Nowadays IT organisations are under increasing business and regulatory pressure to control access to privileged accounts. Establishing controls for privileged access continues to be a focus of attention for organisations and auditors. Prevention of both breaches and insider attacks has become a major driver for the adoption of privileged access management (PAM) solutions, in addition to compliance and operational efficiency.              

But what is actually Privileged Access Management?

PAM is a set of technologies designed to help organisations address the inherent problems related to privileged accounts. According to the analyst company Kuppingercole, Privileged Access Management has become one of the most relevant areas of Cyber Security associated with Identity and Access Management that deals with identifying, securing and managing privileged credentials across an Organization’s IT environment. Once considered a technology option for optimizing administrative efficiency by managing passwords and other secrets, PAM has evolved into a set of crucial technologies for preventing security breaches and credential thefts. PAM today concerns Security and Risk Management leaders as well as Infrastructure and Operation (I&O) leaders across the industries for several security and operational benefits.

To effectively and efficiently control privileged accounts, it is required a combination of adaptive access management features. In this article, we list the most critical features that can help you secure privileged access to your company’s sensitive data.

  • Privileged Session Recording

It is important that the privileged access management solution has the privileged session recording feature to record the actions performed by the user within the system while using a privileged credential. This is one of the main tools to check if users are performing actions relevant to their tasks, ensuring the confidentiality of the company’s sensitive data and that all actions are tracked and audited.

Next-generation privileged session management should enable you to observe the date, time, and location of each session. Moreover, you will have a visibility over their very keystrokes to ensure the authenticity of each privileged user. This can prevent insider threats and hackers alike by making sure users use their permissions according to business processes. 

  • Multifactor Authentication

Despite the availability of multiple security protocols, there is still a possibility for privileged accounts to be breached. That is why PAM software must have an additional layer of security with multi-factor authentication protocols when a user requests access. Multifactor authentication can include passwords, hard tokens, time of access monitoring, and behavioural analysis. The last of these proves especially important; it allows your cybersecurity to conduct continuous authentication even after the initial log-in.

  • Centralization  

You should take into account all users, applications, databases, and everything else that could comprise your IT environment. For that reason you need to keep an eye on all of these moving parts simultaneously to ensure proper permission and privileges policies. 

Legacy identity management solutions cannot possibly provide your IT security team with the centralized view necessary. In this case Privileged access management can help, because it centralizes your view, controls, and authority over users’ identities.

  • Backup

One of the most important elements of a PAM solution is to have automatic backups. Even with all the security locks, the backup appears as one of the last information security features. This ensures that even with leaked and/or deleted data, the company is able to have access to all data protected by the privileged access management solution.

  • Access Reporting

Access reporting is also a key feature, so that the responsible person has a complete view of the actions performed through privileged sessions, allowing the identification of security breaches and points for improvement. A complete set of reports optimizes time and work, as there is no need to conduct audits from session to session.

  • Real-time notifications

It’s critical to stop the attack in time. And the earlier it is prevented, the lesser its consequences will be. So, to be able to respond to a possible security incident in a timely manner, you need to be notified in a real-time. That’s why, when selecting a privileged access management solution, you should make sure to check if it has a fine alerting system.

Most PAM solutions offer a set of standard rules and alerts. For example, responsible security specialists will be notified every time the system registers a failed login attempt for a privileged account. To go further, you can create custom alerts for specific events, activities, or even groups of users.

  • Centralised Audit Logging

Protecting privileged accounts includes centralized audit logging with a detailed record of user activities. Effective PAM solution could deliver consolidated audit logs and reports from across your server domains and be kept on a separate security domain.

The misuse of privileged access can lead to disastrous consequences, allowing attackers to easily get the most valuable and sensitive information. Deploying a quality PAM solution is a crucial step for every modern organization, which needs secure and properly managed privileged access.