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The cost savings, speed, and productivity of the cloud is attracting more and more small businesses. This is leading to a huge rise in hybrid infrastructures, meaning a combination of both virtual and in-house technologies (like an in-house server to run Quickbooks, but a virtual server for document management).

The problem with hybrid infrastructures is that they’re like castles with hundreds of different gates, and each of these gates leads to the keep. Sure, you can put a sturdy lock on every gate, but keeping track of who has the keys to them and enforcing rules on who can unlock them and when is a whole different challenge altogether.

Successfully overcoming this challenge should be every organization’s top priority because the consequences of failing can be devastating. You’ve probably already guessed that so many doors and so many keys lead to one thing: a security breach. And the average cost of a data breach keeps increasing so even one little misstep can lead to big money lost.

Privileged Access Management (PAM) provides a solution that organizations of all sizes can apply to control access, as well as to lock their gates and prevent the keys to them from getting lost or misused.

What Does Privileged Access Mean?

In the world of IT, “privileged access” is used to describe access rights that are above those of a regular user.

For example, most organizations prevent regular users from installing new software, accessing certain types of applications, changing system settings, or transferring files to unapproved storage devices. Privileged accounts can perform these and other potentially sensitive tasks—but not necessarily all of them. The most privileged accounts are called administrator accounts, and they can basically do anything, making it critically important to protect them.

What Is Privileged Access Management (PAM)?

PAM is the combination of people, processes, and technology used to secure, control, and monitor access to an organization’s critical information and resources.

The implementation of PAM starts with identifying all accounts that have privileged access. Then, access control policies are created to specify how the privileged accounts can be used and under which circumstances. Finally, a PAM solution is installed to automatically enforce the policies and put the organization in complete control over all privileged sessions.

The downside is that PAM isn’t a bolt-on cybersecurity solution that can be installed in a couple of minutes and turned on with very little work. However, the effort necessary to take advantage of it is well worth the labor because its advantages go beyond keeping hackers at bay.

Why Is Privileged Access Management Important?

Privileged access is at the heart of cybersecurity, and it’s also responsible for 80% of cybersecurity breaches, according to a Forrester study. When properly configured and enforced, PAM protects against two major types of cybersecurity threats:

  • External threats: Thieves routinely target small businesses for a variety of different reasons, from hacking into bank accounts to making money selling sensitive information on the dark web.
  • Internal threats: Employees themselves are reportedly the primary cause of 60% of data breaches. A simple mistake made by someone with privileged access can have the same consequences as someone stealing an employee’s keys to the entire office building.

PAM protects against both external and internal threats by automatically ending privileged sessions whenever a threat is detected.

Because PAM solutions have complete visibility into how privileged access is used, they also help address other privilege-related risks and challenges, including over-distributing privileges, understanding the scope of privileges across the entire network, and stopping the sharing of privileged accounts among employees.

By constantly recording and monitoring all privileged activities, PAM solutions make it easier to achieve compliance with global security regulations, such as GDPR, HIPAA, CMMC, and many others (all of which can affect small businesses with no direct association).

Getting Started with Privileged Access Management

As explained earlier, PAM is a combination of people, processes, and technology. To successfully implement it in practice, you need policies, planning, and management for each. That’s where a managed service provider like Help Desk Cavalry comes in, offering professional IT services to help you take advantage of modern PAM solutions. Get in touch with us today by phone or email to get the ball rolling.