Access management continues to get more complicated as more cloud tools get added into business workflows. For each SaaS application being used by a company, on the backend, there are users that must be added and a permission level decided upon.
“Privileged” credentials are those that have more access to an application than a basic user account. This can include the ability to access payment details, make purchases in the app, add or remove users, and more.
While cybercriminals are happy to get their hands on any user login credentials to conduct insider attacks, privileged user credentials are particularly sought after because they grant more access.
80% of data breaches involve compromised privileged user credentials.
To reduce your risk of falling victim to a cloud account breach, it’s important to regularly audit your privileged credentials. We’ll tell you how.
Step 1: Create a Dynamic List of All Accounts & Permissions
It’s important to have one master list that you can refer to for visibility into all your users in all your different cloud accounts.
This allows you to easily assess your risk of account compromise and keep on top of things like unused accounts, which are costing you money and posing an additional security risk.
We call this a “dynamic” list because it needs to be kept updated as you have personnel changes or permission changes in your accounts. A great tool to use for dynamic lists that also makes them cloud-based is Microsoft Lists.
This is an additional free application that Microsoft 365 business accounts have access to in the platform.
Step 2: Remove Any Unused Accounts
We mentioned that unused user accounts are not only costly but also a security risk. Consider the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack that happened in May of 2021. It caused the pipeline to shut down for nearly a week and the company ended up paying $4.4 million in ransom to the attackers.
This attack was facilitated by an unused employee VPN account that was never closed and also was not protected with multi-factor authentication.
Your next step will be reviewing your master list of cloud user accounts and identifying any that are unneeded, and then formally closing those in each cloud platform. Make sure to transfer any necessary documents or assets to another user during this process. Just let us know if you need help doing this.
Step 3: Review Privileged Users in Each Platform & Apply the Rule of Least Privilege
Your next step in a privileged credential audit is to review those users with elevated permissions. These would be those with more than basic user access, such as your administrator roles.
Review these and look for any you can downgrade based upon the person’s job duties. For example, you might see that your marketing assistant has a top-level privilege in your sales management app when they really have no reason to edit users or form fields in that app.
The Rule of Least Privilege should be your guiding principle to use for account management. It states that users should only be given the lowest level of access to a system as is needed for their daily tasks.
Step 4: Speak To All Remaining Privileged Users to See If They Need That Access Level
Now, you should be left with privileged account users in all your accounts that you believe may need elevated access privileges in various business tools. Some of these, you may not be sure of.
You should speak to those users that have privileged accounts to find out how often they use those elevated permissions. If it’s not very often, then you may consider downgrading their account and providing temporary elevated access on an as-needed basis.
Take this opportunity when speaking to your privileged account users to drive home the importance of password security for their accounts especially. Let them know that due to their higher level of access, a breach of their user account could be much more damaging than one of an employee at a lower access level.
Tips to provide on password security:
- Use strong passwords that are at least 10 characters long
- Use a combination of letters, symbols, and numbers
- Use a mix of upper and lower-case letters
- Do not share passwords
- Do not store passwords in an unsecured place (a password manager is recommended)
Step 5: Continue to Manage & Monitor Your Privileged Accounts
Once you’ve gone through an audit of your privileged accounts, the result is that your risk of a major cybersecurity incident due to a compromised user credential is reduced considerably.
The fewer privileged accounts you have, the fewer high-level targets you give to cybercriminals.
Now, you want to make sure that you continue to manage your privileged accounts by applying the Rule of Least Privilege any time you add a new user to any of your cloud accounts.
It’s also smart to audit your cloud accounts at least once a year to remove duplicates and check on privilege levels.
Get Help With an Easy-to-Use, Secure Access Management System
Connect2Geek can take the headache and security risk out of credential management for your Treasure Valley business.
Schedule your free consultation to learn more today! Call 208-468-4323 or reach out online.