CyberArk Privileged Access Management

Before moving onto the cyberark PAM one needs to know about the privileged access. In an industrial environment, “privileged access” refers to preferential access or capacities who go above and beyond those of a scheduled task. Privileged access allows associations to safeguard their systems and applications, run their businesses productively, and secure the data and key infrastructure. Privileged access can be assigned to both human and non-human users, such as application areas and machine identifications.

Privileged access by humans and non humans

Privileged access by humans:

  • A super user account is a potent account that uses IT system administrators to configure a software or process, add or remove users, or delete data.
  • Domain administrative account: A user account that has privileged admin privileges to all servers and workstations in a virtual network. These account holders are usually few in number, and they provide its most comprehensive access to the network. When responding to the privileged natural environment of some administrative access and systems, the phrase "Keys to the IT Kingdom" is frequently used.
  • Local administrative account: This account is located on an endpoint or workstation and uses a username and password combination. It enables people to gain access to and modify their local machines or devices.
  • Secure socket shell (SSH) key: SSH keys are widely used access control protocols that allow users to gain direct root access to critical systems. On a Linux or other Unix-like operating system, root is the username or account that has default access to all commands and files.
  • Emergency account: In the event of an emergency, this account grants users administrative access to secure systems. It is also known as a fire call or a break glass account.
  • Someone who works outside of IT but has access to sensitive systems is referred to as a privileged business user. Someone who requires access to finance, human resources (HR), or marketing systems may fall into this category.

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Privileged access by non humans:

  • A privileged account that is unique to the application software and is generally used to administer, configure, or manage access to the application software.
  • Service account: A user account used by an application or service to interact with the operating system. These accounts are used by services to gain access to and modify the operating system or configuration.
  • SSH password: Automated processes also make use of SSH keys.
  • Secret: A catch-all term used by development and operations (DevOps) teams to refer to SSH keys, application program interface (API) keys, and other credentials used by DevOps teams to provide privileged access.

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Privileged accounts, qualifications, and secrets abound: it is approximated that they outvote employees two to five times over. The privilege-related attack surface in modern business environments is rapidly expanding as systems, applications, machine-to-machine accounts, cloud and hybrid environments, DevOps, robotic process automation, and IoT devices become increasingly interconnected.Attackers are aware of this and seek privileged access. Today, nearly all advanced attacks rely on the use of privileged credentials to gain access to a target's most sensitive data, applications, and infrastructure. Privilege access has the ability to destabilize business if it is misused.

What is Cyberark Privileged access management?

Privileged access management (PAM) is used by companies to safeguard against the dangers posed by identity thefts and privilege misuse. PAM is an efficient security strategy that includes people, procedures, and technology to control, monitor, secure, and audit all human and non-human privileged identities and tasks in an enterprise IT environment.

PAM, also known as privileged identity management (PIM) or privileged access security (PAS), is based on the principle of least privilege, which states that users should only have the access necessary to perform their job functions.The principle of least privilege is largely viewed as a recommended practice in cybersecurity and is a critical way of protecting privileged access to high-value data and assets. Companies can reduce the attack surface and reduce the risk of insider threats or external cyber threats that can result in costly data breaches by implementing the least privilege.

Challenges faced by Privileged access management

Here are the challenges faced by the PAM. They are:

Organizations face significant challenges when it comes to protecting, controlling, and monitoring privileged access, such as:

  • Account credential management: Many IT organizations rely on time-consuming, error-prone administrative processes to rotate and update privileged credentials. This is a potentially inefficient and costly approach.
  • Tracking privileged activity: Many businesses are unable to centrally monitor and control privileged sessions, leaving them vulnerable to cybersecurity threats and compliance violations.
  • Monitoring and analyzing threats: Due to a lack of comprehensive threat analysis tools, many organizations will be unable to proactively detect suspicious activity and identify vulnerabilities in security incidents.
  • Controlling Privileged User Access: Organizations frequently find it difficult to effectively control privileged user access to digital platforms (Infrastructure as a Service and Platform as a Service), Software as a Service (SaaS) applications, social media, and other platforms, posing risk exposures and enhancing production complexity.
  • Safeguarding Windows domain controllers: Cyber attackers can imitate user access and gain access to important IT resources and private information by exploitable security in the Kerberos authentication protocol.

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Why is Cyberak PAM vital for the organization?

