If admin accounts and machine access with high access rights are lost, this will have severe consequences. Appropriate measures and care must be taken in managing them – this is where Privileged Identity Management comes into play.
Privileged accounts – these include user-bound administrator accounts as well as non-human accounts that allow access to databases, machines or cloud applications, for example – are one of the first potential targets to attack due to their nature. Any subject who captures the credentials of such an account can control critical corporate resources, disable security systems, and access intellectual property and highly confidential data.
The 2018 Global State of PAM Risk and Compliance report shows, organizations were able to recognize the need to manage and secure privileged accounts, yet many IT departments aren’t utilizing effective Privileged Identity Management. According to the report, i.e. 80 percent of IT respondents say PAM is a high priority for them, the fact that ~75% would not pass an audit of access controls for their privileged accounts reveals that they are not taking a holistic approach here. As the report shows, for 73 percent of the organizations, multifactor authentication is not required to gain access to vital accounts.
Privileged Identity Management is way more than secure passwords and the management of administrator accounts. Your Identity and Access Management should not be used to protect those accounts; a fully integrated solution is advisable.
Here are four things a Privileged Identity Management solution should offer if IT departments are looking for both security and efficiency.
- Make privileged accounts visible: Reliable identification of accounts worth protecting is the basis of effective Privileged Identity Management, because you can only protect what you eventually know. Companies should implement PAM solutions that identify sensitive accounts automatically and that can provide those responsible with an overview of the number of privileged accounts and the number of all users with local admin privileges.
- Monitoring and access control: A clear definition of access rights and responsibilities is essential if companies want to keep a clear line of security. To avoid possible access and authorization violations, PAM solutions should therefore be used to constantly monitor compliance with this assignment of rights. Complete transparency of the activities of all administrative users and all access should be ensured. Some solutions use machine learning technologies to analyze user activities on the basis of individual behavior patterns and automatically report suspicious access to privileged accounts. Potential compromises of accounts by hackers or internal attackers can thus be averted before any damage is done.
- Effective password management: Passwords are one of the most important means of preventing unauthorized access to systems and thus all business-critical data and information. This is especially true for critical accounts. This makes it even more important that privileged passwords are created, stored, shared, changed and verified in a highly secure environment. Effective PAM solutions enable password management that regularly monitors sensitive credentials, creates comprehensive user logs, and automatically performs password changes. The team is accurately notified of any changes in real time.
- Easy implementation and user-friendly handling: To avoid unnecessary additional work and to relieve the IT department in its day-to-day business, companies should consider a PAM solution that can be implemented quickly and easily and is easy to use. As most companies fear a disruption to their business processes, it is advisable to proceed in stages. Initially, focus only on the user-bound accounts first and continue by extending security measures to all other privileged accounts in a second step.
PAM solutions that combine the above functions and features enable companies to prevent complex attacks on privileged accounts without having to deal with annoying obstructions and outages.
In the meantime, if you’re looking for an overview of the landscape of Identity & Access Management solutions, why don’t you check out our article on this topic?