The State Of PAM

16 March, 2023, by Síofra Murtagh

According to the 2021 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, 61% of all data breaches involved stolen or compromised credentials and according to a study by Ponemon Institute, 53% of organisations experienced a credential theft incident in 2020.

The IBM Cost of a Data Breach Report (2021) found that the average cost of a data breach was US$4.26 million with breaches involving compromised credentials having a higher average cost per incident than those breaches caused by other factors.

Additionally, credential theft is likely to result in lost revenue, regulatory fines, reputational damage, lost customer trust and increased scrutiny from regulators and auditors.

Cost of a data breach infographic

The implementation of a strong Privileged Access Management (PAM) solution is one of the key decisions an organisation can take to help control and monitor access to sensitive resources and reduce the risk of credential theft and compromise.

The recent dramatic change from office to remote working as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has also brought the need for a PAM solution into sharp focus. After all, the network perimeter no longer exists as it once did.

But if you think PAM is only for the large-scale organisations, you’d be wrong. Small to medium enterprises (SME) are also rushing to deploy PAM solutions to meet regulatory requirements as well as improve productivity.

The benefits of PAM

PAM tools are a priority when it comes to having a successful line of defence against cyber threats and attacks. PAM is also the main contributor to enabling a zero-trust strategy that goes beyond meeting the requirements set out by auditors. By establishing a zero-trust model you are further securing privileged access, protecting the remote and moving workforce, employees, hardware, software, and data regardless of location.

It is common in many businesses for users to have inappropriate access to shared and individual admin/root accounts. This can be caused by an oversight or an individual retaining past entitlements as they move around an organisation. But, it is precisely these scenarios that are the main cause for users misusing a privileged account which can cause a serious security risk. After all, your employees/co-workers are only human and therefore they can (and will) make mistakes from time-to-time. Having access to privileged accounts that are not required for normal BAU operations is a security risk and is in breach of Zero Standing Privileges (ZSP) policies.

The primary benefits of a PAM solution can be summarised as such:

  • Improved Security: PAM solutions provide a centralised approach to managing and securing privileged accounts, such as those used by system administrators, network engineers, and other IT staff. By controlling access to these accounts, organisations can reduce the risk of data breaches, insider threats, and other security incidents.
  • Increased Compliance: Many regulatory frameworks require organisations to control access to sensitive data and systems. PAM solutions help organisations meet these requirements by providing audit trails, access logs, and other compliance-related features.
  • Enhanced Productivity: PAM solutions can streamline privileged access workflows, enabling IT staff to quickly and easily access the resources they need to do their jobs. This can help reduce downtime and increase overall productivity.
  • Simplified Management: PAM solutions offer a centralised approach to managing privileged accounts, which can help reduce the administrative burden of managing these accounts across multiple systems and applications.
  • Cost Savings: PAM solutions can help organisations reduce the costs associated with managing privileged accounts by providing automation, reducing the risk of security incidents, and increasing productivity.

PAM deployment considerations

Before implementing a Privileged Access Management (PAM) solution, it's important to consider the following factors:

  • Business Needs: First and foremost, it's important to assess your organisation's business needs and identify the specific systems and applications that require privileged access management. Consider the size of your organisation, the number of users that require privileged access, and the level of risk associated with those accounts.
  • Scope: Determine the scope of your PAM implementation. Will it cover all users, systems, and applications or just a subset of them? Will it be implemented across all locations or just a specific region? Having a clear understanding of the scope of your PAM implementation will help ensure that it aligns with your organisation's goals.
  • Integration: Consider how your PAM solution will integrate with your existing IT infrastructure. Will it integrate with your identity and access management (IAM) solution, security information and event management (SIEM) solution, or other security tools? Ensure that the PAM solution integrates seamlessly with your existing systems and processes to avoid any disruptions to your IT operations.
  • User Experience: Consider the user experience of your PAM solution. Will it require additional authentication steps or workflows that may slow down user productivity? It's important to ensure that your PAM solution is easy to use and doesn't create unnecessary barriers to productivity.
  • Training: Ensure that your IT staff receive appropriate training on how to use the PAM solution effectively. This will help ensure that they understand the importance of privileged access management and how to use the solution correctly.
  • Maintenance and Support: Consider the ongoing maintenance and support requirements of your PAM solution. Ensure that you have the necessary resources and expertise to maintain and support the solution over the long term.

Free Maturity Assessment

At Madigan Solutions, we can help organisations assess their cyber-security maturity and readiness for a PAM solution. Arrange a free Maturity Assessment and start your free trial of IBM Security Verify Privilege Vault today.

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