Privileged Accounts

Introduction

Not all users may have equal access and rights on a server, network, application, or computer system. Some may have more powers and authority over the system than other users who are provided with only the resources and applications required to complete their given tasks. For instance, some users may have the right to delete or modify applications from the system, change roles for other users, or allocate new resources to existing resources. The account used by such users are known as privileged accounts, and these accounts are managed by Privileged Account Management (PAM).

Definition

As hinted previously, privileged accounts are certain user accounts that have particular rights and access that are not provided to other user accounts. They may also have access to applications and resources that may not be available to everyone on that server system.

Steps to protect a privileged account

Protection of privileged accounts is critical as such accounts have access to resources and data which may be scarcely available, and thus, such accounts are often ‘goldmines’ for cyberattackers. IT admins often protect such accounts through several methods, such as:

  1. Automatic investigation and discovery tool: This software automatically recognizes all privileged users and what they have access to. If the admins recognise any suspicious behaviour on these accounts, they may automatically discover if the account is being misused and can tackle the proliferation of such accounts.  
  2. Store privileged account in a digital vault: This eases the administrative job for IT professionals. When all accounts are consolidated in one place, the IT admins can deploy certain protective measures and layered security to protect all privileged account at once.
  3. Multi-factor authentication: As per data, strong multi-factor authentication can prevent almost all cyberattacks. In enterprises, using multi-factor authentication for employees and third parties to access resources above their access level would reassure restricted access, which is only available to privileged accounts.

Who can have?

Privileged accounts are not for everyone and are often provided to individuals who hold a certain authority in the enterprise, such as CEO, CFO, CMO, managers, etc. For regular applications, users can pay for having higher benefits and upgrade their accounts to privileged accounts to access certain resources which are not available in normal circumstances.

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