Third Party Connection Policy
Direct connections to external entities are sometimes required for business operations. These connections are typically to provide access to vendors or customers for service delivery. Since the company's security policies and controls do not extend to the users of the third parties' networks, these connections can present a significant risk to the network and thus require careful consideration.
The policy is intended to provide guidelines for deploying and securing direct connections to third parties.
The scope of this policy covers all direct connections to the company's network from non-company owned networks. This policy excludes remote access and Virtual Private Network (VPN) access, which are covered in separate policies.
Use of Third Party Connections
Third party connections are to be discouraged and used only if no other reasonable option is available. When it is necessary to grant access to a third party, the access must be restricted and carefully controlled, and all connections should be audited frequently to verify ongoing necessity. A requester of a third party connection must demonstrate a compelling business need for the connection. This request must be approved and implemented by authorized IT personnel.
Security of Third Party Access
Third party connections require additional scrutiny. The following statements will govern these connections:
Connections to third parties must use a firewall or Access Control List (ACL) to separate the company's network from the third party's network.
Third parties will be provided only the minimum access necessary to perform the function requiring access. If possible this should include time-of-day restrictions to limit access to only the hours when such access is required.
Wherever possible, systems requiring third party access should be placed in a public network segment or demilitarized zone (DMZ) in order to protect internal network resources.
If a third party connection is deemed to be a serious security risk, IT personnel will have the authority to prohibit the connection. If the connection is absolutely required for business functions, additional security measures should be taken at the discretion of the IT personnel.
Restricting Third Party Access
Best practices for a third party connection require that the link be held to higher security standards than an intra-company connection. As such, the third party must agree to:
Restrict access to the company's network to only those users that have a legitimate business need for access.
Provide the company with the names and any other requested information about individuals that will have access to the connection. The company reserves the right to approve or deny this access based on its risk assessment of the connection.
Supply the company with on-hours and off-hours contact information for the person or persons responsible for the connection.
(If confidential data is involved) Provide the company with the names and any other requested information about individuals that will have access to the company's confidential data. The steward or owner of the confidential data will have the right to approve or deny this access for any reason.
Auditing of Connections
In order to ensure that third-party connections are in compliance with this policy, they must be audited monthly at minimum. Unneeded third party connections should be disabled as soon as possible once they are no longer required.
Applicability of Other Policies
This document is part of the company's cohesive set of security policies. Other policies may apply to the topics covered in this document and as such the applicable policies should be reviewed as needed.
This policy will be enforced by the IT Manager and/or Executive Team. Violations may result in disciplinary action, which may include suspension, restriction of access, or more severe penalties up to and including termination of employment. Where illegal activities or theft of company property (physical or intellectual) are suspected, the company may report such activities to the applicable authorities.
Access Control List (ACL) A list that defines the permissions for use of, and restricts access to, network resources. This is typically done by port and IP address.
Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) A perimeter network, typically inside the firewall but external to the private or protected network, where publicly-accessible machines are located. A DMZ allows higher-risk machines to be segmented from the internal network while still providing security controls.
Firewall A security system that secures the network by enforcing boundaries between secure and insecure areas. Firewalls are often implemented at the network perimeter as well as in high-security or high-risk areas.
Third Party Connection A direct connection to a party external to the company. Examples of third party connections include connections to customers, vendors, partners, or suppliers.