Organizations that fail to vet third-party suppliers properly are vulnerable to a threat that steals credit card data over long periods of time, according to a July 2018 IBM X-Force advisory.

The threat alert outlines details about a recent breach against Ticketmaster that affected several of its third-party websites. According to the advisory, a threat group used a tactic called digital skimming to harvest credit card information, login credentials and names from online forums.

The group, dubbed Magecart, has been running the campaign since at least December 2016.

Digital Skimming Threat Exploits Third-Party Access

It’s important to note that Magecart launched its attack not through Ticketmaster itself, but via one of its digital suppliers, Inbenta, and possibly through a second vendor called SocialPlus.

This incident shows how an extended ecosystem of partners and suppliers can significantly expand the perimeter that security professionals must protect. A May 2018 study from Kaspersky Lab found that incidents affecting third-party infrastructure have led to an average loss of $1.47 million for large enterprises.

How Can Organizations Thwart Third-Party Threats?

While malicious actors have been secretly inserting physical devices to skim credit card data at point-of-sale (POS) terminals for years, digital skimming makes this threat much more difficult to contend with. This is especially true for large organizations that oversee dozens of websites, landing pages and other digital properties that prompt customers to enter their personal data.

To keep third-party threats in check, IBM experts recommend:

  • Taking inventory of third-party network connections to understand where they are coming from, where they are going to and who has access;
  • Conducting vulnerability assessments on their external-facing hosts and cloud environments to look for services that are listening for inbound connections; and
  • Using encryption to ensure that their sensitive data is useless to cybercriminals in the event that it is stolen via unsecured third-party access.

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