Identity theft incidents are increasing in the cybersecurity threat landscape, with more people accessing organizational networks online. However, the focus in recent times has shifted more towards privileged access management (or PAM) due to the increase in attacks and the massive impact it can have on organizations. It necessitates robust PAM solutions that ensure that sensitive data is only accessible to those authorized to analyze it.
With modern workplace and work culture changes, Work-from-home (WFH) and Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) practices have become widespread. However, they lead to cybersecurity vulnerabilities, with employees using unsecured devices and networks to access official servers. It can result in identity thefts, forcing organizations to strengthen their IAM (Identity & Access Management) strategies and PAM (Privileged Access Management) systems. Below is an examination of organizations’ access management risks and ideal PAM solutions.
Look at the below graph from Checkpoint Software that shows the average weekly cyberattacks per organization by industry in 2021, compared to 2020. No industry has been spared, and there has been a significant rise in the number of cyberattacks in just one year.
Identity theft and privilege escalation can lead to far-reaching consequences like financial and reputational losses. Here are some spine-chilling statistics concerning identity thefts.
● Data show that 15 million US residents experience identity theft yearly. The total estimated losses are around $50 billion annually.
● The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported a 19% increment in fraud reports in 2021 compared to last year, which stood at 5.88 million.
● Identity Theft took the top spot in fraud categories, which comprised 25% of all frauds.
What are some PAM-specific Threats?
A well-defined PAM setup is essential for every organisation as it helps focus on providing privileged access to those users alone who need analysing sensitive data. Here are some PAM-specific threats common among organisations. Many enterprises use default passwords for accessing system areas requiring elevated privileges. Malicious actors find them convenient to compromise. Sharing of credentials is another threat where employees sharing their credentials for privileged access with other users for convenience can lead to data breaches and expose the organisation to massive cybersecurity threats.
Also, in many cases, employees rely on existing passwords instead of periodically changing them increases the risk of threat actors attempting to guess or obtain such passwords using keyloggers. These stolen credentials can be used by malicious actors to infiltrate information systems and steal user credentials using phishing or alternative means of elevated access. It is not only the malicious actors that are a threat; sometimes uninformed employees may also pose a risk because they may not follow the password security best practices and share the admin passwords among themselves. These credentials can be misused by a disgruntled employee and can result in data breaches or data privacy infringements.
What to Look for in the Best PAM solutions for organizations?
While many PAM solutions are available, organizations should look for the following aspects to ensure complete protection from identity fraud.
● Easily manageable: The best PAM solution should be easy to use and support multiple protocols like SSH (Secure Shell) Password and RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol). It should also be convenient to install.
● Reliable to use: A good PAM solution should offer operational facilities like password verification, external USB backup, real-time sync with data, and support appliance redundancy.
● Compliance features: The solution should prevent reusing passwords and have a mass password change feature. Besides, it should offer Mobile OTP for ACM (Access Control Manager) Web Access Authentication and a password history report.
● Workflow management: The ideal PAM solution should have an easy workflow, such as an account request application and approval function, reporting the request, maintaining user history, etc.
● Support for multiple OS: Integrated password management is critical to a proper PAM solution. It should support multiple operating systems and have inbuilt authorization options.
● Robust password policy and security management: The solution should offer facilities for periodic password changes, with forced modifications whenever necessary. It should also support one-way encryption.
● Session recording and playback: Organizations should look for features like session recording and playback for monitoring and establishing audit trails, with a solution that offers a dashboard view of the organization’s overall security posture.
● Inbuilt security: The best PAM solution should offer physical and logical protection. Physical safety includes MFA (Multi-factor Authentication), console login restrictions, etc., while logical security includes factors like AES-256 encryption, HTTPS communications, and audit logging.
Threat Protection: What Organizations can do to Prevent PAM-specific Threats
An organization must take several steps to resist PAM-specific threats. An ideal PAM solution will help the organization with all such safeguards, as listed below.
● Increase accountability: The solution should enable the organization to observe the entire activity of the user. Session recording, comprehensive logging, and user warnings can help deter malicious actors from misusing credentials.
● Mitigate data security risk: Organizations should limit access to sensitive resources. They must restrict the actions of users, prevent lateral movement, and stop unauthorized command execution.
● Automate solutions to reduce operational complexity: The use of MFA restricts the risks of password-skimming attacks and enhances productivity through quick and secure access.
● Improve audit compliance: A good PAM solution simplifies compliance by supporting authentication and access control requirements and limiting compliance requirements through logical network segmentation.
Identity theft and privilege escalation cases are continuously increasing, especially with more people working online. These theft incidents can compromise information assets and severely affect their confidentiality, integrity, and availability. Hence, organizations should adopt robust PAM solutions to ensure that only the correct user can access sensitive data. Restricting access to people who need it significantly reduces the risk of identity fraud and data privacy invasions.