What is third-party remote access?

July 10, 2020//Ellen Neveux

Last Updated: October 25, 2021

Risk management is critical for any company looking for growth and profit instead of liabilities and reputational damages. So let’s answer an important question: What is third-party remote access, and why should you care?

Networks can be attacked from all sides. The surface area of your network is determined by the points of entry to your network by people (both internal employees and external third parties) and things. When vendors have access to your network, it is not only a potential security risk, but the risks that are associated are huge. Depending on the enterprise or company, employees can come in many forms, like those who work in the office, or those who work remotely. You may also have contractors or consultants who work at the same company, or even employees that are entirely offsite.

Many companies work with third-party vendors that provide valuable technology, or other services. Third-party vendors often provide specialized services that are more cost-effective. Since most third-party vendors work offsite, they need remote access to your network in order to support their technology. If you do not securely manage this third-party network access, your vulnerable surface area gets bigger. In other words, you’re leaving doors open that could lead to a breach of confidential data or a ransomware attack. It’s critical to have complete control over every vendor connection, tight credential management, and audit for all user activity.


Third-Party remote access definition

Third-party remote access is the system in which external users are able to connect with a defined network. The best third-party remote access platform will make sure that the connection is secure, controlled, and monitored at all times. Sadly, many enterprises still give their third-party vendors VPN credentials that often provide privileged access. Frequently, this access is taken advantage of by bad actors because they can easily use a third-party vendor’s credentials to get onto an enterprise’s network.

Front door locked, windows open: an analogy

An advanced third-party access platform, internal risk training, and robust vendor security policies are important to create a secure operating network. While many companies and their IT personnel focus on secure internal company access, these same businesses may not have a secure third-party remote access solution. Credentials are often shared among vendor support reps, and this puts enterprises and their networks at higher risk. No matter how many locks you put on the front door, if a side window is unmonitored and open, bad actors can slip into your space without setting off an alarm to steal sensitive information, or they can even create additional backdoors into your network. The best secure remote access platform will make sure the doors and windows are closed, and all cracks are sealed.


How to improve third-party access security

Now is the time to get your vendors and platform aligned. Here are some next steps you should take:

  • Prepare for an attack from multiple vectors. A great place to start is to catalog the points of entry into your network and prioritize which present the greatest security vulnerability. Remember, threats can come both internally and externally.
  • Assess your current technology. Cybersecurity is a complex problem and technology alone will not secure your systems-internal training and process are also essential. However, when it comes to third-party remote access, the technology you select must protect against the vulnerabilities you outlined in attack preparation. It’s also important that your tech’s functionality is complementary to how your team works.
  • Create a realistic third-party access security policy. Protect your most valuable data by considering how it may be vulnerable and simple steps that can be taken to mitigate risk. Look at different options to protect your organization. As organizations continue to struggle over where responsibility lies and who is liable in the event of a data breach, taking a holistic approach is critical in protecting your organization.

To learn more about the importance of implementing a full vendor management program and platform for your company, check out our helpful brochure that highlights the different tool options.

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