Privileged users have access to systems and data critical for an organization’s operations, making them prime targets for hackers. But with the appropriate people, process, and technology in place it is possible to reduce privileged user cybersecurity risk.
As part of your cybersecurity efforts, make sure all privileged account passwords are regularly changed to reduce attacker exposure and ensure remote sessions are recorded and logged to reduce the impact of stolen credentials on digital forensics.
With cyberattacks becoming increasingly sophisticated and targeted, security teams must ensure employees have received adequate training in order to reduce potential impactful consequences for their organization. This should include teaching about recent phishing attacks using advanced generative AI, the importance of adhering to email security best practices and reporting any suspicious or confirmed cyberincidents to the appropriate persons.
Training requirements for private user cybersecurity responsibilities also encompass understanding which actions they cannot take and how to prevent misuse of their elevated access privileges. For instance, DoD public key infrastructure (PKI) training covers seven sensitivity levels for sensitive Unclassified and Secret information and demonstrates how privileged PKI tokens and other forms of authentication credentials should be appropriately utilized depending on its access point(s), source of accessing it, environment it originates in as well as credentials strength.
An employee with elevated privileges requires training on how to avoid unauthorised access to confidential data, making this aspect of training integral in job descriptions, employee onboarding processes and ongoing development programs for all personnel. This type of education should also be included as part of position descriptions, employee onboarding programs and ongoing professional development sessions for all personnel.
Privileged account users should have their access rights reviewed annually and adjusted as necessary to reflect new business or operational needs. This will ensure the security posture of systems is maintained, and that security team can quickly detect suspicious behaviors or contribute to investigations of incidents that arise.
Individuals with elevated privileges should use appropriate logging tools and reporting mechanisms to monitor system activity. Logs for privileged account management, event logs for privileged account management and group management can help identify anomalous behavior, evaluate potential impacts from an access incident, confirm whether their account has been compromised and help in incident response activities.
Local admin and privileged accounts are commonly used for installing software/hardware, resetting passwords for others, accessing IT infrastructure systems and logging onto machines in an environment. As these accounts have the ability to bypass system controls, they make an attractive target for cybercriminals.
Attributing only authorized users with access to sensitive data and systems prevents sensitive information from falling into the wrong hands. Access control is an integral component of today’s zero trust security framework and serves to block unpermitted entry from both internal and external threats as well as negligence on employees’ part.
Security professionals typically assume the task of setting access controls for their team members. They must decide who requires access to sensitive company data and the level of privilege needed for them to effectively complete their jobs, while keeping these controls up-to-date as employees leave or move into roles that require greater access.
The minimum level of privilege required of each employee depends on their type of work. For instance, salespeople might need more access to customer relationship management (CRM) systems and data than bank tellers who work exclusively within branch offices.
Access control systems allow businesses to set granular permissions for specific types of resources and systems. Privileged access management (PAM), however, refers to an umbrella term covering cybersecurity strategies and technologies for controlling elevated (privileged) access to accounts, applications, devices (IoT), computing processes as well as computing processes in general. At its core lies the concept of least privilege which dictates restricting employee and service access rights only as required to fulfill their duties effectively.
Defense in depth can also help lower the risk of data breach by employing multiple safeguards to limit cyberattacks, such as privileged account management, firewalls, antimalware software and encryption solutions. Layered defenses also can protect confidentiality, integrity and availability of data.
RIT cybersecurity standards applicable to privileged users include its Code of Conduct for Computer and Network Use, Private and Confidential Information Handling Policy and associated Training Requirements as well as training requirements for those handling this information on behalf of RIT. Training for these standards can be found through their RIT Information Handling self-paced online course that’s annually required of anyone handling Private or Confidential Information on behalf of RIT.
Privileged user accounts allow individuals to install software and hardware, reset passwords for other users, access sensitive information, change IT infrastructure systems, log into machines in an environment and perform other tasks that often go overlooked as cybersecurity risks. Threat actors could exploit such accounts to gain entry to networks without detection, steal credentials from other users, gain entry and move within it undetected; using least privilege policies across all endpoints helps minimize these threats.
Privileged Account Management (PIM) solutions can help mitigate these risks through providing fine-grain control and visibility over all credentials, privileges and access granted or removed depending on roles, needs or trust levels, to help reduce cyber risk while realizing high security ROI. In addition, PAM tracks all privileged account activity through real-time logs while offering forensics for reporting or investigations into any incidents which arise.
PAM and other tools may also be utilized to monitor networks and detect threats, including firewalls that protect networks from attack, anti-virus/spyware protection and web proxy solutions. IT professionals should review any additional tools being considered in order to make sure their organization utilizes cutting edge security technologies that offer maximum protection.
Education of privileged users is of vital importance and this should be accomplished via annual training tailored to their particular roles and their security requirements. Additional education can be provided continuously for privileged users through tools like wikis and blogs where they can share best practices and lessons learned within their organizations. Communication with all privileged users should also be clear: their activities will be closely monitored, and any unauthorized activities reported and punished accordingly. This can help create a culture of responsibility and accountability amongst privileged users while reinforcing that organizations have the right to monitor privileged user activities to ensure compliance and prevent any unwanted activity.
Privilege users often encounter situations in their daily work that put information assets at risk, making it imperative that they report this concern to their superiors so that appropriate action may be taken to resolve or prevent further compromise – this is one of their primary responsibilities as part of cybersecurity services.
As their name implies, privileged user accounts provide exceptional access and capabilities that surpass those provided to non-privileged account users. Privileged user accounts are frequently utilized by managers, system admins, IT/security staff members as they allow these individuals to install/hardware/reset passwords for others access sensitive data as well as make changes in IT infrastructure systems – posing significant risk to an organization.
At this stage, it is critical that environments restrict the number of privileged users within them and only grant accounts that are essential for performing job duties. Doing so helps mitigate breach risk by decreasing surface area exposed; additionally it ensures that access granted is only as high as necessary to perform their jobs successfully.
Monitor and log to help protect against privilege abuse: this involves using software that tracks all activities carried out by privileged users and any changes in status; additionally, alert administrators about suspicious activity by pinpointing its source – helping reduce breaches from compromised privileged accounts and the associated costs for recovering systems.
Training and reporting are key components of an effective cybersecurity program. Training must be tailored specifically to the responsibilities of each group of personnel; tailored privileged user training goes beyond generalized cybersecurity awareness training for all employees to cover more specialized topics relevant to those with higher access levels (for instance RIT employees handling private or confidential data must complete RIT Information Handling annually).