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A Complete Guide To Cyberark Privileged Access Management

A Complete Guide To Cyberark Privileged Access Management

Privileged account management (PAM), sometimes known as privileged access management (PAM), is a security solution that enables organizations to manage and keep an eye on the activities of privileged users, which includes their access to vital business systems and what they may do once signed in. Most businesses classify their systems based on how severe the implications would be if a breach or abuse occurred. 

Based on higher levels of permissions, privileged accounts—like domain admin & networking equipment accounts—provide administrative degrees of access to high-tier systems. Vendors of solutions for privileged access management assist administrators in regulating access to crucial company resources and ensuring the security of these top-tier systems. Critical business systems are protected by this additional security layer, which also promotes improved governance and data legislation compliance.

According to Verizon’s 2020 Data Breach Studies report, over 80% of attacks on computers involve the use of lost or stolen credentials or brute force, and a study conducted by Centrify reported that 74% of data breaches involved access to privileged accounts. In particular, for high-tier, high-risk systems, organizations must keep login credentials safe. 

Vendors of PAM solutions offer this security by keeping the login information for privileged administrative accounts in a secured repository, lowering the likelihood of those credentials being compromised. Users must go through an authentication process to access these credentials, which records their access to the account. 

Organizations can see who is logging into which accounts and where they are coming from due to this process, which makes it easier for them to keep an eye out for any suspicious or possibly harmful behavior, internally as well as externally.

What is CyberArk?

Privilege account management (PAM) is the area of expertise of Israel-based security company CyberArk. Providing a safe vault and automatic access control, helps organizations in protecting their confidential information from hackers and other threats. Organizations can defend against, discover, and respond to privileged attacks with CyberArk, and they can also implement the majority of minor privilege restrictions throughout their whole network. Threat analysis, intelligence, and other security services are also provided by CyberArk to assist organizations in recognizing, detecting, and countering privileged security risks.

What is Cyberark Privileged access management?

Companies utilize privileged access management (PAM) to protect against the risks presented by identity theft and privilege abuse. PAM is an effective security strategy that combines people, processes, and technology to manage, safeguard, and audit all privileged identities & activities in a business IT environment, including both human and non-human ones.

PAM is founded on the idea of least privilege, which asserts that users should only have the access necessary to carry out their job tasks. PAM is often referred to as privileged identity management (PIM) or privileged access security (PAS). A crucial method of securing privileged access to highly valuable data and assets is to adhere to the principle of least privilege, which is generally accepted as a best practice in cybersecurity. By using the least privilege policy, businesses can decrease the attack surface and the danger of internal threats or external cyber threats that could lead to expensive data breaches.

CyberArk Components

CyberArk Components offer a comprehensive suite of tools and technologies designed to safeguard your organization’s critical digital assets from internal and external threats. From protecting privileged credentials to monitoring and managing privileged accounts, CyberArk Components provide the necessary layers of security to keep your sensitive data safe.

Privileged Access Security (PAS)

At the heart of CyberArk's solution is Privileged Access Security, an enterprise-grade platform that focuses on securing privileged credentials, accounts, and secrets. PAS consists of several key components that work in harmony to protect your organization's most valuable assets:

Privileged Session Manager (PSM)

PSM enables secure remote access to critical systems and applications without exposing passwords or credentials. It establishes a secure proxy between privileged users and target systems, ensuring that all interactions are closely monitored and controlled.

Credential Vault

This secure repository acts as a digital vault for storing and managing privileged credentials, such as passwords, SSH keys, and API keys. By centralizing access to sensitive information, the Credential Vault minimizes the risk of unauthorized access.

Application Identity Manager (AIM)

AIM ensures the secure management and rotation of application-to-application credentials. By eliminating hard-coded credentials from applications and automating password management, AIM reduces the risk of credential theft and abuse.

Privileged Threat Analytics (PTA)

PTA employs advanced analytics and machine learning algorithms to detect and respond to potential threats in real time. By analyzing user behavior and monitoring privileged sessions, PTA helps identify suspicious activities and proactively mitigates risks.

Endpoint Privilege Manager (EPM)

Endpoint Privilege Manager is designed to secure privileged access at the endpoint level, including workstations, servers, and other devices. EPM offers the following key components:

Application Control

By whitelisting trusted applications and preventing unauthorized software from running, Application Control reduces the attack surface and prevents malware from compromising critical systems.

Privilege Elevation and Delegation

EPM enables granular control over privilege escalation, ensuring that users have the necessary privileges to perform their tasks without granting excessive access. It also facilitates the secure delegation of privileges to specific individuals or groups.

File Integrity Monitoring (FIM)

FIM continuously monitors critical files and directories for any unauthorized changes. This helps detect and respond to malicious activities that attempt to modify or manipulate sensitive data.

Core Privileged Access Security

In addition to the above components, CyberArk offers a range of core capabilities that enhance the overall security posture of your organization:

Discovery and Audit

CyberArk's solution provides comprehensive visibility into privileged accounts and credentials across your IT infrastructure. Through automated discovery and periodic audits, you can identify potential security gaps and take corrective actions.

Workflow and Automation

Streamline privileged access workflows and enforce security policies with CyberArk's robust automation capabilities. From request and approval processes to privileged session management, automation reduces human errors and enhances operational efficiency.

Integration and API

CyberArk integrates seamlessly with other security solutions and IT infrastructure components through a well-defined set of APIs. This allows you to leverage existing investments and create an integrated security ecosystem.

Why Use a Privileged Access Management (PAM) Solution?

In the digital age, protecting sensitive information and critical systems from unauthorized access has become a top priority for organizations. Let’s see the importance of utilizing a PAM solution and highlight the key reasons why organizations should implement one.

