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5 Benefits of Privileged Identity Management – An integral aspect of Cybersecurity

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Privileged Identity Management

Each time you login to your organization’s network, you are required to enter a password to help keep the network secure from outsiders. Most networks also require you to follow basic rules when you choose your password to ensure that it cannot be easily compromised. Certain rules that the system prompts you while choosing a password are-

  • Your password should have specific length
  • It must contain a combination of alphabets, numbers, and special characters
  • It must differ from the previously used passwords
  • It must be changed periodically. The IT team prompts you

The organization’s data security system enforces these rules and determines what information you can access with your login. As your login is your identity for the system, each time you enter your personal credentials, the logs that are created as you access information makes you accountable for your actions.

Thus, your login is your identity in the organization.

What is Privileged Identity Management?

Every organization has a crowd of users/accounts, each with their own levels of rights and privileges. Some accounts consist of only users and may not have the rights to access files, install programs or change configuration settings. At the same time, there are other accounts within the same infrastructure with different permission levels, which might have some or all of these rights. These accounts with higher permission levels are known as “Privileged Identities”.

These accounts have unrestricted access to view and change data, alter configuration settings, and run programs. These accounts can access-

  • The operating systems that run all computer platforms
  • The directory services that control access to the network
  • Line-of-business applications, databases, and middleware
  • Network and security applications
  • Backup and other service software and applications
  • The hypervisors that manage the virtual machines on the network

Privileged accounts aren’t used only by individuals. Business applications and computer services must also store and use privileged credentials to authenticate with databases, middleware, and other applications when requesting sensitive information and computing resources.

Usually Privileged accounts are held by senior management members such as the CEO, CIO and Database Administrators. A lot of care is needed to ensure that Privileged Identities are not misused. This is where Privileged Identity Management (PIM) is critical. PIM focuses on the monitoring, governance, and control of such powerful accounts, within an organization.

How important is Privileged Identity Management for an organization

Today, more than 90% of records stolen by hackers are obtained through breaches in web applications. For this reason, securing the privileged credentials is critical to safeguard an organization against hackers and malware.

An effective Privileged Identity Management process helps to –

  • Discover and document the presence of privileged account logins in web application, packaged software programs, line-of-business applications, custom programs and other applications
  • Identify if the credentials are encrypted, stored in plain text files, or compiled into the applications themselves
  • Track the interdependencies of all application to ensure that each password change is synchronized among interdependent applications to avoid service disruptions.
  • Secure each embedded application password by ensuring that it is cryptographically complex, unique from other application passwords to the extent possible, and frequently changed.

5 key benefits of Privileged Identity Management

  1. Improves security
  2. Maintains regulatory compliance
  3. Reduces IT and auditing costs
  4. Eliminates threats from active but non-operative accounts
  5. Provides ease of accessibility

Every unmanaged account is a potential vulnerability for the organization. All users must be recognizable and actively checked for appropriate system privileges. Lack of PIM controls can increase risks and misuse the access of permissions on highly classified data and resources. A former employee may continue to access sensitive information or current employees might take any unauthorized actions. Privileged Identity Management safeguards an organization against resource disruptions from a user who mistakenly finds sensitive data or even from an unwanted hacker searching for further access into the system.

The broader objective of a cybersecurity practice is to ensure that the organization’s data, applications, and technology is safeguarded. This encompasses security across access points and defining access rights for every user, including privileged ones. By implementing a robust PIM solution, an organization can minimize the risk of easy access to unauthorized parties from vulnerable access points. That’s more than half the battle won with respect to cybersecurity.

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