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Who is a Privileged User, Really? You May be Surprised by the Answer

Imagine if one of your HR employees were to reveal sensitive information about salaries or litigation facing your enterprise in an email to the wrong person.  Think about a marketing manager who has access to the company’s social media channels, putting the enterprise at risk with a single racist remark. Or consider R&D professionals who have access to and exchange information about medicines being developed, FDA reports or clinical trials. What if their private digital conversations were breached?

These are not just mythical scenarios. These are actual, everyday high-security risks. Wouldn’t you consider all of these users to be privileged?   After all, wouldn’t you view their potential impact on a company’s security to be large? Well that’s not the case in many enterprises.

I believe the risks posed by some non-IT workers are so large that I’m on an all-out mission to awaken enterprises to perhaps the single biggest blind spot in data breach prevention. That is, the IT team is not your only high security risk because many ‘regular’ workers have access to or exchange highly sensitive or privileged information. For cybersecurity decision makers, this means you may have far more privileged users than you think.

 So, what should organizations do? Let me break it down for you. At Axiad IDS, we advise companies to start by re-thinking how to define a ‘privileged user’.  

  • Look at every worker and every system that may have access to sensitive or privileged data.

  • Recognize that not all users are equal and evaluate each person/use case on a case-by-case basis.

  • Don’t make assumptions based on job title.

  • Look at everyone interacting with the organization: take into account vendors, suppliers, and customers. 

  • Go beyond people. Evaluate privileged access for machines and digital resources too.

What you discover will dictate the level of actual risk and protection required. By starting with this analysis, you can significantly tighten cybersecurity protections because you’ll be able to match high-assurance credentials to the higher-risk part of your organization’s population.

Until now, even if you did this detailed risk assessment, it was just too complex to protect every person and every system in accordance with their risk profiles. Now, enterprises can extend strong authentication where needed because cost-effective and easy-to-use solutions are available in the Cloud. This said, I have to add that getting the right mix of credentials is not just about user authentication. You’ll only be able to fully protect against data breach if your solution also:

  1. protects the confidentiality, integrity and availability of each interaction; and

  2. (as suggested above) widens the ‘circle of trust’ to include apps, servers, machines, and devices that interact with the enterprise

I realize this is a lot to digest in a single blog, so join us on an upcoming webinar where we will take a deeper dive and can answer any questions. Here are a few details.

On October 24, Bassam Al-Khalidi, Co-CEO and Principal Consultant of Axiad IDS will join David Treece, Senior Solutions Architect of Yubico on a joint webinar to discuss:

  • How to identify privileged users and what it will take to extend strong authentication across the enterprise

  • Managing the lifecycle of devices and credentials while saving on deployment and IT operational costs

  • The key benefits of enabling hardware-backed two-factor authentication to address an expanding digital workplace.

The bottom line: identifying privileged users is at the root of data breach prevention. The sooner an organization understands just how extensive the list of privileged users truly is, the better they can apply the right authentication solution.  

 I hope you will join our webinar to learn more.

BrightTALK Webinar Yubico and Axiad IDS

Monica Nascimento is the Vice President of Solutions Marketing at Axiad IDS. Axiad IDS provides trusted identity and access solutions allowing customers to: safely interact online; the freedom to access information from anywhere; and the confidence to fully benefit from today’s digital world.

 To consult with an Axiad IDS security expert, feel free to reach out to me at monica@axiadids.com.

 
 
 
 

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Monica Nascimento is the Vice President of Solutions Marketing at Axiad IDS. Axiad IDS provides trusted identity and access solutions allowing customers to: safely interact online; the freedom to access information from anywhere; and the confidence to fully benefit from today’s digital world.

 To consult with an Axiad IDS security expert, feel free to reach out to me at monica@axiadids.com