Protecting Critical Assets

One of the primary reasons to use a PAM solution is to protect critical assets. Privileged accounts, such as those used by system administrators or executives, have extensive access rights that, if compromised, can lead to data breaches, system disruptions, and financial losses. PAM solutions ensure that access to these accounts is tightly controlled, minimizing the risk of unauthorized access and reducing the attack surface for potential breaches.

Mitigating Insider Threats

Insider threats, whether intentional or accidental, pose a significant risk to organizations. Employees with privileged access may abuse their privileges or inadvertently cause harm through negligence. A PAM solution helps mitigate these risks by implementing granular access controls, monitoring and recording privileged activities, and enforcing the principle of least privilege. By restricting access and closely monitoring privileged users, organizations can prevent insider threats and quickly detect and respond to any suspicious behavior.

Complying with Regulatory Requirements

Compliance with industry regulations and data protection laws is crucial for organizations across various sectors. Many regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), require organizations to implement adequate controls over privileged access. By deploying a PAM solution, organizations can demonstrate compliance with these regulations by enforcing strong authentication, audit trails, and access controls.

Enhancing Operational Efficiency

Beyond security benefits, a PAM solution can enhance operational efficiency. Manual management of privileged accounts can be time-consuming and error-prone, often resulting in lost productivity and increased risks. PAM solutions automate privileged account lifecycle management, including password changes, access requests, and provisioning, streamlining processes and reducing administrative burden. Additionally, by providing secure remote access and session recording capabilities, PAM solutions enable efficient troubleshooting and auditing of privileged sessions.

Safeguarding Against External Threats

External threats, such as hackers and cybercriminals, constantly target organizations to gain access to privileged accounts. A PAM solution acts as a robust defense mechanism, protecting against external threats by implementing strong authentication, access controls, and privileged session monitoring. With features like real-time threat analytics and anomaly detection, PAM solutions can quickly identify and respond to suspicious activities, preventing unauthorized access attempts.

What exactly are Privilege Credentials?

Privileged credentials, often known as privileged passwords, are a subset of credentials that grant increased access and permissions across accounts, systems, and applications. Privileged passwords can be connected to users, applications, services, and other types of accounts. SSH keys are one kind of privileged credential that is utilized by businesses to access servers and create access points to extremely sensitive assets.

Sometimes, especially within DevOps contexts, privileged credentials can be referred to as “secrets.”

As superuser passwords can grant the authenticated user practically infinite privileged access rights over an organization’s most important systems and data, privileged passwords for accounts are frequently referred to as “the keys to the IT kingdom.” These privileges are ripe for misuse by insiders and are greatly sought after by hackers because of the immense power they entail. According to Forrester Research, privileged credentials are used in 80% of security breaches.

How Privileged Access Management (PAM) is implemented

PAM processes that are manual and in their infancy make it difficult for organizations to manage privilege risk. To increase security and compliance, automated, enterprise-class PAM solutions may grow across hundreds of thousands of privileged users, accounts, and assets. The best systems can streamline procedures to significantly lower administrative complexity while automating discovery, management, and monitoring to close any gaps in privileged account/credential coverage.

An organization’s ability to reduce the attack surface, mitigate the effects of attacks (by hackers, insiders, and malware), improve operational performance, and lower the risk of user mistakes will increase with the automation and maturity of its privilege management solution.

PAM vs. Identity Management

PAM and identity and access management are frequently mixed up. Despite some overlap, identity management includes all users who need access to a system, whereas PAM is only concerned with accounts with privileged or administrative access. Organizations can verify and authorize general access for their employees, partners, and clients thanks to identity management.

Companies should investigate implementing privileged access & identity management to guarantee the best level of security and usability. PAM solutions protect against smaller, more valuable attack surfaces, whereas identity management systems protect against bigger surfaces for attack within the organization’s network.

Challenges Faced by Privileged Access Management

Privileged Access Management (PAM) plays a critical role in securing organizations’ most sensitive assets. However, implementing and maintaining an effective PAM solution comes with its own set of challenges.

Complexity of IT Environments

One significant challenge in implementing PAM is the complexity of modern IT environments. Organizations often have a wide array of systems, applications, and platforms, each with its own set of privileged accounts and access requirements. Managing and securing these diverse environments can be challenging, especially when dealing with legacy systems or hybrid cloud environments. It is essential to have a comprehensive understanding of the IT landscape and employ flexible PAM solutions that can adapt to the complexity of the organization's infrastructure.

Lack of Visibility and Inventory

Gaining visibility into privileged accounts is crucial for effective PAM. However, many organizations struggle with a lack of awareness regarding the number and location of privileged accounts and credentials within their IT environment. This lack of visibility can hinder the ability to implement appropriate security controls and increase the risk of unauthorized access. Conducting a thorough inventory and discovery process is essential to identify all privileged accounts and establish a baseline for PAM implementation.

Balancing Security and Productivity

Striking the right balance between security and productivity is a persistent challenge in PAM implementation. While strong security measures, such as least privilege access, can reduce the risk of unauthorized access, they can also impede user productivity if not properly managed. Finding the right balance involves implementing granular access controls, just-in-time privilege elevation, and robust approval workflows. It is crucial to involve stakeholders from both the security and operational teams to ensure that security measures do not hinder business operations.

Integration and Complexity

PAM implementation often involves integrating with existing IT infrastructure components, such as Identity and Access Management (IAM) systems, SIEM solutions, and ticketing systems. Integrating these components can be complex, as it requires seamless data exchange, standardized protocols, and proper configuration. Compatibility issues, data inconsistencies, and limited interoperability can pose challenges during integration. Careful planning, involving experts in PAM implementation, and leveraging established integration frameworks can help overcome these challenges.