Privileged Access Management — what is it and why is it so important?

Distributed structure, using global teams or teleworking employees are the reality faced by a growing number of companies. One of the challenges faced by companies is the need to ensure data integrity and privileged account protection. The Privileged Access Management is really helpful in this respect.

Companies on the hackers’ target more and more often

Cybercriminals more and more frequently attack individual users or the largest corporations on the market online. Their target is mostly small and medium-sized companies which oftentimes marginalize the security aspects or use inappropriate protections. To increase their chances to reach any data which should be unreachable to them, cybercriminals learn the company structure and identify the people who will be the target before the attack. Frequently, those are e.g. system administrators. The idea is to obtain the maximum possible privileges and reach data which will be valuable for the company for some reason. An example can be the personal data of customers, the theft of which may bring about not only serious legal issues but, first and foremost, irreparable reputation loss.

It is known that despite advanced access protection solutions offered by companies (e.g. the Privileged Access Management), not all market entities are able to protect themselves successfully from cyberattacks or employees acting to the company’s detriment. Only in 2018,

  • the Orbitz portal for booking flights and hotels informed that unauthorised people could gain access to the data of 880,000 customers’ credit cards which were kept on its platform,
  • Adidas informed that an American e-shop held by it was attacked which made the data of millions of customers available to unauthorised parties (including personal data, usernames, enciphered passwords),
  • Also the American mobile network called T-mobile fell prey to the attack consisting in obtaining unauthorised access. As a result of this incident, unauthorised people could get access to the personal data of ca. 2 million customers.

How can business organisations protect themselves from data loss as a result of internal and external actions? One method is to use the Privileged Access Management and Identity & Access Management.

What is the Privileged Access Management?

The Privileged Access Management (PAM) solutions are aimed at protecting and controlling access to the privileged users’ resources (e.g. the administrator). In other words, PAM (including the below-mentioned IAM) is an important component of the security architecture as it hinders the cybercriminals’ actions once they take over access to the privileged accounts. Using the PAM solution enables to secure and also monitor those areas and resources of key importance for the company operations on an ongoing basis. There is also no risk that e.g. the company administrators will retain access to the passwords after they leave the company. In this case one of the major roles is played by a deep privilege control and the ability to delete unused accounts systematically to minimise the risk that they will be used to attack the infrastructure.

Also the Identity & Access Management (IAM) is connected with the IT security aspects. The Privileged Access Management and Identity & Access Management are not identical concepts. In the latter case it comes to the ordinary users, vendors or customers, i.e. people who do not use privileged accounts. This division is based not only on the access to various resources and data, but also on the number of applications used daily. For ordinary users it is usually smaller. A successful cyberattack, though harmful, will not do so much harm as a successful attack on privileged accounts which have access both to the business and technical data.

Implementing both PAM and IAM solution improves the IT security of the entire organisation. Comarch developed the Comarch Privileged Access Management software constituting a part of Comarch Identity & Access Management.

PAM — whom is the Comarch Privileged Access Management dedicated to?

The PAM and IAM solutions have a broad field of application. They can be implemented in companies operating in different market sectors, including banking, insurance, telecommunications or healthcare. They can be used also by the public sector and government institutions. It is worth remembering that recently the entities holding much customers’ data, e.g. healthcare facilities and local government administration bodies, are particularly exposed to attacks.

The above-mentioned Comarch Identity and Access Management can be used in different-size companies thanks to its modular structure. It can be used easily in organisations with the already mentioned distributed structure, having branches in various parts of the world. Also the companies cooperating with third-party vendors who must receive access to the organisation's systems because of the order nature should consider implementing the PAM and IAM solution. Comarch PAM software may operate on its own or as a module of Comarch IAM. In the latter case the protection is comprehensive, comprising all types of accounts.

Although Comarch Identity and Access Management and Privileged Access Management can be used really broadly, their implementation will be most advantageous for companies processing personal and sensitive data. It is because Comarch IAM and PAM are adapted to the EU GDPR. Customers’ data can be violated in different ways, including as a result of an external or internal attack on the IT infrastructure. Moreover, the above regulation stipulates many obligations for the data controllers. The customers have the right e.g. to be forgotten (under Article 17 of the GDPR) when the collected data is no longer required to implement the goal which it was provided for.

What are the benefits of using the Privileged Access Management?

Using PAM solutions means measurable benefits for business customers. The implementation of Comarch Identity and Access Management and Privileged Access Management translates e.g. into:

  • cost reduction. It takes place by the centrally granted access and all users’ identity management, i.e. the employees, vendors and customers.
  • access and identity management. The administrators may e.g. grant access to specific resources to the vendors and also limit their access to specific hours or days. Thanks to the automation, it is possible to reduce the number of errors,
  • possibility to use multi-tier acceptance patterns. It is of particular importance when an employee requests access to new resources,
  • ability to delegate obligations. In this case it is also possible to allocate the privileges to another user in the selected period,
  • single-log in rule. Once a user is logged in an online service, they receive access to all applications automatically.

What is more, Comarch Identity and Access Management uses different identification and authentication methods. Depending on the organisation’s needs, they may include e.g. static and masked passwords, cryptographic tokens or biometric-based authentication (fingerprint).

Comarch Privileged Access Management, operating on its own or as a module of Comarch IAM, registers the activity of administrators, manages their privileges and generates text or graphic logs with an OCR support. Thanks to solutions enabling to detect threats in real time, Comarch PAM improves the security of company resources, notifying the responsible people of violating the predefined rules.

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