Privileged access abuse is emerging as one of the most critical security challenges for enterprises, particularly amidst increased vulnerabilities in a distributed work environment. The bad actors of the cyber world are relentlessly looking to exploit identity and access-based vulnerabilities to infiltrate corporate networks. According to India’s nodal cybersecurity agency CERT-In, the country reported over 2 lakh cybersecurity incidents in the first two months of 2022, compared to over 14 lakh total cybersecurity related incidents last year.
Privileged Accounts: Advantages and Risks Galore
When it comes to manipulating IT systems with high business value, privileged users typically have the widest latitude of all. The most technically skilled users in an enterprise are often responsible for deploying and controlling functionalities on which the business depends. This includes anything from day-to-day operations to strategic capabilities that allow a business to maintain its competitive edge. They may also have considerable responsibilities such as ownership of business applications. There are risks to this power, though.
The complexity of IT infrastructure means that even minor changes can lead to unexpected consequences in terms of resource integrity, performance, or availability – even when handled by highly competent staff.
Malicious parties within the organisation and beyond can capitalise on administrative-level access to cause severe damage to the business. Given the increasing stealth and sophistication of modern attacks, it’s not uncommon for hackers to exploit such privileges unbeknownst to trustworthy and capable resources.
Privileged Access Management (PAM) is an aspect of cybersecurity that helps enterprises maintain complete control and visibility over their most critical assets. A robust PAM solution ensures that all user activities, including those of privileged users, are monitored and will be audited in case of a security breach.
Here’s how enterprises can assure themselves of a robust cybersecurity posture with a reliable PAM solution.
Effective access control
It’s easy to assume that privileged access users know what they are doing when accessing systems or that they will inherently do the right thing. However, that isn’t always the case. Monitoring and auditing access controls ensure that all users in the network adhere to the PAM policies established by the organisation. It involves understanding each account’s access, maintaining inventory of privileged accounts, and analysing and monitoring activities of each account.
Preventing external and internal threats
External attackers targeting administrative privilege as a tactical objective present the most potent threat. But even highly skilled individuals can become insider threats. Considering the evolving cybersecurity landscape, organisations should deploy more granular control and visibility frameworks over administrative access, regardless of the nature of the systems and where they reside – on the cloud, third party or on-premise data centers.
Automating response and mitigating risks
Privileged access management not only reduces the administrative burden on IT teams, but also mitigates potential risks via automation. An automated PAM solution manages passwords, access, and sessions for IT administrators. This includes session recording, implementation of multi-factor authentication (MFA), automated rotation of passwords, and system audit to identify flaws and issues.
Auditability of access and authentication is a critical compliance requirement for many organisations. Privileged access activity monitoring is required in varying degrees under regulations such as HIPAA, SOX, PCI DSS, ICS CERT, GLBA, FISMA, and others. Moreover, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) mandates the management of access to critical data, bringing all privileged access into its scope.
Reduced IT costs and increased ROI
As part of the standard practice in many enterprises, IT teams evaluate and deploy changes in privileged access periodically. However, the outcome of these changes can lead to unintended effects – patch deployment and configuration changes are common examples of this.
In several instances, the scope of a change is not aligned with intentions. Even when everything is tested and anticipated well, some changes may not yield the expected outcomes, leading to a breakdown in a sequence of dependencies. When availability or performance take a hit and changes have to be re-evaluated, they contribute substantially to IT costs.
PAM can help reduce these costs by containing the scope of privileged users and accounts authorised to perform administrative tasks. Granular visibility into privileged activities helps identify specific causes of issues.
In today’s world, a reliable PAM solution has become a must-have instead of a nice-to-have. With wider acceptance and adoption of new-age technologies, investments in PAM implementation can yield big outcomes for businesses by enhancing their cybersecurity lifecycle.
Yotta’s Privileged Access Management solution, powered by the proven niche expertise of Sectona, provides an easy-to-deploy solution with all the attributes that modern enterprises need to secure privileged accounts and manage dynamic remote workforce access efficiently.
Click here to explore Yotta’s PAM solution.