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How to Manage Security in a DevOps Environment

In recent years, DevOps has been gaining a great popularity among IT decision-makers who have realized the benefits that it offers. DevOps is based on automation and cross-functional collaboration. However, not many IT executives are aware of the security risks in a DevOps environment. This article reviews the basic concepts of a DevOps pipeline and suggests several ways for securing it.

What Is DevOps?

The standard DevOps model focuses primarily on development and operations. It represents a collaborative or shared approach to the tasks performed by a company’s application development and IT operations teams.

While DevOps is not a technology, DevOps environments generally apply common methodologies. These include the following:

– continuous integration and continuous delivery or continuous deployment (CI/CD) tools, with an emphasis on task automation;

– systems and tools that support DevOps adoption, including real-time monitoring, incident management, configuration management and collaboration platforms; and

– cloud computing, microservices and containers implemented concurrently with DevOps methodologies.

A DevOps approach is one of many techniques IT staff use to execute IT projects that meet business needs. DevOps can coexist with Agile software development, IT service management frameworks, such as ITIL, project management directives, such as Lean and Six Sigma, and other strategies. In a DevOps security culture, all team members play an active role in securing software. It allows teams to test early and often throughout the software creation process. This enables them to analyze their software as they build it, reducing the likelihood they release buggy software.

How to Secure the DevOps Environment:

The following tips from this article can help you address DevOps environment’s security risks and ensure that any vulnerabilities are handled properly.

  • Establish Credential Controls

Security managers need to make sure that the controls and access to different environments is centralized. To achieve this, managers have to create a transparent, and collaborative environment to ensure that developers understand the scope of their access privileges.

  • Consistent Management of Security Risks

Establish a clear, easy-to-understand set of procedures and policies for cybersecurity such as configuration management, access controls, vulnerability testing, code review, and firewalls. Ensure that all company personnel are familiar with these security protocols. In addition, you should keep track of compliance by maintaining operational visibility.

  • Automation

Security operations teams need to keep up with the fast pace of the DevOps process. Automation of your security tools and processes can help you scale and speed up your security operations. You should also automate your code analysis, configuration management, vulnerability discovery and fixes, and privileged access. Automation simplifies the process of vulnerability discovery and identification of potential threats. Moreover, automation enables developers and security teams to focus on other tasks by eliminating human error and saving time.

  • Privileged Access Management

You should limit privilege access rights to reduce potential attacks. For instance, you can restrict developers and testers access to specific areas. You can also remove administrator privileges on end-user devices, and set up a workflow check-out process. Additionally, you should safely store privileged credentials and monitor privileged sessions to verify that all activity is legitimate.

Problems Addressed

DevOps solves several problems, such as:

  • Reduced errors: Automation reduces common errors when performing basic or repetitive tasks. Besides, automation is valued for preventing ad hoc changes to systems, which are often used instead of complete documented fixes. In the worst case the problem and solution are both undocumented and the underlying issue is never actually fixed, and is not much more than the fleeting memory of the person who fixed the issue in a panic during the last release.
  • Speed and efficiency: Here at PATECCO we talk a lot about “reacting faster and better” and “doing more with less”. DevOps, like Agile, is geared towards doing less, better, and faster. Releases occur more regularly, with less code change between them. Less work means better focus, and more clarity of purpose with each release. Again, automation helps people get their jobs done with less hands-on work.
  • Bottlenecks: There are several bottlenecks in software development: developers waiting for specifications, select individuals who are overtasked, provisioning IT systems, testing, and even processes (particularly synchronous ones, as in waterfall development) can all cause delays. The way DevOps tasks are scheduled, the reduction in work being performed at any one time, and the way expert knowledge is embedded into automation, all act to reduce these issues. Once DevOps is established it tends to alleviate major bottlenecks common to most development teams, especially the over-burdening of key personnel.
  • Security: Security becomes not just the domain of security experts with specialized knowledge, but integrated into the development and delivery process. Security controls can be used to flag new features or gate releases — within the same set of controls you use to ensure custom code, application stacks, or server configurations, meet specifications.

The fundamental value of DevOps is speed to market. However, companies that do not incorporate security into every stage of their development and operations environment risk losing the value of DevOps. To ensure a secure environment, you need to adopt a DevOps model, enable privileged access management, and secure your software supply chain.

Why Is Access Control a Key Component of Data Security?

Who should access your company’s data? How do you make sure those who attempt access have actually been granted that access? Under which circumstances do you deny access to a user with access privileges? To effectively protect your data, your organization’s access control policy must address these questions, because security is an important priority for organizations of all sizes and industries

What is access control and how does it work?

The goal of access control is to minimize the security risk of unauthorized access to physical and logical systems. Access control is a fundamental component of security compliance programs that ensures security technology and access control policies are in place to protect confidential information, such as customer data. The definition of an access control system is typically based on three concepts: access control policies, access control models, and access control mechanisms. Access control systems perform identification authentication and authorization of users and entities by evaluating required login credentials that can include passwords, personal identification numbers (PINs), biometric scans, security tokens or other authentication factors. Multifactor authentication (MFA), which requires two or more authentication factors, is often an important part of a layered defense to protect access control systems.

Generally, access control solutions work by identifying a user, verifying that they are who they say they are, authorizing that they actually have access to the resource or location, and then associating their actions with their username or IP address for auditing purposes.

What are the main components of access control?

Authentication

Authentication is the first component of access control. It means determining that a user or system requesting access is who they claim to be. Authentication is typically through user ids and passwords. It’s often supplemented by a second level of authentication, using tokens delivered either to a user’s phone or smart card, or biometrics that validate a user’s physical features such as fingerprints.

Authorization

Once you’ve determined that the person requesting access is who they say they are, authorization controls determine which data and systems the user can access. In information systems, access can be defined as the ability to read, write, or execute certain data and files. This has to be determined by determining both the functions the user needs to perform and the data they need to see. Often more sophisticated rules take into effect such factors as where the user is connecting from, the type of device they are using (desktop computer or mobile phone), and the time of day they are requesting the access.

Assigning access privileges to individual users is difficult to manage and frequently results in too many privileges being granted. Role based access control (RBAC) allows privileges to be more easily managed by grouping the permissions required to perform certain functions. By assigning users the permissions identified as appropriate for their role, they can be given the minimum access required to perform their jobs.

Monitoring Access

Access requires ongoing monitoring. There are two aspects to this. First, the actual access to your networks, systems, and data needs to be reviewed to ensure that there aren’t any attempts at unauthorized access. Second, when users’ responsibilities change, the access rights granted to them need to change as well. Deleting user privileges when an employee leaves the organization is also critical. RBAC makes this review easier, because it makes clear why privileges were granted.

In addition to monitoring the access granted, you should monitor systems for vulnerabilities that allow access even when privileges are not granted. This can be done through manual reviews and automated vulnerability assessments.

What are the benefits of access control?

The benefits of strong and comprehensive access control points within your IT platform are many.

  • Cyber-based protections

The most fundamental provision of strong cybersecurity solutions (including access control) is protection against adware, ransomware, spyware and other malware. It allows you to control who gets in and who has access to what data, and mitigates the overall risk from potential threats that you may not even know about. With global ransomware costs expected to increase to nearly $20 billion in 2021, an access control program that defends your business against these threats is essential.

  • Access Controls Are Central to Zero-Trust Security

Maintaining strict access controls is also essential to the concept of zero-trust security. That’s because the zero-trust model requires users to have authorization and to authenticate themselves before they can access or modify any systems or data — and they must continue to do so to maintain said access. 

Basically, the idea here is that everything is treated as being suspicious — even when it’s something that’s coming from inside your network.

  • Customer confidence

Your customers’ confidence in your systems should be one of your highest priorities. Even the appearance of weakness or vulnerability within your cyber access controls can result in customers backing off your company or brand. Robust access controls also prevent customers from experiencing a cyber breach by proxy (e.g., cyber thieves acquire customer data and can then hack into their financial accounts).

Access control is one component of a strong information security program. PATECCO services offer a comprehensive approach to information security, utilizing firewalls, data loss prevention software, identity and access management and other controls to implement a robust defensive strategy. Contact us to learn more about the best ways to approach protecting your valuable data and systems.

What is a Zero Trust Security Model?

Digital transformation and the adoption of hybrid multicloud are changing the way we do business. Users, data and resources are spread across different locations and it is getting more and more challenging to connect them quickly and securely. But focusing primarily on perimeter security and firewalls is no longer enough. That is why organizations start implementing zero trust security solutions to help protect their data and resources by making them accessible only on a limited basis and under the right circumstances.

  • What is Zero Trust and how it works?

