Third-party access refers to the process of an organization granting external vendors and service providers secure access to corporate IT assets for maintenance, administration and management purposes. Many organizations rely on third-party vendors and managed service providers to support their internal IT systems, applications and infrastructure. Outside vendors and service organizations often require privileged access to on-premises and cloud-based IT systems and business applications to perform routine support and administrative functions.
Third-Party Access Security Challenges
Conventional enterprise security solutions and practices, designed to safeguard traditional corporate teleworkers and nomadic users, aren’t easily extended to third-party vendors. Many organizations use:
- Enterprise directory services like Microsoft Active Directory to maintain information about users and resources
- Access management solutions or virtual private network (VPN) solutions to authenticate and authorize employees accessing corporate applications and IT services from outside the enterprise network.
Maintaining information about third-party vendor users in an enterprise directory like Active Directory is not practical. Vendors continuously turn over staff and reassign roles. Keeping pace with change—adding and deleting authorized users and managing their rights—is a manually intensive and time-consuming proposition that diverts valuable corporate IT staff from other important business tasks.
Requiring special-purpose VPN software or access management software is also not feasible. Third-party vendors may be reluctant to install unknown or unsanctioned software on their users’ workstations. And handing out corporate-owned and supported workstations to third-party vendors can be a prohibitively costly and complicated workaround. Meanwhile, granting VPN access to a third-party vendor can result in providing the vendor with too much access.
Adding to the challenges organizations face, many regulations currently require the enforcement of MFA for all third-party vendor access.
Privileged Access Management for Third-Party Vendors
Third-party privileged access management (PAM) solutions, also known as vendor privileged access management solutions, are specifically designed to securely extend privileged access to third-party vendors and managed service providers without requiring burdensome VPN clients, special-purpose workstation software or onerous provisioning. Third-party PAM solutions help enterprises reduce administrative cost and complexity, simplify access for third-party personnel and mitigate security risks and vulnerabilities.
With a third-party PAM solution, vendors never connect to enterprise resources directly. Instead, they log on to an intermediary web portal that is used to isolate, control and audit privileged sessions. The approach decouples users from IT systems and centralizes security operations, making it easy for corporate IT administers to monitor and control privileged sessions, identify and remediate suspicious activity, and support compliance audits and forensics investigations.
To give vendors fast, secure and convenient access, most third-party PAM solutions support multi-factor authentication (MFA) with biometric authentication, QR codes and other passwordless authentication factors. MFA helps prevent unauthorized access to enterprise assets and mitigate phishing attacks and other threats related to compromised credentials.
Most third-party PAM solutions support automated just-in-time provisioning to make it easy for organizations to keep pace with vendor staffing changes. With a just-in-time approach, authorized administrators grant individual users privileged access rights in real time, without making Active Directory changes.
Third-party privileged access management solutions are typically delivered as cloud-based services for fast and easy deployment, rapid time to value, and simple ongoing operations.
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