12 Benefits of Privileged Access ManagementAnirban Banerjee
Data integrity is vitally important to any organization. Indeed, information and its underlying infrastructure are the lifeblood of your business. Data is only increasing in both volume and velocity. The use of global teams is also expanding. As such, the future of business is more likely to have a growing number of internal and external access points. Worldwide collaboration and the upswing of using independent contractors and freelancers for targeted work brings to light the safety and security of your current IT system. This is were Privileged Access Management comes into play.
Additionally, for several industries within the United States, there are compliance rules and regulations to which businesses or other organizations must adhere (e.g. Sarbanes-Oxley and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). Consequently, to avoid penalties or lawsuits due to data breaches, organizations must actively manage user access to information.
Your business depends on the accuracy and privacy of information. Therefore, managing the who, what, where, when, how and why regarding access to your information technology cannot – nor should it be – underestimated. For the reasons above, privileged access management (PAM) has numerous benefits that solidify IT security. Said benefits are separated into two primary concerns: Password Integrity and Workflow Management.
Password Integrity Benefits
It goes without saying that everything must be password protected. However, the management of passwords is as important as the password itself. Layers of security at the point of access have a higher deterrence value, and privileged access management specifically targets this first security layer.
A robust password management system is crucial for both deterring data breaches and also aligning with certain regulatory standards. Indeed, it cannot be understated that several industries require specifics for password encryption, and these often include the age and complexity of each password. As such, Privileged Access Management (PAM) offers several password management solutions to meet industrial and governmental compliance.
1. Password Vaulting
Password leaks and data breaches are, sadly, an increasing part of the IT world. Reusing passwords increases the likelihood of a system and its data being compromised.
However, a primary level of additional security provided by Privileged Access Management (PAM) is password vaulting, where passwords are stored in a digital location and further protected by encryption via a single password. This ensures extremely limited access to all administrator passwords and makes it difficult for data breaching efforts.
2. Password Change and Generation
With PAM, you have a choice of whether to generate random password values or merely rotate the current password set. This can be done either manually, by an individual with an assigned password management role, or as an automated function of the PAM system.
As such, each time a user requests access, they will be presented with a new password. When set to automated generation, the PAM system will release or reset either individual or group passwords while also ensuring a match between current login and every target account.
Additionally, should the issue arise, the PAM system will generate a report detailing issues with failed passwords (since this is an important cyber security signal).
3. Target System Grouping and Detection
If there is more than one individual accessing the same area, the Privileged Access Management system will grant targeted and separate access, thus reinforcing that there is no anonymity regarding who was operating within the system. Furthermore, you have the capability to assign a limited “role” for administrator access (i.e. basic or administrative).
PAM also supports simultaneous detection of user access throughout every company access point whether or not a request is being issued for the same area or a different part of the system. Depending on the PAM software you choose to deploy, this targeting can occur automatically and frees up your personnel to focus on other pressing systemic tasks.
Workflow and Session Management Benefits
The world of business has been globalizing for some time now. Where, at one time, all of the IT department was in-house, this is decreasingly the case. As additional IT personnel onboard or others leave the company, issues such as privilege creep and session management can encourage workflow fragmentation. As such, Privileged Access Management (PAM) helps to minimize issues with workflow and session management which can encourage the aforementioned privilege creep due to the quickly evolving roles of employee access.
The flow of information is rapidly enlarging. Therefore, information systems management increasingly requires a high-level automation whereby more monitoring is done by algorithms rather than personnel. This includes observance of changes to both hardware and software components. Certainly, human intervention is still required to oversee and detect systemic anomalies.
However, one of the primary benefits of PAM system deployment is that it allows for IT professionals to focus their attention on more important projects that help support enterprise expansion. The PAM system will alert the requisite administrators for as many or as few events as programmed (i.e. failed passwords, password requests, web application transactions).
Automation also decreases the likelihood of human error – which is an inevitable part of the increasing workload placed on IT personnel. Switching from a purely manual privileged access management system to an automated solution lowers costs, boosts overall productivity, and optimizes security protocols.
5. Failsafe Preparation
As the saying goes, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. While dwelling on the worst-case scenario regarding post-disaster recovery isn’t psychologically healthy, ensuring the installation of software architecture that greatly diminishes this potential is required. A PAM system helps to establish the reduction of a widespread system failure in the event your system host is compromised and goes offline. As such, if a single point within the network is undermined via an attempted breach, other users will maintain access to both their passwords and entry point, so the work required is not interrupted.
6. Managing Access for Non-Employees
For many enterprises, there will be times when subcontracted personnel may need continued access to your system (as opposed to an emergency, one-time only access as described below). PAM software offers a solution by including role-based access only. The benefit in using this aspect is that you will not need to provide domain credentials to outsiders and access will be limited based on administrator map user roles.
7. Pass the Ticket Attack Prevention
PAM software offers the capability to delete Pass the Ticket access points from machines that have been compromised. It does so through a Security Double Tap measure. Should a hacker breach a network through a Pass the Ticket attack, the PAM system will respond with a double password regeneration function. The domino effect will be a required replication of changed credentials within the domain for the purpose of blocking access to breached point of entry. Through the Privileged Access Management (PAM) system, administrators are also able to prompt a reboot which deletes hash and password memory post-credential escalation.
8. Emergency Access
There may be times when emergency access must be granted to certain administrators. Meanwhile, you will still need to reap the benefits of auditing and recording transactions conducted within your system. PAM offers a secure application launcher that provides immediate entry into applications without divulging passwords. Administrators can specifically configure such access to as many, or as few, applications as necessary.
9. Multifactor Authentication Protocols
Even with all of the current safety protocols in place, there is still a potential for privileged accounts to be breached by internal and external hackers. PAM software meets this challenge by allowing for multi-factor authentication protocols (MAP) when a user requests access. All of the time and event based protocols are supported by PAM (Privileged Access Management). Should your enterprise prefer OATH authentication or proprietary tokens, PAM software will integrate these features as part of the MAP.
10 . Session Management
Once a user has accessed the system, PAM assists in workflow management through automation of each approval step throughout the session duration. For each user role, you will have the ability to configure checkout rules and, if needed, will receive notification for specific access requests that require manual approval by an administrator.
11. Multifaceted Access Points
Mobile devices are an undeniable reality. There is a greater likelihood of personnel, especially subcontracted personnel, to request access points from laptops and tablets. As such, PAM software provides integration with a secure application launcher where access can be granted to non-local devices. Given the reconfigurability of Privileged Access Management (PAM) software, your IT personnel will have audited access through a preset number of applications – anytime and from anywhere.
12. Auditing and Reporting
The importance of auditing user sessions cannot be underestimated. While automation is still a highly desirable feature of PAM, you will still need to have access to application logs, application Syslogs and other transactional audit trails for detailed analysis. PAM provides recording and reporting for a variety of different activities including password requests, and session recording of transactions throughout your particular system. Additionally, PAM software has the ability to provide hundreds of different reports including asset reports, compliance report, privilege reports, and vulnerability reports.
Information security is constantly evolving. However, there are several companies who can help you calibrate your Privileged Access Management plan and recommend tools that are relevant to your security objectives. For additional information, please visit our blog, The 31 Best Resources on Information Security for Enterprises.