Privileged Access Management (PAM) gives security teams the functionality, automation and reporting they need to help protect against internal threats. It helps ensure that account privileges are assigned based on the need to do the job and removed when the person leaves the organization or changes roles.
This includes multifactor authentication to verify user identity and limit users’ access to applications or systems. These measures help prevent data breaches and financial losses caused by cyberattacks or human error.
A well-developed access management policy can significantly mitigate cyberattacks. It ensures that only the right, authorized people or processes can access specific data or systems. This is important because hackers constantly try to access business systems and data through brute force, phishing attacks, stolen credentials, or malware. It can also be easier to identify and prevent these threats with a robust Identity and access management solution.
The primary function of access management is authentication, which helps to verify that the person or process attempting to gain access is who they claim to be. This can be done through passwords, biometrics, multifactor authentication, or zero-trust architecture. IAM solutions also help businesses implement these policies by providing tools for requiring regular password updates, implementing MFA and other security measures, and offering role-based access control.
Once the authentication process is complete, access can then be granted. This is done based on the user’s access privileges and roles set by an administrator. Access privileges should be reviewed regularly and revoked as needed.
While a solid access management policy can make it more difficult for hackers to attack a business, cybersecurity professionals must also find ways to balance security and usability. For example, requiring frequent password changes or other security measures can be inconvenient for workers who may not want to take the time to update their credentials. To avoid this issue, CIOs must work with business leaders to understand their specific requirements and develop a plan for addressing them.
A cyberattack can be as easy as obtaining a password or pin, so access control is one of the most important elements in securing data. Passwords, key cards, security tokens and biometric scans can all be used to verify identity. Still, with a multifactor authentication (MFA) system, the user isn’t permitted access until the credentials are verified using multiple methods.
Once a person’s identity is authenticated, access control authorizes them to view or update the necessary data. This ensures that users don’t get more than they need and prevents the unauthorized downloading or distribution of data. It’s also crucial for remote work, allowing employees to be productive on the go without returning to their office and using a different device.
There are two primary forms of access control: Discretionary Access Control (DAC) and Mandatory Access Control (MAC). DAC is a self-governing system where the owner or administrator decides who can access data, resources and systems. MAC is more centralized, where access rights are regulated by a central authority based on levels of security clearance, and is commonly found in government and military environments. Both can be managed with a centralized access management system, streamlining the process and keeping records up-to-date when users change jobs or roles.
The access management component of identity and access management (IAM) enables businesses to control how users interact with the company’s IT systems. This helps protect digital assets from cyberattacks, reduce data breaches and mitigate the severity of those attacks that do occur.
This can be done by ensuring that each user is granted the same privileges they need to perform their role without giving them access to sensitive information they don’t need. It’s a scalable approach to permissions known as Role-Based Access Control (RBAC).
An effective IAM system can also monitor user activities and prevent users from logging in to systems they shouldn’t. This is achieved through logging and alerting capabilities which identify suspicious or potentially unauthorized activity and take action to ensure the integrity of systems.
IAM solutions also allow for Single Sign-On (SSO), which improves the user experience by enabling them to access all apps and systems with a single set of credentials. This eliminates risky practices like writing passwords down or using the same login for multiple applications and helps reduce password sprawl, a common cause of security breaches. It also enables companies to meet GDPR compliance by implementing a record of who has been doing what and when. This helps reassure auditors that policies like least privilege by default are being enforced.
Data breaches often happen because someone — whether a malicious hacker or employee — gains access to secure systems and information. And although the news of data breaches invariably paints businesses in a negative light, they can be avoided, and their severity mitigated by strong cybersecurity practices.
One of the most important parts of any security policy is establishing clear reporting, especially for cyber incidents. By having clear reports on a business’s security, teams can make more informed decisions about their IT infrastructure.
Reporting is also essential for detecting suspicious activity within the network. For example, if your IT managers monitor network traffic and spot something fishy, they can immediately flag this behavior. This way, they can stop hackers from stealing credentials and then using those stolen credentials to gain access to sensitive company information.
As cyberattacks become more sophisticated, businesses need to adopt best practices to prevent these attacks and minimize the impact if they occur. Strong access management policies are an excellent place to start, and working with a managed service provider can help you implement these tools and establish a zero-trust architecture. This can be done through password vault solutions, multifactor authentication and other low-hanging fruit that will help harden your cybersecurity posture.