Privileged Access Management (PAM) – Overview, Tools and Best Practices
By monitoring, detecting, and blocking unwanted privileged access to vital resources, privileged access management (PAM), an identity security solution, aids in defending enterprises from cyber threats.
PAM offers you visibility into who uses privileged accounts and what they do when logged in by combining people, procedures, and technology.
While extra layers of security reduce data breaches by threat actors, system security is increased by limiting the number of users with access to administrative functions.
To track actions and categorize their usage, privileged access management tools and software group the system administrator accounts' credentials into any secure repository. The isolation is meant to lessen the possibility of abuse and theft of the admin credential.
For example, some PAM platforms forbid privileged users from choosing their passwords. Instead, whenever an admin logs in, the platform's password manager notifies them of their password or releases it (once).
Let's start with a fundamental grasp of PAM.
The cybersecurity techniques and technologies known as "privileged access management" (PAM) are used to exercise control over elevated ("privileged") access and permissions for users, accounts, processes, and systems within an IT environment.
PAM assists companies in reducing their organization's attack surface and preventing, or at least mitigating, the harm caused by outside assaults and inner carelessness or wrongdoing by adjusting the number of privileged access restrictions.
The enforcement of least privilege, which is defined as limiting access rights and permissions for users, accounts, applications, systems, devices (like IoT), and computing processes to the absolute minimum necessary to perform routine, authorized activities, is a crucial objective of privilege management even though it encompasses a variety of strategies.
PAM, also known as privileged identity management (PIM), privileged account management, or simply privilege management, is regarded by many analysts and engineers as one of the most significant security initiatives for lowering cyber risk and maximizing security returns.
Most people agree that the identity and access management (IAM) field includes privilege management. PAM and IAM work together to give granular control, visibility, and auditability over each credential and privilege.
How Does PAM Function?
PAM, or "Privileged Account Management," guards against the unintentional or intentional misuse of privileged accounts on your systems.
All privileged accounts on your systems may be authorized and monitored using PAM, which is scalable and safe. You can:
- Only provide users access to systems that they are allowed to use.
- Only grant access when required and immediately withdraw access once the need has passed.
- Privileged users should no longer utilize local or direct system passwords.
- Manage access from a central location across a variety of heterogeneous platforms.
- For all privileged operations, provide an unchangeable audit trail.
The importance of privileged access management
Regarding system security, humans are the weakest link, and privileged accounts pose a serious danger to your company. PAM gives security teams the tools to spot harmful actions brought on by privilege misuse and respond quickly to reduce risk.
For example, a PAM system may guarantee only the access levels required for workers to perform their duties.
- A PAM solution will benefit your business in the following ways in addition to spotting dangerous actions connected to power abuse:
- Reduce the likelihood of a security breach. A PAM solution aids in limiting the scope of any breaches that do happen in your system.
- Reduce threat actors' access points and routes. People, processes, and applications with restricted rights are protected from internal and external dangers.
- Resist malware assaults. Removing excessive rights can assist in stopping the spread of malware if it manages to get a foothold.
- Increase the environment's suitability for audits. Utilize activity logs to track and identify unusual activities and develop a thorough security and risk management plan.
Top PAM tools
With its Password Safe and Privileged Remote Access products, a well-known PAM player BeyondTrust, provides various options for privileged account and session management (PASM). The latter product has gained traction with midsize and smaller enterprises and remote access use cases that have expanded significantly in recent years.
The top-ranked Privileged Access Management (PAM) tool for 2022 is CyberArk Privileged Access Manager. CyberArk Privileged Access Manager receives an average score of 8 out of 10 from users.
Another popular option on most buyers' shortlists when considering a PAM purchase is CyberArk. The researchers at Gartner state that CyberArk "remains the largest PAM brand, having a long history in this sector, a vast global reach, and the largest proportion of the PAM market." Most Gartner customers looking at PAM technologies had CyberArk on their list of providers to consider.
Thycotic and Centrify, two well-known PAM market participants, joined to become Delinea. TPG Capital, a private equity group, acquired the two businesses last year, combined them, and rebranded them under the new name in February. Separately, each product base is rated by experts from organizations like Gartner and KuppingerCole as being in the "up and to the right" leadership area of the PAM market.
Hashicorp is a niche player in the PAM market since its range of services is insufficient to manage privileged access from beginning to finish. It is becoming well-known in the DevOps community, though, for its secure password vault features, which are made to be integrated into the application development and delivery management tooling that DevOps teams use every day.
Another PAM-lite competitor with unique capabilities for businesses looking to ease into privileged account management is ManageEngine. Analysts point out that its PAM360 platform's ability to introduce custom user administration roles is positive and strongly focuses on SSH key and SSL certificate management. In addition, the software offers some user behavior patterns for searching for unsafe activity and reporting that is compliant-friendly.
Best practices for privileged access management
There are recommended practices to remember as you prepare for and install your PAM system to assist your business in increasing security and reducing risk.
Impose multifactor authentication requirements.
Multifactor authentication strengthens the sign-in process' security. Users are required to submit extra identity verification using a different verified device before they may access accounts or apps.
Streamline your security.
By automating your security environment, you can decrease the possibility of human mistakes and boost productivity. When a hazard is identified, you can, for instance, instantly impose restrictions on rights and stop risky or unlawful behavior.
Eliminate end-point users.
On IT Windows workstations, locate and remove unused end-point users from the local administrator's group. Threat actors can roam between workstations using an admin account, steal other users' credentials, and escalate their privileges to gain access to other parts of the network.
Identify baselines and keep an eye on deviations.
Audit privileged access activity to find out who is using the system and how privileged credentials are being utilized. Knowing the norm for appropriate behavior makes it easier to identify deviations that might put your system at risk.
Enabling timely access
Apply the least-privilege principle to all situations and people, then raise privileges as necessary. Using degrees of trust, requirements, and privileges as a guide, you may divide systems and networks into groups of users and processes.
Avoid having privileged access forever.
Instead of everlasting privileged access, think of transitory just-in-time access and just-enough access. This makes it possible to guarantee that users only have access for the period necessary and legitimate reasons.
Implement activity-based access control.
Only grant access to resources that a person utilizes based on prior behavior and use. Close the gap between the rights provided and the rights exercised.
Benefits of Privileged Access Management
Organizations may guarantee that those who require privileged access receive it while safeguarding crucial business systems from damaging assaults using a strong PAM solution.
Eight advantages of including PAM in your identity management approach are as follows:
- Manage who has access to privileged accounts.
- Prevent attacks on privileged accounts.
- Control access in one place.
- Limit the sharing of credentials.
- Review real-time alerts for harmful activity.
- Fast deployment.
- Integrate with systems for managing access and identities.
- Uphold IT compliance.
Privileged Access Management Solutions
Organizations prioritizing PAM as part of their overall cybersecurity strategy can reap various organizational benefits, including reducing security risks and the overall cyberattack surface, lowering operational costs and complexity, improving visibility and situational awareness across the enterprise, and improving regulatory compliance.
Recently, cyber insurers have put pressure on their customers and prospects to adopt privileged access security, including specific PAM restrictions like removing admin permissions and monitoring privileged users.
Connect with our PAM experts today to get recommended action items from your organization's privileged access management needs.
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