Do I need a vendor management platform?

March 26, 2020//Ellen Neveux

At any given time, organizations rely on large numbers of third-party vendors to provide high-level services and support for their systems. Third-party vendors can be clients, contractors, business associates– it boils down to a user who has access to your network or system who isn’t directly employed by your company. And since hackers continue to find new ways to infiltrate data systems, it’s important that companies cover all their bases when it comes to protecting their data. 

If your organization provides privileged access to third-party vendors, you should consider investing in a vendor management platform to protect yourself from a preventable data breach.

What is a vendor management platform?

A vendor management platform should be a specific, and purpose-built platform that was made only to manage vendor access to networks and applications. You wouldn’t want to use a knife as a spoon, would you? So, you should use the right tool for the right job. 

One of the most prominent vendor management platforms is called vendor privileged access management, or VPAM. This technology does one thing only– it helps enterprise organizations identify, audit, and control all of their vendors on a single platform. It helps ensure industry compliance while making sure that the platform itself is easy to use. If someone has privileged access to your network, they should be easily identifiable. Vendor privileged access management does that. Gone are the days when a whole vendor company would be given a username and password. Today, each and every vendor rep has their own username and password. 

Why is vendor management important?

Privileged access is the grand prize for hackers. When bad actors gain access to privileged accounts, they can change or eliminate databases and workflows – even entire networks. I mean, look at how often we see cases of ransomware popping up on the news and a lot of them stem from a hacker getting into a network via the access a vendor has. Being able to monitor and restrict user access controls has become crucial in providing effective security measures for any network. PAM and VPAM tools address these needs, providing multi-factor authentication and comprehensive auditing capabilities. They also adhere to the Principle of Least Privilege (PLP), which ensures that every user, even those with privileged access, are only granted access to those parts of the network that are crucial to complete their tasks and nothing more. In other words, even if bad actors get into a network through a privileged account, their ability to cause damage is limited.

What makes a vendor management platform like VPAM especially important, though, is its protection against vulnerabilities presented by third-party vendors. While privileged access management (PAM) functions only within internal networks, VPAM focuses on vendors, providing the same level of security for third-party users as it does for internal employees. The numbers show that this distinction can make or break your ability to keep your data safe:

Placing your trust in vendors can prove costly:

  • 59% of companies have experienced third-party data breaches
  • 63% of all breaches are due to third parties
  • 16% of companies are effectively mitigating third-party risks

Vendors often need privileged access to be able to do their jobs, but without proper security tools in place, your company will be blind to their actions once they’ve entered the system. This means that important questions – exactly who gets into the system, when they get in, and what they do once they’re there – all remain a mystery to most companies when it comes to their vendors. 

Vendor management tools solve this huge security risk in one fell swoop. All vendor users have their own multifactor authenticated login, and companies can customize privileges for each individual account based on their needs. At any time, companies have full auditing control, providing answers to those formerly elusive questions – who was there, when did they get there, and what did they access or modify during their session? 

How do I know if I need a vendor management platform?

When it comes down to it, the answer to this question is actually pretty straightforward: 

If your company has vendors, contractors, or business associates who need to access your network, servers, or applications from an external location, you should implement a dedicated vendor management platform.

No matter how many have access to your network, it only takes one vendor to abuse it. Especially for companies with hundreds of contractors who each employ their own teams, hundreds or even thousands of unknown people could be accessing your network at any given time. Some systems even let vendors share credentials across teams. When they’re all accessing your network under the protection of anonymity, being able to track and control your vendors and their activity becomes impossible – but many companies still try.

Without the proper software, tracking and monitoring network access takes a huge amount of time and money. Did you know that the average company spends 17,000 hours a year pulling together compliance reports and investigating security anomalies without a vendor management system in place? Stop relying on tools that aren’t meant for the specific job of managing vendors. In the long-run, you’ll end up wasting time, money, and effort and might still end up with a data breach or ransomware attack.

Why you’ll rest easier under the protection of a vendor management program

The threats caused by unchecked vendor access are clear. Without being able to identify, audit, and control your vendor accounts, these unknown users create significant vulnerabilities to your company and its data. Luckily, there are vendor management platforms that provide comprehensive solutions to all of these concerns. 

With these tools, you will be able to identify and authenticate every vendor employee accessing your system, including the ability to verify that a user is still employed with their company. Further, vendor management tools provide extensive auditing capabilities, logging automatic captures of every vendor action in your system – available in real-time and stored for later review. Finally, vendor management tools allow you to control exactly which privileges each user should and shouldn’t have, following the Principle of Least Privilege, ensuring they get what they need – no more, no less. 

With a vendor management tool’s advanced security and monitoring controls, your company will be safer without compromising its productivity. You will have all the protection you need to stay secure, while your vendors will have all the privileges they need to do their jobs.

You can’t manage risks that you don’t know you have. Download our brochure that highlights the importance of having a separate software platform specifically to manage vendors’ privileged access to systems, networks, and applications. 

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