Need for privileged Access Management (PAM) for Businesses

Bineesh Mathew | April 11, 2022 | 122 views

Need for privileged Access

“PAM is part of the journey, not the destination, so have a roadmap and make sure you communicate with your team and wider operation, which will allow for your overall security strategy to progress.”

- Terence Jackson, Thycotic CISO and Privacy Officer.

In a corporate context, "privileged access" refers to special access or capabilities that go beyond the scope of a standard user's profile. With the help of privileged access, businesses can protect their infrastructure and applications, operate more efficiently, and keep important data safe.

Privileged access can include human and non-human users but does not necessarily represent a human user. For example, a human user’s privileged access can be domain administrative accounts, superuser accounts, and secure socket shell (SSH) keys. On the other hand, some examples of non-human privileged access are service accounts, application accounts, secrets, and SSH keys.

In the last decade, there have been numerous security breaches involving privileged access. Among them are the following:
  • The massive breach happened at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management
  • Bangladesh bank breach
  • The attack on the Ukrainian power grid
  • Uber’s highly publicized breach

All of these hacks used privileged credentials to plan, organize, and execute cyber-attacks.


Privileged Access Management

Privileged access management (PAM) is used by organizations to safeguard against the hazards caused by credential theft and misuse of privilege. PAM refers to a holistic cybersecurity approach that includes people, procedures, and technology for controlling, monitoring, securing, and auditing all human and non-human privileged identities. It also allows actions to be taken throughout an enterprise's information security environment.

Privileged access management (PAM) works on the concept of least privilege, where the users have access to what is necessary to accomplish their jobs. The idea of least privilege is generally regarded as a recommended practice in cybersecurity and is a critical component of safeguarding privileged access to high-value data and assets. To cut down on their attack surface, companies may be able to reduce the risk of costly data breaches from hostile insiders or cyberattacks from outside the company.


Key Challenges

When it comes to protecting, controlling, and monitoring privileged access, organizations face numerous challenges. Some of them are as follows:
  • Many IT organizations rely on manual-intensive, error-prone administrative processes to rotate and update privileged credentials. This can be a costly and inefficient approach.
  • While centralized monitoring and controlling privileged sessions puts the business at risk for compliance violations and cybersecurity threats, enterprises also put the business at risk.
  • Many businesses do not use threat analysis tools, so they cannot proactively remediate security incidents.
  • Organizations often struggle to control privileged user access to social media, Software as a Service (SaaS) applications, cloud platforms, and others. As a result, it creates compliance risks and operational complexity.
  • Attackers can use flaws in the Kerberos authentication protocol to impersonate authorized users and get access to important IT resources and confidential data.


Why does Your Business Need PAM?

The statistics below highlight, in brief, the necessity of PAM for businesses:
  • 3% of organizations lack a mature approach to access management, resulting in two times the number of breaches
  • U.S. enterprises lose $7.91M from a breach, almost double the global average of $3.68M
  • 56% of breaches take months or longer to discover
  • 49% of organizations don’t have policies for assigning privileged user access 80% of security breaches involve compromised privileged credentials
  • 90% of organizations feel vulnerable to insider attacks

Traditional Cybersecurity Vs. Privileged Access Management (PAM)

Regrettably, traditional cybersecurity is no longer a viable solution. It is complicated, difficult to manage, too costly, and time-consuming. As a result, businesses have to speed up their transition to simpler solutions that don't depend much on IT staff and have more secure, easy-to-use interfaces.

Privileged access management is currently a priority for many CISOs to mitigate the risk of cyberattacks, empower their staff, and safeguard their enterprises from unwanted access. Read on to understand some of the critical reasons why you should shift from traditional cybersecurity to privileged access management (PAM).


Quick Response When Privileged Accounts Are Hacked

Many businesses are afraid to think about what can happen if an administrator account is compromised. However, it is still possible. All accounts can be hacked. A company can't always rely on administrators to take the proper steps, even if they should.

A well-designed PAM (privileged access management) system will safeguard against privileged account attacks. Privileged accounts can be disabled swiftly to prevent further damage. The more quickly threats are addressed, the less damage is done to the system.


Zero or Lower Chances of Insider Threats

Malicious insiders can be a major threat to the organization. Once someone has accessed your system, your data may be readily compromised. With PAM, an insider's ability to harm your system is significantly restricted. They cannot install malware on machines and access documents and data that they are not authorized to view. Also, they will not be able to change the network settings.


Improved Regulatory Compliance

Regulations are either constantly changing or upgraded. Businesses must adhere to these standards to avoid substantial fines and penalties. PAM promotes regulatory compliance by giving administrators more power and employees less.

Employees who don’t pay much attention may violate these restrictions. Either they are unaware, or they are not concerned. By not giving employees access to things they don't need, it's possible to reduce the chances of regulatory compliance issues.

An organization is more likely to be in compliance if it uses privileged access management software and learns how to use it in real life.


Lower Chances of Malware Risk

Employees may install malware, even without recognizing it. For example, they may download anything from the web or accidentally click on a link in an email. They may also unknowingly permit a download or installation that they should not.

Privileged access management prevents employees from making these types of catastrophic errors by restricting them from making such modifications. As a result, potential hazards are decreased, and the assault surface is lowered.


Proactive PAM Program Protect Endpoints and Workstations Effectively

In a business, every endpoint (laptop, smartphone, tablet, desktop, and server, for example) comes pre-configured with privileges. While built-in administrator accounts assist IT staff in resolving local problems, they also present a significant amount of risk.

Attackers attack admin accounts and then go from one workstation to the other, hacking new credentials until they accomplish their objective. Workstations are less likely to be hacked if their local administrative privileges are taken over by a privileged access management program in the early stages.


Summing Up

Privileged access management (PAM) is a cybersecurity term that refers to the techniques and technologies used to control privileged access and rights in their accounts, processes, and systems in an IT environment.

Privileged access management helps businesses reduce their attack surface and prevent data breaches. It can, at least, lessen the damage caused by outside threats and internal misuse or neglect.


Frequently Asked Questions


Is there any difference between IAM and PAM?

IAM, also known as identity and access management, is concerned with the management of all users. On the other hand, PAM makes sure that administrative and privileged users can have access to specific information. It can be done by defining and regulating the roles of the admin users.


Why do businesses need PAM?

PAM allows enterprises to protect themselves against accidental or deliberate misuse of privileged access by facilitating the authorization and monitoring of privileged users


Who is a privileged user?

A user who is permitted (and hence trusted) to perform duties that involve sensitive data. Regular users do not usually perform these duties.

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