Privileged access management solutions that secure access to critical business information are an integral part of an effective cyber security program. However, there are still misjudgements about securing privileged accounts and access data.

In this article PATECCO shares seven of the most common myths spread about privileged access management. The vast majority of “successful” cyber attacks can be traced back to the improper use of privileged access data. Privileged Access Management (PAM) solutions offer an important layer of defence here. However, while securing privileged access is a top priority in reducing security risks, some misconceptions about PAM still exist. PATECCO clears the four most common ones.

Myth 1: Privileged access exists everywhere, so it is impossible to secure them all

Leading PAM solutions can automatically recognize privileged access data in on-premise, cloud and hybrid environments, so that security teams are significantly relieved. In addition, modern PAM tools also support the automatic rotation of privileged credentials or SSH keys at regular intervals in order to eliminate the time-consuming and error-prone manual tasks. Last but not least, the best PAM tools also offer detailed session monitoring in order to automatically detect and interrupt risky privileged sessions.

All functions are to be integrated into standard automation tools in order to minimize manual activities both from a cost point of view and because of the higher susceptibility to errors.

Myth 2: Privileged access management solutions are difficult for administrators to manage

This statement may have been correct in the past, but current PAM solutions significantly reduce the workload for administrators. By storing and securing all privileged access data in a central digital data safe (vault), there is no need to search for and manage such information manually.

PAM tools are particularly helpful when companies are pushing ahead with the use of the cloud in order to minimize migration risks. When introducing a hybrid or public cloud infrastructure, even minor misconfigurations can create new vulnerabilities. Tools to identify risks associated with privileged access significantly improve security for a company.

Myth 3: Identity and Access Management (IAM) solutions are sufficient for securing privileged access

IAM tools are essential to maintaining a high level of security, but they are not a substitute for a PAM solution. In this way, PAM solutions can protect not only privileged access rights that are associated with people, but also those that are associated with applications and services – such as application accounts that are used in robot-assisted process automation (RPA) or in DevOps scenarios. IAM solutions are not suitable for this.

In addition, it should be noted that IAM tools require a direct connection to user databases such as Active Directory (AD). PAM offers an important security layer for servers that host the direct connection from the IAM solution to user databases such as AD. For a high level of security, IAM systems and PAM solutions should therefore be used in a complementary manner.

Myth 4: Using PAM tools can completely prevent all cyberattacks

This type of attack on the security of corporate networks is becoming more and more sophisticated. Therefore, there is no way for PAM to completely prevent all cyberattacks. However, this tool guarantees a lot of security for networks, preventing or mitigating the vast majority of attacks. In addition, it also needs to be constantly optimized to keep up with the boldness of cyberterrorists. As such, it is quite secure to avoid these problems.

Myth 5: PAM is for large organizations, not for small and mid-sized businesses

SMBs have become ground zero for cyber crime, and poor user password hygiene is the top cause of SMB hacks which happen to 60% of small businesses. The moral to this horror story is that a PAM solution should not be optional for SMBs: it is essential.

Myth 6: Privileged access management solutions affect operational efficiency

The use of PAM tools contributes to the automation of time-consuming tasks for IT and security employees, so that they gain freedom for higher-value activities. Audit teams also benefit from the automation of compliance tasks. Manually reviewing all sessions that require privileged privileges can be extremely time consuming. PAM solutions can automate these tasks and thus identify risky behaviour. Modern PAM solutions do not impair operational efficiency, on the contrary – they actually improve it.

Myth 7: PAM only manages privileged accounts

Actually, PAM does more than managing your privileged accounts. Managing privileged accounts is the tip of the proverbial PAM iceberg. Privileged Access Management comprises of several components, each serving a purpose in the path to achieving the optimal balance between security and productivity. A central goal is the enforcement of least privilege, defined as the restriction of access rights and permissions for users, accounts, applications, systems, devices (such as IoT), and computing processes to the absolute minimum necessary to perform routine, authorized activities.

For more information about PATECCO PAM services, read the whitepaper below.