Privileged Identity Management
Privileged Identity Management (PIM) represents a broad industry term, often used interchangeably with Privileged Access Management (PAM), encompassing tools and technologies related to the comprehensive management, governance, auditing, and lifecycles of all privileged access and user credentials. Analysts, notably Forrester, adopt the umbrella term ‘PIM’ to cover the entire domain within ‘PAM.’ This terminology distinction underscores the expansive nature of these tools in securing privileged access. As a key component of IT security strategy, PIM enables organizations to diligently oversee privileged user activity and safeguard critical resources against unauthorized access. This article delves deeper into the core functions, applications, and overarching significance of PIM within the broader landscape of identity and privileged account management.
Privileged Identity Management (PIM) - Key Aspects:
PIM is an identity management procedure whose main objective is to minimize the security risks often associated with excessive privileges of privileged users. Unlike Privileged Access Management (PAM), PIM focuses on identifying and monitoring users with extended privileges to minimize potential threats.
Threats of Privileged Accounts:
Privileged users with extended privileges are both a key link in the security controls the proper functioning of an organization and a potential source of threats. High levels of privilege are necessary to perform certain tasks, but they carry the risk of data leakage, loss of confidentiality or abuse of privilege. Identity management, especially through PIM, is becoming a key tool in securing against these threats.
How does Privileged identity management work?
Privileged Identity Management (PIM) solutions play a pivotal role in ensuring secure access to sensitive resources, employing a well-defined process to manage privileged accounts and elevated permissions. Here’s an overview of how a typical PIM solution operates:
- Provisioning: The initial step involves the creation of privileged roles, each with specific permissions. Authorized identities, like senior database administrators, are then associated with these roles.
- User requests time-bound role activation: Users can submit requests to assume a privileged role, specifying the duration and justification. The request undergoes an approval workflow, involving automated processes or manual approval from delegated authorities.
- Approval or denial of the request: If the user possesses the required rights, the PIM solution checks out the credentials, granting access. Denied requests trigger security incident logging for audit records.
- Revocation of privileges: Privileges are automatically revoked and sessions terminated upon the expiration of the specified duration or user logout. Users can request session extensions if needed.
Audit and monitoring: PIM tools offer features like session replay, monitoring, and auditing to track and ensure the secure use of privileged accounts. Admins can review audit logs for unusual activities and use session replays for deeper investigation if necessary.
PIM, PAM, IAM?
It’s essential to distinguish between Privileged Identity Management (PIM), Privileged Access Management (PAM), and Identity & Access Management (IAM):
- Focuses on managing and securing privileged accounts.
- Involves the creation, maintenance, and revocation of accounts with elevated permissions.
- Supports access control frameworks to limit access to authorized individuals or groups.
- Considered a broader solution encompassing PIM functionalities.
- Provides additional features such as Just-in-Time privilege assignment, secure passwordless remote access, and session recording capabilities.
- Offers granular control over privileged access, real-time monitoring, and detection of suspicious activity.
While IAM serves as a foundational term, PIM and PAM contribute additional layers of security to manage privileged identities and secure privileged access pathways effectively. These solutions collaborate to uphold security standards, with IAM providing the groundwork for comprehensive identity management.
In the context of security, PIM is instrumental in preventing privileged account misuse, enforcing tighter governance, and adhering to industry and government standards. It mitigates security risks by controlling access, securing user identities, and facilitating internal or external audits. The integration of PIM into an organization’s security framework ensures the safeguarding of crucial resources, protection against suspicious user activities, and adherence to regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).
PIM Features and Applications:
Privileged Identity Management offers a number of important features to help effectively manage access. Key aspects of PIM include:
- Identification of all privileged accounts across an organization, irrespective of the platform or application they are utilized in.
- Centralized provisioning and secure storage of privileged accounts within a dedicated vault.
- Implementation of role-based, finely-grained authorization policies for privileged accounts, ensuring adherence to the principle of least privilege.
- Enforcement of robust password policies, including automated and periodic password rotation.
- Provision for the temporary assignment of privileges to accounts, with the capability to revoke them when no longer necessary. This proves particularly beneficial when an employee requires access for a specific task.
- Continuous tracking and monitoring of all activities associated with privileged accounts, offering insights into who accessed them, when, and the actions performed during usage.
- Robust reporting and auditing functionalities for security-critical events, encompassing login and logout activities, access requests, and alterations to permissions and configurations.
Why is it worth to implement privileged identity management solutions?
Overseeing the management of privileged account identities (PIM) stands out as a pivotal component within a robust IT security strategy. Consistent surveillance and validation of assigned permissions serve as deterrents to practices like password sharing among employees, effectively reducing the likelihood of unauthorized access. PIM also effectively tackles the challenge of identifying individuals utilizing widely accessible administrator accounts, such as “admin” or “root,” achieved through meticulous control and continuous monitoring of these specialized accounts. The integration of automation into previously manually handled processes elevates the efficiency of the PIM system, enabling prompt responses to potential threats. Nevertheless, it’s crucial to acknowledge that Privileged Identity Management is merely a part of a comprehensive strategy to safeguard critical data. Embracing both privileged identity management important, access management and the capability to conduct internal audits are equally vital components for a thorough and resilient security framework.
Importance of PIM in the Identity Management Context
The significance of Privileged Identity Management (PIM) within the realm of Identity Management extends beyond mitigating the threat of excessive access privileges. It seamlessly integrates into the organization’s overarching identity management strategy, reinforcing the principle of least privilege. By adopting PIM, organizations take a strategic step to not only curtail the risk of privilege abuse but also to enhance the precision of access management. PIM plays a crucial role in governing service accounts, ensuring that these specialized accounts are subject to rigorous controls and adhere to the defined access policies. Moreover, in the context of elevated access, PIM provides a structured approach to granting and revoking privileges, promoting a dynamic and responsive framework that aligns with operational needs. This integration of PIM into the broader identity management strategy contributes to the establishment of a robust access control framework, fostering a proactive and secure environment.
Privileged Identity Management is a key component of IT security strategies, allowing organizations to effectively manage privileged user access. With PIM features such as granting temporary access, time-based and approval-based role activation, and enforced multi-level authentication, it is possible to effectively mine privileged identities to minimize threats and enhance the security of an organization’s resources. Integrating PIM with overall identity management puts the company on the path to a secured IT infrastructure.