Privileged Access Management: 5 Best Practices For Successful Implementation
Access is a significant point of entry in almost all cyber threat incidents. Credentials for applications, services, domain admins, and root accounts are valuable targets. Hackers know they can get and exploit your critical systems and most sensitive information in this manner. They can then change your configurations, alter data, infect your system with malicious software or shut you entirely out of your systems.
This is why you have to be careful to whom you allow access and at what level. To successfully control and restrict access, you need to employ Privileged Access Management (PAM) best practices. Lately, experts agree that PAM has become an essential method of reducing cyberattack risks. (1)
In this article, you’ll learn PAM best practices and how you can successfully implement them in your business.
Pick a suitable PAM solution
Successful implementation of PAM starts with finding the best solution. However, when you research these cyber security solutions, you’re bombarded by numerous providers, each with different offerings. A PAM solution should have the following crucial features:
- Administrator multifactor authentication (MFA);
- An access manager for storing permissions and user information;
- A password vault for secured, privileged account passwords
- A session tracker whenever privilege access is granted;
- Audit logging tools to enhance standards compliance.
You need to consider the use cases for privileged access in your environment and what tasks your preferred solution would perform. These include service account management, discovery functions, asset and vulnerability management, least privilege access, file integrity monitoring and password change automation and control.
You may consider using a vendor-independent technology partner to test and evaluate the solution as a way to your enterprise security services choices. This is an excellent way to ensure your solution indeed works as promised by the vendor and that you can safely establish your privileged accounts. You can also engage a managed IT security services provider to help you install, implement, train and maintain the PAM solution.
Have a privileged account discovery process
Another best practice for the successful implementation of PAM is identifying and defining your privileged accounts. You need to carry out an audit to remove all unnecessary and unused accounts and determine those that allow access to sensitive and critical company assets. You need to consider accounts on-premise and on the cloud. In addition, include personal, shared, root, local, and software administrative accounts.
You need to make the discovery process a continuous cyber security business process to ensure that you’re working with only the privileged accounts you require. At the very least, your discovery tools should include the following administration and management of identities, DevOps, authentication and ticketing tools.
Practice the least privilege principle
The whole idea of managing access is to lower the chance of a hacker accessing your sensitive data or systems. To successfully implement PAM, you need to practice the principle of least privilege by giving the minimum permission or access level to perform a function. For that reason, ensure you remove full access for administrator access to endpoints.
This is made possible using Identity and Access Management (IAM) controls. These IAM controls let you grant the least privilege permissions based on the following:
- Who’s seeking access
- What’s the context of the given request
- The level of risk of the access environment without causing delays or hindering productivity
When an account needs to undertake privileged tasks, PAM solutions help you only allow access that is constrained to the extent of the activity and the time required to complete it. It tracks a session and promptly removes the access granted afterwards. (2)
Follow a privileged account password policy
When implementing PAM, one of the crucial things to have is a password policy followed by every privileged account user and manager. One of the best ways to ensure that passwords are safe is using passphrases and multifactor authentication instead of the common complex passwords.
Ensure your policy covers both human and computer security services and system accounts to prevent unauthorized persons. The policy should include non-human accounts and passwords, such as applications and services, and how frequently you need to change the passwords. You can also automate password changes to allow you to update them often and efficiently.
Track and monitor progress
Finally, ensure continuous monitoring of privileged accounts and network security services to identify gaps to allow you to find ways to cover them. Moreover, monitoring is necessary to check any signs of compromised accounts, misused privileges or areas where users have failed to follow your PAM policy, procedures and best practices.
By using user analytic solutions, you can gain insights into the privileged account users’ activities and measure account sensitivity, malicious insider threats, and credential strength. You’ll know what’s working and what’s not and take the necessary precautions and actions, including enhancing the security of your devices, such as Optus internet security suite. (3)
Controlling who can access your sensitive data and critical systems is crucial for keeping your business assets safe and essential for cyber security services. The best practices discussed above are things you can do to maintain a reduced risk of cyber-attack through access as the point of entry. You’ll be putting the essential controls around your accounts, systems, and information by successfully implementing PAM.
- “HOW PAM PLAYS A PIVOTAL PART IN YOUR ESSENTIAL EIGHT PROGRAM”, Source: https://www.cybersecurityconnect.com.au/industry/7352-how-pam-plays-a-pivotal-part-in-your-essential-eight-program
- “Access control”, Source: https://www.cyber.gov.au/acsc/view-all-content/guidance/access-control
- “How Privileged Access Management Combats Insider Threats,”: Source: https://solutionsreview.com/identity-management/how-privileged-access-management-combats-insider-threats/