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How Privileged Access Management Defends Financial Organisations Against Data Breaches?

Privileged account management (PAM) is a domain within identity and access management (IAM) that focuses on monitoring and controlling the use of privileged accounts. Managing privileged accounts is an important and complicated task. Financial institutions often operate highly complex infrastructure and disparate systems that run on multiple operating systems. Managing and controlling access to these privileged accounts is further complicated by the significant pace of workforce and responsibility changes over time. Lastly, changes made at a system level can be used to bypass controls, to hide activity, and to cause financial institutions to breach their stringent reporting and compliance requirements.

  • The Challenge:

On one hand, financial organizations rely on privileged accounts to enable authorized users to perform their duties with little to no direct oversight or technical control of their actions. Companies have difficulty managing these accounts, which, in turn, opens a significant risk to the business. If used improperly, these accounts can cause substantial operational damage, including data theft, espionage, sabotage, or ransom. Malicious external actors can gain unauthorized access to privileged accounts through a variety of techniques, such as leveraging stolen credentials or social engineering schemes. In addition, there are rare instances of disgruntled employees who abuse their accounts, as well as honest employees who make mistakes. Misuse and mistakes can affect both high-value applications (e.g., payment systems) and core systems (e.g., human resources, database access, access control). 

On the other hand, privileged accounts comprise not only employees with direct, hands-on responsibility for system and network administration but also vendors, contractors, business partners and others who have been granted privileged access to systems within your organization. In many cases, privileged accounts aren’t even people—they can be applications or configuration files empowered by hard-coded administrative credentials. According to a number of data breach investigations reports the finance sector reported more than 1000 data breaches and was one of the top industries subject to insider and privilege misuse.

The sad fact is that exploited privileged accounts are a common thread in many data breaches, regardless of whether those accounts were compromised by external actors with malicious intent or simply abused by insiders. As data moves to the cloud, accessed by multiple third-parties and handled by insiders, the threat grows ever larger, as does the challenge of protecting your organization from evolving threats and staying in compliance with internal, industry, local, country and international regulations. These compliance mandates include access control and data security regulations that your organization is legally required to meet. Not doing so could mean everything from fines for non-compliance to actual data breaches from lack of prevention. This is the cost of negligence.

  • What Financial Services Organization Must Do to Secure Access to Data?

While the nature, extent and technological sophistication behind data breaches continue to evolve, what is needed is a defence-in-depth strategy with multiple layers of security. In this new world, level of access is everything: which accounts have access, what they are accessing and why they have access are critical elements to understand. Many financial services organizations are moving to what is known as a zero-trust model, in which it is assumed that a corporate account has already been compromised. That perspective prompts the need to control, monitor and audit user access and activity, ensuring that the right people have the most appropriate, fine-grained level of access: just enough to do their jobs, but no more. As part of this process, companies are automating the privileging (and de-privileging) process as well as recording and reporting on user activities to prevent breaches before they occur. Automation also helps to defend against privilege escalation that results in access to sensitive resources and prevents the compromise of new systems as well as data exfiltration.

  • What does PAM Solution provide to Financial Services Customers?

Whether they are obtained maliciously or leveraged inappropriately by a valid user, exploited privileged user accounts are the common thread of most data breaches. And as your environment grows increasingly complex, so does the challenge of defending against ever more sophisticated—and damaging—attacks. PATECCO offers a comprehensive PAM solution delivering both network- and host-based controls for the enterprise and hybrid cloud. Our customers use PAM to provide secure access with enhanced security for authentication and authorization. While most legacy systems in the financial services industry do not have hardened security, with PAM, methods for third-party integration such as multifactor authentication as well as single sign-on tools using role management techniques can easily be deployed, removing the requirement for enhancement to the application while providing a centralized, auditable, and repeatable process of access control.

In addition, PAM supports compliance requirements regarding access control  as well as protection of consumer accounts through tracking and reporting user activities as well as configuration changes to the network, enforcing access control to all network devices and network servers and producing audit reports that document and verify this, among other things. Regardless of the compliance use case, financial enterprises can count on PAM to manage user authentication and authorization, secure access to information and provide comprehensive audit trails for access, usage and password management as part of a solid, defence-in-depth security program.

