Implementing PAM Solution to Fight Against 5 Modern Privileged Access Management Challenges
When cybercriminals target an organisation’s most valuable systems and data, privileged users are frequently an essential part of their attack chain. As these users possess the keys to critical assets, targeting them can give threat actors complete control over a business’s IT infrastructure. It is crucial to have a Privileged Access Management (PAM) solution to control their access. As they enter 2023, this is why organisations must heavily focus on implementing PAM.
But before we get to that, let’s first understand who these privileged users are and what a PAM entails.
Privileged users and their accounts
Privileged users are the ones who are assigned authorisations and roles to perform functions that go beyond regular business transactions. Their accounts possess enhanced permissions, allowing them to access sensitive data or modify essential system functions. These accounts have the increased ability to make changes in an IT environment, like maintaining servers, databases, and workstations, managing domain controllers, and configuring applications and processes.
While some privileged accounts are associated with employees, others are associated with auditors, contractors, vendors, or even automated third-party services and non-humans on-premise, in the cloud, or in hybrid environments.
As organisations become more complex and decentralised, the number and diversity of privileged accounts and users are exploding—the more privileges to an account or process, the greater threat to that account.
Did you know?
● Forrester estimates that 80% of security breaches involve privileged credentials.
● Furthermore, a prediction from Forester says that by 2023, 70% of organisations will have PAM practices for all use cases in the enterprise, reducing the overall risk surface.
Alarming numbers, aren’t they?
Misuse of permissions, whether accidentally or intentionally, can lead to the loss of sensitive data, downtime, negative publicity, and compliance failures.
And that’s where Privileged Access Management comes into the picture.
Privileged Access Management… and the challenges that come with it
So, what is Privileged Access Management? Privileged Access Management (PAM) entails managing, controlling, and protecting privileged accounts (both human and non-human/machines) throughout an IT environment. Common use cases include granting/removal of privileges, securing storage and retrieval of privileged credentials, and securing session access, among other things.
PAM offers many benefits to an organization, but before we talk about that, let us look at some of the challenges associated with implementing PAM:
- Too much restriction can hinder productivity
If privileged access controls are restrictive above a certain threshold level, they can cause frustration among employees, thereby hindering productivity. An individual’s role in an organisation is fluidic. It should evolve in such a way that awarding more privileges with more responsibilities works in congruence with revoking the existing privileges, so they no longer require access. And an ideal PAM must ensure this.
- Addressing gaps caused by manual account discovery
All the privileged accounts and users in an enterprise must be discovered in time because if they go under the radar and get into the wrong hands, it will not bode well for the organization. The challenge for many organizations lies in identifying them. Additionally, doing this manually can be an arduous and time-consuming process, and it becomes paramount to search for ways to automate these processes.
However, while automating a process like this has become imperative, it must be done properly. Applying automation involves centralising, standardising, and then automating processes, and implementing PAM is no different.
● Distributed IT Infrastructure management
Let’s consider a large and distributed IT infrastructure and cloud platforms with multiple SaaS applications adoption. There’s a lot of scope for misuse or abuse of over-privileged entitlements, resulting in breaches. A robust PAM must ensure that trusted privileges are revoked in a timely manner and/or provide just-in-time access to target applications.
● Employee and vendor access is not the same
There are many third parties, such as vendors, consultants, experts, etc., associated with an enterprise. These parties may need temporary privileged access to company resources and are granted the same. However, not tracking and managing this access after the need is over could expose the business to the risks of data breaches.
According to a study by the Ponemon Institute, 66 per cent of the surveyed companies did not have a clear idea of how many third-party relationships they were involved in. Per the same study, 61 per cent of the surveyed companies reported having a breach associated with a third party. This highlights the gravity of risks posed by third-party privileged access accounts and the efficiency required by a PAM solution in handling them.
● Skill gap
Implementing PAM according to the ever-evolving landscape of IT is a challenge. You must have a team of experts who comprehend the regulatory compliance, and the integration and security mandates PAM solutions must fulfil. Those individuals are not always available in droves, and this situation creates a skill gap. The lack of expertise may cause a major burden on enterprises looking to implement PAM.
However, once you find a solution that can effortlessly tackle the challenges, implementing PAM offers benefits galore.
Benefits of implementing PAM solution
Here are some of the benefits of implementing PAM:
● Improved compliance
Many industries, such as banking, finance, and health care, must maintain compliance with the least privileged access in order to comply with regulations such as PCI DSS and HIPAA. By using PAM, you reduce your risk, more easily meet regulatory requirements, and give yourself a good chance of clearing audit processes.
● Scalability across different environments
Modern PAM solutions provide the ability to control and consolidate access to workloads across on-prem, cloud, and hybrid environments. The centralised management provides visibility into the whole IT environment and simplifies access for its users.
● Session Management
PAM helps administrators control access to any system in real-time. Admins are alerted when an unusual activity occurs or when privileged users perform actions they are not entitled to. Administrators can automatically monitor and record all privileged activity across the IT environment by implementing PAM.
● Password Management
PAM ensures all passwords are encrypted in a secure vault. It significantly reduces potential attack footprint by eliminating direct access to critical systems. Admins can easily automate the cycling and management of passwords while having complete control across all credentials.
● Automated account elevation and delegation
PAM enables automated account elevation and delegation to ensure employees have access to the applications and processes they need. Once the need is over, their access is automatically removed for all connected applications and processes.
● Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
PAM adds an additional security layer to ensure individuals are who they are before they even get to the access part. It does so by requiring the users to authenticate themselves via more than a single factor aside from passwords such as a smart card, fingerprint, or personalised tokens.
● Saves time and improves efficiency.
By automating various processes mentioned above, PAM significantly saves time and reduces the complexity of protecting all user identities, so security teams and CISOs can focus on other critical tasks.
Implementing PAM with Sectona can let you achieve a robust access security posture
Sectona brings together different elements to secure privileges on growing attack surfaces for organizations. The complete platform is developed from the ground up and is integrated by default for great ease of use. Leverage our lightweight platform and explore ways to implement faster & transform Privilege Management in the modern enterprise environment.
If you have any burning questions related to Privileged Access Management that you would like to discuss with our experts, let us know, and we will get in touch with you ASAP.