Managing Privileged Access — is it a simple or complex task? Some readers may say a simple task, while probably many among us would argue that the question itself is vague. Vague in the sense that the privileged access environment is never static.
The privileged access environment continuously evolves, so do the complexities associated with managing privileged users. And the higher the complexity, the higher the possibility of having blind spots in the privileged access environment.
The privileged access management would fail to produce the desired level of efficacy if these blind spots remain overlooked.
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So how do the blind spots start to form?
This often is a result of misinterpreting the privileged access management practice.
Broadly, the presumption is that privileged credentials vaulting, multi-factor authentication and audit trails of privileged activities suffices the privileged access management purpose: Safeguarding applications, databases and systems. This presumption, in turn, leads to the formation of blind spots.
Consider a few examples:
- Privileged Access and unaccounted privileged accounts
The blind spots in the privileged access environment appear when nobody knows how many privileged accounts and privileged users exist. If there is no organization or process around it, privileged access management would be ineffective. Those ungoverned accounts could become the source of a data breach.
- Privileged Access and increasing SaaS applications
The privileged access environment blind spot increases further when you take into account SaaS applications. Typically, non-IT staff – privileged business end-users – adopt SaaS applications for various functional tasks. As is always the case, noncompliance to best-privileged practices could entice malicious insiders. The threat aggravates when end-users can easily elevate access to business applications in the absence of granular control or the least privilege principle for privileged access.
- Privileged Access and emerging enterprise IT use-cases
The privileged access management function is multidimensional. The practice is no more confined to controlling and monitoring admin and root level access in the on-prem datacenter. Privileged access ‘evolving’ environment essentially means a gradual shift towards cloud, hybrid IT environments, and adoption of Robotic Process Automation to administer day-to-day tasks. Secrets Management is another area where Privileged Access Management plays an important role.
Against this backdrop, a privileged access management solution has to be capable of addressing unique use-cases. There are risks of poor implementations and budget overruns; hence higher TCO if the technology does not support emerging use-cases, resulting in blind spots.
Managing privileged access environment could be remarkably easy if enterprises posses complete understanding of people, purpose, and technology. Just having a technology in place without understanding the purpose or failing to identify people who could use the same would lead to blind spots.