Navigating Third-Party Risk in Salesforce Named Credentials

Unlock the potential of third-party integrations without compromising security. Learn how to manage and mitigate third-party risk associated with Salesforce named credentials.

The Salesforce ecosystem thrives on rich integrations with third-party applications, enabling organizations to extend functionality, automate processes, and unlock new capabilities. This powerful connectivity, however, presents a hidden danger: third-party risk.

These integrations often rely on a mechanism called named credentials to grant access to sensitive data and resources within Salesforce. While convenient, named credentials introduce inherent security vulnerabilities if not managed properly. This blog post delves into the complex world of third-party risk and named credentials, providing practical insights and strategies to navigate this critical aspect of Salesforce security.

Understanding Named Credentials

Named credentials are essentially digital keys that unlock Salesforce data and functionality for external applications. Unlike user-specific logins, they operate independently of individual users, simplifying integration and automation. However, this convenience comes at a cost.

There are two primary types of named credentials:

  • Named Principal: These credentials represent a single identity used by multiple applications to access Salesforce. They offer broad access but lack granular control, making them inherently riskier.
  • Named User: These credentials grant access to specific user accounts within Salesforce, offering greater control but potentially requiring more configuration.

Each type of named credential presents its own security implications. Named Principals, due to their broader scope, are more susceptible to compromise and require stricter controls. Named Users, while offering more control, still expose individual user accounts to potential threats.

Third-Party Risk Landscape

The increasing reliance on third-party applications creates a complex risk landscape for organizations. These integrations can expose sensitive data, introduce vulnerabilities, and grant unauthorized access if not managed effectively.

Here are some key challenges associated with managing third-party risk in Salesforce:

  • Limited visibility: Organizations often lack complete visibility into the security practices and risk posture of their third-party vendors.
  • Complex access controls: Granular permission management for third-party applications can be challenging, especially with dynamic integrations.
  • Monitoring and logging: Monitoring and logging third-party access activity can be resource-intensive and require specialized tools.
  • Evolving threats: Malicious actors are constantly developing new techniques to exploit vulnerabilities in third-party applications and access sensitive data.

Best Practices for Reducing Risk

Mitigating third-party risk in Salesforce requires a multi-faceted approach, focusing on both named credentials and the broader integration landscape. Here are some key strategies organizations can implement:

1. Implement Strong Access Controls and Granular Permissions:

  • Least privilege principle: Grant third-party applications the minimum level of access necessary to perform their intended function.
  • Fine-grained permissions: Configure granular permissions for both data access and functionality within Salesforce.
  • Review and revoke unused permissions: Regularly review and revoke permissions for inactive or outdated applications.
  • Utilize permission sets: Create permission sets for specific roles or groups of third-party applications to simplify management.

2. Monitor and Audit Third-Party Activity:

  • Enable logging for all third-party access: Log all API calls and user activity for third-party applications.
  • Regularly review audit logs: Monitor logs for suspicious activity, unauthorized access attempts, and potential data exfiltration.
  • Utilize security information and event management (SIEM) tools: Leverage SIEM tools to consolidate and analyze security events from multiple sources, including third-party activity.

3. Utilize Security Scanning Tools:

  • Scan third-party applications for vulnerabilities: Regularly scan the code and libraries of third-party applications for known vulnerabilities.
  • Address vulnerabilities promptly: Prioritize and address identified vulnerabilities in third-party applications according to their severity and risk.
  • Utilize dynamic application security testing (DAST): Employ DAST tools to identify vulnerabilities in real-time as third-party applications interact with Salesforce.

4. Enforce Robust Contractual Obligations:

  • Include clear security clauses in vendor contracts: Clearly define expectations for data security, access control, vulnerability management, and incident reporting.
  • Require regular security audits of third-party vendors: Ensure that vendors maintain adequate security controls and undergo regular audits to verify compliance.
  • Include termination clauses for security breaches: Outline consequences for non-compliance and data breaches caused by the vendor.

Salesforce Security Posture

Leveraging Technology Solutions

While best practices are critical, technology solutions play a vital role in effectively managing third-party risk and securing named credentials in Salesforce. These solutions offer several key benefits:

  • Enhanced Visibility: They provide real-time visibility into third-party activity, revealing potential threats and access anomalies.
  • Automated Monitoring: They automate the monitoring and logging of third-party access, significantly reducing manual effort and improving efficiency.
  • Advanced Threat Detection: They leverage advanced analytics and threat intelligence to identify suspicious activity and potential data breaches.
  • Simplified Compliance: They streamline compliance processes by automating reporting and audit trails.

