PAM + Zero-Trust Framework

PAM + Zero-Trust Framework

Privileged Access Management, or PAM, allows organizations to control privileged access to information systems and minimize their attack surface. In addition, including a Zero Trust Framework further strengthens their cybersecurity posture, improves compliance and audit visibility, and reduces the risk and cost of security. Read on to know how.



Why a PAM Solution with a Zero-Trust Framework is Paramount for Businesses

While cyber-attacks on organizations are increasing globally, insider threats arising from employees, vendors, contractors, and third-party apps, are gradually rising to cause great concern. Insider threats can be dangerous because it can be challenging to identity them quickly. One way of arresting such threats is to have an efficient Privileged Access Management or PAM system wherein the system grants access to users, depending on their privileges, roles, responsibilities, and the risk associated with breaching each level. Zero trust redefines PAM for modern organizations. It mandates a “never trust, always verify and enforce least privilege” approach to PAM from inside or outside the network. Hence, PAM with Zero Trust architecture is critical considering the modern and hybrid enterprise IT threat landscape. 


Key Statistics: PAM and Zero Trust Architecture

The 2020 Verizon Data Breach Report indicated that compromised credentials (lost or stolen), and privilege abuse, resulting from employees’ intentional actions, were the two major causes of data breaches for enterprises. Therefore, PAM solutions have become an essential aspect of cybersecurity strategies today.


(Source: Statista)

● The above graph indicates that the PAM solutions market is increasing globally and is poised to touch the $3B market size in 2024.

● A Statista report projects that the Zero Trust initiative has grown from 16% in 2019 to 90% in 2021. By 2027, the global Zero Trust market could be worth $60B.

● The SANS 2019 Cloud Security Survey indicated that 56% of the respondents considered unauthorized data access their primary concern with the cloud architecture.

● According to ThycoticCentrify research, 77% of top IT decision-makers deploy a zero-trust approach in their security infrastructure. 

Gartner estimates that 50% of business entities globally will implement the Just-in-Time PAM model by 2024.


Understanding PAM and Zero Trust Architecture

Identity-based frauds are on the rise, and according to a recent report from Insurance Information Institute, identity theft complaints have increased from 13% in 2017 to 25% in 2021. 


Furthermore, acquiring government benefits seems to be the prime reason for identity thefts today, with credit card theft and other miscellaneous identity thefts following behind closely. Hence, enterprises need to adopt PAM and Zero Trust Architecture solutions to arrest fraud even if the user or system identity is compromised.



What is Privileged Access Management (PAM)?

PAM is an effective access management mechanism to monitor and control elevated or “privileged” accesses and permissions for users, accounts, processes, and systems (people, processes, and technology) to support organizational security objectives and protect information assets. The goal is to enforce the principle of ‘least privilege,’ ‘need-to-know’ basis, and ‘segregation of duties’ to prevent privilege escalation. 


What is Zero Trust Architecture?

Zero Trust Architecture, as the name suggests, does not trust the activity of any user, however privileged they might be. Users must enter their credentials and authenticate them before accessing the system, depending on their privilege and access control levels. Hence, it continuously validates every stage of the digital interaction, ensuring constant visibility into all activities inside the network.


Why PAM with a Zero Trust Architecture is Paramount for Businesses?

Organizations can leverage PAM with a Zero-Trust Framework to reduce the threat perception and minimize threat windows by providing maximum control over enterprise information assets. Here is how organizations can be a step ahead of adversaries:


  • Assume the threats and vulnerabilities: Assume that your information systems have security vulnerabilities and there are threat actors out there waiting to exploit those vulnerabilities within and outside your enterprise network. Strategize accordingly and implement security controls to effectively manage privileged credentials and implement a ‘trust no one’ policy to safeguard your information assets.
  • Authenticate, authorize, and audit: A Zero Trust Framework does not believe in reputations. Therefore, it does not allow access to anyone unless adequately authenticated and authorized. This process is helpful in cybersecurity audits because it defines clear roles and captures each activity for every privileged user, depending on their access level. 
  • Applying fundamental security principles: PAM with a Zero Trust Architecture allows organizations to apply principles of ‘least privilege, ‘need-to-know,’ ‘segregation of duties,’ etc., when allocating specific roles to employees and other users. As a result, it ensures that unauthorized users do not have the necessary privileges and, thus, strengthens the cybersecurity posture.
  • Managing privileged access at endpoints: Endpoint Privilege Management combines PAM and application control to eliminate unwanted lateral movement and minimize endpoint attacks. Thus, it protects all operating systems from known and unknown threats.
  • Encrypt, mask, and obfuscate your data: PAM with Zero Trust Architecture makes it challenging for attackers to exfiltrate data because it encrypts, masks, or obfuscates it. Zero Trust means not allowing access to the user, process, or system unless the underlying system is entirely verified and validated. One example of encrypting or masking data is using passwords with MFA as an additional security layer. The system encrypts the password but insists on MFA (either through a one-time password on the user’s registered phone number, email, or a soft token) or a specific token known only to the user to allow access. Thus, PAM with Zero Trust Architecture protects the confidentiality of the information and provides access to the authorized person alone.
  • Create a Micro-Perimeter of Trust: Cybersecurity strategies require IT administrators to have privileged access. But with data breaches increasing, identity has become the new perimeter of trust. Hence, PAM with Zero Trust Architecture  enables organizations to manage identities and secure their lifecycle while analyzing them simultaneously. The new micro-perimeter of trust includes endpoints, applications, information assets, and infrastructure.


To conclude, organizations should not compromise on any aspect when it comes to cybersecurity. Adopting a Zero Trust approach along with PAM ensures that unauthorized and unprivileged users do not have access to information systems under any circumstances. With SecureKi’s Privileged Access Management (PAM) solution, you too can work towards a 100% Zero Trust Architecture by defining stringent PAM, verification, and security with the knowledge that incremental changes bring significant progress towards a robust cybersecurity posture to safeguard confidentiality, integrity, and availability of valuable enterprise information assets.


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