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Managing Privileged Users

Privileged account management refers to the process of controlling and monitoring access to sensitive information and systems by users with elevated/high privileges

Privileged users are individuals who have access to sensitive data or systems, and have the ability to make changes that can affect the security posture of the organisation. Some examples of privileged users include system administrators, network administrators, database administrators, or application superusers.

Businesses need to ensure they manage privileged access, ensuring only those requiring that access level retain it. Even for privileged users access should be granted on the basis of Least Privilege; basically, this means providing users with the minimum amount of access rights they need to do their job and no more.

The benefits of implementing privileged account management include:

  • Enhanced security: By controlling and monitoring access to sensitive information and systems, privileged user management helps to prevent unauthorised access and reduce the risk of data breaches or other security incidents.

  • Visibility and auditing: Privileged user management provides an auditing trail of privileged user activity, making it easier to detect and respond to security incidents.

  • Improved system availability: By controlling access to systems and applications, privileged user management can help to prevent unauthorised changes that can lead to system downtime or other availability issues.

  • Reduced risk of insider threats: By monitoring and controlling access to sensitive information and systems, privileged user management can help to reduce the risk of malicious insiders compromising security.

  • Improved efficiency: By automating the process of granting and revoking privileged access, privileged user management can help to improve efficiency and reduce administrative overhead.

  • Better risk management: By controlling and monitoring access to sensitive systems and data, privileged user management can help organisations better understand and manage their security risks.

  • Better incident response: By having a clear understanding of who has access to sensitive systems and data, incident response teams can more quickly and effectively respond to security incidents.

  • Compliance: Many regulations and standards, such as PCI DSS, HIPAA, and SOX, require organisations to implement privileged user management controls to protect sensitive data.

  • Insurance: Many insurers are now requiring greater management of privileges, as this can significantly reduce the risk of lateral movement.

Whilst privileged users can be managed through manual processes, this becomes increasingly complicated in sprawling estates. Furthermore, monitoring and reviewing that access proves to be difficult as the number of privileged accounts increases.

Businesses should consider implementing Privileged Account Management (PAM) or similar technologies to help manage privileged users, and the associated risks.

It’s important to note that privileged user management should be integrated with other security measures, such as Identity and Access Management (IAM), Security Information and Event Management (SIEM), and Data Loss Prevention (DLP) to provide a comprehensive security posture and better risk management.

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