Zero Trust is a security model and a coordinated cybersecurity and system management strategy based on an acknowledgement that threats exist both inside and outside traditional network boundaries. Zero trust can be defined under the following approach: “never trust, always verify.” This security approach treats every access attempt as if it originates from an untrusted network — so access will be denied, until trust is demonstrated. Once users and devices have been regarded as trustworthy, zero trust ensures that they have access only to the resources they need, to prevent any unauthorized lateral movement through an environment.

Zero Trust embeds comprehensive security monitoring, granular risk-based access controls and system security automation in a coordinated manner throughout all aspects of the infrastructure in order to focus on protecting critical assets (data) in real-time within a dynamic threat environment. This data-centric security model allows the concept of least-privileged access to be applied for every access decision, allowing or denying access to resources based on the combination of several contextual factors.

Adoption of zero trust can help address common security challenges in the workforce, such as phishing, malware, credential theft, remote access, and device security (BYOD). This is done by securing the three primary factors that make up the workforce: users, their devices, and the applications they access.

  • Identity and Authentication

Identity authentication is the foundation of a zero-trust security strategy. To continuously evaluate access to resources, you must first centralize user management and establish strong authentication processes. In order to track and manage all users across your systems, user identity must be centralized in a user and group directory. Ideally this database system integrates with your HR processes that manage job categorization, usernames, and group memberships for all users. As employees join the company, change roles or responsibilities, or leave the company, these databases should update automatically to reflect those changes. The user and group database acts as the single source of truth to validate all users that need to access your systems.

A single sign-on (SSO) system, or centralized user authentication portal, can validate primary and secondary credentials for users requesting access to any given resource or application. After validating against the user and group directory, the SSO system generates a time-sensitive token to authorize access to specific resources. A centralized user database supporting a single sign-on system is essential. Data in a SaaS application environment must be assumed vulnerable unless access is limited to an endpoint that you control. Once that database is in place, you can introduce an authentication process such as 2FA (two-factor authentication) or MFA (multi-factor authentication) to harden your system and ensure that the users accessing your applications are who they say they are.

There are several ways to ensure that an employee’s access is restricted to the tools and assets required for their job. The first is granular, role based access and permission levels. These should be defined for each role within your organization, with cross-functional input agreement. Your organization’s appetite for risk and the breadth of access needed to effectively collaborate across teams will determine the level of granularity needed for team and individual role-based access levels. Once these role-based access levels have been defined, you can begin to map out the controls needed for each system and vendor in your organization. While your SSO or identity provider may be able to support some of your access control needs, you may find that not all applications provide the level of granularity needed to limit access in this way. Access controls are an important part of any vendor risk management assessment and integral to the long-term implementation of Zero Trust.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we work and has increased the threat landscape, with more targeted attacks on organisations from cybercriminals and nation-state groups. As well as remote work, the Internet of Things (IoT), operational technology (OT), and network-enabled smart devices introduce areas of potential compromise for enterprise networks. In such uncertain times, the best thing companies can do is to implement technology that can be scaled and adapted to meet unpredictable challenges. Beginning to implement the foundational elements of Zero Trust Security is the key to securing your sensitive company data in the midst of the proliferation of cloud applications, devices, and user identities.

For more information about Zero Trust Network Access, watch PATECCO video here:

The Importance of Security Information and Event Management in Business

We live in a digital era when modern businesses rely mostly on their IT infrastructure in order to conduct their daily activities. Of course, the reliance on IT brings a few advantages to organizations which become more streamlined and productive, but at the same time there is a persistent challenge that all businesses have to face: cybersecurity threats and incidents.

Cybersecurity incidents are not something unknown for the enterprises. Most businesses try to ensure the security if their IT infrastructure by establishing special safeguards. However, just slapping up some firewalls or subscribing to an antivirus software is not a serious approach anymore, not only because they are ineffective but also because the cybersecurity threats are continually evolving, and criminal hackers become more sophisticated. So, to resolve this problem, businesses have begun to turn to a more robust method of managing the security of their IT infrastructure: security information and event management (SIEM) software.

How does SIEM work?

Security information and event management (SIEM) software gives security professionals both insight into and a track record of the activities within their IT environment.  It is a group of complex technologies that provide a centralized view into a network’s infrastructure. SIEM provides data analysis, event correlation, aggregation and reporting, as well as log management.  While SIEM technology has been around for more than a decade, it becomes a critical component of a comprehensive security strategy in today’s threat environment.

