In times of increased cyber threats, securing privileged access is a critical step to establishing security assurances for business assets in a modern enterprise. The security of most or all business assets in an organization depends on the integrity of the privileged accounts that administer and manage IT systems. Cyber-attackers are targeting these accounts and other elements of privileged access to rapidly gain access to targeted data and systems using credential theft attacks. Protecting administrative access against determined adversaries require you to take a complete and thoughtful approach to isolate these systems from risks.

Privileged Access Management (PAM) combines the most current and comprehensive defence strategies against malicious third parties executing cyber-attacks with increased efficiency and the support of greater resources. Constantly updated and evolving Privileged Access Management manages to be efficient in terms of protecting your data, including cloud security.

Establishing Cloud Security with Privileged Access Management

Since it is quite difficult to be protected against the vulnerabilities and risks of cloud technologies with standard safety precautions, data access security should be established via innovative approaches such as Privileged Access Management. This is one of the most effective ways to create a more productive security ecosystem for digital services such as cloud technologies. Some of the steps to establish cloud security via Privileged Access Management include:

  • Use of Zero Trust

All cloud service providers utilize management consoles to manage accounts, configure services and troubleshooting. Cyberattacks commonly target these consoles in order to access various data. Cloud-based service providers should carefully monitor users with privileged access rights and privileged access requests. Authorized accounts must be taken under control in order to prevent attacks and data leaks via various controlling tiers such as privileged session manager.

Modern privileged access management starts with an assumption that every user is a remote user for an organization. Zero trust building blocks of continuous authentication and verifying the user, context-based privileges are required to secure modern privileged access.

Zero trust follows the principle of “never trust, always verify” policy and least access/privilege model that focuses on identity-based authentication and access controls to ensure bad actors cannot use easily compromised credentials to gain privileged access, move around the network, and extract sensitive and valuable data. As organizations move to adopt zero trust, we are also finding organizations adopting a zero standing privilege posture, where no one has access rights or privileges permanently assigned; rather, access is granted just in time for a limited duration to reduce the attack surface and eliminate the potential for malicious actors accessing any infrastructure, even if they are able to compromise existing credentials.

  • Use of Multifactor authentication

Virtual servers, data storages, and other cloud resources are common targets for cyberattacks. Malicious third parties may try to utilize automatic provision tools in order to initiate attacks and cause downtime. Therefore, service providers should establish strong security systems and applications such as two-factor authentication (2FA) or multi-factor authorization in order to prevent unauthorized access to cloud automation command files and provision tools. The use of multifactor authentication for all privileged user access to cloud environments should be mandatory, and this likely could have prevented the initial compromise of Code Spaces’ console. Many providers offer a variety of different forms of multifactor access, including certificates on the endpoint, hard and soft tokens from leading multifactor providers, and SMS codes – which are not as secure, but still better than nothing at all.

  • Use of APIs

Cloud applications commonly use APIs in order to halt and initiate servers or conduct other environmental changes. API access authorization data such as SSH keys are generally coded built-in to the applications and placed in public storages such as GitHub. Then, they become targets for malicious third parties. Therefore, enterprises should remove built-in SSH keys from applications and make sure only the authorized applications to access through areas with encrypted infrastructures that act as digital safe, such as dynamic password controller. Such Privileged Access Management steps ensure efficient protection of cloud technologies, which are so hard to be protected via only legacy security software or firewalls.

Security is always best deployed in layers. While traditional security controls are necessary at the perimeter, we need to constantly think about how to prevent malicious privileged access, assuming that the bad actors are already on the inside and may already have access to credentials. Privileged accounts, credentials and secrets are found in devices, applications and operating systems allowing organisations to secure the infrastructure and applications, run business efficiently and maintain the confidentiality of sensitive data. In the wrong hands, privileged credentials can be used to cause catastrophic damage to a business. This is why they must be protected, managed and monitored.

For more information about Privileged Access Management, download the Whitepaper below: