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[ISN] Strengthening Third-Party Contracts To Lower Breach Risks


By Ericka Chickowski
Contributing Writer
Dark Reading
Feb 22, 2012

Details emerged this week that showed that recent Anonymous hacks of Federal Trade Commission (FTC) websites could potentially have been prevented had the FTC not dispensed with security provisions in a contract with the third-party vendors who hosted the sites. As organizations continue to divide labor in ITâparticularly in development of public-facing websitesâthe incident could prove a good lesson in the importance of shoring up contract language and SLAs to ensure third parties are not adding undue risks of data breaches in the future.

In the case of the FTC, the federal agency suffered two embarrassing breaches within the last two months. In January, Anonymous attacked the FTCâs OnGuardOnline.gov site and this month it again hacked the FTCâs Bureau of Consumer Protection site. The websites in question were open to attack due to a failure to patch the server operating systems and applications associated with the site, a weakness that Anonymous took advantage of to publicize its distaste for the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) backed by the federal government.

âEven more bothersome than your complete lack of competence in maintaining your own f***ing websites and serving the citizens you are supposed to be protecting, is the US federal governmentâs support of ACTA,â Anonymous wrote about its most recent attack.

The sites in question were developed by public relations firm Fleishman-Hilliard, which hosted the sites on resources provided by hosting and cloud services provider Media Temple. The two firms are currently duking it out in a very public finger-pointing spat reported by Ars Technica, which also brought to light the fact that the $1.5 million contract to develop the sites initially included security provisions during the acquisition process but then dropped those requirements.


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