The function of SIEM in cybersecurity is to provide a complete overview of a business’ entire IT infrastructure. Log data from applications, devices, networks, firewalls, antivirus software, wireless access points, and similar sources are collected to identify, analyse, and categorize different types of security threats the business may experience. SIEM products also provide dynamic, up-to-date information on the overall health of a business’ security system. This information can then be used to complete security compliance reports, analyse areas of weakness, and strategize solutions that may best protect the business’ entire IT systems in the future.

How Does a SIEM Help with Log Monitoring and Management

Effective log management is essential to an organization’s security. Monitoring, documenting and analyzing system events is a crucial component of IT security. Log management software or SIEM’s automate many of the processes involved. A SIEM handles the two following jobs that prior to today’s SIEM’s were handled individually:

  • SIM – Security information management provides long-term storage as well as analysis and reporting of log data. This was and is still tricky and time-consuming if you must build your own connectors to your IDS/IPS, Firewalls, DLP solutions, Application servers and so many other log generating assets in your IT environment. Most SIEM’s have some connectors out of the box today.
  • SEM – Security event manager provides real-time monitoring, correlation of events, notifications and console views. This is the key benefit of SIEM’s because a good SIEM will turn data into insights and a great SIEM, tuned correctly will turn insights into visual dashboards to assist analysts in uncovering anomalies and threats.

Effective SIEM solutions rely on logs from all critical components of a company’s business and network. These should include all firewall logs, logs from intrusion detection systems and antivirus system logs. As well, logs from primary servers should be included, particularly key application and database server logs along with the active directory server logs and web server logs.It is also important to protect your sources of log information, particularly when attempting to prove any legal culpability from computer misuse. This is because cyber attackers can try to delete or falsify log entries to cover their activity in your system.

Why SIEM is important and beneficial for the business?

To establish a capable cybersecurity team, SIEM solutions are a must-have for businesses in any industry. Today’s enterprises need a solution that can centralize, simplify, and automate security workflows to enable better analytics and incident response procedures. The key important pillars of a Modern SIEM are:

  • Incident Detection

SIEM enables the detection of incidents that otherwise would go unnoticed. Not only can this technology log security events, they have the ability to analyze the log entries to identify signs of malicious activity. And by gathering events from all of the sources across the network, a SIEM can reconstruct the series of events to determine what the nature of the attack was and whether or not it succeeded.

  • Efficient Incident Management

An SIEM solution can significantly increase the efficiency of incident handling, saving your security professionals time and resources. More efficient incident handling ultimately speeds incident containment, therefore reducing the extent of damage that many incidents cause. A SIEM improves efficiency by enabling rapid identification of all sources that were affected by a particular attack and by providing automated mechanisms to attempt to stop attacks that are still in progress.

  • AI Cybersecurity

In recent years, advanced technologies like machine learning have made SIEM platforms more robust. It gives the companies the power to defend their businesses with complex threats before they become irreparable. It accurately analyzes event correlations for unique patterns that may lead to the detection of complex concerns over information and system security.

  • Better Security Analysis

With SIEM solution, organizations get to integrate risk assessment services. SIEM tools make it possible for you to analyze network behavior in different circumstances and factors based on security sources for that particular condition.

  • Proper Categorization

Businesses can categorize and standardize network logs for effective monitoring and achieve a responsive workflow with in-depth visibility of your backups and security. It provides your IT team with access to additional features like quick data encryption, system access management, SSO integration, and other quality management services.

Businesses now have multiple services available in the market that can accommodate any SIEM requirements. Some of the most powerful software are IBM QRadar and Splunk Enterprise Security. Based on your system requirements, you can decide what SIEM features you want from your SIEM solution. Moreover, considering elements like budgeting, storage array, customization preferences, and training needs is also essential. And finally – businesses must determine their current resource capabilities before integrating any SIEM tool into their systems.

How Can Identity and Access Management Prevent Cyber Attacks?

In recent times the network cyber security is serious task and challenge for each organisation. The impact of an identity management cyber security breach could have its negative consequences on staff productivity, your IT network, and company reputation, and profit as well. Cyber security threats occur at an increasingly alarming rate and become a day-to-day struggle for every company which is a potential target. Especially, most preferred targets are critical infrastructure organizations such as financial and insurance institutions, government agencies, public utilities, airports, energy and healthcare organizations.

The common practice of the attackers is to use the Internet, remote access, and partner network tunnels to penetrate your network and facilities. Attackers take advantage of vulnerabilities, wherever they exist, using a variety of techniques and tools to probe networks, publicize targets, stifle operations, gain business advantage and promote causes. For that reason organizations must create an effective enterprise security strategic plan based on identity and access management, ongoing vulnerability assessments, automatic intrusion detection and enterprise response planning.

