Of all the cybersecurity threats faced by businesses today, an increasing proportion involve the misuse of digital identities.
Stolen credentials allow cybercriminals to gain access to core systems where they can cause disruption and damage or steal valuable data.
According to a research report by IBM, the top five attack vectors reported by businesses, all include the use of identity or privilege. The report found that 19% of organisations have suffered an attack based on stolen or compromised credentials. This was followed by phishing attacks (reported by 16% of organisations), cloud misconfiguration incidents (15%), vulnerabilities in third-party software leveraging privilege (13%) and malicious insiders with privileged access rights (11%).
Misused credentials and digital identities have become such a significant problem because of the increase in their use. As a result of the continuing growth in online transactions and cloud-based services, individuals and businesses are faced with managing multiple log-in profiles and IDs.
Unfortunately, many people respond to this trend by reusing passwords and other credentials on multiple websites and services. Cybercriminals know this, and so when credentials are obtained by a cybercriminal, they are promptly tested against multiple other sites with the potential reward of account access.
One of the most popular ways for cybercriminals to obtain personal digital ID credentials is through phishing attacks. By pretending to be a trusted party, they trick people into opening malicious email attachments or clicking on a web link that directs them to a fake website where they are encouraged to enter their details.
Phishing attacks are of particular concern because they can also involve the installation of ransomware on systems. Once in place, this code can encrypt sensitive data with the keys only made available once the victim has paid a ransom demand.
Defending with privilege access management
One of the most effective ways of reducing the chance of an organisation falling victim to a cyberattack is through effective privilege access management (PAM).
PAM is a critical component of digital security that focuses on controlling and monitoring access to privileged accounts within an organisation's IT infrastructure. Privileged accounts, often held by administrators, superusers, or other high-level personnel, possess elevated access rights that allow them to make significant changes, install software, and access sensitive data.
PAM seeks to safeguard these powerful accounts by implementing policies, processes, and technologies that mitigate the risk of unauthorised access and potential misuse. The primary goal of PAM is to limit access to privileged accounts to only those individuals who require it for their specific roles and responsibilities.
This is achieved through granular access controls, multifactor authentication, session monitoring, and the regular rotation of credentials. By enforcing the principle of least privilege, PAM minimises the attack surface and reduces the likelihood of security breaches resulting from compromised or misused privileged accounts.
One of the key benefits of implementing PAM is its ability to enhance overall digital security. By securing privileged accounts, organisations can prevent unauthorised access, mitigate the risk of insider threats, and safeguard sensitive information. PAM also aids in regulatory compliance, as many industry standards and data protection regulations require organisations to implement measures to control and monitor privileged access.
Also, PAM solutions offer visibility into user activities within privileged accounts, allowing organisations to track and audit actions taken by administrators. This not only helps in identifying potential security incidents but also facilitates the investigation of any suspicious activities.
PAM tools contribute to an organisation's ability to respond promptly to security incidents, reducing the impact of breaches and enhancing overall incident response capabilities. It is a crucial aspect of digital security that plays a key role in safeguarding sensitive information, preventing unauthorised access, and ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements.
Improved IT security
The bottom line is that implementing a robust PAM strategy will significantly improve an organisation’s ability to avoid potentially damaging cyberattacks. Limiting resource access to only the people who actually require for the time they need access it will lessen the power of compromised credentials.
Digital IDs will continue to be a critical part of daily life, and PAM can ensure these IDs deliver the business value required while also providing effective security measures. Consider how PAM could add value to your organisation’s security defences.