Privileged Account Monitoring (PAM)

Introduction

First and foremost, why do privileged accounts need to be monitored at all times? A simple answer to this question is the protection of data. The ‘privilege’ in privilege accounts refers to greater authority and access to a pool of data that is not available to all users under normal circumstances. Greater access makes such privileged accounts highly valuable for cyberattackers. Cracking into a privileged account would give them entrance to the enterprise’s database. In other words, every cybercriminal’s dream goldmine is a privileged account. Therefore, privileged account monitoring is deployed to ensure users working with privileged accounts do not step into false traps or carry out dangerous activities.

Definition

Privileged accounts are accounts with a high degree of access to resources and data. Privileged account(user) monitoring (PUM) aids enterprises in enabling such accounts to function under the compliance requirements and verify third-party and internal activities that could pose a threat.

Best Practices for Privileged Account Monitoring

  • Always monitor completely:

Monitoring privileged accounts could be expensive (due to storing monitoring data in clouds for better assessment)  for enterprises. The cost is directly proportional to the number of accounts that need to be watched. This is why IT departments only partially monitor privileged accounts. This allows the cyberattackers to attack when the privileged accounts are most vulnerable.

  • Ban shadow admins:

Shadow admins are accounts assigned by privileged accounts with almost similar or slightly lower rights and access. These accounts are often not monitored and could be potential targets for cyberattackers. Organizations must ban shadow admins as it becomes easy prey, and protecting these accounts would increase costs.

  • Implement strong authentication processes:

In previous times privileged users used simple passwords and usernames to sign into their accounts. New concepts such as SSO services and multi-factor authentication provide better protection for such accounts in recent times. However, as it is an optional protection service, many privileged users tend to avoid it out of lethargy which compromises the security. Thus, enterprises must make it an obligatory implementation that must be maintained regularly.

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