5 Best Practices to Secure Privileged User Accounts

Privileged accounts

Landing on vital business information such as trade secrets, critical customer data base, intellectual properties is a cyber attacker’s jackpot and organizations will go a notch higher to protect and secure this information. Organizations will identify certain key people, and no one in the organization but them, will ever have access to vital business information. In cyber space, this is known as “Privileged Access”. Undeniably, Privileged accounts needs high level of security.

So, we’ve listed top 5 best practices to better secure your privileged accounts.

#1 Layered authentication: typically means (MFA) Multi-Factor Authentication. MFA is an authentication mechanism that validates more than two independent credentials before granting access to the user. The mechanism combines E-mail/SMS OTP, biometrics, challenge-response questions, soft tokens, etc. to make the authentication stringent and secure. Given how privileged accesses are always under the bad actors’ scanner, it is always viable to create multiple barriers that are invariably difficult for a cyber attacker to overcome. It is said using multi-factor authentication blocks 99.9% of account hacks! You may read our blog to know more about benefits of MFA.

#2 Limiting the privilege: privileged accounts should not be accessed by everyone and not everyone NEEDS access to privileged accounts. It is imperative to enforce the Principle of Least Privilege (POLP) to practice limiting of privileged access to the apt users only. For instance, in a team of marketing professionals, the employee who is required to work on the client data base shall be granted access to the CRM system. However, the employee, who is the part of the same team has been assigned duties that does not require him working on the client data base will be denied access to the CRM system. It is said, 49% of organizations don’t have policies for assigning privileged user access. So, under POLP, the privileged accounts become extremely secure by granting right accesses and denying the unwanted ones.

#3 Password manager: undeniably, privileged accounts contain vital business information that should never land in the wrong hands. Such accounts should be secured with better authentication techniques. It would be a grave mistake to create a password for the privileged account and store it on excel or note it down on a piece of paper. Choosing best password managers to manage privileged accounts is always a good idea. A password manager auto-generates a password that is complex and incredibly difficult to hack. Also, every time the user tries to re-access the privileged account, he receives a different auto-generated password. This capability makes password management for privileged accounts very efficient.

#4 Revoke orphan and dormant accounts: an account that no one is using- what harm could such an account possibly cause? well, an inactive account is a hacker’s easy way in. Most often, inactive accounts do not have stringent IT controls and there are no security checks. The attacker can easily break into such an account and avail vital business information, financial documents, or intellectual properties. So, it is important to identify the privileged that are orphan or dormant, revoke them at the earliest and stop the attackers at the entry point.

#5 record user sessions: this is a great practice! Each time the user accesses his privileged account, the session can be recorded. The number of times he typically accesses his account, number of hours spent, tasks executed, tracking suspicious activity, etc. should be recorded. This helps in evaluating the typical user access patterns, making it easy to identify malicious activities. For instance, a privileged user accesses his account not more than twice a week for 20 mins and this activity is duly recorded. The next time, if there is an activity that is different from what is generally recorded- say, three logins for the week- it calls for an immediate action from the security team.

You may either opt for individually implementing these best practices (which, lets admit, is a daunting task), or make privileged access management a lot easier and efficient by benefitting from all the 5 best practices at once!

Deploy Privileged Access Management (PAM) solution

It is inevitable to secure privileged accesses. So, opting a PAM solution over manual implementation of best practices it always viable- no errors, faster implementation, better security, etc.

Generally, should a business wish to deploy a PAM solution, it should be purchased from a separate vendor. However, our product Compact Identity, is the ONLY IAM solution in the world that offers Access management, Identity Governance and Administration, and Privileged Access Management capabilities in a single product!

Drop-in a line at inquiry@ilantus.com and connect with us to understand more about our comprehensive IAM solution.

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