Why Third-Party Access Challenges Persist, and How To Solve Them

written by
Erin Duncan
Identity Governance
May 3, 2023

The pandemic, a constantly changing economy, and shifts in hiring practices mean that IT needs to be flexible in how they manage third parties in their organization without neglecting the policies and management that keep the company secure.

Third parties continue to be a challenge because:

  • There are multiple ways that third parties come into the organization (and often not through HR)
  • There are a variety of time scales and fluidity of contract periods to manage
  • "Shadow IT" onboards them, instead of adhering to organizational IT policy and procedure

Many organizations utilize contractors, vendors, and consultants to augment staffing, manage special projects, or maintain business operations. But securing access for these types of roles can be a challenge, especially across multiple locations, divisions, or subsidiaries. And for specific industries, such as healthcare, manufacturing, and technology, the compliance burden that accompanies managing this third-party access presents mounting challenges.

So, what happens when you have third parties that need specific access to data, applications, and services within your organization? How do you best manage this from a people, process, and technology perspective?


Your organization needs to utilize third parties for a variety of reasons and those reasons usually translate into a specific set of access needs. For example, if you have shift nurses at a hospital, they need access to their assigned floors as well as to the patient records for those under their care.


Onboarding and offboarding processes are usually quite well defined for full-time and part-time employees. Policies and processes must be defined for third-party access too. Many IT organizations struggle with simple visibility into who, what, and when third parties will be used, so managing them is a challenge.


Many organizations are challenged with shadow IT providing access to data, applications, physical locations, and services for third parties. Rather than using existing access management and governance solutions, managers can and do provide access directly to third parties. This not only means that policy can’t be followed but tracking and cutting that access can be nearly impossible without visibility into what access exists.

All of these challenges can translate into lost productivity, a widening attack surface, and an untraceable dent in your organization’s security.

third-party access stat

Source: Data Risk in the Third-Party Ecosystem: Third Annual Study, Ponemon Institute https://www.ponemon.org/research/ponemon-library/security/data-risk-in-the-third-party-ecosystem-third-annual-study.html

third-party access stat

Source: IBM Data Breach Report https://www.ibm.com/reports/data-breach

The importance of identity governance for third parties

Identity governance is a critical part of any organization’s security posture that ensures access is managed, logged, and verified on regular intervals. Many organizations struggle with managing third parties because they don’t have the same authoritative source for the identity data as standard employees do. And they also fall outside the standard identity lifecycle processes that IT uses to manage access due to the nature of the work they do. Projects can have shifting start dates and end dates, routine maintenance occurs on a schedule that doesn’t require constant access but can’t be done without it, and staff augmentation can occur at varying level with some people coming back to an organization multiple times.

Identity governance solutions provide critical visibility into who has what access, who approved that access, and whether it’s been used in a normal or anomalous fashion. This data allows security and risk teams to monitor usage and flag anything out of the ordinary to help maintain organizational security and manage their broad attack surface.

Identity governance solutions can also ensure that access meets internal policy and external regulatory requirements for compliance and reporting.

Clear Skye secures third-party access, the same way we do with employee access

For Clear Skye, access is access regardless of whether that access is for an employee, contractor, vendor, partner, or robot.

Here’s how Clear Skye solves third-party access challenges:

  • Clear Skye IGA provides the infrastructure to be able to build processes to manage all organizational access, including third-party access.
  • Clear Skye offers managers the ability to onboard consultants, contractors, and vendors as they need to, to support their departmental or divisional needs.
  • Because they're not employees, Clear Skye provides flexible approval processes to make sure that the users are vetted before they are onboarded. Clear Skye approval processes ensure that only the right users are getting onboarded and we can automatically provision based on the system information. For example, a department or their location or a specific firm that they work for can dictate some of their access.

Excerpted from our new paper about how Clear Skye solves third-party access challenges.

share on

Related Posts

Take a Self-Guided Tour

Personalize your own on-demand demo to see how identity security built on ServiceNow works.
Update cookies preferences