Implementing a PAM system is an essential way for financial institutions to effectively secure, manage, control, and audit the activities of privileged accounts. A properly implemented and administered PAM system can help your organization meet compliance requirements, limit opportunity for and reduce the damage that a privileged user can cause, and improve the enforcement of access policies. The other benefits that PAM solution provides to the financial companies are the following:

  • identifying vulnerabilities and risk factors within your organization
  • limiting opportunity for a successful attack by improving control over privileged accounts
  • improving efficiencies by reducing the complexity associated with managing privileged accounts, 76 which leads to the following results
  • minimizing damage that results from misuse and mistakes by internal/external actors
  • automating enforcement of existing access policies
  • simplifying compliance by producing automated reports and documentation

To guard against costly data breaches, smart financial institutions are protecting and automating access to privileged accounts across both physical and virtual systems. Whether your company’s data is on-premises, in the cloud or within a hybrid infrastructure, it’s critical to protect, monitor and audit privileged access everywhere. Employing a zero-trust model with a defence-in-depth approach to security that includes privileged access management offers your organization the best chance of protection against ever-evolving threats.

For more information about PATECCO PAM Solutions and best practices, check out our latest Whitepaper:

The Essential Role of Identity and Access Management in Remote Work

Since fast two years, the pandemic has pressured organizations of all sizes to embrace IT transformation at a rapid pace and to adapt to new models of business related to a transition to remote workforces.

Nowadays, streamlined accessibility of critical applications is top of mind for executive leadership than ever before. However, a company’s IT security posture and administrative governance remain vital, as cybercriminals see unsecured home offices as attack vectors to exploit for personal gain. The rapid evolution of work-from-home technologies highlights a need to validate full coverage and completeness of an organization’s IT ecosystem, operational impacts and cybersecurity foundation. Furthermore, a comprehensive approach to cybersecurity helps enhance end-user productivity and remove the barriers for further IT transformation.

Identity and access management are crucial starting points

For these reasons, Identity and Access Management (IAM) has distinguished more critical to IT departments and organizations overall. Identity and Access Management (IAM) both secures the work-from-home networks and enables employees to easily access the data and applications they need for their role.

A good Identity and Access Management solution helps to securely connect the right employees to the right business resources at the right time. From an end-user perspective, IAM enables an employee to log into a critical application as they normally would, but their sign-on would also apply to a whole suite of commonly used and IT-approved applications. Meanwhile, IT staff can monitor who accesses what application when, add or remove approved applications for sign-on, and adjust security controls across the IT ecosystem in one platform.

  • Least Privilege Principle

To better secure your data with employees working from home, your IAM solution should include least privilege access capabilities. This provides you the opportunity to customize each employee’s level of access, so they only have what they need and nothing more. In this way the companies have a greater level of control over who is accessing their sensitive data each time.

  • Secure Sharing

For remote teams, the easy and secure virtual collaboration is a necessity. When it comes to sharing access to accounts and data, teams need a way to share credentials without increasing the risk of cyberattacks and data breach. Enterprise password management provides central and safe storage of shared corporate credentials, so remote team members can access shared accounts, from anywhere, any time.

  • Secure Authentication

To alleviate cyber threats when working remotely, businesses should think about adding layers of security that slow down attackers – but not employees. Additional login requirements and behind-the-scenes analysis of many factors helps reduce the risk of a cyberattack. Multifactor authentication (MFA), especially a solution that incorporates biometric and contextual authentication, can significantly increase security in a way that is quick and easy for employees.

Building an Identity and Access Management Strategy for Remote Work

A lot of studies show how critical IAM is, especially as remote work becomes the new normal. Businesses need to prioritize their IAM strategy and ensure they are crafting one that supports the new normal of work-from-anywhere.

The enterprises should realize how critical IAM is, especially as remote work becomes the new normal. As employees work remotely, organizations will need to craft an IAM strategy that makes it easy for employees to connect to work resources, while maintaining a high standard of security.

  • Managing every access point

If secure access is a top priority, your IAM solution needs to combine SSO and password management. SSO simplifies login to many apps, and password management ensures any password-protected accounts are properly stored.

  • Sharing the secure way.

For remote teams, virtual collaboration is inescapable. Any credentials or sensitive information like credit card numbers that need to be shared among team members should be done in a way that is encrypted and private, while making it easy for team members to get the information when they need it.

  • Enabling MFA for additional protection.

Choose a solution that is simple for employees to use, and then turn on MFA everywhere you can (apps, workstations, VPNs, and more) for an additional layer of security across every employee login.

In the future remote work will continue to change as the companies develop new normal work routines for the employees. Identity and authentication methods must develop alongside those changes to ensure secure access and simplicity for both employees and companies.

Is Artificial Intelligence a Factor for Improving Identity Management and Security?

