Simplify Compliance by Implementing PAM

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September 2020

By: Orhan Yildirim

Regulatory compliance is becoming harder, and IT security teams responsible for protecting networks, systems, data, and other assets are being hard-pressed to keep up with increasingly strict regulations, which are in place for all the right reasons – but can be daunting.

By implementing a quality Privileged Access Management (PAM) solution, enterprises and organizations can address multiple needs in a unified and efficient way.

Not only can overburdened IT teams protect what they connect, but they can prove regulatory compliance by automating more controls and being able to generate alerts, reports, and audit materials, should their organization face a regulatory review.

Demonstrating that quality IT-related internal software and solutions are minimizing the risk of data loss and data breaches improve day-to-day operations while also addressing regulatory requirements.

IT security compliance for ISO/ IEC 27001 is a solid, proven framework for IT compliance. While the objectives articulated in ISO / IEC 27001 are vast, they still only represent a percentage of what is needed for a modern cybersecurity posture. They are a great start. 

ISO/IEC 27001 is an information security management standard published by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). 

ISO 27001 is used by organizations worldwide more than any other to establish, implement, maintain, assess, and continually improve a robust Information Security Management System (ISMS). Specifically, the standard identifies the requirements for establishing a framework for meeting an organization’s information security objectives. Among the requirements it specifies are leadership commitment, an information security policy, and the official assignment of information security roles.

ISO 27001 requires organizations to derive their own set of control requirements, based at least in part on a risk assessment, to ensure implementation of all its ISMS requirements. 

ISO/IEC 27001 requires that management: 

  • Systematically examine the organization’s information security risks, taking account of the threats, vulnerabilities, and impact.
  • Design and implement a coherent and comprehensive suite of information security controls and/or other forms of risk treatment (such as risk avoidance or risk transfer) to address those risks that are deemed unacceptable; and
  • Adopt an overarching management process to ensure that the information security controls continue to meet the organization’s information security needs on an ongoing basis.

PAM is a first line of defense for enterprises and organizations because it allows for the granular control of privileged access, including the least privileged. 

PAM is a cybersecurity domain within Identity and Access Management (IAM) that focuses on monitoring and controlling privileged users and privileged accounts within an organization. 

Who are privileged users?

In an organization, privileged users have access to IT and network infrastructure for operation and administration purposes or have access to sensitive information or assets, such as customer records, employees’ payroll, and financial records. Sample privileged users are:

  • System, database, and application administrators who have continuous and unrestricted access to a broad range of assets
  • Help desk agents who have restricted access to a broad range of assets
  • Business Application (e.g., ERM, Salesforce) users or users of an organization’s social media (e.g., LinkedIn, Twitter) accounts
  • Nonemployees such as vendor support, consultants, contractors 

Why is PAM critical for an organization? 

Privileged users access an organization’s critical systems, resources, and assets using elevated or unrestricted accounts, i.e., privileged accounts. These accounts include local and domain administrative accounts, service accounts, emergency accounts, application accounts, and are referred to as “the keys to the kingdom.” They are primary targets of both external and internal malicious users and have been used in successful attacks to gain access to an organization’s critical systems and resources, resulting in data breaches or service outages that have material business impact. So, privileged accounts are a potential source of threats to the security posture of any organization because of their elevated/unrestricted access to critical systems and sensitive information.

What are the common capabilities of PAM solutions? 

PAM solutions provide monitoring, auditing, tracking, and authentication controls to prevent unauthorized access to critical systems and privilege misuse. Common capabilities are: 

  • Audit trails and reports to meet regulatory compliance mandates
  • Privileged Account Management (e.g., discovery of system/service accounts, securely storing and randomizing such passwords, including making them invisible to users)
  • Event logging (e.g., access requests, logins, added/deleted users or systems)
  • Session recording (e.g., video records of sessions, key stoke logging, command logging)
  • Least Privilege Management (who can access which systems and under what restrictions)
  • Integration with Enterprise Applications (e.g., Active Directory, Asset Inventory, IT service management, 2-Factor-Authentication) 

Ironsphere is providing support to many of the world’s largest and most mission-critical enterprises, government agencies, service providers, systems integrators, and cloud platforms, and as regulatory requirements become more robust because our architecture is built “from the cloud up,” we are able to help our customers respond to new requirements, including the ability to not only ensure compliance but report on precisely what is being done and what activities have been identified and resolved using our advanced software platform.

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