The importance of implementing privileged access management (PAM) is undeniable. A user with privileged access holds the keys to the kingdom, access to the highly valuable and confidential information that is often targeted by cybercriminals and malicious insiders. In fact, Gartner listed PAM as the No. 1 project for security teams to explore in 2018.

“This project is intended to make it harder for attackers to access privileged accounts and should allow security teams to monitor behaviors for unusual access,” Gartner advises.

PAM tools are critically important and must work together with identity governance, authentication, and application, network and cloud security. But how are organizations doing with actually implementing PAM solutions?

Thycotic, a PAM provider and partner of IBM Security, released its “2018 Global State of Privileged Access Management Risk and Compliance” report earlier this year. The report revealed that privileged credentials are at great risk due to inadequate policies, poorly executed process and insufficient controls. There are major risk and compliance gaps in how organizations manage and secure their privileged accounts and access to sensitive systems, infrastructure and data. While most organizations acknowledge the important role PAM plays in their cybersecurity posture, a shocking 70 percent of organizations would fail an access controls audit, putting their privileged credentials at high risk.


Establish Consistent Access Control Processes

Organizations must develop consistent processes when granting access for employees to handle privileged accounts and passwords securely. This ensures that access is gained properly for privileged users. Without implementing consistent, repeatable access control processes, such as rotating passwords, enabling and revoking access, and making it easier to create risk and compliance reports, the organization is at risk.

As stated in the Thycotic report, 70 percent of organizations fail to fully discover privileged accounts, and 40 percent do nothing at all to discover these accounts. You cannot secure and manage what you do not know you have. Privileged accounts are often unknown, unmanaged and unprotected due to manual processes or error. There must be an established privileged account discovery process in place.

Audit and Track User Behavior

As Gartner noted, security teams should be able to monitor user behavior for unusual access. This is crucial, especially when it comes to privileged access. According to the Thycotic report, 63 percent of organizations do not track and alert on failed login attempts for privileged accounts.

All critical systems should have full audit logs to track logins and activities. Access to audit logs should be restricted, and they should be checked regularly and monitored for changes. Without auditing and tracking, there is no accountability for who is using these accounts and no way to properly analyze an incident and mitigate its damage.

Take Control of Your Privileged Access Management

Don’t get left in the dust. Build a proactive PAM program that doesn’t fall short on policies, processes and controls. A leading privileged access management solution should protect privileged accounts from cybercriminals and insider threats, help ensure compliance with evolving regulations, and give authorized employees access to the tools and information they need to drive productivity. Lastly, it should protect privileged accounts from misuse and enable organizations to enforce least privilege policies and control applications to reduce their attack surface.

Learn more about IBM Security Privilege Manager

More from Identity & Access

Kronos Malware Reemerges with Increased Functionality

The Evolution of Kronos Malware The Kronos malware is believed to have originated from the leaked source code of the Zeus malware, which was sold on the Russian underground in 2011. Kronos continued to evolve and a new variant of Kronos emerged in 2014 and was reportedly sold on the darknet for approximately $7,000. Kronos is typically used to download other malware and has historically been used by threat actors to deliver different types of malware to victims. After remaining…

An IBM Hacker Breaks Down High-Profile Attacks

On September 19, 2022, an 18-year-old cyberattacker known as "teapotuberhacker" (aka TeaPot) allegedly breached the Slack messages of game developer Rockstar Games. Using this access, they pilfered over 90 videos of the upcoming Grand Theft Auto VI game. They then posted those videos on the fan website GTAForums.com. Gamers got an unsanctioned sneak peek of game footage, characters, plot points and other critical details. It was a game developer's worst nightmare. In addition, the malicious actor claimed responsibility for a…

What is the Future of Password Managers?

In November 2022, LastPass had its second security breach in four months. Although company CEO Karim Toubba assured customers they had nothing to worry about, the incident didn’t inspire confidence in the world’s leading password manager application. Password managers have one vital job: keep your sensitive login credentials secret, so your accounts remain secure. When hackers compromise these software applications, the entire industry of identity and access management (IAM) takes notice. As an alliance of tech giants leads a global push…

Beware of What Is Lurking in the Shadows of Your IT

This post was written with contributions from Joseph Lozowski. Comprehensive incident preparedness requires building out and testing response plans that consider the possibility that threats will bypass all security protections. An example of a threat vector that can bypass security protections is “shadow IT” and it is one that organizations must prepare for. Shadow IT is the use of any hardware or software operating within an enterprise without the knowledge or permission of IT or Security. IBM Security X-Force responds…