In today’s global and highly interconnected business environment people and companies collaborate constantly together. From one side, the business becomes more productive and efficient, but from the other side grows probability for the company to become a victim of a data breach or another cyber threat. Determining who should have access to what information is a hard task for many businesses and leaving that problem aside could make their systems vulnerable. That is why the importance of a smart and mature Identity & Access Management (IAM) strategy shouldn’t be underestimated. Researches from analyst companies report that more than 70% of organizations do not have a serious approach to IAM. That means that the risk for these organizations to get suffered from a data breach is twice as high compared to organizations that have their IAM strategy applied. Research reports also show that the smarter an IAM approach is, the smaller is the security risk.

IAM against data breaches

As mentioned above, for many organisations, IAM is a critical weapon in their cyber security arsenal. It is a great solution to mitigate against data breaches as well as manage the additional risks coming with remote working and Bringing Your Own Device (BYOD). Identity and Access Management (IAM) involves tracking the behaviour and actions of each individual and asset in the IT environment, specifically your system administrators and mission-critical assets. IAM enables individuals to access the correct resources at the right times for the proper reasons, which requires significant systems integration so that all platforms have the situational awareness necessary to properly enforce policy. If properly implemented, IAM can drastically increase visibility and security.

As we look ahead to the rest of 2021, securing identity access will once again be everywhere, but we are predicting that with the help of artificial intelligence and machine learning (AIML), there will be a more positive narrative to creating and managing an immutable digital identity. New AIML authentication technologies that continuously protect pre-, during and post-authorization, while leveraging individual behaviours in a secure and private manner will become mainstream, leaving cybercriminals in the dust.

How can AI improve Identity Management and Security

AI and machine learning (ML) technologies can be a major help for effective IAM and can help to avoid a lot of problematic situations. These technologies can assist enterprises to grow from an overly technical approach of access management into a form of access management that is understandable on all levels within a business.

  • Advanced analytics

Analytics in a combination with artificial intelligence can provide more focus and contextual insights so that both technical and non-technical employees can work more time efficient. Modern technologies provide ways to learn new insights and automate processes, which are able to drastically speed up the existing IAM compliance controls. They can detect anomalies and potential threats, without the need of security experts. This gives employees the needed information to make correct decisions. Such progress is crucial, especially in the area of fraud detection and in the area of combating insider threats. In this way the enterprises are continuously in control, continuously secure and compliant.

  • More precise access control

Moving on from biometric passwords, it is not hard to conceive that AI could identify a user with extra security by using sight and sound. Rather than checking against pre-defined credentials, a machine would be able to understand and confirm whether a person was who they claimed to be, by using visual and aural clues. It could also learn when to grant access, and act accordingly. Permitting access on the basis machine learning is the logical next step on from biometric ID.

Working within a user’s access permissions, AI systems could also monitor in a real-time any unusual or irrational behaviour. They could detect whether a user is trying to access a part of the system they wouldn’t normally or downloading more documents than they usually would. The rhythm of a user’s keyboard and mouse movements could be observed to identify irregular or uncommon patterns. These security policies allow the companies to safely conduct their business and to rely on a better breach detection and prevention.

  • Automation and Flexibility

 AI has the capability to monitor subtle details of users’ actions, so it’s possible to automate authentication for low-risk access situations and in this way it offloads some of the burden of IAM administration from the IT department. Considering these details before granting network access makes IAM contextual and granular and can control potential problems caused by improper provisioning or deprovisioning. AI-powered systems are able to apply appropriate IAM policies to any access request based on needs and circumstances, so that the IT department doesn’t have to waste time figuring out the basics of “least privilege” for every use case or resolving problems with privilege creep.

  • Going Beyond Compliance

Many enterprises make the mistake when thinking that complying with security and privacy regulations is sufficient to keep hackers away. Actually these laws are not enough to meet the security needs of every organization. The basics of compliance refers to ensuring information is only accessed by those who need it and ignoring everyone else. The flexible and adaptable nature of AI-powered IAM is very helpful in these situations. Due to the fact that AI and ML constantly monitor traffic, learn behaviors and apply granular access controls, enterprises face less of a challenge when enforcing security protocols, and it becomes difficult for hackers to get any use out of stolen credentials.

AI is no longer some special idea that nobody can realistically implement. It becomes a trend in the cyber security environment. The high degree of interconnectivity, the increasing number of human and device identities and the common practice toward global access will force the enterprises to incorporate smarter technologies into security protocols. And to implement a risk-based approach to Identity and Access Management (IAM), the enterprises will need advanced identity analytics powered by Machine Learning (ML). Best practices across the industry have proven that ML based identity analytics delivers significant improvements to IAM architecture and program management.

