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End Point Privilege Management: Everything You Need to Know

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  • January 20 2024

End Point Privilege Management: Everything You Need to Know

Endpoint Privilege Management is a cybersecurity solution that is designed to monitor privileged access to different network devices. It allows the administrators to define who can access and what they can access depending on specific circumstances. Administrators can use an EPM system to manage authorization and access control across all network endpoints. By giving the users restricted access to only the information they need, EPM plays a major role in determining the overall security of an organization.

What is a Privileged Account?

A Privileged Account is a user account that has access and control rights more than that of a regular user account. These accounts are also referred to as admin accounts and give additional privileges to the user to perform actions such as:

  1. Installing or removing software
  2. Upgrading the Operating System
  3. Modifying the system or application configurations
  4. Creating or deleting user accounts
  5. Accessing Sensitive Data

Privileged Accounts are important for maintaining and administrating the system through multiple functions. At the same time, they pose a fair amount of security risk because if they are compromised, attackers may gain access to sensitive information, install malware and disrupt essential operations.

Also read: What are Privileged Accounts and Types of Privileged Accounts and Importance?

Privileged vs. non-Privileged Accounts

Privileged Accounts have higher access levels allowing users to make critical changes to the system. Non-Privileged Accounts have limited access.
Privileged Accounts carry higher security risks as compromise or misuse of such accounts is likely to have a severe impact on the entire system and network. Non-privileged accounts are used for day-to-day activities such as checking emails, browsing the internet, and running standard applications.
Privileged Accounts users have the authority to perform a range of tasks like installing and uninstalling software, making changes to the system, or managing other user accounts. Non-Privileged Accounts have restrictions to protect the system from unauthorized or harmful actions.
Privileged Accounts Administrator Accounts on Windows, Root Accounts of Unix, Linux or any account with extended privileges. Non-privileged accounts are regular User Accounts on Operating Systems like Windows, Unix or Linux.

What is a Privileged Account in CyberArk?

A privileged account in CyberArk refers to an account that has administrative access to several critical systems, applications, and data. These accounts can be accessed by human users such as IT staff and business identities with the authority to enter sensitive systems or non-human users such as application and machine identities. A privileged account in CyberArk helps organizations control, monitor, secure and audit all human and non-human privileged identities and activities across an enterprise. These types of privileged accounts that are found in an enterprise include local administrative, privileged, service and application accounts.

Learn CyberArk Conjur From Our Industry Experts

Importance of Privileged Account Management

  1. Privileged Account Management is important for organizations to ensure cyber safety, strengthen their security model and protect against security breaches.
  2. These accounts have high-level privileges and authority to perform critical tasks such as resetting user passwords and making changes to the IT infrastructure systems.
  3. It enables organizations to store the credentials of privileged accounts in separate repositories, and monitor and audit them in case of requirement.
  4. It enables companies to track use and activities thus lowering malware attacks and overall risk.
  5. A successful Privileged Account Management prevents attacks, restrains credential sharing, reviews risky behaviour notifications, and integrates with overall identity and access management systems thus ensuring employee and customer satisfaction.

What are the risks of a Privileged Account?

Insider threats

Malicious insiders with privileged account credentials pose a significant amount of threat to the organization. They have access to databases with sensitive information. Depending on the case, information could be wiped out, misconfigured and malware installed. To ensure security and as prevention against such cyberattacks and data breaches it is important to use tools such as advanced behavioural monitoring, and detect insider threats so that equip you to quickly respond and prevent data loss.

Weak Credentials

Hackers are easily attracted to credentials that are static and have never been changed. To reduce this, it is necessary to cultivate a culture of high security, maintain order, build trust, and employ tools to eliminate risks. PAM equips teams to identify and arrest malicious activities that reduce the risks of weak credentials.

Privileged Access Misuse

Humans are generally considered to be the weakest link and biggest offenders. Many administrators use their high-level accounts to perform their work, even though it has considerable risks attached. Users with static and extremely high levels of privilege can undoubtedly grant other users higher access. When these two factors come into play, the number of users who have high-status privileges may increase if surveillance is compromised. With locally cached stores and credentials, hackers now have a further advantage. If they can target and outwit a highly privileged administrator, they have struck a jackpot. If the admin has the habit of using the same credentials for every performed task, then it is next to impossible for the organization and the cybersecurity team to identify any kind of suspicious activity. If, however, the user’s access is kept to the bare minimum except for the situations when increased privileges are absolutely necessary for the job, this vulnerability can be avoided.

Lack of Compliance

This is a two-level structure. One, you must establish the right policies. Two, you must have the capacity to enforce the right policies. It all boils down to Compliance. When IT teams cannot understand who has access to what privileges, they cannot prove the compliance of your organization during any audit. It is important for every organization to adhere to rules and regulations and allocate job roles, or else there always remains cybersecurity vulnerability of varying degrees. An appropriate PAM (Privileged Access Management) addresses the risks if an organization is willing to devote time and budget to mitigate cybersecurity risks.

Limitations of a Privileged Account

Lack of productivity

Employees often feel frustrated as restricted access can be a major obstruction to productivity. On the other hand, excessive level of privileged access leads to the broadening of the attack surface and makes the organization prone to malware and attacks.

Forgotten Privileged Accounts are the common backdoors for hackers

Ineffective monitoring and identification of privilege can lead to long-forgotten privileged accounts not being detected. These are loopholes for hackers who use such undetected accounts to gain access.

Decentralized credential management leads to security issues

Organizations are made of multiple departments, and credentials are managed differently across organizations. Due to multiple accounts, employees may tend to use the same credentials across accounts for convenience which is bound to create vulnerabilities.

When employees share such accounts, compliance issues arise. The practice of hard-coding credentials among employees can pose threats.

How to protect your Privileged Account?

Privileged Accounts form an integral nerve centre in your organization as they access significant information and perform critical tasks. Consequently, it becomes crucial for the organization to take steps to protect these accounts from unauthorized access and potential breaches. Here are 5 steps that would help protect your privileged account in the organization:

Limit the number of privileged accounts

The likelihood of privileged accounts being compromised decreases with the number of accounts in the organization. Reducing the number of privileged accounts by going through the ones that are optional and may be eliminated.

Set secure passwords

Strong password implementation is crucial for protecting privileged accounts. Policies that mandate the use of complicated passwords and their frequent updates aid in breaking the cyberattack pathway to prevent breaches.

Two-factor authentication

Requesting users to provide a second form of identity along with their passwords enhances the security of privileged accounts. It helps prevent unwanted access even if the password is compromised.

Monitor and audit

Frequent privileged account activity monitoring and auditing can identify any unusual activity occurring and stop any potential security breaches. This entails keeping tabs on every potential login attempt, keeping an eye out for odd access patterns, and examining the activities carried out by privileged users that will halt unwanted network penetration.

Training Employees

Employees can avoid future unintentional breaches by being educated about the best security practices, such as not sharing passwords and the significance of keeping privileged accounts safe.

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