5 Common Myths About Privileged Access Management (PAM)

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Did you know that over 90% of Microsoft security vulnerabilities could be eliminated simply by turning off admin rights and using a PAM tool? It’s true. According to a study conducted by global cybersecurity firm BeyondTrust (formerly Avecto), the overwhelming majority of threats come down to one simple problem: admin rights hand over the “keys to the castle,” unlocking the door for malware, viruses, hackers, and more. The problem is that when you do this, it creates problems for end users. Often making it difficult for them to do their jobs.

To mitigate these risks and support users effectively, companies need a solution that controls access to privileged accounts without increasing frustration. Companies try to mitigate this risk in many different ways. In fact, if you ask most IT managers whether they have taken steps to control privileged access, they would say they have.

But is what they’re doing really effective? Let’s take a look 5 common myths about privileged access management (PAM).

Myth #1: I’m already doing PAM.

This might not seem like a myth at first, because the people who say this have likely taken several steps to lock down access. They may have implemented:

  • Two-factor authentication
  • Single sign-on
  • Active directory group policies
  • Application white listing
  • Password rotation

All of these steps can play a role in beefing up your password security. They can be used to enforce strong password policies, prevent password sharing, and limit certain levels of access. At the end of the day, however, they still don’t limit what someone with admin rights can do. Which means they aren’t functioning as privileged access management.

Reality: PAM is a targeted solution aimed at controlling access to privileged accounts.

Most password solutions function by locking the door to the house. Without the key, you can’t get inside. The problem is that there is still a key called “admin rights,” and if you have that key you can unlock the door, gaining access to do anything you want to do.

By contrast, PAM doesn’t just limit who can open the door. It controls what you can do once you are inside. PAM grants access to privileged accounts on an as-needed basis. Once the task is completed, access is removed. With a PAM solution like AutoElevate by CyberFOX, you can manage and secure admin rights using the principle of least privilege without frustrating end users.

Myth #2: I’m already secure in my environment because I get very few access requests.

This is a particularly sneaky myth, because it seems intuitive that few access requests should equal few risks. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. The reality is that if you haven’t implemented a PAM solution, few access requests usually means that too many people already have admin rights. They aren’t requesting access because they don’t have to.

Reality: Implementing privileged access management is the best way to ensure that users only have access when they need it.

If you grant universal admin rights to certain users, your environment is at risk. PAM removes that risk by managing access on an as-needed basis, while still making it easy for users to do their jobs.

Myth #3: PAM will solve my password problems.

Password breaches are a primary source of security threats. Many breaches happen as a result of weak passwords, password sharing, and other poor password practices. It’s critical to implement measures like single sign-on and two-factor authentication so that passwords can’t be easily hacked. However, this is not the same as PAM.

Reality: PAM works in tandem with password protection, not in place of it.

PAM is one part of a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy; password protection is another part. These measures, along with a number of other security controls, work together to keep your customer data safe.

Myth #4: PAM can stop 100% of security breaches.

Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a security solution that can stop every attack, because you can’t stop what you don’t know is coming. Security threats are constantly evolving, which means the security measures to stop them must evolve as well. The good news, however, is that PAM stops the vast majority of threats related to privileged access, because it grants access only when it is absolutely necessary to perform a task.

Reality: PAM reduces the attack surface of your own network along with your managed environments.

By enforcing the principle of least privilege, PAM fine-tunes user privileges and controls access to administrative functions. Access requests are evaluated quickly and easily on a case-by-case basis and can be granted for a wide variety of scenarios depending on the rules you create.

Myth #5: PAM is expensive and difficult to set up.

If you are used to granting admin access manually, you may be expecting a solution that requires a lot of effort to submit tickets, evaluate, and grant access. This is standard operating procedure in many IT departments. On the other side of the coin, if you are used to using Microsoft’s User Access Control, you have undoubtedly received complaints about disrupted work and user frustration. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Reality: PAM solutions like AutoElevate are easy and cost effective.

AutoElevate makes it easy to keep your internal environment and those of your clients secure without creating frustrating user experiences. It can be deployed across your entire MSP environment in minutes, and it is a cost-effective solution to a universal problem. If you run into issues with set up or implementation, our support technicians are standing by to help every step of the way.

What’s the Next Step?

Privileged access management prevents attacks by controlling access to privileged accounts, eliminating breaches due to password sharing, and mitigating risky behavior in real time. It also ensures that your environment meets compliance requirements and protects both your data and that of your clients.

If you don’t currently have a PAM solution as part of your cybersecurity protocols, now is the time to take action. Contact us today to learn how AutoElevate can help you keep your MSP environment safe!