In an age where cloud computing is at its peak, data security is perhaps the greatest challenge for managers and IT departments to tackle. For the best protective measures, managers must go back to the basics of information security. And the basics start with Least Privilege Principle. This article explains the main benefits of implementing such a principle for your business.
What is the Principle of Least Privileges?
The Principle of Least Privileges is a cybersecurity concept and practice that defines how users should be granted access to the enterprise system. It states that every individual user, irrespective of their qualifications and trustworthiness, should be given privileges depending on their role and no more than that.
This means the principle enforces a minimal level of rights given to the users and the tasks they can perform within the system. This is not only applicable to users but also accounts and services.
This form of role-based privilege allotment has several benefits on offer.
Enhanced Security for Companies and its users
A growing number of businesses are reliant on cloud infrastructure to run their everyday operations. To protect the cloud infrastructure, businesses must adopt a role-based account creation process. If a user’s role is to update payroll records, they wouldn’t necessarily have access to sales records. This approach also keeps every user accountable.
The least privilege approach also protects against external hackers. These bad actors are found coveting privileged accounts to gain access into the system. Once obtained, the cloud infrastructure is at their mercy. They end up accessing a lot of sensitive data and, even worse, expose it. This isn’t good for any business, in any sector. Hackers often target low-level exploits, primarily through a phishing attack. To curb this, companies must adopt strong password management and automated password rotation systems.
Easy Access for Both Team Members and Customers
If you love the simplicity of SSO or Single sign-on, you should be thanking the least privilege approach. SSO systems can authorize users across multiple devices for hours and even days. For large companies handling thousands of millions of users, this automation is an exciting opportunity to capitalize on.
Once signed in, if they are not restricted for the tasks they aren’t supposed to be doing, this can cause irreversible problems. And the last thing you’d want is such accounts to fall in the hands of hackers. Therefore, to provide your users with the simplicity of SSO, you must implement the least privilege.
Simplified Auditing and Reporting
Once the user accounts have been created, you need to monitor and run audits. This is to find out potential flaws and reapply restrictions if necessary. Depending on how many users are there and how the audit process is designed, the audit department can take several days to prepare reports. There are usage audits, privilege audits, and change audits to be done.
Since role-based account creation keeps everyone accountable, it makes the job of auditors easier. They’ll be able to prepare reports within a short period. The faster you can run through the reports, the quicker you’ll be able to fix the flaws.
Better Configuration Management for IT teams
The role of users keeps changing all the time. Today, someone might be serving in the accounts department. Tomorrow, they might be in a different department altogether, assigned entirely different duties.
Therefore, their privileges in the enterprise system should be updated accordingly. This transition in privilege becomes easier if individual users are already defined. And the principle of least privileges is based on role-based account creation. This makes configuration management better and faster.
Another benefit is with unwanted configuration modification, often carried out by hackers. If hackers can gain access to the system, they may even modify the configuration at any time. This is unless you’ve restricted those accounts from making such modifications. Therefore by adopting the least privileges principle, you grant modification privilege to only those authorized for it and provide an additional security layer to those accounts.
Reduced Cost with Increased Productivity
IT support is now a major cost for most companies. And a significant portion of it goes towards security and maintenance. With this approach, businesses can expect some cost savings. This is because they’re eliminating breaches at the very beginning. Thus, they do not have to spend resources on fixing those damages. Take into consideration that the average cost of a data breach is $3.86 million.
Also, since the least privilege environment can automate many tasks, this reduces the workforce required to run the enterprise application. The software can be installed, configured, and updated almost autonomously.
Applying the least principle to your business can be daunting. Cloud security platforms can make this task easier.