Privileged accounts stand out as one of the topics that should be paid attention to the most in terms of cyber security by institutions and organizations in different fields that follow the footsteps of digital transformation. It is of great importance to keep safe the accounts in question, the main target of many types of cyberattacks, which are frequently preferred by hackers, especially in recent years. If privileged accounts within the organization are not detected and managed within a certain framework, it is highly possible to encounter data breach problems. Since data leakage from the institution will also lead to the theft of sensitive information, you may face many different situations, from a ransom demand to the sale of this information belonging to the institution or its employees on the dark web. For these reasons, you need to successfully manage and control privileged accounts to ensure data security and achieve good results against cyber threats.
Defining Privileged Accounts
Privileged accounts are very important in today's business world, not only for allocating access security and producing solutions against a cyber attacker but also for IT teams to manage the corporate system, infrastructure, network, and software. Privileged accounts, which provide access to data that enable employees to make critical decisions regarding the workflow, also make it possible to perform administrative tasks. The related accounts, which enable a hacker to move freely in the corporate network if they are captured, are perfect for stealing sensitive data and for people who have infiltrated the system to easily hide their traces within the system.
An institution can have privileged accounts almost anywhere in its system. Related accounts can be found in the cloud and SaaS applications, regardless of physical location, as well as in databases, operating systems, and software. For example, IT administrators, database administrators, application owners, third-party contractors, security teams, help desk personnel, and sales teams may have privileged account access. In other words, all departments of an institution, from software to marketing, sales, and security teams, can use an authorized account to ensure workflow.
It is possible to see the importance of the management of privileged accounts in the report Cost of a Data Breach Report 2021 prepared by IBM. According to the report, data breaches that occur as a result of leaking identity information constitute 20% of all leak types. In addition, the cost of malicious people with privileged account access in violations caused by leaking identity information is 4.610.000$.
Privileged Accounts Playing a Critical Role
The second stage of the privileged accounts' identification process is to identify the accounts that play a critical role in the sustainability of the organization's business model. How about reviewing the seven types of privileged accounts that an organization should secure first?
Domain Administrator Accounts: The aforementioned type, which is described as the king of accounts in the IT literature, has full authority and control over the domain. For this reason, the relevant accounts should be limited as much as possible and their supervision should be kept at a high level.
Field Service Accounts: This type of database access, used for editing and reproducing reports and calling APIs, is especially important for password changes that can harm application operations. Protecting domain service accounts makes it easy to track software updates directly related to password operations.
Local Administrator Accounts: The relevant account type, which is the favorite of cyber attackers, is also called forgotten privileged accounts. One of the main reasons for the infiltration into the corporate network is that many of the employees are given local administrator account access.
Administrator Account for Operating Systems: Stealing the access information of people who have this account may cause the operating system directories to be changed throughout the organization and cause the system to stop working for a while.
Default Administrator Account: The account that belongs to the system administrator is the key to log in to the system and cannot be removed, changed, or locked afterward. Only the name can be changed.
Emergency Accounts: The account type, which is activated when a critical situation occurs in the network, is activated as a "Break the window in an emergency" measure when normal services become inoperative.
Service Accounts: Service accounts, also referred to as hidden and infinite accounts, are used to run applications.
In addition to the accounts mentioned above, root accounts, Wi-Fi accounts, firewall accounts, hardware accounts such as BIOS and vPro also play a critical role in terms of access security.
Privileged Access Management (PAM)
According to the Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report 2021, the longest-lasting breach type this year is privileged account abuse. Again, the same report explains the main methods of breaches carried out through privileged accounts as malware, deliberate abuse, social engineering, and hacking attacks. As a matter of fact, abuse of privilege leads to a rate of 60-80% in data breaches caused by privileged accounts. In addition, personal and medical data come to the fore in the abuse of privileged accounts.
Based on all these reasons, it can be easily stated that defining privileged accounts is not enough to protect your institution. By using Privileged Access Management (PAM), you can remove your privileged accounts from being a target. As one of the best solutions for privileged account access security, PAM provides the authentication of all privileged sessions with its Privileged Session Manager solution and prevents unauthorized access attempts. The Central Password Controller (Dynamic Password Controller), which includes the password vault feature, keeps the passwords of privileged accounts isolated from the entire network, and ensures the protection of all system-wide passwords. Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) also requests the location and time verification at the same time from users who want privileged account access with the contribution of the geo-location function. Thus, the “Principle of Least Privilege” can be easily applied. Database Access Manager also allows the operations of database administrators to be recorded. On the other hand, PAM solutions always act with the desire to guarantee your data security by helping you create one-time passwords for some operations and strong passwords for others.
To get information about Single Connect, which is also included in the 2021 Gartner Magic Quadrant for PAM report for the supervision, management, and protection of privileged accounts, and to get to know your most valuable asset, privileged accounts, you can take a look at the report we prepared in cooperation with IDC Turkey and Vodafone Business. Contact us for more information.