Proper operation of the IT infrastructure and business applications is key to success for any government agency or private company.
However, the performance of a corporate IT system depends not only on its hardware and software characteristics. To ensure its smooth operation, all components of the IT infrastructure must be managed by professionals.
The IT components are managed by privileged users — external and internal personnel with higher access rights to corporate resources and applications, including their installation, setting up, and maintenance.
The list of privileged users includes:
- System administrators
- Security specialists
- Contractors and outsourcers
- Financial services operators
- Other external or internal employees
In view of the higher access rights of privileged users and the special nature of IT resources they handle, companies need to have in place a proper privileged access management system that would ensure, among other things, minimal privileges for users, as well as monitoring and analysis of user activity.
Furthermore, hackers gaining access to the authentication data of a privileged identity may cause more serious damage to the organization than if the login credentials of ordinary users are compromised.
Administrator accounts can be used to disable the security system, stop the operation of information systems and gain access to confidential information.
Protection of privileged access rights is a more sophisticated task if compared to ensuring the security of ordinary accounts. It cannot be achieved by relying exclusively on standard approaches to the protection of login credentials and requires specialized solutions.
These vulnerabilities can be addressed by setting up a comprehensive privileged access management system. A PAM system must ensure the following:
- Centralized management of connections to critical servers and applications
- Reinforced authentication for privileged identities
- Transparent use of privileged identities on authorized resources, without revealing the password
- Recording of privileged user activity
- Analysis of recorded user activity and investigation of incidents related to controlled resources