The Advantages of Role-Based Access Control in Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is an advanced emerging technology and it is regarded as a computing paradigm in which resources in the computing infrastructure are provided as a service over the Internet. Cloud computing provides a platform to cut costs and help the users to focus on their core business instead of being impeded by information technology obstacles. However, this new paradigm of data storage service introduces some security challenges for the business. A great part of data owners are concerned that their data could be misused or accessed by the unauthorized users in the cloud storage system.

Cloud stores a large amount of sensitive information that can be shared by other users of the cloud. Hence, to protect this sensitive information from the malicious users, access control mechanisms are used. Here, each user and each resource is assigned an identity, based on which they may either be granted or denied access to the data. These methods are called identity-based access control methods. One of the examples of such method is Role-Based Access Control (RBAC).

Role-Based Access Control Method

To protect sensitive data from improper use, change or deletion, companies need a system to restrict employee access. Role-Based Access Control refers to a method for restricting data access based on a user’s role in the company. With RBAC, employees can access only the resources and files they need to fulfil their responsibilities. Their credentials allow or restrict access based on the tasks they are assigned, so the chance for data misuse is minimised.

RBAC systems can be especially useful in larger enterprises and in companies that use third-party contractors. As the number of employees increases and the authorized contractors change, it can be difficult to provide unique credential settings for each employee. Using a role-based access control system means that admins can sort employees or contractors into pre-existing groups, or roles, which grant access to a defined set of resources. This access is temporary, as the employees can also be removed from the group when the task is complete. Admins can also reset the permission levels for the groups, which means they can better manage employees at scale, increase efficiency, and even improve compliance.

RBAC enables administrators to divide users into groups based on the different roles they take on, and a single user can belong to multiple groups. Typically, employee access takes into consideration the person’s active status and roles, any security requirements, and existing policies. The best practice is to provide minimal authorization for any given user – only enough so that they can do their job. This is known as the principle of least privilege, and it helps ensure data security.

Benefits of RBAC

For many organizations, divided into multiple departments, with hundreds of employees often equipped with their own computers, the role-based access control system is the best solution to apply for optimal security. If implemented efficiently, RBAC has many benefits for both your team and the entire organization.

  • Reducing administrative work and IT support

When a new employee is hired or if a current worker changes his job position or department, role-based access control eliminates the need for time-wasting paperwork and password changes to grant and remove network access.  Instead, you can use RBAC to add and switch roles quickly and implement them globally across operating systems, platforms and applications. It also reduces the potential for error when assigning user permissions. This reduction in time spent on administrative tasks is just one of several economic benefits of RBAC. It also helps to more easily integrate third-party users into your network by giving them pre-defined roles.

  • Maximizing operational performance

RBAC systems also can be designed to maximize operational performance and strategic business value. They can streamline and automate many transactions and business processes and provide users with the resources to perform their jobs better, faster and with greater personal responsibility. With RBAC system implemented, organizations are better positioned to meet their own statutory and regulatory requirements for privacy and confidentiality, which is crucial for health care organizations and financial institutions. Directors, managers and IT staffers are better able to monitor how data is being used and accessed, for the purpose of preparing more accurate planning and budget models based on real needs.

  • Providing solid security and high business value

Low maintenance costs and increased efficiency are among the key benefits of RBAC as a security strategy for midsize and large organizations. Here’s how it works: Once all of the employee roles are populated into the database, role-based rules are formulated and workflow engine modules are implemented. Through these elements, role-based privileges can be entered and updated quickly across multiple systems, platforms, applications and geographic locations – right from the HR or IT manager’s desktop. By controlling users’ access according to their roles and the attributes attached to those roles, the RBAC model provides a companywide control process for managing IT assets while maintaining the desired level of security.

  • Role-Based Access Control Helps Protect Against Data Breaches

Roles can also help minimize damage caused by a data breach. Besides data encryption and other security measures built into the storage repository, user access limitations help seal off potential hackers and limit any adverse impacts arising from a breach. Businesses can alert users trying to view data that they don’t have proper access and prompt them to contact an administrator for additional access.

Many businesses utilize single sign-on (SSO) connected to Active Directory (AD) to authenticate users. Employees can then connect locally or log in with a VPN. Once the data lake verifies their information, it produces a signature of their identity and role. If an employee is accessing data in your cloud-hosted data lake remotely, it’s critical to secure their connection.