Numerous commercially available solutions cater to third-party risk management in Salesforce.


ThreatKey offers a comprehensive platform for managing third-party risk and securing named credentials. Its key features include:

  • Automated risk assessments: Continuously assess the risk posture of third-party vendors based on various factors.
  • Continuous monitoring: Monitor and log all third-party activity, including API calls and user access.
  • Threat detection and analysis: Leverage machine learning and threat intelligence to identify suspicious activity and potential data breaches.
  • Pre-built compliance frameworks: Simplify compliance with industry regulations and standards.

By leveraging technology solutions like ThreatKey, organizations can significantly enhance their visibility, automate key tasks, and gain deeper insights into third-party activity. This proactive approach empowers them to mitigate risk and secure named credentials, safeguarding their sensitive data within the Salesforce ecosystem.

As we've explored, integrating third-party applications into Salesforce can be a powerful tool, but it also introduces inherent security risks. Named credentials, while convenient, can be a prime target for malicious actors if not managed effectively.

Key Takeaways:

  • Third-party access introduces vulnerabilities into Salesforce environments, exposing sensitive data and critical resources.
  • Named credentials, especially "Named Principal" types, present significant risk if not managed with granular permissions and strict controls.
  • Organizations must adopt a proactive approach to third-party risk management, employing best practices and leveraging technology solutions.
  • Continuous monitoring, regular audits, and robust contractual obligations with vendors are essential for maintaining a secure environment.

The Importance of Proactive Risk Management:

Third-party risk is ever-evolving, requiring constant vigilance and proactive measures. Organizations must prioritize security by:

  • Implementing strong access controls and granular permissions for all third-party applications.
  • Regularly monitoring and auditing third-party activity for any suspicious behavior.
  • Utilizing security scanning tools to identify vulnerabilities in third-party code and applications.
  • Enforcing robust contractual obligations with vendors regarding data security and compliance.

Adopting Best Practices and Leveraging Technology:

Combining best practices with technology solutions like ThreatKey empowers organizations to manage third-party risk effectively. These solutions offer:

  • Enhanced visibility into third-party activity and data access.
  • Automated monitoring and threat detection capabilities.
  • Simplified compliance processes and audit trails.


1. What are the different types of risks associated with named credentials?

  • Unauthorized access: Malicious actors can exploit vulnerabilities in third-party applications to access sensitive data using named credentials.
  • Data exfiltration: Third-party applications with excessive access could exfiltrate sensitive data without authorization.
  • Insider threats: Malicious actors within a vendor organization could leverage named credentials to access and compromise Salesforce data.

2. How can organizations ensure that third-party applications are secure and compliant?

  • Conduct thorough security assessments of third-party vendors before granting access.
  • Implement security controls within Salesforce to restrict third-party access and data exposure.
  • Require third-party vendors to undergo regular audits and demonstrate compliance with industry standards.

3. What are the best practices for monitoring and logging third-party activity in Salesforce?

  • Enable logging for all third-party API calls and user activity.
  • Regularly review audit logs for suspicious activity or access attempts.
  • Utilize security information and event management (SIEM) tools for centralized monitoring and analysis.

4. What are the key considerations when selecting a security solution to address third-party risk?

  • Functionality: Choose a solution that offers features and capabilities aligned with your specific needs and risk profile.
  • Integration: Ensure the solution integrates seamlessly with your existing Salesforce environment and security infrastructure.
  • Scalability: Select a solution that can scale and adapt to accommodate your future growth and requirements.
  • Budget: Consider the solution's cost and licensing model to fit within your budget constraints.

5. Where can organizations find additional resources and information on securing named credentials?

  • Salesforce Help Center: Provides documentation and resources on managing named credentials in Salesforce.
  • Salesforce Security Blog: Features articles and insights on best practices for securing Salesforce environments.
  • ThreatKey website: Offers resources, white papers, and case studies on managing third-party risk and securing named credentials.
  • Industry forums and communities: Connect with fellow security professionals and exchange knowledge on securing third-party access.

By adopting a proactive approach, leveraging technology solutions, and following best practices, organizations can navigate the complex landscape of third-party risk and secure their Salesforce environments. Remember, security is a continuous journey, and vigilance is key to protecting your valuable data and ensuring the integrity of your Salesforce ecosystem.

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