As Digital Transformation Continues and Enterprises Move More to the Cloud, Data Center Operators are Increasingly Vulnerable
By: Orhan Yildirim
Data centers host industrial control systems that manage power, cooling, safety, security, and other aspects of digital infrastructure that support mission-critical systems, which are increasingly becoming the target of adversaries.
Damage caused by these attacks on data centers is different than the damage caused by more common cyber threats because it can “waterfall” into the supported servers in colocation facilities if security is not managed comprehensively.
While ensuring the availability of services is important to data center operators as they are contractually bound to Service Level Agreements, attacks can have a greater impact on the availability of hosted systems and stored data, which can lead to catastrophic events.
While attackers may be targeting a specific company and their servers, sophisticated criminals understand that the more vulnerable the data center itself, the easier it may be to “tunnel in” to attack hosted services.
Access to critical systems should be tightly controlled, with layers of physical and digital security, restricted based on segmentation, and secure with multi-factor authentication, and of course, Privileged Access Management (PAM) solutions.
Given the increasing complexity of compliance, and the growing risk of data breaches, even as public cloud, hybrid cloud, and multi-cloud solutions are being implemented, businesses of all sizes need support in protecting what they connect, and many count on their data center providers for guidance and solutions.
To combat this new array of potential cyber attackers, data center operators are turning to a Zero Trust security framework model in order to keep both their data and their customers’ data.
Zero Trust is a security framework requiring all users, whether in or outside the organization’s network, to be authenticated, authorized, and continuously validated for security configuration and posture before being granted or keeping access to applications and data. Zero Trust assumes that there is no traditional network edge; networks can be local, in the cloud, or a combination or hybrid with resources anywhere, as well as workers in any location.
This new model is a significant departure from traditional network security, which followed the “trust but verify” method.
However, since Zero Trust is a model where the user/account privileges or permissions in the network are minimized, their access is managed in a controlled manner, and their activities are recorded, this creates the need for an automated system to audit and understand the activities of users on the network.
This is where PAM solutions that leverage the Zero Trust approach can really help to optimize a data center operator’s security.
PAM refers to a class of solutions that help secure, control, manage, and monitor privileged access to critical assets. Privileged access is the gateway to an organization’s most valuable assets, with nearly all advanced cyberattacks exploiting privileged accounts, leading organizations today to recognize the importance of protecting those accounts.
A well-designed PAM software lets you restrict access to sensitive systems, require additional approval processes, force multi-factor authentication for privileged accounts, and quickly rotate all passwords to prevent further access by the attackers.
And when a PAM solution includes all the application methods of the Zero Trust model, the benefits for the companies themselves are quite advantageous.
To start, companies are given the ability to verify authorized users. Businesses can verify the authorized accounts accessing the sensitive data of their institution via the two-factor authentication (2FA) solution, and they can prevent sharing of passwords with single-use (OTP) and complex passwords. By controlling login environments, companies can monitor and record the activities of authorized accounts and authorized users in authorized logins.
Another benefit is that organizations can more efficiently mask their data. Businesses can mask their actual data against the authorized accounts, apps, and third parties, or they can make them work on set-up data without having to make any changes in your actual data. With data masking, an organization can maximize data privacy while meeting the condition of limiting the processes of privileged accounts, according to Zero Trust.
At Ironsphere, we see the potential of combining PAM solutions with Zero Trust access models, which is why we’ve equipped our PAM solutions with the tools necessary to let organizations sufficiently keep out would-be cyber attackers. On top of a Zero Trust model, Ironsphere’s PAM solutions provide monitoring, auditing, tracking, and authentication controls, to prevent unauthorized access to critical systems and privilege misuse.
Ironsphere’s PAM solution is also the fastest to deploy solution in the market due to its smart and modular architecture. It does not require any updates on target servers/ systems or user computers and can be installed as an all-in solution, with capabilities enabled by license upgrade, without any new deployment or integration prerequisites, saving data center operators time and capital.
As the world continues to push forward into a new digital age, the amount of potential cyber threats around the globe is only going to increase.
And as this happens, organizations will seek to end up with a next-gen PAM solution with a Zero Trust framework that will keep it and its employees more secure and support business operations and satisfy ever-changing compliance mandates in an organic and profitable manner.
Data Center operators who understand this and protect their own infrastructure and the valuable assets of their customers will ultimately win.
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