Regulatory compliance and risk includes third-parties
Regulatory compliance and risk includes third-parties

The interesting thing about the breach reported by Vancouver-based Information Systems and Supplies Inc* is that it highlights the responsibility now often borne by third-party suppliers to PCI merchants. Remote access services such as LogMeIn or TeamViewer provide superb levels of functionality equivalent to a direct remote desktop session, and, naturally, are highly secure in their architecture and operation.

But if account credentials are stolen, direct access to customer systems is then afforded to the password-thief and suddenly, the feature-rich, easy-access remote access service will be providing the ultimate hacker portal to the customer's sensitive data. Full remote control with two-way file transfer makes things way too easy!

Details of this particular incident are sketchy as always, but it could be inferred from what we do know that a simple phishing attack struck lucky with one of the employees at IS&S. This in turn led ultimately to their LogMeIn account credentials being abused. IS&S provide POS systems to a large number of hospitality/restaurant businesses and seemingly have LogMeIn access to customer sites for support. It is not yet clear if customers have been affected by any data loss.

Third party service provider or hacker-portal provider?

If your business involves providing remote IT system support to your customers this serves as a gentle reminder that you are responsible for maintaining unassailable standards of security. More to the point, you have almost certainly agreed in your contract with your customer that you will indemnify them from any breach resulting from your side. If you have provided an ‘SAQ-D for service providers' then you are absolutely responsible for operating security best practices determined by the PCI DSS. Conversely, if you are a PCI merchant or payment provider then now is the time to make sure that your IT service providers have provided an appropriate indemnification to you.

No escape for the SOX

Even if PCI compliance isn't relevant to you in either context as a consumer or provider of third party IT services, then this still should resonate with most organisations, for example, healthcare providers have a range of regulatory requirements to meet while listed companies or accounting firms dealing with the US are subject to SOX. All of these governance, risk management, and compliance (GRC) standards require the highest levels of security to be maintained, including device hardening, vulnerability management and file integrity monitoring, and in turn making adherence to equivalent levels of security mandatory for third party service providers too.

Time to check the small print on those contracts…

Contributed by Mark Kedgley, CTO, New Net Technologies