Auditing your privileged accounts might not seem like a big deal. After all, your privileged account users know what they’re doing, right? These are users like IT guys and system administrators who have administrative privileges in your systems.
Usually, privileged accounts have total access to your files and data and can make big changes to your accounts, including changing settings and altering applications.
Privileged accounts are a significant security threat
With all these IT powers, it’s no wonder why privileged accounts are a top target for hackers. Forrester’s research indicates that more than 80% breaches involve privileged account credentials. You see, cybercriminals know that privileged accounts are a quick and easy way to cause immense damage. Armed with these details, cybercriminals can swiftly launch malware, steal sensitive data, and disrupt your business.
As well as the threat of hackers, we must also remember the insider threat. While we all want to think our employees would never intentionally cause harm to our company, you can never be too careful! 37% of insider threats involve employees who knowingly steal or leak data. Privileged account holders are the riskiest type of potential insider threat because they have so much power!
So, what’s a business to do? The answer is privileged account management (PAM) and auditing.
What is PAM?
PAM is a technology-based strategy for ensuring that privileged users behave according to company expectations. A good PAM approach also helps you stop insider threats and hackers before they get away with any sensitive data.
PAM isn’t just one solution. It’s more a collection of tools and policies that work together. Here’s what this looks like in practice:
- Apply zero trust: Zero trust is a security approach where your employees only have access to the data they need to do their jobs. You should ensure that only a select few users have privileged access to systems and data.
- Implement MFA: Your privileged users should use multi-factor authentication as a standard. To stop this impacting the user experience, consider deploying single sign-on too.
- Audit, audit, audit!: You should create a document that details your privileged users and what they have access to. This document should be live, whereby you update it in line with people’s moves and job changes.
- User behavior analytics: Deploy this solution to monitor privileged user behavior for anomalies, which could indicate credentials compromise, or risky behavior, indicating the malicious insider threat.
- Password hygiene: Privileged users need to update their passwords regularly and make sure they are unique. They should not – under any circumstances – share passwords with other employees.
Common SMB hurdles to PAM adoption
Because PAM has so many aspects, it can be pretty complex to implement – especially for SMBs. Here’s why:
- It’s pricey: As we’ve noticed, PAM isn’t one solution; it’s a collection of processes and technologies. Because of this, the costs for implementing PAM can quickly escalate beyond typical IT budgets, which may put companies off.
- You need technical knowledge: Running an excellent PAM program relies on a good understanding of security technologies and security management processes. However, most SMBs aren’t security experts – and many don’t have in-house IT people, making PAM feel like an unattainable goal.
- You need to be thorough: An effective PAM strategy relies on granular data about your privileged account users. However, with people now working from home and in cloud applications, it’s tricky for businesses to keep track of what data privileged users are accessing and where.
- PAM takes a lot of time: PAM isn’t something you get in place overnight. A great program takes weeks – maybe months – to get into place. Even then, you’ll need to refine your program regularly with audits and reviews.
How to harness the power of PAM in your company
Even though PAM can be complex, your business needs it. You can’t risk your privileged account users stealing sensitive data – or their accounts being compromised by hackers.
We understand that many SMBs don’t have the time to roll out PAM, which is why we do the handiwork for you. A managed IT services provider can help you to set up, configure and manage your PAM solution – including everything from audits to technology installation to user behavior monitoring.
This way, you get all the benefits of PAM without worrying about technical management. Plus, an excellent managed IT services provider will go above and beyond PAM. They can help you with total support, including managing your servers, desktops, laptops, printers and mobile devices and providing ongoing proactive service on your system.
Get Help with Implementing PAM
B-Comp Services can assist your Denver area business with a review of your privileged accounts to bolster your security.
Contact us today to discuss your support possibilities. Call at 303-282-4934