Everything your business needs to know about privileged access management

Privileged Access Management

Privileged access management (PAM) is strictly controlling the permission to utilize elevated system privileges and benefit from sensitive business resources.  Privileged access management can be conferred on applications, devices, or human administrators.

Cyber criminals always target privileged accounts because they know that they will have access to confidential corporate data. They also know that a PAM comes with administrative level access and the ability to view, control, and change mission-critical processes and systems within the company.

Why privileged access management?

Privileged access management is important to any business that wants to prevent the deliberate or accidental loss of sensitive business data. When a business adopts privileged access management protocols, it is better able to monitor and control how users access sensitive business information. This means that only specific individuals or accounts can use certain processes and make changes to structures within the business platform. Consequently, the business can better prevent malicious insider attacks and maintain system security against hackers.

How does privileged access management work?

Privileged access management solutions separate user account privileges from system administrator privileges and store the credentials within a secure system. For the administrators to access these accounts, they must get permission from the PAM dashboard. They won’t get permission if the PAM system is unable to verify their identity. 

Another key feature of PAM is that the system resets the credentials every time they are used.  Consequently, the administrator must use new credentials every time they log in to the system.

Some of the main examples of privileged management accounts include the following.

Super user account

The super user account belongs to the system manager.  Individuals that are granted such accounts can modify the applications or systems. They can also add or expel users from the system.

Domain administrative account

Some organisations stratify their architecture into various domains. When you receive a domain administrative account, you have the capacity to make changes within a specific network domain.  Access to these accounts is strictly limited as they can make extensive changes within that network.

Local administrative account

This is the administrative account that is found on a workstation, rather than on a domain. The local administrator account provides privileged access to devices or local machines only. Typically, the account is managed by using a password or username however PAM can manage this password and introduce a unique password for each machine.

Secure socket shell

A secure socket shell is a control channel for access to core business infrastructure.  Root access to systems is encrypted and requires a security key.

Emergency account

If the business faces an unexpected, close to a catastrophic event, users will need to respond quickly. In this case, some businesses may decide to provide administrative access to additional users so that they can respond adequately to the emergency.

Privileged business user

Sometimes, not everybody who has privileged access works in the IT department. If somebody within the organisation but outside the IT department has access to critical business infrastructure, they will be using a privileged business user account. For example, staff from the human resource or finance department may need special access to business data. Similarly, IT staff should normally be prevented from accessing data in HR systems.

Benefits of PAM

Any effective cyber security strategy must provide additional protection for key administrative accounts.  The size or type of your organisation does not matter because a business with weak security systems is a soft target for cybercriminals. When hackers target a system, they will seek out administrative credentials. The reason behind this is that administrative credentials offer opportunities to modify system settings and relax security controls.  Hackers will use these elevated privileges to inject malware into the system.

In some cases, the threats to organisations can emanate from within the company. PAM can assist a business to first reduce the risk posed by individuals and also assist you to identify these insider threats.  Your staff will know that PAM account assignment logs provide a centralized way to determine which individual was provided which privileged account at which specific time.  

Bottom line

Privileged access management is important for any business that works with sensitive information or has a substantial dependency upon digital systems.  PAM ensures that infrastructure processes and data will not fall into the wrong hands.  It also ensures that businesses can quickly identify any perpetrator of a breach within the system.

Get in touch with Intrix Cyber Security to learn more about how your organisation can benefit from PAM.

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