#HowTo Get the Most Out of Your Privileged Access Management Programme

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While privileged access management (PAM) has garnered significant attention in recent years, there are still a few challenges that impede organizations from implementing it. For instance, most of the PAM offerings in the market today are built to function as a standalone program.

In this digital age where unification is the new norm, it can be a struggle for organizations to run PAM as a point solution that does not interface with other IT security tools in their network. Another limitation that traditional PAM poses is too much singular focus on trivial capabilities like privileged account credential isolation and protection.
On-premise deployment, believed to offer greater security, is yet another trait typical of PAM solutions. Such contained models do not really fit the bill anymore. As digital transformation accelerates infrastructure growth and engenders IT perimeter expansion, legacy PAM is laden with computing, storage, and networking challenges that can undermine performance efficiency and create security gaps in a distributed environment.

Whether your organization is just starting out or is looking to upgrade an existing PAM implementation, here are some best practices that can help you transcend these traditional conceptions and achieve an optimized PAM approach.
Think beyond passwords
For growing businesses, the first thing to look for in a PAM tool is functionality that extends beyond just being an isolated password vault. Passwords are not the only privileged identities that can cause destruction when mismanaged: other digital identities like SSL certificates, encryption keys, and sensitive configuration files or documents are also susceptible to theft and misuse when left lying around without supervision.

Your PAM solution should be capable of acting as a unified vault for all sensitive identities across departments. Sharing passwords, forwarding documents containing sensitive information, and any other movement of privileged identity across your IT or other functional teams should be routed through your PAM tool’s secure, access-controlled workflows. 

Enforce just-in-time (JIT) elevation controls for privileged access provisioning
Elevating privileges for employees only when required can help prevent the buildup of unused or unneeded access rights, reducing risk. JIT controls allow employees to log in as themselves instead of relying on a shared privileged account, which increases accountability.

For an ideal JIT least privilege model, look for a PAM tool that can interface with your in-house identity governance tool. This can further unify privilege management operations and make implementation easier with role-based controls.

Build a unified console for privileged account monitoring
It is imperative for organizations to have a comprehensive privileged user monitoring capability as part of their PAM system and simultaneously tie it together with their event logging service. Integrating your PAM tool with SIEM tools helps correlate endpoint and privileged access data, and can give IT teams a consolidated dashboard for mapping privileged access with overall system operations, increasing visibility and situational awareness with regard to privileged user monitoring. The combined PAM and SIEM logs give you more context, which can aid in decision-making while responding to security incidents within the network.

Tie in AI and ML-driven anomaly detection to identify threats from unusual behavior
An effective PAM system should help build a proactive stance, enabling you to spot hidden threats even before they take shape. A PAM tool that offers anomaly detection provisions can make this possible. Establish a baseline behavior for PAM operations in your network, and then leverage new-age AI and ML technologies to incorporate risk scoring for every user action. This enables the tool to pick up outliers based on location, time, or role, using them to calculate a weighted risk score.

When an action’s risk score is higher than the norm, automated alerts to IT auditors can help you stop any potentially harmful activity right in its tracks.

Leverage blended analytics for intelligent risk insights affecting business
Audit logs are most useful when studied by an advanced analytics platform that presents insights based on all the facts at hand. Similarly, your privileged access audits and reports can make better sense when you correlate them with business services.

For instance, mapping privileged access requests raised in your PAM tool to network issues or incidents in your IT service desk can bring about a deeper understanding of what is going on within your environment, enabling meaningful inferences and quicker remedies.
All in all, your PAM solution must provide complete privileged access security across your entire enterprise network, and corroborate your overall security strategy by contextually integrating with other tools.

This will help you run a mature, effective PAM program with better service delivery. As IT environments become more widely distributed and extensive, it is equally important to keep your PAM agenda flexible, risk-based, and open to innovation.

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