Third-party application access is a major IT challenge for enterprises relying on contractors, agency partners, suppliers and others while maintaining zero-trust security. Many external users need access to business applications and data, yet connect from unmanaged devices and untrusted networks. To ensure zero-trust app access, companies are turning to innovative web isolation.

Across an enterprise, meeting a wide range of application access needs heightens risk of cyberattacks like malware, ransomware, phishing and threat actors. Yet access to business apps for file sharing, productivity and collaboration are a standard part of operations.

Among Fortune 500 companies, 80% use SharePoint and four out of five use Microsoft Office 365. Cloud platforms that support remote work have increasing adoption; for instance, Google Workspace had 38% growth in usage between 2020 and 2021. In fact, 78% of companies expect to host more than 40% of their workloads in the cloud by 2025, according to a Cisco study.

Providing application access to third parties adds complexity and risk. Here we’ll highlight some key challenges, and how web isolation can simplify and speed the path to zero-trust security.

Diverse needs create diverse challenges for secure third-party application access

Like employees, many third-party users need access to business applications for corporate email, project-specific tools, document sharing and more. Within all that, people may need to access sensitive data for many uses, from product development and marketing, to CRM and complaint management, to customer insights and competitor research. 

For IT, it’s a balancing act between keeping the workforce productive and minimizing risk. Particularly with third-party users, maintaining zero-trust app access can be tough for a variety of reasons:

  • Volume of users: A company may have thousands of contractors and other vendors distributed across the U.S. and around the globe, all with different access needs and potential risk factors
  • Access controlled by a business unit: Most third-party users are hired by individual business units or departments within a company. The vetting process may be inconsistent, and security criteria and controls may vary in terms of which apps and data can be accessed and how they can be used. And because access is typically granted by an IT admin for a given business unit, the enterprise SSE team has little or no visibility or control to mitigate risk.
  • Diversity of needs: Contractors, agencies and freelancers may provide services to different groups across a company, each with their own group-specific apps and data. So the complexity and needs may differ and change frequently as third parties come and go for project work. Providing access quickly can be critical when vendors are engaged to meet tight deadlines.
  • Access on unmanaged devices: Many third parties perform company work on their own personal computers and access corporate apps and data over untrusted networks from their home or other remote location. This “bring your own device” (BYOD) approach is increasingly common as it’s often too costly and logistically difficult for companies to ship managed devices to users, but BYOD use can invite significant risk of cyber threats.

Combat escalating threats with zero-trust web isolation

Fortifying SSE with more granular control is essential for organizations to safeguard against constantly evolving cyberthreats, including AI-powered attacks. Bad actors are already capitalizing on the latest advances in AI and machine learning to engineer more sophisticated attacks

Cloud and web-based applications and data are a prime target – and that often starts with end users. Threats increasingly focus on users as an “attack surface,” with ever-more convincing phishing and malware attempts to gain unauthorized access. Enterprises with a large workforce of third parties on unmanaged devices and networks may be particularly vulnerable, especially to ransomware attacks that can be devastating for a company. 

The traditional approach of using VPNs and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) is no longer viable. Third parties may not want to — or are unable to — install the software on their device. Cven if they do, these tools are often cumbersome and disrupt productivity. And at best, VDIs provide only limited control and oversight for enterprise IT.

How can companies dramatically increase control while simplifying IT efforts? Many are taking advantage of the latest in web isolation

Shield apps and data from “last mile” vulnerabilities

Web isolation has evolved considerably in recent years to tackle the need for zero-trust access. Now, cloud-native web isolation solutions (like Zero Trust Application Access from Silo) enable organizations to easily protect devices, applications and data from any outside threats. 

To minimize risk with third-party users — especially those on unmanaged devices — web isolation provides the best of both worlds

Optimal control for IT

Companies can control third-party application access and web isolation based on user, device and network context. They can grant access to third parties for specific apps and data, and choose to isolate access for certain scenarios and use cases to minimize risk.

Organizations can also manage app and data access on a granular, role-based level, including usage policies such as whether or not a user can upload, download, copy/paste and print documents. 

Seamless productivity for users

With cloud isolation, end-users can continue to work as usual, with no hassles to disrupt workflows. There’s no need to install software, use special tools, or change how they access apps and data. And a frictionless process means no need to call tech support, which saves the enterprise time and money.

As a real-world example, a global software company uses Silo for Safe Access to control the complex needs of a distributed workforce, including third parties who access business applications and data to support marketing, finance and HR. Silo’s web insolation makes it significantly easier for the organization to safeguard corporate apps with zero-trust control, while meeting many diverse needs.

See third-party application access in action

Controlling a distributed workforce of third-party users on unmanaged devices and networks used to be an IT nightmare. Zero-Trust Application Access from Silo is changing all that. 

Now, enterprises can confidently provide safe, secure access to corporate apps and data with granular control — all in an easy-to-use platform built to deploy and scale rapidly. 

See how it works in this video: Request your own personalized demo

Zero-trust app access