How to Build a Privileged Access Management Program

Privileged Access Management (PAM) is a popular term in the world of cybersecurity as it pertains to protecting an organization’s attack surface. This can be…

Privileged Access Management (PAM) helps prevent cyber-attacks

Privileged Access Management (PAM) is a popular term in the world of cybersecurity as it pertains to protecting an organization’s attack surface. This can be threats from external sources, or internal malicious behavior and/or negligence.

With PAM, organizations can limit rights and permissions for the following:

  • Users
  • Accounts
  • Applications
  • Systems
  • Devices

Even with a PAM system in place, organizations may still be at risk if they don’t have proper secure remote access solutions in place that integrate with PAMs. By integrating the two, organizations can close the gaps that present the biggest security threats, especially in organizations that partner with third-party vendors from around the globe, and on numerous devices. With proper protection, IT departments are better equipped to perform well and support their organization.

To build a solid PAM strategy, it helps to know what challenges you may face so that you can choose the best remote support solutions for your organization. We’re here to help outline what to consider when building your privileged access management system so that you can effectively establish the controls you need to grant proper access from anywhere.

Security Challenges for IT Departments

It’s important to have identity and access management (IAM) to ensure that users are who they say they are. But how do organizations control who gets access to what securely? This is a common challenge for IT professionals who are constantly monitoring and troubleshooting cybersecurity issues within an organization. Here are a few of the most common challenges IT departments face when dealing with privileged access.

Giving Proper Access to Third-Party Vendors

Organizations that partner with third-party vendors for a variety of needs are often most at-risk for a security breach. Vendors may be consultants or service providers who need some level of access, but not necessarily the privileged access that an administrator does.

Recording Remote Privileged Sessions Securely

To help monitor the activities of users, it’s important to record and store certain privileged sessions securely. This especially important for auditing and compliance purposes. For example, the credit card industry is all too familiar with stringent compliance methods. Without these types of controls, IT departments can struggle to find the information they need when a security breach is detected.

Preventing Improper Sharing

A common issue that IT departments face is improper sharing of accounts, such as multiple people at the same vendor using a shared username and password. This may lead to information ending up in the wrong hands or vulnerable access points within a system.

Creating a PAM That is Scalable

One of the challenges for fast-growing organizations is how to manage cybersecurity threats as they expand. More users may mean more vulnerable systems. Having secure remote privileged access solutions ensures extra security and support as a company grows.

Tools for Building a Privileged Access Management System

At the core of any effective cybersecurity plan is the concept of Zero Trust: “A security concept centered on the belief that organizations should not automatically trust anything inside or outside its perimeters and instead must verify anything and everything trying to connect to its systems before granting access.”

To adhere to Zero Trust principles and architecture, organizations need privileged access management controls that can integrate with remote access software. This allows IT teams to make sure users can only access things they are authorized to access – no matter where they connect from.

What’s the best way to build a robust, effective PAM system? The following sections outline a few of the ways remote access software can bolster privileged access management.

Prevent Hackers from Altering Audit Logs

Audit logs are incredibly important when it comes to uncovering what’s happened in the event of a security breach. You are able to reveal what was done, what was accessed, and how it happened so one could report it to all regulatory agencies, if needed.

With Impero Connect, you can use an unalterable audit log feature to ensure that the audit log of remote access activity cannot be modified or erased by a hacker to cover their tracks.

In addition, all portal-based activities can be combined with Impero’s screen recording capabilities. This allows a technician’s remote session to be recorded and used for training purposes, giving the organization valuable information about how to troubleshoot potential future complications. This gives organizations the benefit of security along with regulatory compliance.

If your organization operates under government regulations like the food and drug industry, it is required to keep audit logs to show that your organization is using data responsibly and complying with regulations. The following are rules for audit trails:

  • Audit trail recordings must be automated
  • Audit trails can’t be edited: no user has the ability to change a stores audit trail
  • Audit trails need to be archived as long as required by regulatory bodies
  • Audit trails must be time-stamped by a clock that cannot be changed

Audit trails should also include the following information:

  • User ID that matches with an actual person
  • Time and Date stamp
  • Link to the record
  • Original value and new value

Audit logs are an important aspect of the accountability systems that organizations need in order to protect information and remain compliant. Trying to source these different functions through different software can result in costly inconsistencies, which is why it’s important to choose remote access software that can seamlessly integrate with privileged access management tools.

Specify and Verify Users with Multi-Factor Authentication

One of the keys to providing the best cybersecurity is to authenticate that all users who are trying to gain privileged access are who they say they are. The most secure way to do this is using multi-factor authentication. A secure remote access tool should make authentication both simple and effective, so it’s critical to integrate with Active Directory and other directory services. Impero Connect goes further with closed user groups, MAC / IP address filtering, callback verification and end-user approval to make sure access is controlled and verified.

Going even further, these integrations allow for multi-factor authentication through SMS tokens, soft tokens, and challenge-based tokens.

Impero Connect includes MFA support and allows organizations the most granular access controls on the market, based around:

  • User role
  • Location
  • IP address
  • Whitelisted application
  • Time of day

With these controls in a centralized dashboard, IT security teams have a remote access tool that can support the most stringent PAM protocols.

In addition to compliance, remote access software with role-based access controls allows organizations to define users’ rights on a granular level and allows user rights to be controlled across the network rather than on each device. This allows IT departments to work more efficiently while feeling confident in the security of the systems they manage.

Limit Program Usage with Application Whitelisting

Simply put, application whitelisting limits which programs a given user or class of user (role level) can run. In contrast to a blacklist that simply lists known malware, whitelisting prevents threats from taking root, especially when there are numerous network devices.

Privileged access management is common amongst organizations that work with vendors, which is a perfect way to integrate application whitelisting. It controls all vendor access, dramatically reducing security threats. Application whitelisting allows the IT team to tightly control what each vendor can access.

While most remote access solutions allow you to define which devices or network segments a vendor can use, Impero Connect can narrow it down even further: imagine that for each vendor you work with, your IT team can define precisely which specific applications a person or role at that vendor can use.

This ensures that even if the third-party provider is hijacked by a malicious actor who tries to use their access credentials, they can’t get a foothold in your network. It would be impossible for the hacker to get past the solitary application the vendor had been approved to access, which would keep any threat contained.

Configure Remote Access to Your Business

Every business is different, which is the benefit of using remote access software like Impero Connect. It’s built to fit each business’ unique needs rather than taking a cookie-cutter approach that doesn’t serve the nuances of different businesses.

Remote access solutions don’t take the place of privileged access management but integrate with it to create a highly effective, streamlined security system. It’s important that organizations feel like they have control, which is why remote access solutions integrate with current directory services and authentication systems. Using the system of your choice allows you to set guidelines and permissions that are unique to your organization.

Impero Connect is designed to manage every aspect of remote security rather than relying on multiple tools. This avoids a siloed approach to cybersecurity that can be confusing and ultimately, may lead to costly breaches. If you’re curious about how remote access software can boost your organization’s current privileged access management tools, contact an Impero representative to learn more and receive a free trial.

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