Technology has made business processes easier, accurate, and quicker. It also brings along several challenges, security being a prime concern of the modern tech world. Users with privileges/rights can work in a given system.
Abuse of these rights through hackers, malware, or internal misuse can result in security breaches. According to the Microsoft Vulnerabilities Report 2020, 77% of all critical Microsoft vulnerabilities could have been mitigated by just removing the admin rights. This is where the security least privilege comes in.
What Does the Principle of Security Least Privilege Mean?
The concept behind this principle is providing users or services only those privileges that are necessary to perform their intended function. There have been attacks on corporate giants wherein hackers abused privileged accounts to gain access to sensitive data.
You differentiate between different user roles. The least privilege is a security mechanism that protects systems and data from unauthorized access and malicious attacks.
Benefits of Security Least Privilege
You can tackle risks such as separation of duty, privilege escalations, and dormant identities with the least privilege. By assigning necessary privileges, you create an environment that is less susceptible to threats. Every employee on your team does not need admin rights to the systems. By limiting privileges, you reduce the number of potential targets. You reduce the number of liabilities for hackers to exploit.
Reduces Extent of an Attack
If most users have high privilege accounts, then those accounts can act as a single point of failure, and hackers could abuse this vulnerability to gain unauthorized access. With the least privilege in place, if a user account gets compromised due to a phishing attack or malware, the breach can be contained due to its limited privilege profile.
The least privilege helps you deal with risks such as horizontal privilege escalation and toxic combinations. It provides the tool necessary to monitor user activity in the system. Assigning high-level privileges to required employees ensures no personnel in your organization will have access to sensitive data that does not fall under their purview.
Removing admin rights alone can help your systems function better and faster. It leads to fewer re-installations and reduced customer service requests. Any changes made affect only a specific section of users, and the rest of the system can function as is.
Best Practice for Maintaining Least Privilege
- Continuously monitor user and data access in your system. Have an automated alert mechanism in place wherein which will notify you immediately of any suspicious activity.
- If a high-level privilege is required, you could grant access to the user for a specific time limit or until the task is complete.
- It would be best if you had complete visibility of the trust relationships in your system.
- Conduct regular audits to verify if privileges are working as expected. Also, check for user roles and verify if they still require high-level privileges in the system.
Security is paramount, be it standalone environments or cloud-based accounts. With the security least privilege, you reduce the number of liabilities in the system, control the risk area, improve security, stability, and performance.
Invest in identity security and data governance tools to help implement and maintain the principle of least privilege.