PAM enhances organizational security significantly

By implementing PAM, organizations can protect their most critical assets and improve their overall security posture.

CISOs across businesses are having nightmares as even one single security incident can lead to financial losses, brand damage, customer churn, and other severe consequences.

With the fast-evolving digital landscape and the changing nature of cyberattacks, organizations are increasingly concerned about protecting their sensitive data, networks, and other critical assets.  With cyberattacks becoming more frequent and sophisticated, the threat landscape is also dynamic but is continuously evolving. 

Privileged User Accounts are a major security risk

Increasingly, threat actors are specifically targeting privileged accounts as these have extensive access to the organization’s most critical assets.  This privileged access, if not managed well, can lead to devastating consequences such as security breaches, network compromise, and unauthorized system modification.

Privileged User Accounts are generally those of System Administrators, IT Heads, and the C -Suite, as they work with critical data directly and have unlimited access to the cloud infrastructure, end-points, critical infrastructure, data, and applications.  The privileged account holder can grant access to critical assets to other users, modify sensitive data, and alter system configurations.  If the access falls into the wrong hands, it can have dire consequences in such a situation.  Threat actors can then access privileged networks, effortlessly infiltrate networks, sabotage systems, and steal sensitive information.  Attackers target privileged accounts by leveraging phishing or coercion to breach the perimeter, take control of the user’s PC, and steal privileged credentials.  They can remain in the network and go undetected for months, looking for more privileged users’ credentials.

Mitigating the risks of Privileged Account exploitation

To stop the threat of privileged users, some key practices are to be followed rigorously.  Effective Privileged Management is possible by implementing PAM solutions, where privileged users only have access rights needed to perform specific tasks.  This minimum privilege reduces the attack surface and the potential damage to the compromised account.  For real-time monitoring of the privileged user, PAM tools can be leveraged.  These tools permit organizations to track user behavior and report suspicious activities.  This involves gaining visibility into the actions of privileged users and addressing any external attack or privilege abuse at speed.  Users will become more alert when they know user activity monitoring is being applied.  Risks can be mitigated by establishing control over access with strong passwords and by implementing multi-factor authentication (MFA).  Even in cases where the hacker manages to get hold of the password for a privileged account, they would require breaking through additional layers of security.  User behavior Analytics can be leveraged to spot suspicious behavior of users and address them in time with PAM solutions.  Access controls also ensure the granting of privileged access only after validation.  PAM solutions can prevent single users from performing other conflicting actions by implementing policies regarding the segregation of duties.  Regulatory compliance can be enhanced by automating PAM processes and policy enforcement.

Improvement in the overall security posture

With the implementation of PAM solutions, the organization’s entire network is monitored, providing access to every user’s access data while the risk of unauthorized access is mitigated.   This significantly enhances the overall security posture, enabling organizations to stay ahead of potential threats.  PAM solutions effectively address the vulnerabilities associated with privileged accounts, reduce the attack surface, and respond quickly to security incidents. They provide proactive defense so security teams can respond effectively to potential threats.  As organizations increase in size to meet their growing business needs, PAM solutions can be leveraged to provide flexibility at scale as they are designed to do so.  The swift response and remediation delivered by these solutions will enable the minimization of any impending damage. As PAM solutions preserve detailed audit logs of privileged user activities, this helps to facilitate compliance with industry and government regulations.

PAM is crucial to cybersecurity, as privileged accounts pose major security risks.  In the event of a compromise of the standard account, the hacker will have access to only the user’s information, but when a privileged user account is compromised, the possibility of damaging the entire system is very high.  PAM can help businesses combat external and internal threats and is integral to the organization’s security. By implementing an effective PAM strategy, businesses can protect their sensitive assets and remain resilient in the face of adversity.

The author is a Chairman and  Managing Director at ProcessIT Global.
Image Source- Freepik

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