Privilege management is the process of limiting access to resources using controlling privileges. Privileges are rights, permissions, or capabilities granted to users to perform tasks on a computer system.
Limiting administrative access ensures that if an attacker gains control over a user account, they will be limited in terms of the damage they can inflict and the amount of data they can access.
The least privilege policy is a security best practice that states that users should be granted the few privileges required to perform their jobs. The principle helps to protect systems and data from unauthorized access or modification and limits the damage caused by malicious users or malware.
Before implementing a least privilege solution in your organization, it is crucial to understand the benefits that it can provide you. They are as follows.
Your systems are more secure with the principle of least privilege in place, making it harder for attackers to have complete control over your systems. The principle aims to reduce or eliminate unnecessary services, users, and access points that attackers can exploit.
With a limited number of people having access to the most sensitive areas of your network, you are limiting the damage that credentials compromised via phishing, keyloggers, etc., can cause.
Some of these unnecessary privileges are less obvious than others. Privileges that are regarded as necessary for some roles are not required at all times.
For example, a systems administrator will require elevated privileges when making configuration changes or performing software updates; however, they will not need them when accessing the system for routine tasks such as reading email or browsing the internet.
According to Statista, 1506 data breaches were reported in 2019 in the US.
Implementing the principle of least privilege will demonstrate compliance with industry regulations and internal policies more efficiently. It can help ensure that only authorized users have access to systems and data, reducing the risk of data breaches and other security incidents.
It can be beneficial when trying to comply with regulations such as SOX, HIPAA, PCI-DSS, and GDPR.
Reduced Maintenance and Support Costs
Implementing the least privilege policy can significantly reduce the number of systems administrators and other users who have administrative privileges on your systems. It can reduce the cost of maintaining your systems and provide a more straightforward support structure for end users.
The least privilege can also free up security and systems administration personnel to work on more critical tasks.
Increased User Productivity
By limiting the number of credentials that users need for day-to-day operations, you will improve their productivity by reducing login time and the need to remember multiple passwords.
Users will also benefit from not needing elevated privileges for routine tasks, focusing on their work, and managing their access.
Improved Service Delivery
Companies have the potential to reduce the time it takes for product development teams to deploy new services. When you have a least privilege policy in place, service delivery personnel will only require access to their resources to complete their tasks.
It can minimize or even eliminate downtime due to accounts being locked out or other errors caused by too many people having access to systems.
Increased Visibility into User Activity
The principle of least privilege can help you gain greater visibility into the activity of your users. With fewer people having access to systems and data, it is easier to track the actions of authorized users and identify any unauthorized activity.
The increased visibility can be beneficial when investigating a security incident or when trying to determine if an employee has breached your company’s policies or acted inappropriately.
Reduced IT Burden
Implementing a least privilege solution can reduce the administrative burden on your systems administrators and others who have access to elevated privileges. When a limited number of people have access to privileged credentials, you will manage and monitor their actions more efficiently.
Reduced Costs Associated with Security Incidents
By implementing a least privilege solution, you can significantly reduce the number of people who have access to privileged credentials, so if one credential is breached, an attacker will typically not be able to gain complete control of your network or systems.
It will reduce the impact of security incidents since attackers will not have as much access to your systems and data. In addition, you will be able to more easily identify the source of a security incident and contain the damage.
Improved Security Posture
Implementing a least privilege solution can help to improve your organization’s overall security posture. By reducing the number of people who have access to sensitive data and systems, you make it a lot harder for attackers to gain access to sensitive information.
It can be beneficial from a compliance perspective since having a least privilege solution in place is one of the requirements for some regulations such as HIPAA and GDPR.
Additionally, with greater enforcement of internal policies, your employees will be less likely to take actions that put your organization at risk.