IAM as a determining factor of cyber resilience

IAM is the foundation upon which each enterprise’s cybersecurity infrastructure must be built. It must have a comprehensive handle and always updated view of the identities flowing across your IT environment. With IAM, you allow only the right people, devices, and services get the right access to the right applications and data, at the right time. Without strong access control your organization faces a considerable risk of suffering a catastrophic security breach. By having tight control over identities, you boost your cyber resilience. Strong IAM makes your organization able to absorb the constant, inevitable changes, that businesses experience: mergers and acquisitions, new technology adoptions, continuous staff changes, pandemics and so on.

Effective identity security usually involves having an IAM solution in place that allows IT admins to centrally manage user identities and their access to IT resources. By using an IAM solution, IT admins can enforce password complexity requirements, MFA, and securely provision/de-provision access throughout the network – components that are vital to any solid identity security strategy whether your network is in the clouds or on-prem.

How Can IAM Prevent a Cyber Attack?

So how could Identity and Access Management help the enterprises to avoid or reduce the damage sustained in the attack? In this blog post PATECCO recommends a list of practices on how IAM can prevent an organization from a cyber attack:

  • Manage your IAM infrastructure centrally

Make sure your IAM infrastructure can ingest all identities and from ID stores wherever they’re located—on premises or in cloud—and manage them centrally, so that when changes happen, such as someone leaving or joining the company or changing roles, you can sync and consolidate the identity types in real time, without lags in status updates that cyber attackers are always ready to pounce on.

  • Automating the access privilege provision

For every new employee who needs to be added, assign all the privileges based on their roles and business rules. It’s better to have workflow automation. Besides, in case of an employee resignation or termination, you should be able to ensure that all the privileges will be taken away automatically. This practice will help in limiting and preventing unnecessary privileges.

  • Provide privileged account controls

Compromised privileged accounts are generally responsible for the most damaging breaches. Privileged users are still vulnerable to social engineering and phishing for shared passwords and those risks must be mitigated with a robust set of controls. Cyber risks from excessive privileges often go undetected indefinitely, which can allow intruders to expand their own abilities and privileges via those compromised privileged accounts.

  • Establish strong password policy

PATECCO advices to prevent the use of weak passwords across your network and systems. This is because increasing the complexity of a password makes it difficult to guess or crack. If enterprises prevent the use of weak passwords by enforcing every employee to fulfill some criteria while creating a password. It is recommended to use special characters, numbers, capital letters. Such a practice helps against the brute-force attack.

  • Use of Multi-Factor Authentication

When adding an extra layer in security precautions, you make a cybercriminal’s action more difficult. Using One Time Password, token, and smart card for multi-factor authentication fortifies the security infrastructure. Furthermore, the application of transparent multifactor authentication for critical applications and privileged identities is essential in the modern enterprise or government organization

  • Continuous Authentication

It is supposed that sometimes the hackers can destroy even the strongest authentication and authorization protocols Granted, they may need special tools, experience, and time, but eventually they could do so. So what you need in this case is an IAM tool that helps prevent hackers even beyond the login portal.

This is where continuous authentication comes into action. It evaluates users’ behavior compared to an established baseline often through behavioral biometrics. Hackers may have the right credentials, but each individual types in a particular manner that is not easily replicated. This can help stop phishing attacks before they happen.

The sudden and mass shift to remote work we experience since last year, as a result of the global pandemic, is a good example of why IAM is needed more than ever. With a strong IAM system and process, an organization can reduce the risks from such an abrupt and disruptive change. And it is sure that the importance of IAM will keep growing, as IT environments become more hybrid, distributed, and dynamic and as business processes continue to be digitized. Without strong IAM, modern IT technologies such as cloud computing, mobility, containers, and microservices could not be as efficient and secure as you would like them to be. 

Why Privileged Access Management Should Be a Cyber Security Top Priority For 2021

Cyber security is a hot topic for every enterprise in today’s hyper connected world. With the fast-growing technologies like cloud, mobile and virtualization, the security boundaries are a little bit blurred and not each organization protects its valuable and sensitive information properly. As a result, cyber attacks and data leakages occur more often and that’s why they are no surprise in the Information Security field. With the increasing sophistication of attacks on organizations of all sizes, the question is not whether the company will suffer a cyber attack, but when that attack will take place, and what its consequences will be.

