Vendor Privileged Access Management (VPAM)
Vendor Privileged Access Management (VPAM) is a specialized tool designed to ensure least privilege access for vendor employees, while simultaneously monitoring their activities. VPAM is an implementation of Privileged Access Management (PAM) that assists organizations in safeguarding their digital infrastructure by effectively managing and overseeing account access granted to third-party vendors.
What is the difference between PAM and PIM?
The primary distinction between PIM and PAM lies in their focus. PIM primarily deals with the existing access privileges granted to a user, whereas PAM primarily focuses on monitoring and controlling access when a user requests access to a resource.
What are some vendor-related access risks?
When vendors regularly connect remotely to your systems, the standard methods of vendor access can lead to a lack of visibility and control over that access. This situation raises concerns about the introduction of malware, inappropriate use of access, and the potential for errors that pose significant risks.
Within the multitude of vendors connecting to your environment, it’s likely that some of them have poor security practices that are cause for alarm. Weak credentials, shared access among vendors and their employees, password reuse, and outdated accounts are common issues. Moreover, the risk is amplified when a user has privileged access, which they utilize for vendor or contractor responsibilities.
If you were to assess this risk, it’s highly probable that one of your vendors represents the weakest link in your overall enterprise security. Granting access to valued vendors and contractors should not compromise your network, access controls, or identity security.
The objective of vendor privileged access management is to facilitate secure and seamless vendor access while simultaneously mitigating risks by applying privileged access management best practices that extend beyond the network perimeter.
What are the benefits of VPAM?
There are 5 core capabilities of vendor privileged access management (VPAM). They are as follows:
VPAM solutions enhance the security posture of your organization by implementing robust measures to protect against lateral movement, account hijacking, privilege escalation, malware infections, and other threats originating from vendors. These solutions even safeguard your organization from inadvertent errors by vendors that could potentially have significant consequences. Furthermore, many of the VPAM security controls, such as least privilege and continuous authentication, align with the requirements of implementing a zero trust architecture (ZTA) for remote access.
Here are the five essential best practices that VPAM solutions can assist in implementing to effectively control and safeguard vendor identities and access:
1. Enhanced Visibility and Oversight: Continuously maintain an inventory of vendors with access to your systems. Employ monitoring tools to capture and log detailed session activities, including keystrokes, entered commands, and video recordings with searchable indexing. This facilitates the detection of access compromise, allows for additional validation or approvals, and enables the revocation of access for compromised identities or associated accounts.
2. Controlled Network Access: Monitor and log all inbound access, ensuring comprehensive visibility into authorized session transactions.
3. Managed and Secured Privileged Credentials: Never disclose passwords to vendors for accessing internal systems. Instead, inject managed credentials directly to initiate remote sessions, safeguarding them from end-user exposure. Centralize the storage of these credentials in a vault or consider changing them after each use for highly sensitive access. Additionally, VPAM solutions should enforce unique, strong passwords that are protected against malicious activities and never reused.
4. Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): Implement MFA as a best practice for remote access, requiring multiple authentication factors. Consider employing additional workflows and gated access for the most sensitive assets, applications, and data. MFA adds an extra layer of protection, mitigating system compromise even if valid credentials are stolen. Incorporating MFA into VPAM ensures a high level of confidence in user identities.
5. Enforcement of Least Privilege: Restrict all vendor access to the minimum necessary for their specific role. Ideally, adopt a just-in-time access model, provisioning access only when specific contextual parameters are met and promptly deprovisioning it when the work is completed, the context changes, or a predefined time limit is exceeded. Avoid granting open-ended or persistent user access, striving for a state of zero standing privileges (ZSP).
By incorporating these five core capabilities, VPAM solutions enable organizations to establish strong control over vendor access, mitigate risks, and ensure a secure environment for both vendors and the organization.