Privileged access management (PAM) tools are an essential part of any comprehensive cyber security strategy. They are also important element of secure remote user and remote server environments. Protecting privileged accounts ensures your credentials and data are not exposed to potential threats and helps prevent breaches. As a domain within Identity and Access Management, PAM solutions can provide a lot of benefits to your business rather than simply guarding passwords. They allow organizations to effectively protect, monitor, and manage privileged account access to include their life cycle management, authentication, authorization, auditing, and access controls.

To ensure secure working environment, your organization should implement a strong Privileged Account Management (PAM) solution, which allows you to control and restrict access to privileged accounts within an existing Active Directory environment. The fact that there are a lot of PAM products available could make you feel confused in your choice. To help you chose the right one and move forward, here we present 8 critical and mandatory features to look for in a PAM solution.

1. Privileged Session Management

Privileged Session Management offers the technology to establish a privileged session to target systems including basic auditing and monitoring of privileged activities. PSM tools also offer authentication, authorization and Single Sign-On (SSO) to the target systems. The capability to monitor and record privileged sessions provides security experts with all the needed information for auditing privileged activity and investigating cybersecurity incidents.

The challenge here is to associate each recorded session with a particular user. In many companies, employees use shared accounts for accessing various systems and applications. If they use the same credentials, sessions initiated by different users will be associated with the same shared account.

2. Privileged User Behavior Analytics (PUBA):

PUBA uses data analytic techniques or machine learning techniques to detect threats based on anomalous behaviour against established behavioural profiles of administrative users as well as user groups and administrator.

The anomalous behaviour might not be malicious, but at least you are aware of it, you are able to investigate further. PUBA helps IT and Security administrators to rapidly discover breaches before they occur, analyse how your privileged accounts are distributed and research how they are accessed throughout your organization. This adds an additional level of security to your defence strategy.

3. Privilege Account Discovery and Lifecycle Management (PADLM): This deals with discovery mechanism to identify shared accounts, software accounts, service accounts and other unencrypted/ clear-text credentials across the IT infrastructure. PADLM tools offer workflow capabilities to identify and track the account’s business and technical ownership throughout its lifecycle and can detect changes in its state to invoke notification and necessary remedial actions.

4. Endpoint Privilege Management (EPM):
EPM offers capabilities to manage threats associated with local administrative rights on windows, mac or other endpoints. EPM tools essentially offer controlled and monitored escalation of user’s privileges on endpoints and include capabilities such as application whitelisting for endpoint protection.

5. Privileged password management

When having a privileged password management feature, your PAM solution allows you to automate and control the whole process of giving access and passwords to privileged accounts. These critical and sensitive credentials are given only in case the previously established policy is observed and when all required approvals are met. Privileged access management tool keeps track of all activity on privileged accounts and ensures that passwords are changed immediately after return.

6. Role-Based Security

Another necessary feature you need is the ability to establish role-based security for groups of users who demand the same access level. Role-based security helps you overview who has access to what, and it also lets you effectively track and monitor all changes. For more information about RBAC, read here.

7. Auditing and reporting

PAM tools collect big amounts of data: activity logs, event logs, session records, and so on. But it really doesn’t matter how many useful data your PAM solution gathers if you cannot create a comprehensive report out of it. So what you need is to be able to form different types of reports according to your specific needs and requirements. You also should pay special attention to the type of data and information that can be included in the reports.

The best option is to get a full report about all activities performed under privileged accounts or privileged sessions that were initiated out of the usual working hours.

8. Real-time notifications

Real-time notifications can help you stop the attack earlier when you respond the security incident in time. So, when choosing a privileged access management solution, make sure to check if it has a fine alerting system.

The misuse of privileged access can lead to destructive consequences for your company and to a great opportunity for the attackers to steal valuable and important information. Compliance regulations require secure and properly managed privileged access, which is possible by deploying a quality PAM solution. Here, in this article, we the described the criteria that you should pay attention to when choosing the right PAM solution for your enterprise.