  • Humans are the weakest link in your chain. Humans are always the weakest link in the cybersecurity chain, whether it's internal privileged users abusing their level of access or external cyber attackers targeting and stealing privileges from users to operate stealthily as "privileged insiders."Privileged access management assists organizations in ensuring that employees only have the access they need to do their jobs. PAM also enables security teams to detect malicious activities associated with privilege abuse and respond quickly to mitigate risk.
  • Privileges abound in digital business. To collaborate, systems must be able to access and communicate with one another. As organizations embrace cloud, DevOps, robotic process automation, IoT, and other technologies, the number of machines and applications requiring privileged access has increased, as has the attack surface.These non-human organizations greatly outnumber people in a typical organization and are more difficult to monitor and manage – if they can even be identified at all. Commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) apps typically require network access, which attackers can exploit. A solid privileged access management strategy accounts for privileges regardless of where they "live" – on-premises, in the cloud, or in the wild.
  • Endpoints and workstations are the primary targets of cyber attackers. Every endpoint (laptop, smartphone, tablet, desktop, server, etc.) in an enterprise has privilege by default. Built-in administrator accounts allow IT teams to resolve issues locally, but they also pose a significant risk.Attack exploits admin accounts and then move from workstation to workstation, stealing additional credentials, elevating privileges, and moving laterally through the network until they find what they're looking for. To reduce risk, a proactive PAM program should account for the complete removal of local administrative rights on workstations.
  • Compliance requires the use of PAM. The ability to monitor and detect suspicious events in an environment is critical; however, without a clear focus on what poses the most risk – unmanaged, unmonitored, and unprotected privileged access – the business will remain vulnerable.Enforcing PAM as part of a complete security and risk management strategy enables organizations to record and log all activities relating to critical IT infrastructure and sensitive data, thereby simplifying audit and compliance requirements.
  • Organizations that optimize PAM programs and practices of their larger cybersecurity strategy can reap a variety of organizational benefits, including reducing security risks and the overall cyber attack surface, lowering operational complexity and cost, providing insights and situational awareness across the enterprise, and improving compliance requirements.

Best practices of Privileged Access management

The steps that implement also provide a framework for establishing critical PAM controls to enhance an organization's overall security. Enacting a program that utilizes these steps can allow management to reduce risk in less time, safeguard their brand reputation, and meet safety and compliance objectives with lesser existing funds.

  • Remove the possibility of irreversible network takeover attacks. Isolate all privileged access to domain controllers and other Tier 0 and Tier 1 assets and enforce multi-factor authentication.
  • Accounts for infrastructure must be controlled and secured. Place all well-known infrastructure accounts in a digital vault that is centrally managed. Passwords should be rotated on a regular and automatic basis after each use.
  • Reduce lateral movement. To prevent credential theft, remove all end point users from the local admins group on IT Windows workstations.
  • Keep third-party application credentials safe. Vault all privileged accounts used by third-party applications, and do away with hardcoded credentials for commercial off-the-shelf applications.
  • SSH keys for *NIX can be managed. On Linux and Unix, you can store all SSH key pairs in a vault.
  • Keep DevOps secrets safe in the cloud and on-premises. Secure all privileged accounts, keys, and API keys in the Public Cloud. Put all credentials and secrets used by CI/CD tools like Ansible, Jenkins, and Docker in a secure vault where they can be retrieved on the fly, automatically rotated, and managed.
  • Protect SaaS administrators and privileged business users. Restrict all access to shared IDs and enforce multi-factor authentication.
    Invest in Red Team exercises to put defenses to the test on a regular basis. Validate and improve your defenses against real-world threats.

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In the above blog post we had covered all the important things that an organization should maintain for the privileged accounts. We had also learned about the best practices of PAM, PAM challenges, etc in detail. I hope you got enough knowledge, if you find anything not covered, please drop your message in the comments section.

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Saritha Reddy
Saritha Reddy
Research Analyst
A technical lead content writer in HKR Trainings with an expertise in delivering content on the market demanding technologies like Networking, Storage & Virtualization,Cyber Security & SIEM Tools, Server Administration, Operating System & Administration, IAM Tools, Cloud Computing, etc. She does a great job in creating wonderful content for the users and always keeps updated with the latest trends in the market. To know more information connect her on Linkedin, Twitter, and Facebook.