Third-party apps: what are the risks?

Businesses are relying more than ever on third-party applications to streamline operations, enhance productivity and provide superior customer experiences. While these apps offer undeniable benefits, it’s essential to understand the risks they pose. 

In this article, we’ll explore the potential hazards associated with third-party apps and discuss strategies to mitigate these risks effectively.

What are third-party apps?

Third-party apps, also known as external or non-native applications, are software programs developed by entities other than the company using them. These apps are designed to extend the functionality of existing systems, platforms or devices, providing additional features or services.

They come in various shapes and sizes, catering to different business needs. Some common examples include project management tools like Trello or Asana, customer relationship management (CRM) software such as Salesforce, communication platforms like WhatsApp or Messenger, and countless others. These apps are usually created by specialized software developers or technology companies that focus on a specific niche.

Risks posed by third-party apps


One of the primary risks associated with third-party apps is the potential for malware. Malicious actors may exploit vulnerabilities within these apps to introduce harmful code into your business systems. This can lead to data breaches, network disruptions and even financial losses.

Data leak concerns

Third-party apps often require access to certain data or integration with internal systems to function properly. While most developers have good intentions, there is always a risk of data leaks or unauthorized access. This is especially crucial when dealing with sensitive customer information or proprietary business data.

Regulatory compliance

Using third-party apps can pose challenges in maintaining regulatory compliance. Depending on your industry, you may be subject to specific data protection laws, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). If a third-party app mishandles or exposes your data, it could result in severe legal and financial consequences.

End-users granting permissions

Another significant risk arises from end-users unknowingly granting excessive permissions to third-party apps. This often happens when users are prompted to grant access to personal data, contacts or other system resources during the app installation process. If not careful, users may unintentionally expose sensitive information, compromising business security.

In fact, a recent Ponemon security report found that 44% of organizations surveyed experienced a data breach, and of those, 74% said they were breached because they gave too many access privileges to a third-party app.

Lack of vendor transparency

Vendors may lack transparency regarding their development practices and security measures. Without proper transparency, it’s challenging to assess the level of risk associated with the app or evaluate if it meets your organization’s security standards.

Integration complexity

Integrating third-party apps into your existing systems can be complex. Incompatibilities, software bugs, or poor documentation can cause disruptions in your operations, leading to productivity losses or potential security vulnerabilities.

Abandonment and support issues

Third-party app developers may discontinue support or abandon their apps, leaving businesses with unsupported or outdated software. This can create security vulnerabilities and compatibility issues, as the app may no longer receive updates or patches to address emerging threats.

Eliminating third-party app risks

Access controls

Implement stringent access controls to restrict app permissions to only what is necessary for its intended purpose. Regularly review and revoke unnecessary permissions to minimize potential security vulnerabilities.

Device monitoring

Employ robust device monitoring systems to detect and prevent the installation of unauthorized or suspicious third-party apps. Regularly scan devices for malware and ensure that software is kept up to date.

Zero trust

Adopt a zero trust security model, which assumes that no user or device should be inherently trusted. This approach requires continuous authentication and verification of user identities and devices, ensuring that only authorized entities can access sensitive resources.

Incident response and recovery planning

Develop an incident response and recovery plan that includes strategies specific to third-party apps. In the event of a security breach or a data leak, having a well-defined plan will allow your organization to respond promptly, minimize damage, and recover quickly.

Ongoing monitoring and auditing

Regularly monitor and audit the third-party apps integrated into your systems to ensure they continue to meet security standards. Implement robust logging and monitoring systems that can identify anomalous behavior, unauthorized access or other potential security issues. Conduct periodic security assessments to identify and address any vulnerabilities.

User awareness and training

Educate your employees about the risks associated with third-party apps and the importance of exercising caution when granting permissions or sharing sensitive information. Provide training on how to identify suspicious apps, verify app permissions, and report any security concerns promptly.

Mitigate third-party application risks with the cybersecurity specialists

While third-party apps bring undeniable advantages to businesses, it’s essential to be aware of the associated risks. By understanding the potential hazards, you can take proactive steps to mitigate these risks effectively. A comprehensive risk management strategy is crucial to protect your business and maintain your reputation in today’s digital age.

The cybersecurity experts at BCS365 can implement and manage the right security solutions to mitigate risk and provide greater visibility into the apps your employees are using, ensuring data protection and stringent cybersecurity policies to protect your business.