July 25, 2019//Tony Howlett
Businesses increasingly rely on vendors to make their operations run smoothly and efficiently. And because of this, many companies have migrated essential business operations to a cloud-based infrastructure. Although this outsourcing makes good business sense since it can save money, dependence on vendors also comes with security risks and operational challenges.
Vendors provide different services and need different types of access and authentication. For example, the vendors that provide technical support to your IT department should be treated differently than marketing agencies or on-site contractors. It’s important to have a process that accounts for these diverse requirements. Efficient vendor management enables secure support and services while maintaining control and ensuring industry compliance.
Integrated vendor management solutions can mitigate risks with robust authentication, audits, and control of vendor access. Many companies turn to Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and desktop sharing tools (like Webex, GoToMyPC, Google Hangouts, etc.) as a solution. While these tools can work for immediate access of remote employees and connecting offices, they do not provide an adequate solution for third-party remote access—especially for highly regulated industries.
When managing vendors, you want to make sure you know who is accessing your network, you can control what privileges are granted, and that there is a comprehensive audit of session activity. Aligning these elements will deliver efficient vendor inventory, tracking, and compliance systems:
To authenticate users, VPNs typically work with a company’s internal directory services such as Active Directory. That’s fine for employees, but vendor authentication is more challenging because your authentication process may not have access to your vendors’ employee directories. The best vendor management solutions require multi-factor authentication and should include rules-based software that sets strict controls that integrate with the vendor’s own authentication structure. That way, you and your vendors know exactly which individual is on your network.
Because every vendor is different, you need to ensure that access privileges are set at the host and port level. That way, vendors only get access to the specific services they need without opening up the network. This eliminates the security risk of shared logins and passwords. It also improves efficiency by streamlining remote access provisioning.
Auditing features can help companies monitor the activities of vendors. To ensure compliance and accountability, the best solutions provide real-time monitoring and record every action inside your network down to the individual keystroke.
An integrated approach to authentication, access control, and audit capabilities should be more robust and tailored than what is typically used for employees. This makes it easier to manage, centralizes the functionality, and provides protection and compliance in an ever-changing business environment. Nearly every day we read a report of a major data breach and these breaches are often a result of vulnerabilities caused by inadequate vendor access management. The right vendor management solution can mitigate these risks while increasing efficiency, reducing costs, and improving services.