Controlling privileged actions in a company’s infrastructure enables IT systems to be protected from any attempt to perform malicious actions such as theft or improper modifications to the environment – both inside and outside the company. In this context, a Privileged Access Management (PAM) solution can be considered as an important tool to speed up the deployment of a cybersecurity infrastructure.

Privileged Access Management is an area of identity security that helps organizations maintain full control and visibility over their most critical systems and data. A robust PAM solution ensures that all user actions, including those taken by privileged users, are monitored and can be audited in case of a security breach. Controlling privileged access not only reduces the impact of a breach, but it also builds resilience against other causes of disruption including insider threats, misconfigured automation, and accidental operator error in production environments.

Here are the top 7 reasons why Privileged Access Management (PAM) should be your highest cyber security priority:

  • PAM ensures high level of security for privileged credentials

PAM has drastically changed the way enterprises protect access to critical systems. Using credential vaults and other session control tools, PAM has allowed managers to maintain privileged identities while significantly decreasing the risk of their compromise. By centralizing privileged credentials in one place, PAM systems can ensure a high level of security for them, control who is accessing them, log all accesses and monitor for any suspicious activity.

  • Secure Passwords

A privileged account is a door to a company’s valuable assets, therefore it demands a high level of security. Multi-factor authentication protects the login attributes of privileged accounts. The admin or user’s identity verify to authenticate more than one independent credential. Adding layers of security to the credentials in the form of OTP, biometrics, response questions, etc., make it highly difficult for hackers to access the data.   

  •  Monitor Access

Only a certain number of specific people have privileged access to the account. PAM can help you detect any unauthorized access, by giving you a clear picture of who can access and who can not. Privileged Access Management also has the capability to detect and alert on malicious activity which helps in enhancing the overall cybersecurity.

  • Keeping track of users

Privileged Access Management always keeps track of users who access the accounts. It is possible to record any request for password change or update along with the user’s details. Besides, it can generate an extended report of the users along with the number of times they logged in to any application. This provides the organization a clarity on usage and security of the account.

  • PAM enhances compliance

A large number of corporations have to comply with industry and government regulations and that leads to more challenges. Coming with strong security control recommendations, Privileged Access Management can help get ahead quickly and develop a strong baseline. For better compliance, strong policies have to be in place that cover privileged accounts, monitoring usage and secure logons amongst others. In this case a PAM solution enables you to get in control of managing and securing privileged accounts to meet the needs of the access control requirement for a good number of the regulations, fast-tracking your way to being compliant.

  • PAM enables fast recovery from cyber attacks

In case of a cyber-attack your Privileged Access Management solution gives you the opportunity to quickly audit privileged accounts that have been used recently, to discover whether any passwords have been changed, and to determine which applications have been executed.

Professionally-designed PAM software also lets you restrict access to sensitive systems, require additional approval processes, force multi-factor authentication for privileged accounts and quickly rotate all passwords to prevent further access by the attackers. Moreover, PAM can help compare a baseline to before and after the incident, so you can quickly determine which privileged accounts might be malicious and audit the lifecycle. This is a good way to ensure recovery and maintaining the integrity of your privileged accounts.

  • PAM provides a high return on investment (ROI)

One of the main reasons that Privileged Access Management should be a top priority for organizations in 2021 is that it could save them time and money. On one hand, most cyber security solutions only reduce risk and a lot of enterprises spend valuable budget on security solutions that actually add no additional business value. On the other hand, the right PAM solution makes employees more productive by giving them access to systems and applications faster and more securely.

Implementing a proper PAM solution protects the access to sensitive systems and reduces the risk of getting compromised by disclosed passwords on the dark web. PAM also minimizes the cyber fatigue and simplifies the process of rotating and generating new complex passwords. All of these core features save valuable employee time which leads to cost savings for the business.

How to Manage and Protect Privileged Accounts?

In recent times a great number of organizations are highly concerned about the evolving threat landscape of cyber-attacks. This is due to the fact that large well-known enterprise organizations have fallen victim to cyber-crimes. Every year billions of records are stolen, identity theft increases, more credentials are abused and financial fraud is now extending into billions of dollars. This is the reason why senior executives are deeply involved in cyber security than ever before. While executives and CISOs continue trying to reduce the risk of these threats, compliance requirements are increasing, as well. The defence against cyber-crime should not rely on technology, but it must involve people, and therefore needs to be less complex and quick to value.

