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What is Privileged Access Management (PAM) & Its Importance

Aidan Simister
| Read Time 7 min read | Updated On - January 25, 2024

What is PAM

What is Privileged Access Management (PAM)?

Privileged Access Management (PAM) is defined as an information security (infosec) method that protects identities with unique access or capabilities beyond ordinary users. Like all other information security solutions, PAM security relies on a combination of people, procedures, and technology.

We approach privileged accounts with additional caution due to the risk they pose to the technical environment. For example, if an administrator’s or service account’s credentials are compromised, the organization’s systems and sensitive information could be put at risk.

When threat actors hack privileged access accounts, data breaches occur. Because these accounts contain the keys that open every door in a technological environment, we must add extra layers of security. A Privileged Access Management system gives that extra security.

What does Privileged Access mean?

Privileged access refers to the elevated level of access and permissions that specific users or accounts have over critical systems, applications, and data within an organization. These users or accounts have greater privileges than regular users, which allow them to perform functions and access data that others cannot.

Privileged access is typically granted to individuals responsible for maintaining and managing critical systems, such as IT administrators, network engineers, and database administrators. These individuals require elevated privileges to perform their job functions effectively, such as installing software, configuring systems, and troubleshooting issues.

Why is Privileged Access Management (PAM) Important

Privileged Access Management (PAM) is essential for data security in organizations as it provides a crucial layer of protection against privileged users’ unauthorized access to sensitive data and critical systems. Privileged users, such as system administrators, have elevated permissions that allow them to perform essential functions and access sensitive data vital to the organization. However, if these privileged accounts are not correctly managed and monitored, they can pose a significant risk to data security.

  • PAM helps organizations secure data by controlling and managing privileged access to critical and sensitive systems. It helps enforce strict access controls and policies to ensure only authorized users can access privileged accounts. This helps minimize the risk of insider threats, malicious attacks, and unauthorized access to sensitive data.
  • Furthermore, PAM helps organizations monitor and audit privileged user activity, allowing them to detect and respond to potential security incidents in real time. Doing so can help identify and prevent data breaches and other security incidents before they occur.
  • PAM also helps organizations meet regulatory compliance requirements related to data security. Many data privacy and security regulations require organizations to implement strict controls around privileged access to sensitive data. PAM provides a framework to help organizations meet these requirements and demonstrate compliance.
  • On Reputation: Data breaches and other security incidents can significantly impact an organization’s reputation. PAM helps organizations maintain their reputation by reducing the risk of security incidents and demonstrating their commitment to data security and privacy.

How does Privileged Access Management work?

As previously said, privileged access management is a combination of people, procedures, and technology. Identifying which accounts have privileged access is the first step in installing a PAM solution. The company must then select which policies will be applied to these accounts.

They may stipulate that service accounts must refresh their passwords when users use their saved credentials. Another example is requiring Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) for all system administrators. Another policy the organization may apply is keeping a complete log of all privileged sessions.

Each process should ideally be aligned with a specific risk. For example, requiring a password change for service accounts minimizes the possibility of an insider threat. Also, keeping a log of all privileged sessions aids security administrators in their investigations. Discover any irregularities, and mandating MFA is a tried-and-true technique for preventing password-related attacks.

After completing the discovery step of finding privileged accounts and finalizing its PAM policies, the organization can employ a technical platform for monitoring and enforcing its Privileged Access Management. This PAM system automates the rules and processes of the organization. It gives a platform for security administrators to manage and monitor privileged accounts.

Key Privileged Access Management Challenges

While privileged access management (PAM) is essential for securing an organization’s critical systems and data, there are several challenges that organizations may face when implementing and maintaining a PAM program. Some of the key challenges of PAM include:

  1. Identifying and Inventorying Privileged Accounts: One of the biggest challenges of PAM is identifying and inventorying all privileged accounts within an organization. Many organizations have numerous accounts with elevated privileges spread across different systems and applications, making it challenging to locate all of them.
  2. Managing Privileged Passwords: Privileged passwords are typically more complex and frequently changed than regular passwords, making them difficult to manage. In addition, privileged accounts are often shared among multiple users, making it challenging to ensure that authorized users only use the password.
  3. Balancing Security with Productivity: While ensuring that privileged access is appropriately managed and controlled is essential, it is also important to balance security with productivity. If privileged users are forced to jump through too many hoops to access critical systems, it can slow down business operations and reduce productivity
  4. Ensuring Compliance: Many organizations are subject to regulatory requirements that mandate the need for privileged access management. Implementing and maintaining a PAM program that complies with these requirements can be challenging.
  5. Integration with Existing IT Systems: Implementing a PAM program may require significant changes to an organization’s IT systems and infrastructure. This can be challenging, particularly if the organization has a complex IT environment with many different methods and applications.
  6. User Resistance: Privileged users may resist changes in their access privileges or the implementation of new security controls. This can make it challenging to gain buy-in for a PAM program and ensure that users comply with security policies.

How Lepide Helps with Privileged Access Management

Privileged access management solutions frequently fail to deliver the degree of protection and visibility necessary to secure data and fulfil compliance. Lepide adds value before/during deployment, after deployment, and on an ongoing basis.

Lepide is a Privileged Access Management (PAM) solution provider that can help organizations control and monitor access to privileged accounts and sensitive data. Here are some ways in which Lepide can help with PAM:

  • Access control: Lepide enables IT Teams to get visibility over their privileged users and spot users with excessive permissions. This allows organizations to control access to privileged accounts and sensitive data by enforcing least privilege, requiring approval for access, and monitoring and recording access activity.
  • Password management: Lepide can automate the password management process for privileged accounts, including password resets and rotation. Password policies can be enforced, and password storage can be secured.
  • Session recording and auditing: Lepide can record and audit privileged access sessions, including keystrokes, commands, and file activity. This provides a detailed record of privileged access activity that can be used for forensic investigation and compliance reporting.
  • Alerts and notifications: Lepide can generate alerts and notifications for suspicious or unauthorized privileged access activity. This helps organizations detect and respond to security incidents in real time.
  • Reporting and analytics: Lepide can generate comprehensive reports on privileged access activity, including access requests, approvals, denials, and activity logs. This helps organizations meet compliance requirements and identify areas for improvement in their PAM strategy.

Conclusion

Privileged Access Management (PAM) is critical to any organization’s cybersecurity strategy. It offers a systematic approach to managing and securing privileged accounts and access to sensitive data, often prime targets for attackers. By implementing PAM best practices, organizations can reduce data breaches related risks, comply with regulatory requirements, and protect their reputation.

Organizations should start with a comprehensive risk assessment, followed by a well-defined PAM policy that includes access control, password management, session recording, auditing, and monitoring to overcome the key challenges of PAM.

Organizations should also conduct regular PAM training for staff and create a continuous improvement system to guarantee that their PAM strategy is successful and up to date. Lepide, on the other hand, remains the best tool for delivering a wide range of PAM solutions to aid enterprises in establishing and administering their PAM strategy.

Aidan Simister
Aidan Simister

Having worked in the IT industry for a little over 22 years in various capacities, Aidan is a veteran in the field. Specifically, Aidan knows how to build global teams for security and compliance vendors, often from a standing start. After joining Lepide in 2015, Aidan has helped contribute to the accelerated growth in the US and European markets.

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