The misuse of privileged access is a popular method of attack used by hackers in cybersecurity that often causes significant businesses’ crippling losses. If successful, it can give intruders access to the core services of an organization’s data center network, alarming no one. Well, at least until significant damage gets done. If you want to know about How Privileged Access Management Works then read this article.
What Is Privileged Access Management (PAM)?
Privileged Access Management refers to the tools that enhance control and take responsibility of securing how an organization manages access to critical data center assets. PAM systems ensure top security by centralizing privileged credentials and maintaining control over who has access. They also track activities by keeping a log and monitoring suspicious activity.
Privileged access management offers organizations protection against credential theft and threats of privilege misuse. It provides a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy that covers people, processes and technology, to audit, control, monitor, and secure all privileged activities across a business’ data center network. Businesses can secure IT infrastructure and applications to increase efficiency and maintain the confidentiality of sensitive information.
Examples of Human Privileged Access:
Privileged Business User
This account provides access to users outside of IT who need access to sensitive systems. It may include a person who needs access to marketing, HR, or finance systems.
Domain Administrative Account
These are limited accounts, and they provide the most extensive and robust administrative access to the entire network, including workstations, storage, and servers.
Secure Socket Shell (SSH)
SSH keys are control protocols that give users direct access to critical root systems. Root accounts help manage commands and files on Linux and other operating systems.
IT system administrators use this privileged account to configure business applications and systems. It gives them control over the deletion of data, and they can also add or remove users.
Local Administrative Account
You can access this account using a workstation or endpoint, with a username and password combination. It helps users access their local machines or devices and make changes.
This account sometimes called a firecall, gives secure administrative access to systems in an emergency.
Examples of Non-Human Privileged Access:
An account that an application or service uses to interact with the operating system. Services use these accounts to access and change the operating system or the configuration.
Automated processes also use SSH keys.
These are accounts used by the DevOps team to encompass SSH keys, API keys, and all other DevOps credentials that give the team privileged access.
This privileged account regards the application software used to administer or manage access to business application software.
How Does Privileged Access Management Work?
PAM tools typically isolate the credentials of privileged accounts by securing them inside a repository to reduce the risks of the credentials getting stolen. System administrators need to get authenticated and log their access to do anything. After getting checked back in, credentials get reset to ensure administrators get authenticated again next time they want to access the system.
Privileged accounts, credentials, and secrets are in every business networking environment. And many advanced data center attacks exploit privileged credentials to access applications, sensitive data, and infrastructure.
PAM uses the principle of least privilege to give users access to work systems, which is fundamental in protecting data assets. This principle helps organizations reduce attack surfaces and manage the risk from internal and cyberattacks that may cause expensive data breaches.
Why Is Privileged Access Management Essential For Your Businesses?
The number of bots and applications requiring privileged access to networks is growing with business adoption of cloud, DevOps, machine learning, robotic process automation, and IoT. Privileged access management works help ensure that users only have access to systems that allow them to do their jobs.
Commercial applications usually demand access to different network parts, and hackers can use this as an exploit. Also, non-human entities such as robots are difficult to identify, monitor, and manage.
Cyber attackers like to target workstations and other enterprise endpoints because they have privileges by default. Network intruders can use stolen admin accounts to infiltrate and maneuver between workstations to steal data and exploit the entire network.
A robust PAM strategy maintains control over all system accounts and detects anomalies in real-time. It enables security protocols to identify suspicious activities regarding privilege misuse and take immediate action.
Being able to monitor and detect malicious activities in an environment is crucial to the survival of a business. Otherwise, it remains vulnerable. Organizations that implement security and risk management PAM strategies ensure compliance and maintain quality cybersecurity by reducing risks. It also reduces operational costs and enhances visibility across the business network.
Privileged Access Management (PAM) Best Practices
You can use the following steps to establish an essential PAM framework to strengthen your organization’s security posture, enhance risk reduction:
Invest in Frequent Exercises To Test System Security
This helps validate security and improves effectiveness against real-world attacks.
Block Irreversible Network Takeovers
You can achieve this by implementing multi-factor authentication and isolating privileged access to domain controls and other Tier0 and Tier1 assets.
Protect SaaS Admins and Privileged Business User Credentials
Isolate all shared access IDs implement multi-factor authentication.
Control and Secure Infrastructure Accounts
You must put all privileged infrastructure accounts in a centralized digital vault. Also, rotate passwords after every use. This process can include automation and should be regular.
Secure SSH Keys
Isolate all SSH key-pairs on Linux and Unix production systems. Also, rotate them frequently.
Limit Lateral Movement
Exclude all endpoint users from the local administrator’s group on IT workstations.
Protect all DevOps Secrets
Strictly secure privileged accounts in the public cloud, API keys, and put all credentials in a vault, retrievable on the fly and rotated automatically.
Secure Third-Party Application Credentials
Secure all privileged accounts accessed with third-party applications and remove hard-coded credentials for commercial apps.