Winter is coming - is Your Access Management Process Recession-proof?
- By Venkat Thummisi
- Jun 28, 2023
Last year, we survived the summer of ransomware and faced a potential global recession, higher inflation and geopolitical tension - a wobbly energy market and rising interest rates. The million-dollar question is what the state of an exhausted workforce means to cyber security, especially as recessions bring a high turnover rate.
Organizations across industries are likely to cut staff simultaneously as security teams face new identity management challenges, including maintaining user privileges, preventing malicious behavior, dealing with ghost accounts, and ensuring proper onboarding and decommissioning of users.
Risk-Prone User Commissioning and Decommissioning Process
Today’s multi-cloud environments pose a significant challenge to organizations, given that users play multiple roles and have numerous constantly changing privileges. Commissioning and decommissioning users become more susceptible to risks than ever before.
Let's look at a quick example: a new staffer is provided access to the network and granted requisite access to the organizational infrastructure, including cloud environments, internal applications, and all separately managed SaaS applications. The new user begins with minimum privileges but accumulates more access privileges over time based on specific job requirements. They may get access to legacy apps and on-premise systems, a process that requires elevated privileges.
Privileged access management is not a new cyber challenge, but the rapid cloud adoption and the resulting infrastructure sprawl have made this the #1 threat vector organizations face today.
While legacy Identity and Access Management (IAM) solutions enable systems administrators to decommission users in the Active Directory (AD) or other Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) systems, they fail to recognize the footprint left by the user, including services and activities across cloud environments. Current solutions do not account for the overall lineage of users, theiravatars, privileges and access to resources that may span multiple cloud environments.
The main problem is that this type of decommissioning of users leaves behind traces of their accounts, lurking privileges, and independent activities like periodic health checks. These “leftovers” are like half-open doors vulnerable to potential account takeovers by external hackers or malicious insiders. In addition, the fact that users may have access to numerous SaaS applications, internal applications, and custom directory systems leaves the prospect of clean decommissioning of users from all the systems almost impossible with the current solutions.
Controlling User Sprawl
With the expansion of user access across different environments - aka sprawl - security teams face new identity management challenges:
- Maintaining an active set of user privileges.
- Gating malicious behavior.
- Tracking the formation of ghost accounts.
- Secure and prompt onboarding and decommissioning of users.
A recession will exacerbate these challenges as more organizations retrench their workforce in line with the emerging market downturn.
Who Has Access to What, When, Where and Why?
The recent allegations of data exfiltration by the former employees of a failed bank amply demonstrate the privilege abuse risks that may ensue in the melee created by a bank run or a hostile takeover.
There are many reasons why data exfiltration is possible, including:
- Inactive privileges or expired yet-to-be-deleted credentials.
- Excess privileges obtained by temporary employees.
- Malicious insiders or outsiders in collusion actively seek access to sensitive data that can be exploited (sold on the dark web).
By far, the most significant risk factor is the malicious insider. That’s why it is crucial to analyze who has access to specific applications and data, where they access them from, the context behind their activities, and the reasons behind their actions.
Addressing These Challenges with Inside-Out Defense
We address the biggest challenge of identifying the complicit and implicit user behaviors and provide remedial actions for organizations to deal with threats. Inside-Out Defense is a Privilege Abuse Defense platform built for continuous Proof-Of-Trust. We make it POSSIBLE to govern access privileges in real-time across your multi-cloud environments.
Enterprises direly need a solution that addresses these challenges by providing a privilege abuse defense at the “time of use” by continuously detecting privilege abuse behaviors in real-time and remediating abuses in line.
Please contact us at email@example.com to discuss your organization’s access governance challenges and see how our solution can address your challenges effectively.