  • Better security compliance

All organizations are subject to federal, state and local regulations. With an RBAC system in place, companies can more easily meet regulatory requirements for privacy and confidentiality. Furthermore, IT departments and executives have the ability to manage how data is being accessed and used. This is especially significant for health care and financial institutions, which manage lots of sensitive data.

A core business function of any organization is protecting data in the cloud. RBAC system can ensure the company’s information meets privacy and confidentiality regulations. So, if your business does not have an established data governance plan, it is time to develop one. Moreover, learning to recognize the potential dangers and establish proper responses to a data breach will help you to react faster and minimize damage.

Why Identity and Access Management Is So Important In Preventing Data Breaches?

For better optimization of efficiency, agility, and to drive greater collaboration, it is essential for the enterprise to be able to share information, resources, and applications with external value chain partners in a trusted way. This article explores how Identity Access Management (IAM) provides the policies and processes for ensuring that the right people in the company have the right access to secure resources, at the right time, while improving security, productivity and visibility.

  • Identity Is Core To Data Security

In the era of globalization, enterprises are undertaking significant digital transformation initiatives to integrate more applications and automate processes to increase productivity and innovation. These initiatives frequently involve the integration of information technology with operational technology, even bridging security domains, through direct integration with value chain partners. Digital transformation initiatives deliver significant value, but potentially put more resources at risk and increase the enterprise security threat surface.

Moreover, enterprise managers require visibility into the organizations and must be able to delegate administration of people and resources to trusted individuals within the supplier organization if they want to have the agility they need. At the same time, they must be able to govern those external users are authorized to do. This practice requires regular processes where delegated administrators attest to users’ validity and the resources to which they have access for a complete audit trail and to ensure compliance.

At its core, Identity and Access Management  ensures that a user’s identity is authenticated to a high degree of assurance, and that the user is authorized to access the right services he or she needs. So, Access Management solutions provide authentication and authorization services and enforce user access policy to a company’s employees and customers across the web, mobile apps, and other digital channels. According to Data Breach Investigation Reports, 80% of data breaches involve compromised or weak credentials, and 29% of all breaches involve the use of stolen credentials. That means that passwords are the main point of vulnerability and the more frequently you have to request or change access for lost or forgotten passwords, the larger is the risk for your personal and professional data to be hacked.

When applied properly, advanced Identity and Access Management tools can help detect suspicious activities quickly whether they are committed by external or internal criminals. In fact, insiders who have highly privileged access pose the greatest risks as they may be disgruntled or have financial problems, therefore have the incentive and opportunity to commit a perfect crime. Highly technical users who have privileged access can also cover their tracks by modifying system logs. Sometimes, users also make mistakes and errors which can also be mitigated with IAM capabilities such as Multifactor-authentication and Role-based Access Control.

Products like Microsoft Identity Manager (MIM 2016) is able to synchronize identities between directories, databases and applications, which means that employees’ identities are managed wherever they are working from. It also provides increased admin security with policies, privileged access management and roles. This, combined with Microsoft’s Azure Active Directory (AAD) technology, provides additional cloud based self-service capabilities, secure remote access, single sign on, and multi-factor authentication.

How Can IAM Practices Prevent a Data Breach?

  • Automating the access privilege provision

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

  • Privileged User Management

Basically, the organized attacks target the privileged accounts of the organization. Once a privileged account gets compromised, it increases the chances of a massive security breach. Social engineering and phishing attacks are some common ways of tricking privileged users in sharing their passwords. Such attacks can remain undetected for a long period and that is why it is recommended to implement privileged user management. Any access considered privileged should be assigned to a separate account within the system for which the access is granted, and such accounts should be assigned to the user after an appropriate review of the user’s duties and justification for both the privileged account and the specific access. Any privileged access defined or granted should be limited in both scope and the number of users to which it is assigned and tailored to the needs of the business.

  • Account and access reviews

A useful practice is to conduct Account and access reviews. This can be done periodically in smaller companies and even in larger companies, as well. For example, if a user changes jobs, you should trigger an access review based on changes in the user’s job code or department code. Access reviews can also be based on risk, or when users request certain types of access, i.e., conduct a review of all of user’s access if the user requests domain administrator access, or if a user’s risk score reaches a certain level. Access reviews should be done either by the entitlement owners, or the current manager.

  • Entitlements warehouse

It is a good approach to set up an entitlements warehouse, which identifies all the entitlements in all the systems within the organization, who is assigned to those entitlements, and includes risk rating and privileged access flags for each entitlement. The entitlements warehouse can also be used to conduct peer analytics to identify unusual patterns of entitlement assignments based on entitlements assigned to other users with similar job functions, or assigned to users in similar or the same department.

