What are Linux and Unix Root Privileges and Their Escalation?
Unix and Linux systems have the concept of a root user (like a windows admin). Root users possess the highest levels of privileges to access every available network and server with a few command lines. This is the reason they are highly flexible too. There can be multiple root users, and it is also common for administrators to create multiple root users with their customised names and passwords.
The latest technological advancements are a boon for cyber attackers and not just for developers. Threat actors seem to be leveraging technology to build sophisticated tools to commit cybercrimes. Exploiting mission-critical root/admin accounts on Unix and Linux systems can allow hackers to access valuable data.
The attacker may get primary user access by exploiting an endpoint and then elevate their privileges to the root level, this is called root escalation. To protect Unix and Linux servers and systems from cyberattacks, updating the patch fixes at the earliest and using Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) throughout the enterprise infrastructure are essential.
More importantly, incorporating a Privileged Access Management (PAM) solution can help businesses define policies concerning root account access. Let us see how an efficient PAM solution can secure *nix environments.
Linux and Unix Privileged Account Management with Sectona Security Platform
- Seamless Discovery of Assets and Accounts
An organisation consists of root users, privileged accounts, machines, and servers. Keeping track of these accounts and systems can be time-consuming and error prone. In addition, redundant and unused privileged accounts can create havoc and can also result in the expansion of the attack surface.
Sectona PAM solution helps scan the entire infrastructure and the systems to detect all the root and privileged accesses in an organisation. With policies designed to assign the right elevation level to different user groups, the PAM tool quickly identifies all the unnecessary and unused privileged accesses and disables them in one go.
The tool can close all the vulnerable or critical systems by automatically discovering secret keys and accounts in an organisation to secure the Unix and Linux infrastructure against increasing threats.
- Robust Password Management
Usually, intruders can use backdoor accounts to bypass an organisation’s security defences. Sectona PAM here discovers all the backdoor accounts. It automatically resets the passwords of user accounts at frequent and necessary intervals with a robust password manager – to secure from all unauthenticated login attempts such as password brute-forcing or backdoor attacks.
The PAM’s Linux and Unix password policy is attached to all the systems and servers. This ensures proper password implementation. Best practices like passphrase, frequent password updates/resets, etc., can be easily implemented by using Sectona’s PAM.
- Task and Privilege Automation
Different teams of an organisation need to perform various tasks. Some teams run 24×7, 365 days. In some situations, users often log in using PuTTY accounts to access their root privileges, update data, and use servers at odd hours. Monitoring these tasks at all times of the day becomes very tedious and prone to mistakes leading to vulnerabilities that can be exploited when root privileges are in use.
These can be easily monitored and managed by Sectona’s PAM solution. This can be done by configuring tasks on PAM, and admins can delegate the task to users with specific service names to automate the proper privilege access provisioning. Data transfer can also be automated and regulated. A lot of plug-and-play architecture of Sectona PAM makes it comfortable for the end user to securely implement privileged actions in just a few simple clicks.
- Seamless Server Access Policy
It is crucial to blocklist/allowlist specific server commands and secure the server’s reboot. Enabling other server-level command access to varying user groups in the system makes this approach more customisable and effective in protecting the server from intruders.
This ensures that even though users log in through root access, they do not get complete control over using specific commands that are blocklisted. Selecting the proper commands to restrict access for a particular user group increases the ease of implementation of this approach, not intercepting the system’s performance.
- Asset JIT (Just in Time) Access Policy
This is all about eliminating the long-standing privileges for servers and systems. We need to ensure the creation of a server or system root account when necessary and disable it immediately after using the privileged account. This automation can be easily accomplished with Sectona PAM. Provisioning and de-provisioning privileges only for the time needed to the one who requires root access reduces the attack surface and the threat exposure multi-folds. So, having a shared JIT account for PAM creates and disables random account provisions.
- Privilege Account Analytics (PAA)
Privileged Account Analytics (PAA) monitors the behaviour of root/admin user accounts across a variety of Operating Systems. It provides insights about user activity and detects suspicious and illegitimate network accesses.
Sectona’s PAA module is based on User behaviour and session logging. It leverages analytical capability and is built with propriety algorithms to detect anomalies and critical attack vectors on target Unix and Linux system access. The PAA module helps enterprises by highlighting threats such as Brute force login attempts, out-of-PAM access, pass-the-hash attacks, golden ticket attacks, and compromised Servers.
Related Reading: Secure your *nix environments with the Sectona Security Platform. Get in touch with us to know more about critical enterprise accounts and their security against sophisticated cyber threats.