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May 17, 2024

Navigating PAM Challenges in Modern IT Landscapes: A Strategic Overview

With the surge in cyber threats, safeguarding privileged accounts is more critical than ever. PAM strategies must evolve to meet the complexities of modern IT landscapes, where the traditional perimeters have dissolved, and access points have multiplied. This will help highlight how organizations can protect their most sensitive assets against unauthorized access and potential breaches.

The Evolution of Privileged Access Management in Cloud Environments

The shift to cloud computing has significantly transformed the way organizations do privileged access management. In the past, privileged accounts were often confined to on-premise systems with a clear network perimeter. However, with the increase in cloud services, the perimeter has become fluid, and privileged access extends to workstations, servers, databases, and cloud platforms. This has made it imperative for organizations to adopt PAM solutions that are not only concrete but also flexible enough to adapt to the dynamic nature of cloud environments.

It is important to highlight that modern PAM solutions must offer seamless integration with cloud services, providing the same level of security and control that is expected within on-premise environments. This includes the ability to manage access to Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) models effectively.

Moreover, the proliferation of IoT devices and endpoints has expanded the scope of what needs to be secured under PAM. The cloud has made it possible for privileged access to be granted from anywhere, at any time, which underscores the importance of implementing a PAM program that is both comprehensive and cloud-aware.

Key Challenges in PAM Deployment

Managing Unmanaged Privileged Accounts

One of the most pressing issues in PAM deployment is identifying and managing unmanaged privileged accounts. These accounts, often created for temporary purposes or during emergency interventions, can quickly become forgotten or overlooked, leaving them open to exploitation. Organizations must implement processes to discover these accounts, bring them under management, and ensure they are governed by the same policies and controls as standard privileged accounts.

Security Risks Associated with Privileged Service Accounts

Service accounts, which are used by applications and services to interact with other parts of the IT system, often have better privileges. However, they are frequently left with default passwords or granted broad access beyond what is necessary for their function. This makes them a target for attackers seeking to gain privileged access to the network. It is essential for organizations to implement a PAM solution that includes proper management of service accounts, limiting their privileges to the least necessary and monitoring their usage.

Threats from Cybercriminals and Potential Compromises

The increasing sophistication of cybercriminals means that organizations must be vigilant about potential compromises to their privileged accounts. Hackers are continuously developing new techniques to gain unauthorized access, such as phishing attacks aimed at privileged users or exploiting vulnerabilities in the PAM system itself.

PAM Security Controls

Implementing Layers of Security

A multi-layered approach to security is vital when it comes to protecting privileged accounts. This involves deploying a range of defenses such as multi-factor authentication, which adds an additional layer of verification before access is granted, and the principle of least privilege, which ensures users have only the access necessary to perform their job functions. Additionally, session monitoring and recording can deter potential unauthorized activities and provide valuable forensic data in the event of a security incident.

Regular Audits and Compliance Checks

Regular audits and compliance checks are also critical for maintaining the integrity of a PAM system. These checks help to ensure that the right policies are in place and are being followed, that no unauthorized changes have been made to privileged accounts and that all privileged activities are traceable. Regular audits also support compliance with various regulatory standards, which often have specific requirements regarding the management and monitoring of privileged access.

The Role of Cloud Technology in PAM

Benefits of Cloud-Based Solutions

Cloud-based PAM solutions provide scalability, ease of deployment, and cost-effectiveness, making them an attractive option for many organizations. Following are a few of the benefits of cloud-based solutions for privileged access management:

  • Enhancing security and minimizing risks.

  • Efficiently provisioning and managing privileged accounts.

  • Granting access based on the least privilege to prevent unauthorized access.

  • Minimizing risks of exploitation by employees or hackers.

  • Streamlining privilege management processes and enforcing access control.

  • Securing privileged users and their permissions across various devices.

  • Protecting against external threats by safeguarding secrets in the cloud.

  • Holding users accountable for their actions to reduce risks.

  • Simplifying the management of digital identities.

  • Setting standards for secure software installation.

  • Addressing challenges related to admin rights and endpoint security in the IT environment.

Integration Challenges with On-Premise Systems

While cloud-based PAM solutions offer numerous advantages, they can also present integration challenges when used alongside traditional on-premise systems. Ensuring a seamless and secure integration requires careful planning and execution. Organizations must address potential compatibility issues and ensure that policies and controls are consistently applied across both cloud and on-premise environments. This often involves leveraging APIs and other integration tools to create a unified PAM framework that works cohesively regardless of where the resources are located.

PrivX™ Hybrid PAM Solution by SSH Communications Security

If you want to employ a PAM solution that's been backed by all the great practices, consider choosing PrivX™ Hybrid PAM Solution by SSH. The PrivX™ solution is designed to streamline access management without compromising security, ensuring that only authorized personnel have access to critical systems and data. It is built on microservices architecture just like many cloud services so it is an ideal fit for multi-cloud environments needing to perform at cloud speed and scale.

The solution operates on a zero-trust model, where trust is never assumed and verification is always required, regardless of the user’s location or device. This approach not only enhances security but also improves the user experience by facilitating seamless access through just-in-time provisioning and on-demand privileged access.

Jani Virkkula

Currently employed by SSH.COM as Product Marketing Manager, Jani is a mixed-marketing artist with a strong background in operator and cybersecurity businesses. His career path of translator->-tech writer -> marketer allows him to draw inspiration from different sources and gives him a unique perspective on all types...

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