Sometimes, information exists on a “need to know” basis. For employers and team leaders, sometimes it is appropriate and necessary to keep some information close to the chest. In these cases, we already have some familiarity with the principles of least privilege access, but you may be wondering how to apply the principle to your company’s data. Let’s take a closer look at what it is, why it’s important, and how to get started. 

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What is Least Privilege Access? 

Let’s start simple: what is least privilege? In the context of cybersecurity, least privilege access refers to the concept and practice of restricting or limiting access rights for users, accounts, and computing processes to only those resources that are absolutely required to perform routine, legitimate activities. Information is restricted to only users who need that information to do their jobs. The terms “least user access” or “least-privileged user account” (LUA) are also used; these refer to the idea that all user accounts should be restricted to as few privileges as possible, and also use as few applications as possible. 

 The concept of privilege refers to the authorization to bypass certain restraints. 

Why is Least Privilege Important? 

Now that we know what least privilege is, you may wonder why the measure is important for network security. Ultimately, there are four primary reasons, any one of which alone would justify implementing the strategy, but when you put these four aspects together, it’s easy to see why least privilege should be on any system administrator’s radar: 

  1. Reduce the cyberattack surface. The majority of modern advanced attacks rely on exploiting privilege credentials. The bad actor will often infiltrate the entire system through a single point of failure, usually through a user or account that has been given too much privilege. So, by limiting super-user and administrator privileges, the least privilege access principle helps reduce the overall attack surface. 
  1. Stops the Spread of Malware. When least privilege is enforced at endpoints, malware attacks are unable to use elevated privileges to increase access and move laterally to install malware. 
  1. Improve End-User Productivity. Removing local administrator rights from users helps reduce and minimize risk, while enabling just-in-time privilege elevation helps keep users productive and keep calls to the helpdesk down. 
  1. Streamline Compliance and Audits. Many internal policies and regulatory requirements demand organizations implement least privilege to prevent malicious or unintended damage to critical systems. Least privilege helps organizations demonstrate compliance with a full audit trail of activities. 
worker auditing for least privilege access

Implementing least privilege access starts with an audit of the current privileged accounts.

How to Implement Least Privilege 

Maybe you’ve decided least privilege access is the way you want your organization to move forward. Now you need to know how to go about implementation. There are many steps involved, so a comprehensive, thorough process is needed to achieve optimal results. 

  1. Audit the environment to locate privileged accounts and their associated information. 
  1. Eliminate any unnecessary local administrator privileges. 
  1. Separate administrator accounts from standard accounts. 
  1. Provision privileged administrator credentials into a digital vault. 
  1. Rotate all administrator passwords after each use. 
  1. Continuously monitor all activities related to administrator accounts. 
  1. Enable just-in-time access elevation. 
  1. Consistently review all permissions and entitlements within AWS, Azure, and any other cloud-based environments. 

As you can see, adopting the least privilege principles is only the beginning of using it for access control. There are many steps that must be continuously taken to secure the best results and the network security that comes with it. Innovative Integration specializes in helping organizations set up cybersecurity solutions and helping you and your organization continue to keep not only your data, but your customer’s data safe, too. So, if you have a project that requires IT specialists, contact Innovative Integration today.