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PAM for Dummies: What is Privileged Access Management?

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Brian Atkinson

Brian Atkinson

Brian brings a dynamic tech background to the Admin By Request blogging team, adding a unique perspective to the ever-evolving landscape of cybersecurity. Expect his blogs to offer a distinctive blend of insights, informed by his versatile experience across different tech domains.

If there’s one industry where acronyms are rife, it’s the world of cybersecurity. IAM, BYOD, CISA, CVE, NIST, AV, PIM, APT – the list goes on. One such acronym that’s coming up more and more often is ‘PAM’.

To the layperson, ‘Pam’ usually refers to a female. The name of your boss perhaps, or a great Aunt on your Father’s side. However, in the rapidly changing landscape of cybersecurity, where data breaches and evolving threats keep organizations on high alert, those three innocent letters stand for ‘Privileged Access Management’.

In this blog, we’ll break it down to answer the basics of PAM: what is it? How does it work? Why is it necessary? As well as exploring the features it offers so we can emphasize its invaluable benefits to enterprises.

Understanding Privileged Access Management

Background: Privileged vs. Standard Users

In the cybersecurity arena, privileged users wield administrative might, holding the keys to critical systems. These individuals have the authority to configure systems, install software, alter user accounts, and access secure data. They’re essentially the architects of the digital realm. On the other side of the spectrum, standard users navigate this same landscape with limited access. The standard user interacts with systems, applications, and data within the boundaries set by their privileged counterparts.

The Need:

Managing who can do what on your computer is vital, but orchestrating this manually simply takes too much time, especially for larger enterprises.

The Solution:

This is where Privileged Access Management comes in; it makes sure only the most trusted people in your organization have special access, allowing companies control and stop access easily when and as needed.

Key Features of Privileged Access Management Software

A good PAM solution offers a scalable and secure method to authorize and monitor privileged accounts and activity throughout your system. By granting access precisely where authorized and swiftly revoking it when needed, PAM tools bring access management under a centralized, dynamic umbrella, strengthening overall cybersecurity resilience.

Here’s an overview of the key features available with a PAM solution:

  • Access Control: Precise management of privileged access to vital systems and sensitive data with detailed control.
  • Session Monitoring: Immediate monitoring and documentation of user actions throughout privileged sessions.
  • Approval Workflows: Established procedures for requesting and authorizing privileged access.
  • Audit Trails: Thorough records for compliance and in-depth forensic examination.
  • Automated On-boarding/Off-boarding: Simple processes for adding and removing access.
  • Just-In-Time (JIT) Privilege Elevation: Briefly boosting user permissions for particular tasks.
  • Identity Management Integration: Smooth integration with Identity and Access Management (IAM) systems.
  • Policy Enforcement: Making sure everyone follows security rules and meets requirements.
  • Real-time Alerts: Instant alerts for suspicious actions or violations of policies.
  • Secure Remote Access: Enabling safe connections to remote endpoints, such as servers.
  • Threat Intelligence Integration: Connecting with threat intelligence feeds to spot and prevent threats in advance.

The Significance and Benefits of Privileged Access Management: Why is it Necessary?

Risk Reduction

PAM responds like a digital guardian, lowering the risk of unauthorized access to an organization’s most sensitive information by implementing strict access controls. Following the Principle of Least Privilege (POL) – PAM guarantees that only authorized individuals with specific roles can access crucial systems and data, thereby reducing the potential attack surface. Real-time monitoring and session recording capabilities further enhance security by promptly detecting and responding to any anomalous or suspicious activities. It’s the ultimate cybersecurity power tool, keeping data safe and sound within an organization.

Compliance Conditions

PAM doubles as a key element in ensuring compliance with regulatory mandates, offering robust controls and monitoring capabilities which are often required in order for enterprises to be compliant. For example, in a financial institute, PAM would significantly aid regulatory compliance by thoroughly overseeing privileged access to sensitive customer data. By aligning with industry conditions, PAM transforms into a reliable ally, empowering organizations to confidently navigate through compliance challenges, shield valuable data, and fortify a secure digital haven.

Security Sabotage Safeguarding

PAM solutions provide crucial defense against security breaches and can effectively prevent malware infiltrations. Whether it’s from an external threat by “risk reduction” (as mentioned earlier in the blog) or an internal threat by imposing restricted privileges on individuals, processes, and applications – PAM proves its significance by preventing hacker/malware attacks and stopping their actions; they are essentially useless if they can’t carry out their malicious operations on the endpoint without the necessary privileges.

Benefits in a Nutshell

Businesses using a PAM solution benefit greatly in fortifying their security foundation – reducing risk, and minimizing both insider and external threats – but also in meeting strict compliance requirements and upholding industry regulations with precision. The swift and effective incident response capability of PAM is crucial, providing real-time monitoring and session recording to detect and address any anomalies as soon as they occur. Key features based on least privilege principles exemplify the strength of PAM software in safeguarding critical systems and sensitive data in the dynamic landscape of cybersecurity.

PAM Made Easy with Admin By Request

It may sound like a complicated to task to achieve all of the security benefits outlined above – and that’s a true statement for some PAM solutions.

But others combine comprehensive features with end user friendliness to make it a thing of simplicity. Introducing Admin By Request: a game-changer in the Privileged Access Management space.  Offering granular control, real-time monitoring, and comprehensive audit trails, Admin By Request PAM ensures the precise management of privileged access while upholding compliance with industry regulations.

Beyond the realm of traditional PAM capabilities, Admin By Request introduces innovative features: machine learning and AI-based auto-approval of trusted applications; malware protection checks through integration with OPSWAT MetaDefender Cloud API; secure remote access to servers; the ability to discover and map your entire network; and integration with existing systems. Admin By Request brings a blend of fundamental PAM functionalities and advanced enhancements which not only streamline processes but also enhance operational efficiency – both Workstation and Server endpoints.

Conclusion

In summary, the acronym ‘PAM’ represents a security tool which solves a huge number of complicated security and compliance problems faced by enterprises.

If you’re looking to make the task even easier, choose Admin By Request – the most efficient method to manage admin rights, enabling organizations to give and take back admin access with precision and ease.

Book a demo today, or download the Admin By Request Free Plan – no strings attached.

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