Benefits of having Privileged Access Management(Pam)

by Maisie

Privileged Access Management (PAM) is the process of managing privileged account credentials, secrets, and access. It enables organizations to strengthen security controls around existing privileged accounts, often referred to as ‘credentials’ or ‘tokens’.

The purpose of PAM is to prevent or at least significantly reduce the risk of an attacker gaining access to sensitive information via another user’s legitimate credentials. This can be achieved by limiting what each credential can do within an organization’s IT infrastructure. Privileged Access Management reduces the likelihood of breaches, increases oversight into activity on critical systems, reduces the time required for security experts to respond with remediation activities, and improves overall compliance with corporate governance policies.” You can learn more here,

Privileged Access Management is designed to be used as a complement to existing security controls, including robust authentication, also known as two-factor authentication, individual accountability, and least privilege access. Two-factor authentication has many variants but at its core, it requires users to provide something they know (e.g., password) along with something they have (e.g., cryptographically linked token). Individual accountability requires all administrators within an organization to be registered on the system they are using, ideally linking activity back to their unique identity.

Individual accountability is often described as the ‘coupling of identity and action’. Under ‘least privilege’ access control policies, each user must be assigned just enough privileges or permissions needed for them to perform their job, and no more. A user’s access is automatically revoked when they leave the organization or change roles.”

Other measures such as patching systems and hardening configurations help eliminate vulnerabilities before attackers can exploit them. But as long as privileged credentials remain in use within an organization, those powerful accounts make a tempting target for attackers who may already possess lower levels of privileged account information. By using PAM, administrators can limit what compromised credentials can do and reduce an attacker’s chance of moving laterally across the network.

Privileged Access Management offers a way to secure your environment against credential-based attacks that use compromised user credentials to gain access into your environment. Strong authentication helps to ensure that those with privileged access are who they say they are, and have to prove it. But strong authentication is only the first step, as it doesn’t provide insight into or limit what authenticated users can do once logged in.

Privileged account credentials are the keys to the kingdom. Those “keys” allow individuals to access sensitive systems, data, and applications. The use of these powerful accounts for both good and bad purposes makes them a target for attackers, who may already posses lower level privileged account information.”

Credential-based attacks using compromised user credentials are very common today due to the number of user accounts within large organizations combined with an open attack surface consisting of thousands upon thousands of potential targets. The use of PAM and other controls can help reduce the risk of credential-based attacks.

Typical privileged access management capabilities include:

  1. Identify and control privileged user accounts, including built-in or default accounts like ‘Administrator’ that may provide attackers with a way to get into your systems; these should be eliminated or renamed so they cannot be used.
  2. Enable real-time alerts when a privileged account is used for any activity outside its normal parameters in order to spot potential misuse, enabling security teams to respond immediately instead of after a potentially serious breach has occurred.
  3. Ensure individuals have just enough level of privilege needed to do their job, no more.
  4. Audit and limit privileged access to critical systems, applications, or data sets.”

In order to protect against credential-based attacks, organizations should implement a three-pronged strategy: 1. Implement strong authentication for all users including privileged accounts; 2. Limit what those users can do once authenticated; 3. Provide real-time alerts so they know about suspicious activity as soon as it occurs.

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