• IT organizations have many tools at their disposal when it comes to streamlining processes and boosting productivity, but the dark side of these tools is that they are hackable. From smartphones and tablets to work PCs and IoT devices, all of these gadgets are susceptible to cybercrime.

    In fact, according to the latest stats by TechJury, a hack occurs every 39 seconds and business falls victim to a ransomware attack every 14 seconds. Although it might seem like large IT organizations are the most vulnerable, it’s actually the other way around. Large businesses have prevention tools and extensive failsafe solutions in place in the event of a hacker attack, so small businesses are the easier target. 43% of all cyberattacks are aimed at small businesses, and if this is your case, you need to learn how to secure your sensitive data. PAM – Privileged Access Management – is one of the best ways to do this.

    What is PAM?

    Privileged Access Management (PAM) is a set of security solutions that allow you to control and restrict access to privileged accounts within an existing Active Directory Environment. PAM solutions secure data by putting the credentials of admin accounts inside a centralized secure repository. To access these credentials, admins have to be authenticated and their access is logged. In other words, PAM is like an extra layer of security that protects data from getting into the wrong hands.

    If you haven’t considered implementing a PAM strategy in your IT organization yet, here are 6 great reasons why you should:

    1.      Reduce the risk of external attacks

    Forrester research shows that less than two thirds of organizations with over 1,000 employees have the right security analytics in place. Considering the skyrocketing cybercrime rates we talked about earlier, this is a huge risk to take. IT organizations now store a huge amount of sensitive customer information, as well as business data that can become a major asset in the hands of hackers.

    And this is why you probably already have a malware solution in place. However, that may not be enough. According to the Gartner Planning Guide for Security and Risk Management, hackers have become very good at bypassing firewalls and what’s even worse is that it may take up to six months until businesses realize they’ve been hacked.

    PAM can prevent the breach altogether by reducing access to admin accounts and adding an extra layer of security. It makes it harder for attackers to penetrate the network and reduces the risk of attacks like spear phishing and pass-the-hash.

    2. Prevent insider threats

    If it’s not enough that your business is constantly under threat by external attacks, here’s another worrying statistic: 70% of enterprises have had to deal with an employee attempting to steal business information. As a business owner, you know that your employees are your most important asset and you probably trust them with critical information. However, according to IBM data, 55% of all cyberattacks started from an admin who had privileged access to the IT system.

    When there is a weak spot in the controlling and monitoring of admin accounts, they can share their admin rights with other unauthorized users and this can expose your business to a data breach. A solid PAM strategy prevents this from happening by restricting privileged access and allowing you to set temporary users.

    To strengthen security even more, you can also apply the Principle of Least Privilege (POLP), a policy where end users receive only the minimum access required for them to do their jobs. To determine where to implement this policy, you can consider factors such as seniority, role within the organization, location, and working hours, but more and more security experts advocate for a zero-trust architecture where no one should be automatically trusted.

    3.      Control third-party access

    Working with third-party suppliers is a great way to reduce IT costs and streamline processes, but you should also consider the security risks of third-party apps.

    81% of companies outsource IT tasks and this involves giving them access to sensitive business or consumer data one way or another. Add the fact that many of these third-parties outsource as well, so your data could be passed on without you knowing it. Whether they pass on this data knowingly or not, you can’t risk taking chances, which is why Melanie Sovann, a content marketing manager at Supreme Dissertations, WoWGrade and BestEssay.Education writes that “a PAM strategy should be a priority for your business.” She also adds that thanks to it, you can restrict the data that third parties can access for specific projects, change passwords once their work is complete, and set time limits on data access.

    4.      Comply with IT security standards

    As cybercrime rates are getting higher, businesses have to comply with stricter security compliance standards. Users are aware that once they allow a service provider to access their data, it could end up in the wrong hands, so they want to know that the provider takes all the right measures. Once you deploy a PAM strategy, not only do you have the peace of mind that you are protecting your data and your users’ data, but you also have the means to prove it. Creating this environment of trust and transparency with your clients boosts trusts and creates a good reputation.

    5.      Maintain customer trust

    Business owners underestimate the impact that a simple hack can have on their reputation. In this day and age, news travels extremely fast and once the word gets out that your organization has been affected by a cyberattack, everyone will know in a matter of days. Large companies like Yahoo!, MyHeritage, and Quora are relevant examples of how much your reputation can suffer from a leak. When huge databases of names, addresses, and passwords are exposed, not only will have to fight to earn back lost customer trust, but also convince potential customers to trust you.

    And it’s not just the large IT organizations. Smaller businesses should be careful about how they handle private customer data too, because, for them, the impact can be devastating. “When clients entrust you with their confidential data, you can’t risk betraying this trust”, explains Anne Grey, content editor at Trust My Paper  and Grab My Essay and experienced writer on security issues at Studicus. “You have to constantly be on the lookout for security threats and prevent them before they happen, otherwise the losses can be huge”.

    6.      Gain control of sensitive data

    Data is the currency of the 21st century. It’s an essential resource that can propel your business when it’s put to good use, but you have to learn how to protect it. Your business generates and handles a huge amount of data and every day. Do you know what happens to it? Who has access to it and for how long? How do they use it? Can admins distribute sensitive data with other parties without your authorization? A PAM strategy is an essential form of internal control that creates an audit trail so that data access data can’t go unnoticed. If there is an incident, you won’t have to guess where something went wrong, because you are in full control. With data segregation duties and policies for data retention, you can finally take charge of crucial information and prevent the threats that come your way.

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