First things first: what is privileged access management (PAM)? Privileged access management is a way of authorizing and monitoring privileged users for all relevant systems within an organization. Whether these are apps, APIs, or in-house and third-party solutions, users across the breadth of an organization’s infrastructure may need access to restricted systems, functions, and confidential data. These privileged users are prime targets for attackers due to their raised authority levels. As such, implementing a comprehensive identity and access management (IAM) solution to protect these accounts is key.
Privileged accounts exist when access to backend admin services is exclusive to certain roles. For example, IT leads often have privileged access in order to authorize user access to the organization’s various systems and solutions. And while privileged accounts are a necessity within any organization, they’re also a huge liability. If attackers gain access to privileged accounts (such as those belonging to system administrators or the CIO), they could gain access to your entire enterprise. PAM helps to ensure that organizations can successfully mitigate these risks.
The Ideal PAM Solution
In order to stay secure, companies need to steer away from manual, siloed processes. Instead, they must invest in solutions that allow them to control access and implement heightened security to protect their privileged users.
Some important features of an effective PAM solution include:
Security: Privileged accounts should be stored and accessed in a secure environment. Organizations shouldn’t rely on a single password to grant access to these accounts; rather, they should be secured with additional security factors, using solutions such as multi-factor authentication (MFA).
Adaptability: Administrators should be able to modify access permissions when needed. If an employee leaves the company or changes roles, it should be seamless to revoke their privileged access.
Visibility: Administrators should be able to view all access levels in through one central platform. They should establish solutions that give them a clear view of events in real time, so that they can easily track access in the case of any security incidents.
Monitoring Privileged Access with Okta
Okta’s solutions provide the additional layer of security that enables organizations to secure their privileged accounts. Okta Single Sign-On (SSO), for instance, provides PAM administrators with the secure, frictionless access control they need, helps to manage the risks of password loss, and reduces identity sprawl. Combined with Okta’s Adaptive MFA solution, this provides the best possible protection against password-based attacks.
Contextual access management technologies can help to secure privileged accounts even further by evaluating the circumstances of a login request and granting access, denying it, or prompting further authentication. Adaptive MFA is context-aware, which PAM administrators can take advantage of to add step-up authentication factors or even passwordless access. By analyzing factors such as the user’s device, location, and network, Adaptive MFA calculates the login risk in real-time. Based on this, it can then prompt for an additional authentication factor if it deems that the risk of compromise is high. Administrators can choose from a range of authentication factors, bypassing the need for a password. In the case of privileged accounts, administrations can opt to always prompt for these additional factors.
Managing user lifecycles is also critical for effective access management. Okta’s Lifecycle Management gives organizations the ability to automatically provision or deprovision privileged user and admin accounts, and securely provides direct access to critical assets. By ensuring that only privileged accounts remain active, the solution secures an organization’s IT environment and eases the burden of account maintenance. They can also integrate this solution with Active Directory or set it up to work with Okta’s Universal Directory for an even clearer view of permissions across all of their domains.
Administrators should be empowered to control privileged access effectively across their entire organization. Okta makes it easier to lock down credentials, isolate and control sessions, and continuously monitor platforms to ensure all systems remain secure.