  • Compliance

Another reason why Identity and Access Management is important in preventing data breaches is because organizations must comply with increasing, complex and distributed regulations, and they must ensure and demonstrate an effective customer identification process, suspicious activity detection and reporting, and identity theft prevention. Identity and Access Management solutions can be leveraged to manage various regulatory requirements such as having a Customer Identification Program (CIP), Know Your Customer (KYC), monitoring for Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR), and Red Flags Rule for identity fraud prevention.

Identity and Access Management is regarded as complex and critical solution in managing security risks. Although technology is an important part of identity and access management which can be leveraged to support an organization’s cybersecurity objectives and strategy, effective IAM also requires processes and people for user onboarding and identity verification, granting and removing access, detecting suspicious activities, and keeping unauthorized users out of the systems. IAM can help organizations achieve operating efficiency and optimal security through advanced technology and automation such as adaptive, multi-factor, and biometric authentication.

The Role of Identity and Access Management in Cybersecurity

In today’s digitally transformed world, Identity and Access Management (IAM) plays an essential  role in every enterprise security plan. As the business stores more and more sensitive data electronically, the need to protect sensitive information and data becomes critical. In this sense, IAM solution gives or limits the access permissions of different employees according to their roles.

Why IAM becomes more important than ever for enterprises?

IAM solutions must be an integral part of any enterprise security system. Their central management capabilities can help in improving security while decreasing the cost and complexity of protecting user access and credentials. In addition to providing access to employees, organizations also need to work, collaborate, and connect with contractors, vendors and partners, each with their own set of access requirements and restrictions. Furthermore, data and applications spread across cloud, on-premises and hybrid infrastructures are being accessed by a variety of devices including tablets, smartphones, and laptops.

Identity and Access Management is a Cyber and Information security discipline that ensures the right people have appropriate access to the organization’s critical systems and resources at the right time. For that reason IAM is based on three major pillars (Identification, Authentication and Authorization) which prevent the company to be exposed to cybersecurity threats like phishing, criminal hacking, ransomware or other malware attacks.

Benefits of IAM solutions having a significant influence in the cybersecurity

As mentioned above, effective IAM infrastructure and solutions help enterprises establish secure, productive, and efficient access to technology resources across these diverse systems while delivering several important key benefits:

  • IAM enhances security: This is perhaps the most important benefit organizations can get from IAM. Consolidating authentication and authorization capabilities on a single centralized platform provides business and IT teams with a streamlined and consistent method of managing user access during identity lifecycle within an organization. For example, when users leave a company, centralized IAM solution gives IT administrators the ability to revoke their access with the confidence that the revocation will take place immediately across all the business-critical systems and resources which are integrated with centralized IAM solution within the company. Thus, by controlling user access, companies can eliminate instances of data breaches, identity theft, and illegal access to confidential information.
  • Reduced Security Costs: Having a centralized IAM platform to manage all users and their access allows IT to perform their work more efficiently. In the digitally hyperconnected world, employees have access to hundreds of systems and resources as part of their job. Efficient centralized IAM solution can successfully address this challenge which results in huge savings of time and money for the company. A comprehensive IAM solution can reduce overall IT costs by automating identity processes that consume IT resources, such as onboarding, password resets and access requests, eliminating the need for help desk tickets or calls. Whenever a security policy gets updated, all access privileges across the organization can be changed in one sweep. IAM can also reduce the number of tickets sent to the IT helpdesk regarding password resets. Some systems even have automation set for tedious IT tasks.
  • IAM Provides direct connectivity: Connectivity is a hallmark of IAM because it provides direct linking to more than one hundred systems and applications. Supporting a wide range of systems, IAM makes it possible not only to apply Workflow Management and Self-Service to user account management, but also to a variety of other service provisioning processes including: requesting physical access to a work area, applying for a smartphone, or submitting a helpdesk ticket.
  • Least Privilege Principle: Least privilege is an important practice of computer and information security for limiting access privileges for users. With the increasing number of data breaches involving an insider, it is necessary to ensure access to all your corporate resources are secured and granted using least privilege principle. In a company it is a common practice for employees to move across different roles in the organization. If the granted privileges are not revoked when the employee changes the role, those privileges can accumulate, and this situation poses a great risk for many reasons. That makes this user an easy target for cyber hackers as his excessive rights can be an easier gateway for criminals to access the broader part of the company’s critical systems and resources. Or this can eventually turn into the insider threat where a person gets the ability to commit data theft. Sometimes companies forget to remove these excessive privileges from a user’s profile when he or she leaves the company. That leads to a security risk where the user can still access the company’s systems even after the termination. In this case, a well-designed centralized IAM solution can help organizations eliminate insider threat challenge by utilizing the Least Privilege Principle to a great extent.

