What might be the primary reason for a conqueror’s success in a historical battle? They should have anticipated their opponent’s moves and stayed a couple of steps ahead – Can we relate this to the digital world? Why not!
Today’s cyber threat landscape is no different than a battlefield of medieval history. With the increase in enterprise privilege misuse, the need for organizations to anticipate and combat threat vectors is also growing. It is crucial to predict potential attack vectors and take security measures to protect against privilege misuse.
How to Identify Vulnerabilities that Can Result in Privilege Misuse?
Think like a hacker to stop a hacker. Well, easier said than done – how can you think like a hacker? Let us break it down into steps.
Why are these steps important?
Well, the end objective of a complex problem is to reach a viable solution. However, the approach you follow to find that solution can set you apart and let you be prepared to tackle privilege misuse.
Step 1: Identify and Understand the Problem at Hand
Identifying the challenge sounds easier. But, more often than not, a problem remains undetected for weeks and even months in the world of information security.
Step 2: Dig Deeper
Once you know the issue at hand, the next step is to dig deeper and get to the root of the problem. Why did the problem occur, and what could have caused it? Albeit time-consuming, it is a crucial step for effective troubleshooting. Now things become easy – you know the problem and the root of the problem, so finding the right solution becomes a comparatively manageable task.
Step 3: Identify Exploitable Vulnerabilities
Scrutinise and understand your infrastructure to identify all the loopholes that hackers can exploit and intrude. Then, anticipate how privilege misuse can happen in your system. Understand different modes and means through which cyber-attackers could breach through these vulnerabilities.
Step 4: Which Assets Need Immediate Protection against Privilege Misuse?
Think of the assets that need utmost security and strategise a plan to protect them. Remember, this is a careful process where you must understand the business and financial impact of devising mitigation strategies.
Step 5: Align, Implement and Avoid Privilege Abuse
Lastly, the most crucial step would be to align the Board with your plans and execute protection strategies at the earliest without further ado.
Instances: Logic Analogy with Your Organization
Let us take a specific risk example to understand the above steps in a detailed way. Imagine you have understood your company’s mission, business goals, technology, and infrastructure; you have defined the company’s crucial information assets such as servers, databases, network devices and others.
Now, you clearly understand the vulnerabilities and loopholes associated within the enterprise infrastructure. You have privileged users and administrators who act as super users and have significant privilege rights for the enterprise assets.
Can the privileged users pose cyber risks? Yes, they can!!! If you know they are the most important personnel, why don’t cyber-attackers (hackers) would be aware of the same?
The instance now has two possible scenarios. One is the possibility of privileged users turning into insiders, and the other is the users being prone to making human errors, which a hacker can exploit.
Isn’t it evident that the hackers will attempt to gain control of these privileged accounts to hack into your assets? As you see, the hackers are already two steps ahead. This step essentially is the characterization of risk. So, with that done, how do you analyze how the hackers are two steps ahead and are prepared to protect these assets?
Protecting Your Business against Privilege Misuse
First, make sure you conduct background checks to ensure these administrators and privileged personnel are trustworthy. This way, you can partly ensure that a direct insider attack will not take place. Secondly, identify and implement security solutions such as Privileged Access Management (PAM) in place that help you secure not just the credentials of privileged accounts but also the access rights and privileges of these accounts. This is to ensure that the external hackers do not get access to your administrator account credentials and privileges, nor do the internal privileged users abuse their privilege rights. Thirdly, monitor the solution for its effectiveness and vulnerabilities (if any).
Assess the agility and scalability of the solution to align with the changing dynamics of your infrastructure. The next step is to constantly stay updated on the new attack modes and ways, and latest trends in information security, i.e., stay up to date and educate yourself persistently.
If needed, do not hesitate to undergo a technology refresh, and update your privileged access security with the latest technology.
Lastly, repeat the above steps in a regular fashion – it is an ongoing process. Rest assured, you are two steps ahead in the game and are better equipped to protect your organization from privilege misuse.
Can following the above steps completely make attackers shy away? – No. But these steps can help you be prepared, stay vigilant and remain ahead of the curve with the right approach and processes for protecting your assets from privilege misuse.
How can Sectona help you protect against privilege misuse?
Sectona offers a unique Privileged Access Management (PAM) solution that can employ the detect and prevent strategy when it comes to privilege abuse. Download and read our Sectona PAM Datasheet to learn more about our approaches and value proposition.