Privileged access management (PAM) has gained credibility among security managers, especially since the Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report found that 63 percent of breaches involve weak, default or stolen passwords. Hackers go where the data is – and that’s with privileged users.
Two new reports that came out on PAM this week point out that while awareness of PAM has grown, there’s still a lot of work ahead before it’s fully mainstream.
For example, one report released by BeyondTrust found that while 76 percent of top-tier companies cycle passwords, only 14 percent of bottom-tier companies follow those best practices. Top-tier companies are described as the top one-third of the BeyondTrust study’s 550 respondents.
“The gulf has definitely widened between the top-tier companies [and] just about everyone else,” says Scott Lang, director of privileged strategies at BeyondTrust. “It’s also very striking that only 3 percent of respondents say they can terminate a session in real-time.”
The other study that came out this week was a Ponemon Institute report commissioned by Forcepoint that was an update of studies done in 2014 and 2011. This year’s study, based on 704 respondents, found that 91 percent believe that the risk of privileged user abuse will increase or stay the same in the next 12 to 24 months. The study also found that 39 percent are not confident they have full visibility for privileged user access and can determine if their users are compliant with policies. Only 18 percent are confident they have this capability.
“So many organizations can’t even tell what Ground Zero is,” says Michael Crouse, director of federal technical sales at Forcepoint.
Crouse adds that while companies are correctly focused on external threats to privileged users, an internal breach by a privileged user can be equally, if not more damaging.
“Organizations have to realize that somebody they grant access privileges to can cause a lot of damage,” he says. “They can install a piece of malware that takes effect two weeks or even several months after they have left the company.”
Based on interviews with Lang and Crouse and data from the two reports, Dark Reading developed the following seven slides to help security managers bolster their PAM programs.