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Michael Harvell
January 30th, 2019

Avoid a Data Breach Through Privileged User Management

According to a study by Forester, up to 80 percent of data breaches are attributed to misuse or abuse of privileged credentials.

This is because many organizations tend to overlook the importance of managing and securing their super accounts or administrator accounts. Like other users and typical IT workers, your administrators are not invincible to all attacks out there.

As such, the regulatory environment also requires privileged users to be compliant with all the security standards of IT systems and data. For that reason, organizations need to consider privileged user management (PUM) to reduce the risk of a breach and secure their systems.

Read on to learn more about the advantages of proper management of privileged users.

Understand Your Data and Systems

It becomes hard to ensure adequate IT security if you don’t know what you’re protecting. A comprehensive identity and access management system gives you a detailed view of your network systems, network locations, critical applications, and enterprise employee applications.

This way, it’s easier to conduct an inventory of your asset, define user roles, manage access, and determine access levels. Identifying the location of your information assets helps you know how those assets are used and which users have access to that data.

Your PUM tool enables improved centralization of operations to ensure all privileged user traffic is managed through one location. This can give your company a huge leg up in preventing internal threats and refining the structure of your IT operation.

As such, t will be easier to ensure data security and loss prevention and protect your company from potential legal liabilities.

Monitor and Manage Privilege Users

In the past, many organizations hardly monitored their privileged users. They focused most of their resources and efforts on managing their IT workers and individual accounts. But recent studies show that administrators and other special users are also liable for certain breaches and attacks.

Today, it’s necessary to use extra caution with privileged users and administrators. A PUM solution gives you access control tools to manage actions and permissions for every user based on the resources they have access to.

With log and event management, you can monitor the online actions of your privileged users to reduce the risk of insider threats. Nowadays, intruders target privileged accounts as they provide a greater scope for stealing data en bloc. That shouldn’t mean you should weaken your focus on other end users.

End-user accounts still provide a conduit, which hackers can use to get to privileged accounts. Having an integrated solution can ensure end-to-end security to deter possible attacks and reduce vulnerabilities.

A sound system also provides an efficient offboarding process that includes revoking past employee’s access, reviewing their accounts, and retrieving their access tokens and IT equipment.

Reduce the Risk of Breaches

As organizations grow in size, their IT needs and complexities grow, too. This means they will need more IT workers and administrators to manage all their growing data. What you need to know is that this growth also increases the potential for insider threat.

An internal threat can be either accidental or intentional. Whatever the case, the danger makes your company vulnerable to attacks and data breaches. With PUM, you can use advanced security strategies to monitor lateral movement within your network, prevent unauthorized access and enhance identity administration.

Plus, you can limit user accounts to particular devices to prevent password sharing, which has been noted as one of the primary causes of breaches in organizations. There are several techniques you can use, including duty separation, multi-factor authentication, least privilege, access controls, and time-based expiration.

Proper set-up of accounts is critical, especially when you have other users, such as customers, partners, and IT support professionals, with third-party access. You can automate your processes to secure access to data both via the cloud and on premises.

Access to Better Reporting

In most cases, managing access requests, revocations, certifications, and approvals can be quite difficult. Plus, there is always the need for monitoring new IT users and administrators to ensure accountability and security.

As such, your management program should be report-based to ensure that all activities conform to your policy. A good PUM allows for periodic audits and generation of reports, such as logging activities for all privileged users.

Your log reports should also be easier to decipher to determine how administrators are using their accounts. This is particularly important for shared accounts because you need to be proactive in monitoring all activities and enable automatic alerts to get notified whenever there is a misuse.

Ensure Compliance

It’s important for every organization to have internal IT security policies, which must be implemented to all user groups. Plus, there are also government and industry standards and policies that federal organizations expect companies to adopt and follow.

Enforcing these policies is detrimental to staying compliant with the current regulatory environment. Additionally, you also need to implement security controls and audit your processes. A good example is the Payment Card
Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), which requires organizations that accept credit card payments to ensure the security of customers’ information.

With a good privileged user management system, you can control the authorization of privileged access and prohibit shared privileged access. It’s easier to audit all account activities and maintain the best practices in your organization.

Improve Security with Privileged User Management

Well, this post has shared some details on how your organization can benefit from proper Identity and Access Management (IAM).

Take advantage of IT systems that offer features, such as dynamic workflows, password management, auditing and reporting capabilities, and secure third-party access to achieve compliance and security. Most importantly, it’s important to probe employees before approving access requests to critical assets.

Monitoring privileged user activity has become increasingly important. It helps to prevent both accidental activities and malicious behaviors from insiders. If you use multiple systems, you can correlate all events to gain deeper insight into your user activity.

If you have any questions on privileged user management and how it can help secure your company’s sensitive data, please contact our engagement team.