Identity management and access to IT systems within an organization have traditionally been divided into different disciplines. Business users were managed in the traditional Identity and Access Management (IAM) systems. Privileged Access Management (PAM) is the term used for administrator account management technologies that monitor and restrict extended privileges and support shared account management. Historically, privilege management has evolved from managing shared accounts and passwords. In recent years, the perception of Privileged Access Management has changed significantly. Various vendors have greatly expanded their product range, and various acquisitions have led infrastructure providers to offer a broader product portfolio and evolved from specialized niche providers to market leaders.

Over the past 5 to 10 years, Privileged Access Management has been added to the portfolio of Identity and Access capabilities provided by IAM, corporate governance or security teams. Managing privileged users is an essential security measure for an organization. Insiders often know better and are more aware of the business processes and technical landscapes. If an insider account is hijacked, the outsider has the same opportunities for attack. The malicious insider (or the kidnapped insider) with privileged login information can cause considerable damage.

But not only threats have changed and intensified. Over the past decade, business requirements and IT have changed significantly. Business models have changed, and widespread digitalization has completely transformed businesses, their networks and their application infrastructure. From new infrastructure concepts in the cloud, delivered as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), to completely new products offered through business software as a service, a variety of new administrator accounts have been created. New applications and platforms based on mobile devices create new working concepts and business models on the one hand, and pose new challenges for IAM and Privileged Access management on the other hand.

At a time when cyber-attacks and privacy breaches are on the rise, it is obvious that these incidents are related to privileged user accounts. In addition, research on recent security incidents reveals that data theft on a large scale is likely to be caused by users with elevated privileges, typically administrative users. It’s no wonder that Privileged Access Management is not just an issue for executives (CIOs and CISOs) to deal with, but increasingly it is an area that auditors and regulators must put on the agenda.

The core functions of a PAM tool include:

⚪ Credential vaulting and processes for secure, audited storage of and access to passwords and key material.

⚪ Automated password rotation enables the use of a shared account to be directly assigned to a person.

However, advanced features such as privileged user analysis, risk-based session monitoring and advanced threat protection are becoming the new standard, as the attack surface grows, and the number and complexity of attacks increases year by year. An integrated and more comprehensive PAM solution, that can automatically detect unusual behavior and initiate automated defenses, is needed. Thus, the benefits of investing in this area have an extraordinary impact on risk mitigation compared to other types of IT and security technologies.

Some of the key challenges required to manage privileged access include:

⚪ Misuse of shared credentials

⚪ Misuse of elevated rights by unauthorized users

⚪ Abduction of privileged access data by cybercriminals

⚪ Accidental misuse of elevated privileges by users

In addition, there are several other operational, regulatory requirements associated with privileged access:

⚪ Identifying shared accounts, software and service accounts across the IT infrastructure

⚪ Identification and continuous tracking of owners of privileged accounts throughout their life cycle

⚪ Auditing, recording and monitoring of privileged activities for regulatory compliance

⚪ Managing and monitoring administrator access of IT outsourcing providers and MSPs to internal IT systems

For more info about PATECCO PAM Services, read the White Paper below: