What is Vendor Privileged Access Management (VPAM) And Why Does It Matter?

What is vendor privileged access management (VPAM)? Why does it matter to your business? 

What is vendor privileged access management (VPAM)? Why does it matter to your business? 

Privileged access represents the holy grail for both hackers and insider threats. Each superuser account can typically change, modify or eliminate workflows, processes, data, databases, and entire networks. Thus, if a privileged account ends up in the wrong hand, the consequences could prove disastrous. For example, the threat actor could steal finances, manipulate or steal data, or inflict costly downtime.

Additionally, a data breach could damage your long-term reputation among both clients and customers. Most customers won’t patronize businesses that can’t (or don’t appear to) protect their data adequately. Therefore, all privileged users need consistent monitoring and security protocols. 

Thankfully, enterprises are beginning to wake up to the dangers of letting their privileged access users operate unchecked. Capabilities like multifactor authentication and continuous authentication help verify the users’ identities at both the login stage and beyond. Moreover, the Principle of Least Privilege ensures superusers only possess the permissions they need to perform their functions; this prevents abuses if the credentials end up in the wrong hands. 

However, your enterprise needs to secure the privileges of more than just your employees. Instead, you need to secure your vendors and third-parties and their privileges. After all, these are a part of your network as well and deserve the same layer of identity management. Over half of all data breaches begin with third-parties. 

Here’s why vendor privileged access management matters. 

Why Vendor Privileged Access Management Matters

The Risks of Third-Party Privileges

The risks from granting vendors and third-parties privileged permissions prove numerous and dangerous. For the record, third-parties and vendors can include partners, clients, applications, and databases—any user not directly employed by your business.

First, because of their third-party status, vendors don’t receive the same level of visibility as your other users. They can receive permissions and possibly accumulate more privileges without triggering investigations by your IT security team. Therefore, these accounts could become bloated through access creep, making them prime targets for hackers. 

Second, vendors can often move laterally throughout your business network without activating monitoring capabilities. Thus, if a hacker hijacks a vendor privileged account, they could move through your network disguised as a legitimate user—and reach their real target. 

Finally, without some kind of vendor privileged access management (VPAM) solution, third-parties could escalate their privileges independently. This is a common tactic for hackers to give themselves the power they need to fulfill their goals. 

What VPAM Can Offer Your Business

Vendor Privileged Access Management helps your business maintain visibility over your third-parties and their superuser accounts to ensure that their access level isn’t being misused or abused. Obviously, this helps you keep track of all the changes, updates, and modifications being made to vendor accounts. Moreover, it helps you to limit the permissions each vendor possesses, limiting the damage their credentials could do in the wrong hands. 

Additionally, VPAM solutions can help secure authentication and monitoring. The former ensures that only the vendor can use their login credentials; through the use of issued hard tokens and biometric authentication.  

On the other hand, monitoring comes in the form of privileged session management. This involves tracking activities that a vendor does on the system; it records login times, usernames, and IP addresses. Additionally, it records contextual data such as reasons for access, ticket numbers, and approval of access for vendors. Finally, vendor privileged access management uses granular access logs, with video captures, or keystrokes logs of vendor sessions. 

How to Learn More

To learn more about privileged access management for third-parties, check out our Privileged Access Management Buyer’s Guide. We cover the key vendors and their capabilities in detail. 

Ben Canner

Ben Canner is an enterprise technology writer and analyst covering Identity Management, SIEM, Endpoint Protection, and Cybersecurity writ large. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English from Clark University in Worcester, MA. He previously worked as a corporate blogger and ghost writer. You can reach him via Twitter and LinkedIn.
Ben Canner