Data breaches are occurring at a rapidly increasing rate, with more businesses feeling the impacts. Having a robust cyber security solution like Privileged Access Management (PAM) in place to detect and defend against attacks is crucial.
Protecting high-level admin accounts is a critical component of a robust security strategy against external cyber threats. These privileged accounts have administrative level access and allow users to make configuration changes to devices and services.
The need for password management, especially privileged access management (PAM), is a result of the difficulty faced while managing all the different accounts and passwords in an organization securely.
When it comes to data breaches, usually, the adversary is after admin-based credentials, so they can extract data, make configuration changes, and start prepping in the case of ransomware.
PAM is crucial to make sure the organization is protected from the outside threats- cyber-criminals and insider threats from users already in the network environment.
Privileged Users are the Biggest Risk
Privileged accounts are one of the most sensitive assets and, therefore, must be taken seriously. Systems will never be fully protected until privileged accounts are fully secured. This is where PAM comes into play, enabling a set of processes and resources that provide complete insight and power to security teams over who has access to the most sensitive assets of an enterprise.
Privileged users get complete access to the IT infrastructure. These accounts could belong to internal or external employees, for allowing them to manage network devices, operating systems, applications, IoT devices, and industrial control systems.
Because of their high-level access, privileged accounts are extremely valuable to threat actors. They can steal credentials using phishing techniques or malware and then slip into the infrastructure undetected, wreaking havoc on the most critical data and systems.
By implementing processes to handle privileged accounts, enterprises can reduce the vulnerabilities linked with them and ensure they are being used securely.
Additionally, Poor management of these accounts poses security challenges and prompts regulating bodies to enforce penalties. Managing accounts with elevated rights is also becoming a matter of compliance, with authorities enacting legislation that outlines the measures that enterprises need to follow to control their privileged accounts.
Privileged accounts are the key to an organization’s data and systems; hence, they are targeted by malicious hackers, and many major cyber-attacks involved the abuse of privileged accounts.
Privileged Account Security Challenges
The continuously evolving nature of enterprises makes managing privileged accounts particularly challenging. Enterprises must be able to adapt to new applications, technologies, devices, and employees while ensuring security remains tight. To maintain strong security, enterprises need to record the activities of privileged users, prevent the sharing and theft of credentials, restrict user activities to only those required for their jobs and also provide temporary access to a tool or system that allows for the instant retraction of permissions
Implementing PAM program
To avoid system intrusions, enterprises must implement a carefully planned Privileged Access Management program. This way, enterprises can successfully prevent and mitigate threats and secure these privileged accounts.
A robust PAM program should contain a strong password management policy in place. It should ensure logging and recording all privileged user sessions, follow the Zero Trust model, and apply the Principle of Least Privilege (PoLP). This ensures that sensitive accounts and passwords are immune to attacks.
Furthermore, if credentials are ever breached, the harm can be mitigated due to the PoLP concept, where no users are operating with more privileges than they actually require – and should they need their rights to be elevated, the sessions will be monitored for suspicious behavior.