There are many factors which have proved that Identity and Access Management evolution will influence on the cybersecurity industry. These factors refer to weaknesses in password security, increasing number of distributed and interconnected systems, technological advancements, and, the basic business needs to manage access and regulatory compliance risks efficiently. An end-to-end IAM implementation provides assurance that only authorized, authenticated users are able to interact with the systems and data they need to effectively perform their job. All that results in reducing the likelihood and impact of data breaches.

Why Privileged Access Management is Essential for all Businesses

Privileged Access Management is principal to controlling access and delivers the required balance between system administrators and users. In contrast to Identity Management solutions, often confused with PAM, a Privileged Access Management solution offers a secure way to authorise, track, and protect all privileged accounts across all relevant systems, which ensures absolute control and visibility. That process allows the organisation to control users’ access and it is considered to be its most valuable asset. This process also proves the fact that PAM is one of the most important areas of risk management and data security in any enterprise.

In a time of digital transformation, business models are constantly changing which leads to more numerous and widespread privileged accounts. When they are not managed securely, businesses are exposed to the risks of abandoned accounts, unmanaged shared accounts. That is a favourable situation for criminals and hackers to steal and to use credentials for privileged accounts to gain access. To reduce this risk, implementing a cost effective PAM solution is essential.

The modern PAM implementations focus on implementing and maintaining a least privilege model and monitoring activity with advanced data security analytics. Least privilege gives users the access they need to do properly their job. Monitoring and data security analytics detect changes in behaviour that could indicate external or insider threats at work. Those two paradigms keep your business well protected.

Why is Privileged Access Management Important?

According to Gartner’s 2019 Best Practices for Privileged Account Management, a quality PAM solution should be based on four pillars: Provide full visibility of all privileged accounts, Govern and control privileged access, Monitor and audit privileged activity and Automate and integrate PAM tools. In this article, we list the most essential features that can help you secure privileged access to your company’s sensitive data according to these four pillars.

#1 Enhanced security with Multi-factor authentication

MFA feature is a necessary measure for making sure that only the right people have he right access to the critical data. It also prevents insider threats by mitigating the risk of malicious insiders “borrowing” passwords from their colleagues. Most MFA tools offer a combination of two factors: Knowledge (user credentials) and Possession. Validation techniques such as E-mail OTP, SMS OTP, biometrics, soft taken, challenge-response questions, etc. add an extra layer of security to the passwords making it almost impossible for hackers to decode it.

#2 Session management

A lot of security providers offer Privileged Access and Session Management (PASM) as a standalone solution or as a part of their privileged account management software. The capability to monitor and record privileged sessions provides security specialists with all needed information for auditing privileged activity and investigating cybersecurity incidents.

The main 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. To deal with this case, you need a PAM solution that offers a secondary authentication functionality for shared and default accounts. So if a user logs in into the system under a shared account, they will be asked to provide their personal credentials as well, thus allowing to confirm that this particular session was started by this particular user.

#3 Quick detection of cyber risks

The security provided to privileged accounts is quite strict. As soon as any suspicious activity is detected the response comes immediately. That’s the reason why the incidences of data breaches and cyber attacks on privileged accounts are relatively less.

#4 Real-time privileged session monitoring and recording for detecting suspicious activity

The earlier the attack is stopped, the lesser the consequences will be.  In order to be able to respond to a possible security incident in a timely manner, you need to be notified about near to real-time.. Organizations with real-time privileged session monitoring and recording can detect suspicious activity the moment it occurs and automatically terminate such sessions hence reducing potential damages. Besides, session monitoring and recording enable for hackerproof storage of searchable audit logs which prevent privileged users from deleting their history or even editing them.

Most PAM solutions offer a set of standard rules and alerts. For instance, responsible security personnel will be notified every time the system registers a failed login attempt for a privileged account.

# 5 Comprehensive reporting and audit

A well-designed Privileged Access Management solution keeps a track of who is accessing the accounts, the number of times passwords change or updates are requested, how many times the accounts are being accessed, etc. A detailed report is generated and gives the organization a clear insight into the usage and security of the privileged account.

