Understanding the Basics of Privileged Access Management (PAM) Systems

Have you been hearing more and more about Privileged Access Management (PAM) lately and want to understand why this solution is getting so popular? It’s all about security… cybersecurity!

With the large increase in popularity of remote work models, the frequency of data breaches or loss of intellectual property has increased significantly. All modern companies face the problem of preventing unauthorized access to business-critical assets. This is the main reason why PAM systems have become an essential tool for organizations to secure their IT infrastructure. To know more about this topic, you might also like to read about “The Importance of PAM for Modern Organizations”.

What is Privileged Access Management (PAM)?

Privileged access management (PAM) is the technology used to secure, control, and monitor remote access to an organization’s assets. It focuses on privileged users because their accounts usually have the highest level of access, which in the wrong hands can pose a significant threat to business-critical data. PAM solutions are designed to ensure that only authorized personnel can access any systems, applications, and data recognized as sensitive for the company.

How does PAM work?

PAM systems work as a combination of technologies and best practices to manage privileged access across an organization’s IT infrastructure. There are several important features of PAM that we should emphasize:

  • access controls,
  • password management,
  • privileged session management,
  • auditing and reporting,
  • compliance assurance.

Let’s describe the above functionalities to better understand PAM and its importance in the field of cybersecurity.

PAM’s key functionalities

The main key features of PAM are access control tools. It ensures that only authorized users can access privileged accounts and data. According to the Zero Trust approach, PAM solutions guarantee that users have access to specific applications and accounts only when needed and for a specific reason. Administrators can define and schedule the availability of resources to users and control them accordingly.

The next key feature mentioned is password management. PAM solutions help enforce strong password policies for privileged accounts. Password management tools ensure that privileged passwords are unique, complex, and changed regularly to prevent unauthorized access. This is important in these days when stolen or compromised credentials are one of the most common initial attack vectors for data breaches.

Privileged session management tools allow organizations to record and audit privileged sessions, which helps in detecting and investigating any suspicious activity. Some of the PAM solutions provide real-time interaction during user sessions, allowing administrators to join, share, pause, or terminate any potentially suspicious session immediately after any dangerous behavior is spotted. This approach is mainly aimed at insider threats, which are becoming more and more common. A malicious insider is usually a current or former employee or business associate with privileged access to a company’s sensitive data or critical infrastructure. Thanks to PAM features, all authorized users’ activity is constantly monitored and recorded, so malicious actions can be easily tracked and blocked.

In describing PAM, we have to remember about auditing and reporting functionalities, which also play a key role in security. Session recording and backup features allow for the subsequent analysis of events and the identification of objects or persons responsible for the breach of security procedures. PAM solutions provide tools that allow security officers to search for relevant keywords related to an incident during suspicious sessions. When a data breach occurs, the company gains the possibility to scan for any traces or evidence of a crime. 

PAM also plays a crucial role in ensuring compliance with various regulations such as PCI-DSS, SOX, HIPAA, NIST, GDPR, or ISA/IEC 62443. These regulations require organizations to implement controls to manage privileged access, monitor privileged sessions, generate compliance reports, and maintain audit logs to detect and investigate any suspicious activity.

Cutting-edge PAM systems can offer you additionally a range of unique solutions. AI-Powered Prevention is one of the most advanced features on the market. AI analyzes and creates behavior schemes individually for each user. Any suspicious activity is immediately communicated to the administrator, so he can easily track and narrow down any potential threat, wipe it out, and hold a certain subject accountable for their actions. If you want to learn more about market-leading PAM solutions, please check out Fudo Enterprise.

As you can see, implementing a PAM solution becomes crucial for most organizations to secure their IT infrastructure and sensitive assets. PAM systems help companies manage privileged accounts effectively, restrict and secure access to sensitive systems and data, perform regular audits, and comply with regulatory requirements. By implementing PAM systems, organizations can reduce the risk of insider threats and cyberattacks and ensure the integrity and confidentiality of their data.