all existing third-party code incorporated into corporate applications.

Obsolensce Policy

Finally to ensure that the third-party code acquired remains relevant to the corporation vendors should be required to provide policies ensuring support for prior versions of their programs.

This policy should also include the possibility of providing the organization with a timely heads-up prior to the release of updated software versions.


Companies should adopt an automated and scalable risk management system to continuously detect third-party hazards and dangers.

Assess the dangers to the firm and, minimize them by implementing security measures. Provide monitoring capabilities for third-party components, allowing the business to discover and manage risks such as noncompliance,  systems/resources exposure, unethical behavior, legal difficulties, and confidential data access.

Implementing these suggestions will reduce overlaps and inefficiencies while boosting insight into third-party hazards, effectiveness, and compliance.