Start from the basics. Define what “privileged access” means in your organisation

The problem for many organizations is that they are not aware where to start and how they can easily adopt a privileged access solution that will lead them to success and maturity.  Most of the companies are just getting started with protecting and securing privileged access need to identify which privileged accounts should be targeted as well as ensuring that those who will be using those privileged accounts are clear on the acceptable use and responsibility.

Before implementing a privileged access management strategy it is recommended to identify what a privileged account is for your organization and to map out what important business functions rely on data, systems and access. A good practice is to classify or categorize privileged accounts. This helps for the clear identification of the privileged accounts’ importance to the business and makes future decisions easier when it comes to applying security controls. Like any IT security measure designed to help protect critical information assets, managing and protecting privileged account access requires both a plan and an ongoing program. You must identify which privileged accounts should be a priority in your company, and ensure that those who are using these privileged accounts understand acceptable use and their responsibilities. After defining and discovering your privileged accounts, it is time to focus on their protection. The privileged account access must be constantly and proactively managed, monitored, and controlled.

In what ways privileged accounts could compromise your security?

  • Unintentionally

Compromising the security is supposed to happen unintentionally. Unauthorized modifications to critical data can happen without thinking at any time. Besides, the files that store sensitive data can be shared without checking the legitimacy of the business need, getting you in serious trouble.

  • Maliciously

Privileged accounts have legitimate access rights, so if they engage in malicious actions, they would be quite difficult to spot. Malicious use of privileged accounts is a serious threat, since these users’ activity may not be closely monitored or they usually have the expertise to dodge controls and do maximum damage without leaving any trace.

  • By attackers

Cyber attackers use different kinds of techniques to obtain the powerful credentials of privileged accounts. Phishing, brute force or coercion are the most familiar.

Despite the steady recommendations and strict regulations, many privileged accounts still remain poorly protected, ignored, or mismanaged, making them easy targets. Having that in mind, here’s a number of essential policies that every IT manager or security administrator should follow to avoid compromised privileged account management:

1. Provide training to all your employees

It is important for all your employees to be able to recognize suspicious or unsecure behaviour. This aspect is crucial nowadays, since phishing and social engineering attacks are getting more sophisticated and more personal devices are being used for business purpose.

2. Limit IT admin access to systems

Developing a least-privilege policy is another good tactic. That means that privileges are only granted when required and approved. Enforce least privilege on endpoints by keeping end-users configured to a standard user profile and automatically elevating their privileges to run only approved and trusted applications. For IT administrator privileged account users, you should control access and implement super user privilege management for Windows and UNIX systems to prevent attackers from running malicious applications, remote access tools, and commands. Least-privilege and application control solutions enable seamless elevation of approved, trusted, and whitelisted applications while minimizing the risk of running unauthorized applications.

3. Develop a privileged account password policy

It’s critical to create clear policies that everyone who uses and manages privileged accounts can understand and accept. Put in place a privileged account password protection policy that covers human and non-human accounts to prevent unauthorized access and demonstrate compliance with regulations. It is better to use long passphrases and multi-factor authentication for human accounts. For non-human (services and applications) accounts, passwords should be changed frequently. PAM controls automatically randomize, manage, and vault passwords, and enable you to update all privileged account passwords automatically and simultaneously.

4. Choose the right solution

There are various PAM technology providers to choose from, offering different kinds of features and deployment options. Before choosing, it’s important to define use cases for privileged access in your environment and preferred solution capabilities such as service account management, discovery functions, asset and vulnerability management, analytics, file integrity monitoring, SSH key management, and more. Some organizations prefer a vendor-independent technology partner to help them test and evaluate potential solutions. When it comes to a successful deployment, professional security assessments are helpful, by identifying what your privileged accounts are protecting and objectively detailing current security policies, controls, and processes.

5. Monitor accounts with analytics

Privileged accounts should be monitored continuously in order to identify outsiders leveraging stolen credentials, insiders that are not following policies and procedures, and malicious insiders. Privileged user behavior analytics solutions help you gain insight into privileged activity with a behavioral baseline based on machine learning algorithms that consider user activity, account behavior, access behavior, credential sensitivity, and similar user behavior. In case a breach occurs, monitoring privileged account use helps digital forensics identify the root cause and identify critical controls that can be improved to reduce your risk of future cybersecurity threats.

