4 critical scenarios why Privileged Access Management will take center stage in 2019

Privileged Access Management (PAM) has become an integral part of overall cyber security framework for any modern-day organization. As privileged accounts provide access to confidential information, securing them from any untoward incident (abuse of privileged credentials or accounts) remains one of the major concerns for the Security and Risk management pros.

With digital assets spiralling amid increasing digitization of IT operations, the number of Privileged users administering roots accounts, database, applications and network devices keep on rising. If these accounts are not managed, controlled and monitored, any bad actor in the IT environment – be it a malicious insider or a compromised third-party element – can abuse data by gaining unauthorized access to critical systems.

Adding to the concern, there are the several use case scenarios wherein organizations manage and store data in shared and distributed IT environments. We see the following security trends emerging from these scenarios. It is expected that most of the global organizations would step into the shoes of these below trends to combat against the evolving threats to secure privileged accounts.

I. Shared & Distributed IT environment

Organizations often manage IT operations in a shared and distributed environment to ensure business process efficiency. However, the practice of managing data in a distributed environment potentially raises information security related risks, mainly the malicious insider threats.

Just think about a scenario where an organization has multiple data centers in different geographical locations and every data center comprises of hundreds or thousands of privileged identities and credentials. It becomes a daunting task to control and secure privileged accounts if there is no rule-based access and control policy to monitor privileged users. Abuse of a single privileged credential has the potential to bring down the entire IT infrastructure.

This is exactly where the role of Privileged Access Management (PAM) fits in. The solution ensures each and every access to critical systems is based on a centralized policy framework whilst it mitigates the attack vector by promoting the principle of least privilege. Robust Privileged password vaulting and frequent randomization of privileged credentials along with fine-grained privileged access control offers a reliable security layer to critical information.

Telecommunication, utilities, large banking organizations typically manage IT infrastructure in a shared and distributed environment. ARCON witnessed enterprise-scale PAM deployments in these industries and 2019 should not be any different as organizations continue to reinforce their Privileged Access security.

II. Migrating data on IaaS Plane

Migrating IT workloads to a cloud service provider (CSP) offers scalability, flexibility, and efficiency. More and more organizations of all shapes and sizes are expected to use IaaS platforms to manage data in the times to come. However, data vulnerability will also increase as every bit of data managed in cloud resources risks abuse from compromised third-parties and malicious insiders. With hundreds or even thousands of privileged identities created to administer day-to-day IT tasks, securing critical IaaS environment from unauthorized access remains the top security concern for IT risk management pros.

To counter this humongous challenge, access control, especially the privileged access will need to be robust. While IaaS providers typically guarantee a reliable infrastructure, security responsibility for other cloud components such as data, applications, access control rests solely with the client. Not surprising, organizations are making access and controls in critical IaaS environments more impregnable. While a centralized policy engine helps in governing the privileged users through a rule-based access control policies, multi-factor authentication and robust privileged password vaulting offers an additional layer of security to digital assets.

III. Outsourcing key IT process to Managed Service Provider

Managed Service Provider (MSP) is a very cost-effective IT outsourcing alternative as it allows enterprises to avoid huge capital expenditure and divert resources to other business operations. Several large healthcare chains for instance typically use MSP services to control IT cost. However, outsourcing IT process and services brings in an element of risk. Outsourcing IT functions to MSP’s premises essentially means delegating control of your digital assets to a third-party. With several privileged identities created to manage a client’s IT process and services, it becomes a challenge to monitor who is accessing what, where and why in the third-party IT environment. We expect organizations opting for MSP services will continue to deploy Privileged Access Management solution as it provides a proactive approach to secure sensitive information and critical systems without impacting normal business and IT operations. Privileged Access Management enables the client to generate Privileged User Report of MSP which simplifies audit and compliance task, enforces accountability and segregation of privileged roles and duties, and grants privileged users to access critical systems after thorough authentication.

IV. The increasing burden to comply with stringent regulatory standards

In this era of increasing digitization, every organization keeps on accumulating a huge amount of data in its systems everyday. It could be customers’ personal information, payment card details, employee data among many other forms of confidential information. With the type of threats getting advanced and sophisticated in nature, it has become obvious for the IT security team to make the security architecture more robust.

In this backdrop, IT regulatory compliance standards are getting stringent day by day. Today, the regulatory bodies not only demand advanced perimeter controls and firewalls, but also look for adequate security measures within the inner realm of an organization. It explicitly demands strong data protection framework.

Several regulatory standards such as the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI-DSS) explicitly demand stringent privilege access control in enterprise network. It expects any organization to maintain data integrity by keeping the following three basic principles:

  • Access is allowed strictly on “need-to-know” and “need-to-do” basis
  • The concept of least privileged accounts
  • The Maker-Checker Concept

Essentially, these principles require organizations to adopt best privilege access practices like password management, granular level control, MFA, and audit trails. Privilege Access Management offers IT risk management team to comply with these requirements and offers a robust framework that builds the foundation for best practices in Identity and Access Control Management.

ARCON is a leading enterprise risk control solutions provider, specializing in risk-predictive technologies. ARCON | User Behaviour Analytics enables to monitor end-user activities in real time. ARCON | Privileged Access Management reinforces access control and mitigates data breach threats. ARCON | Secure Compliance Management is a vulnerability assessment tool.