How to Manage and Secure Privileged Users
Organisations usually have 2-3 times more privileged user accounts than individual employees. These special accounts must be secured to protect sensitive information and systems from cyberattacks. To keep people productive, you need to offer appropriate access for privileged users while reducing the risk.
Categories of IT Accounts Associated with Various Kinds of Users
- Standard user accounts. Typically, user accounts represent a human identity and have an associated password to protect data and prevent anyone else from accessing it without permission. Often, there is a single account password per user that a person must memorise. Standard users are usually business owners who do not require special systems or data to perform their jobs.
- Privileged user accounts. These accounts offer administrative or specialized levels of access to business systems and sensitive data, according to elevated permission levels. Privileged users are usually members of the IT team. A typical privileged user can be a system administrator responsible for managing an environment.
Privileged User Management
Privilege user management (PUM) is the process of managing privileged user accounts associated with certain assets. For instance, a server may just have one single built-in root or admin account, so instead of giving users elevated permissions to access the server, a privileged user must be granted the credential to access the server.
Privilege Access Management (PAM)
PAM is broader than PUM or PIM and therefore, PAM solutions are more comprehensive. It depends on policy-based software and techniques for controlling the accounts that can access sensitive systems and information and the kinds of privileged activities they can perform. Moreover, PAM includes solutions for managing the full lifecycles of all kinds of privileged accounts. It lets organisations add a layer of oversight including session monitoring, approvals, and recording.
Mitigating Risks Associated with Privileged Users
Privileged users wish to do the right thing and follow best practices; however, sometimes, they may not be able to do so.
Security leaders should employ mitigating strategies such as the following:
- Training. All employees must be trained to recognise suspicious or unsecured behavior and provide them with ways to say something if they see something. Users accountable for privileged accounts must be given PAM training.
- Policy-based controls. A structured security process must be implemented, detailing the kinds of users that need to have access to certain resources. To ensure accountability, share a formal policy for privileged accounts.
- Proactive supervision. Actively monitoring and routinely auditing any privileged user accounts with elevated permissions will help spot illicit activity and de-provision user accounts that no longer require elevated permissions.