You should also be able to form different types of reports according to your specific needs and requirements. The best option is to get a full report about all activities performed underprivileged accounts or privileged sessions that were initiated out of the usual work hours.

# 6 PAM Enables Fast Track to Compliance

To comply with the standards of the organizations that handle regulations, you should have strong policies which cover privileged accounts, revoking of privileged accounts, audit usage, the security of logins for privileged accounts, and changing of the vendor default passwords amidst many other security control essentials. A PAM solution allows the organization to take control of the management and monitors the security of privileged accounts to meet the standards of the access control demands for a good number of the industry regulations.

Privileged access management remains a crucial element in the security infrastructure for all organizations as it offers solutions and benefits useful for defence against data threats. With privileged access management, companies can solve all potential dangers that might target their data. Here’s why PAM should come first for any business.

How Cloud Access Control Enables Security and Innovation in the Digital Age (Part 2)

Each organisation should take into account that security must remain the cornerstone of the cloud deployment strategy. There are several forces driving big companies toward public clouds – reduced costs, scalability, reliability, efficiency and the ability to attract and retain technical staff. But in most cases, the success or failure of any project is measured by the level of security that is integrated to safeguard an organization’s data and that of its customers.

In the past two years, several high-profile security breaches have resulted in the theft or exposure of millions of personal customer data records. The headlines are a constant reminder of the disruptive impact on a business in the wake of a breach. Concern about the security of public cloud technology itself, however, is misplaced. Most vulnerabilities can be traced back to a lack of understanding of cloud security and a shortage of the skills necessary to implement effective security measures.

Security should need not altogether be viewed as an impediment to migration efforts, but it must not be swept aside due to pressure or demands from business units. While companies cannot prevent every attack, building cloud security awareness at the right levels of the organization from the outset is a first line of defence for blocking the malicious activity that often precedes a breach.

Which are the biggest security threats of the companies when using cloud technologies?

1. Data breaches

The risk of data breach is always a top concern for cloud customers. It might be caused by an attacker, sometimes by human error, application vulnerabilities, or poor security practices. It also includes any kind of private information, personal health information, financial information, personally identifiable information, trade secrets, and intellectual property.

2. Data Loss

Data loss may occur if the user hasn’t created a backup for his files and also when an owner of encrypted data loses the key which unlocks it. As a result it could cause a failure to meet compliance policies or data protection requirements.

3. Ransomware attack

Ransomware is a type of malicious software that threatens to publish the victim’s data or block access to it. The attack leaves you with a poor opportunity for get your files back.  One of them is to pay the ransom, although you can never be sure that you will receive the decryption keys as you were promised. The other option is to restore a backup.  

4. Account hijacking

It happens, when an attacker gets access to a users’ credentials, he or she can look into their activities and transactions, manipulate the data, and return falsified information.

5. System vulnerabilities
System vulnerabilities can put the security of all services and data at significant risk. Attackers can use the bugs in the programs to steal data by taking control of the system or by disrupting service operations.

6. Advanced persistent threats (APT)

An advanced persistent threat is a network attack in which an unauthorized person gets access to a network and stays there undetected for a long period of time. The goal of such kind of attacks is to steal data, especially from corporations with high-value information.

7. Denial of Service (DoS) Attacks

Denial-of-service attacks typically flood servers, systems or networks and make it hard or even impossible for legitimate users to use the devices and the network resources inside.

How does the Cloud Infrastructure protect the business from the dangers?

Nowadays most companies are still in a process of searching for the right formula and developing successful strategy to prevent all of the above mentioned threats.  What they should do is to adhere to strong security requirements and proper authorization or authentication.

In the report, “Assessing the Risks of Cloud Computing,” Gartner strongly recommends engaging a third-party security firm to perform a risk assessment.  Coding  technology is also a way to  give  no  chance  to  hackers to  hijack  your  computer  or spread ransomware infection. Data  is  encoded  in  your  computer  and  the  backup  data  is  uploaded directly to the cloud storage locations.

Another effective way to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive data and apps is to ensure secure access with modern, mobile multi-factor authentication. Cloud security is enhanced with compliance regulations which keep high standards of privacy and protection of personal data and information. In such situation PATECCO recommends organizations to focus on Cloud Access Control, Privileged Access Management, Role Based Access Control, GRC, SIEM, IGI.

It’s important to have a full understanding of the services available to protect your infrastructure, applications, and data. And it’s critical for teams to show that they know how to can use them for each deployment across the infrastructure stack. By implementing security measures across your deployments, you are minimizing the attack surface area of your infrastructure.