Why Privileged Access Management Matters

Written by

Privileged access management (PAM) encapsulates a cybersecurity strategy designed to protect assets, people and processes against cyber threats and identify the assets most at risk to credential and data theft and privilege misuse.

The purpose of PAM is to highlight who has access to what, when they have access and why they have access, as well as to minimize access to only those who need it. Therefore, it is necessary for organizations to implement a PAM strategy to understand, control, monitor, secure and audit all human and non-human identities across an entire enterprise to detect any unusual activity and minimize risks.

Abbas Moledina, service delivery manager at SecurityHQ, explains: “The purpose of privileged access is to make accounts temporarily available for designated admins who want to do on-the-spot troubleshooting or any recovery activity. Then, once the tasks are done, the privileged account is removed from the environment itself. Think of it like handing people keys for a limited amount of time, and then after that time is up, all the keys get returned to a box, and nobody touches that box again. That’s the whole premise of privileged account and privileged access management, to give the keys and the locks to the right people for a limited amount of time, to help reduce the odds of privilege escalation.”

Benefits of Privileged Access Management

Implement a PAM system with your MSSP and ensure that your IT team runs a zero trust model when handling your business's security. The benefits of PAM include, and are not limited to:

  1. Monitoring your controls, auditing them, and controlling access.
  2. Preventing internal attacks and any issues with third parties.
  3. Ensuring security compliance.
  4. Automating mitigation and response, controlled by humans.

Privileged Access Controls Key Terms

There are many terms used by IT teams with regard to privilege access. And there are many different types of accounts that can be created:

  • Super User – A super user account is created as an authoritative account with a great deal of control. IT system administrations use it to make configurations to a system and/or an application.
  • Application Account – This is an account predominantly used to configure or manage access to specific applications and/or software.
  • Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) – An RBAC can be used to assign permissions to the right people and or devices to reduce administrative overhead and improve compliance.
  • Attribute-Based Access Control (ABAC) – Rather than static positions, attribute-based access controls are dynamic and used in business terms rather than IT/security terms.
  • A Secure Socket Shell – A secure socket shell, also known as an SSH Key, is an access control protocol that a super user can use to provide direct root access to a critical system.
  • The Root – The Root is the account that has access to commands as well as files on operating systems.

Zero Trust Security Model Aided by Privileged Escalation

The reason privileged access controls are so crucial is because zero trust is an essential security model for all cybersecurity strategies. The concept behind zero trust is that nothing should be trusted, not even devices connected to the corporate network, even after verification.

Not only should devices not be trusted as default, but trust should not be placed on people either. Insider threats can be both malicious and accidental, and either can cause significant damage to the business. Therefore, it is important to catch possible vulnerabilities early on before the threat escalates.


  1. All companies and individual users are at risk from cyber-attacks. Therefore, when it comes to cybersecurity, everybody is responsible. If an attacker is dedicated enough, such as a nation-state actor, even a janitor is an access point. This means every person needs to comply with security policies, and these policies need to be explained in such a way that that they are instantly accessible.

    Listen to SecurityHQ’s tips to keep your employees up to date with the right security measures.
  2. If you are a business and you do not have policies in place, the best action to take is to put in place an MSSP and managed detection & response. However, if you have no policies, you will never have the right security measures to help your team and outsourced security professionals. Even if you decide to build cybersecurity in-house, your security staff needs policies to regulate their actions. This is because internal and external monitoring is crucial, and the policies have to match the software solutions you have.

Brought to you by

What’s hot on Infosecurity Magazine?