6. Implement multi-factor authentication for employees and third parties

According to Symantec’s Internet Security Threat Report, 80 per cent of breaches can be prevented by using multi-factor authentication. Implementing two-factor or multi-factor authentication for both PAM administrators and end users will guarantee that only the right people have access to sensitive resources.

7. Audit and analyze privileged account activity

Continuously observing how privileged accounts are being used through audits and reports will help identify unusual behaviors that may indicate a breach or misuse.  You should capture every single user operation and establish accountability and transparency for all PAM-related actions. The automated reports also help track the cause of security incidents, as well as demonstrate compliance with policies and regulations. Auditing of privileged accounts will also ensure you cybersecurity metrics that provide executives with vital information to make more informed business decisions.

8. Prepare an incident response plan

An incident response plan is urgently needed in case a privileged account is compromised. When an account is breached, simply changing privileged account passwords or disabling the privileged account is not acceptable. If compromised by an outside attacker, hackers can install malware and even create their own privileged accounts. If a domain administrator account gets compromised, for example, you should assume that your entire Active Directory, so the attacker cannot easily return.

The execution of these eight policies are not supposed to be an end-all solution to security – there’s always more to be done.The proper management of privileged access helps organizations prevent devastating data breaches and comply with regulatory requirements. But at the same time it can be difficult for security teams that are understaffed and struggling to maintain access information across complex IT infrastructures. By providing comprehensive and clear visibility into privileged accounts, implementing least privilege, investing in the right solutions, and monitoring activity, you can be able to prevent privileged accounts from being abused and effectively tackle security risks both inside and outside your organization.

PATECCO Will Exhibit as a Golden Sponsor at “IT for Insurances” Congress in Leipzig

For a second time, this year, the Identity and Access management company PATECCO will take part in “IT for Insurance” (IT für Versicherungen) live Trade Fair in Leipzig, Germany. The event is planned to take place on 24.11 and 25.11.2020.  It is known as the leading market place for IT service providers of the insurance industry with a focus on the latest technological developments and IT trends. The congress unites all exhibitors, speakers, trade fair visitors and gives the opportunity to socialize, exchange experiences and discuss current trends and projects in the IT industry.

During the two days of the event PATECCO will exhibit as a Golden sponsor and will present its services portfolio. Besides, the sales manager of PATECCO team – Mr. Karl-Heinz Wonsak will be a presenter of the company’s innovative solutions in the so called “Elevator Pitch.” The topic will be about insurance supervisory requirements in IT and cybersecurity.

PATECCO will have a counter where its team members will welcome each visitor who is interested in Identity Access Governance IAG, Privileged Account Management PAM, Security Incident and Event Management SIEM, Funktionale Taxonomie, Managed Service, Management und IT-Consulting and Cloud Access Control. Each one, who looks for solutions in these specific areas, will be invited in a personal meeting where all details will be considered. The IAM company will also provide a coffee counter with a professional Barista and each coffee-lover can enjoy a cup of aromatic Italian Espresso.

PATECCO is an international company, dedicated to development, implementation and support of Identity & Access Management solutions. Based on 20 years’ experience within IAM, high qualification and professional attitude, the company provides value-added services to customers from different industries such as banking, insurance, chemistry, pharma and utility.

Its team of proficient IT consultants provide the best practices in delivering sustainable solutions related to: Managed Services, Cloud Access Control, Privileged Account Management, Access Governance, RBAC, Security Information and Event Management, PKI and Password Management.

PATECCO Launches a New White Paper About Identity and Access Management Solutions in The Era of Digital Transformation

As more and more organisations around the world move from on-premises software to on-demand, cloud-based services, there is a greater need for control around who can access what and when they can do so. Identity and Access Management (IAM) is a framework of business processes, procedures and technologies used to manage and control digital identities. This the reason why IAM should be a key priority for any business executive looking to make big technology investments and should be part of all digital transformation strategies. This is especially true if your organisation wants to make the most of modern business solutions and mobile ways of working.

To help you on your IAM journey, we’ve created an IAM White Paper. It presents in details why IAM is one of the cornerstones of digital transformation success and highlights everything you need to know to sucessfully find an IAM solution that matches your business needs.

Some of the main topics covered in our latest eBook include:

  • The Role of Identity and Access Management in Cybersecurity
  • Why Identity and Access Management is so Important in preventing data breaches
  • Which Key IAM Capabilities Successfully Support Remote Work
  • Key Aspects of an Identity Access Management (IAM) Strategy

Interested? Download our free Identity and Access Management eBook today.

Click on the book below to download the content: