The crown jewels of cybercrime are the level of access privileged users have to your company’s most critical data and assets. Therefore, monitoring them with a Privileged Access Management (PAM) program is key.
After all, with this access in hand, threat actors can quickly and easily breach your systems, expand their privileges and do what they want. After the dust clears, the result will likely be damage to your business and its reputation. This risk is layered on top of the trust you’ve given your employees with privileged access. At any time, an employee who becomes disgruntled could instigate an attack to steal data or secrets, or to simply embarrass your company. Access to privileged accounts is the fast lane to wreaking havoc on your company. In fact, 80% of all cybersecurity incidents involve a weak or stolen privileged credential. See how you can get a handle on this type of attack with PAM.
To learn more, watch our webinar: Privileged Account Attacks – Are You Ready?
Why is Privileged Access Management Important?
Managing and watching the activities of privileged users is a complex endeavor. Distributed and hybrid cloud environments can include thousands of servers, hundreds of databases, thousands of network devices and hundreds of applications. Because of this sheer size, it can be difficult to manage, monitor and control access to privileged accounts.
An environment like this will hold many privileged accounts, and often these accounts will be shared between multiple users. It’s not possible to manage these privileged and shared accounts well with only manual processes. Even so, employees waste time each day keeping track of how to log into various systems.
The shift to remote work has only made security and compliance concerns more pressing. More employees are using personal devices and their home Wi-Fi networks to access their work. Personal devices are typically not protected and maintained at the same security level and often don’t meet the same compliance needs compared to those in-house. An all-in-one PAM program has to account for all types of access, including employees, partners, suppliers and connected accounts.
While various solutions do exist to solve these issues, crafting a cohesive, careful approach to PAM is not a turn-key endeavor. You need strong governance and policies to handle account access. From this, you can gain the insight needed to audit and monitor the actions of your privileged users. Record and monitor sessions for real-time detection and alerts of malicious access or detrimental changes to critical data or systems. Having this level of insight and detailed usage data about your privileged accounts and users is necessary to meet strict regulations and to fully prepare your people for a potential audit.
Leaving Privileged Access Management to the Experts
Luckily, experts build privileged access management solutions to solve these issues. If your team is unable to maximize the benefits of such a solution, the overall program might turn out to be feeble. It consumes resources and investment, as well as possibly creating gaps for attackers.
A good option is outsourcing PAM to managed security services providers. Regardless of the solution you select, a proven PAM provider can help in several ways. These include creating a flexible long-term strategy, detailed design and deployment plan, ongoing steady-state management and ongoing improvements to reduce risk.
Here are other ways in which PAM and a top provider can help.
Privileged Access Management Basics: Strategy
Employers can set up a holistic strategy that aligns your PAM goals with broader business objectives. First, pinpoint the critical systems you should start with. In order to do this, you’ll need to gain stakeholders’ buy-in on the processes put in place for privileged accounts.
After that is done, you can determine the right PAM functionality to protect your systems right away. You can also explore what additional capabilities you can layer in over time, and align your PAM architecture with a disaster recovery plan.
Choosing the right model to deploy PAM involves knowing what your system looks like. PAM can navigate complex environments, including on-premises, cloud or hybrid cloud. In order to have a smooth roll-out, adopt PAM controls in a phased approach, noting high priority areas such as endpoint management, crown jewel data and critical infrastructure. Depending on your business needs, your services partner will likely recommend starting with the highest risk systems first and then expanding the program over time.
Insight and Action
PAM can enable you to gain new insight, including detecting and responding to abnormal privileged behavior. It can also:
- Monitor privileged threats and track privileged credential threat metrics.
- Obtain guidance and expertise on the impact and rank you give to privileged accounts and users.
- Develop use cases that analyze PAM log data for threats and integrate those with SIEM solutions for more insights.
- Speed up privileged attack detection and automate response using artificial intelligence and machine learning.
- Gain visibility into attacks using the managed security service provider’s unified console.
Automation and Optimization
Once you have a baseline, PAM can grow with you. You can integrate new systems, components and applications into your PAM solution as it goes along. This means keeping on track to mature and advance areas such as PAM governance, session recording, privileged threat analysis and event response. You can also integrate special access use cases as you go along. Keep your program aligned to your business as your privileged access management needs evolve over time. In order to do so, valuate results and continue refining your strategies to improve protection on an ongoing basis with regular review sessions.
Integration and Reporting
Along with other insights, a PAM service is designed to understand where you have reduced risk and secured privileged accounts, even in complex, hybrid cloud cases. Those insights lead to recommended actions. They can help properly address government mandates. It’s also possible to integrate your PAM program into frameworks like the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Cybersecurity Framework.
Protecting your data from privileged credential abuse, while dealing with compliance rules and the risk of data breaches, can be challenging. From strategy, deployment and steady-state management to automation, analytics and optimization, it helps to have experts, guidance and experience across hybrid cloud environments with a leading PAM platform.
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Author: Rich Edwards