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How Does PAM Help Protect Against Ransomware Attacks?

How Does PAM Help Protect Against Ransomware Attacks?

How Does PAM Help Protect Against Ransomware Attacks?

According to data extracted from a Cybersecurity Ventures‘ survey, ransomware costs will reach $20 billion next year. The survey also predicts this type of cyberattack will target corporations every 11 seconds.

Ransomware consists of malware used by malicious agents to block their victims’ computers and then demand a ransom. This malware has evolved, going beyond encrypting data and causing the shutdown of operations in companies: ransomware such as Maze also causes the leak of sensitive information, endangering the credibility of a company and can generate great financial losses.

The good news is that it is possible to prevent this threat by using Privileged Access Management (PAM), and this is the subject of this article. Keep reading our text to the end and learn everything about it!

  • How to Prevent Ransomware Attacks with PAM
  • In this topic, we will show you how PAM helps prevent ransomware attacks. In practice, it allows to:
  • Know and Manage Privileged Credentials
  • Use Protection Strategies Based on Zero Trust
  • Implement the Principle of Least Privilege
  • Enhance Security in Remote Access
  • Audit Actions Performed Through Privileged Credentials

Below, we explain each of these aspects in more detail:

Know and Manage Privileged Credentials

In various types of cyberattacks, hackers use compromised credentials, and ransomware is no different, after all, to run this malicious software one needs to have privileges.

For this reason, it is recommended to discover and manage privileged credentials through Privileged Access Management (PAM). This solution makes it possible to discover, integrate, manage, switch, and audit credentials, as well as eliminate credentials that are no longer in use.

The best PAM tool for the discovery and management of privileged credentials is PAM senhasegura, which has discovery features considered best-in-class by the PAM market.

Use Protection Strategies Based on Zero Trust

Deploying the Zero Trust-based network security model is also essential to prevent ransomware attacks.
This concept considers no user or device should be allowed to connect to IT systems and services without first being authenticated, according to the strategy ?never trust, always verify?.

In practice, the Zero Trust model works as an extremely effective protection, which verifies credentials continuously before granting access through methodologies such as Just in Time.

Just in Time is a technique that offers each user only the necessary access for the required time to perform their activities.With PAM, it is possible to ensure the granular definition of privileges through strategies based on Zero Trust, such as Just in Time. Forrester highlighted the access granularity of senhasegura in its Wave for PIM report.

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Implement the Principle of Least Privilege

One of the ways to prevent most ransomware attacks is through the Principle of Least Privilege (POLP).
This strategy also limits the impact of ransomware that can be installed in your IT environment, preventing hackers from moving laterally and diminishing their ability to elevate privileges.

That is, if the malicious attacker steals a credential with limited access or without privileges, the losses will be much lower. In this sense, endpoint privilege management tools are essential features of Privileged Access Management platforms.

This is because the connection of endpoint devices such as IoT devices, smartphones, laptops, and tablets increases the attack surface, making it easier for malicious attackers to work.

senhasegura offers GO Endpoint Manager for Windows and Linux endpoint and workstation privilege management, which allows segregation for access to confidential information, isolating critical environments.

Enhance Security in Remote Access

Remote access is one of the major security vulnerabilities of companies in general. With it, employees and third-party suppliers do not always adhere to the security practices stipulated by the companies. We highlight the choice of weak or reused passwords or the use of the same password by a group of people among the main failures.

With Privileged Access Management, each user will only have access to resources indispensable to performing their tasks, thus reducing the attack surface, since administrators will be able to approve or deny access requests.

Through senhasegura Domum, secure remote access can be performed by employees and third parties with all senhasegura PAM remote session capabilities, providing Zero Trust-based access to corporate network devices without the need for a VPN.

Audit Actions Performed Through Privileged Credentials

Another capability of Privileged Access Management is to facilitate the audit of actions performed through privileged credentials, controlling risks such as improper access to these accounts.

senhasegura enables the implementation of stricter controls, which automate and centralize access to privileged credentials, protecting the IT infrastructure against data theft and compliance failures.
Through senhasegura PAM, it is possible to:

  • Obtain automated control of privileged account policies, enabling continuous monitoring and adherence to audit requirements;
  • Ensure full visibility of “who, when, and where”, as well as “what” happened during a session with privileged credentials;
  • Issue simplified audit reports from a central audit data repository;
  • Reduce operational costs and response time with ongoing audits.

About senhasegura

We are senhasegura, a company that integrates MT4 Tecnologia, a group founded in 2001 with a focus on digital security.

We are present in more than 50 countries, with a commitment to providing digital sovereignty and cybersecurity to our clients, granting control over actions and sensitive data and preventing information thefts and leaks.

To achieve this goal, we follow the lifecycle of privileged access management through machine automation, before, during, and after accesses. We also work for:

  • Avoiding the interruption of activities of companies, which may impair their performance;
  • Automatically auditing the use of privileges;
  • Automatically auditing privileged actions in order to identify and avoid privilege abuses;
  • Offering advanced Privileged Access Management solutions;
  • Reducing cyber threats; and
  • Keeping organizations in compliance with audit criteria and standards such as HIPAA, PCI DSS, ISO 27001, and Sarbanes-Oxley.

Conclusion

In this article, you saw that:

  • Ransomware consists of malware used by malicious agents to block their victims’ computers;
  • This malicious software can be countered by Privileged Access Management (PAM) tools;
  • This tool allows one to know and manage privileged credentials, use protection strategies based on Zero Trust, implement the principle of least privilege, reinforce security in remote access, and audit actions performed through privileged credentials.

Did you like our article? Then share it with others who want to know how Privileged Access Management contributes to preventing ransomware attacks.

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Critical Factors for the Success of Cybersecurity Projects

Critical Factors for the Success of Cybersecurity Projects

Critical Factors for the Success of Cybersecurity Projects

Not investing in cybersecurity is a mistake that can cause incalculable loss to organizations. After the Covid-19 pandemic, digital vulnerability has reached alarming numbers with the implementation of the home office work model, bringing the need to develop effective cybersecurity projects to serve the most diverse industries.

The process of developing cybersecurity projects is challenging. With that in mind, our article brings 4 critical factors for the success of this type of action.

Senior Management Support

In a company, all projects of great relevance must go through the approval or refusal of senior management. If the decision is for the implementation of the project, the engagement and cooperation of leaders are essential for the action to be successful. Regarding the adoption of cybersecurity measures, it is no different.

Gaining the support of senior management is one of the critical factors for the successful implementation of a cybersecurity plan. If a company’s management knows and trusts the project’s ability to meet the demands of its business, it will be ready to adopt it.

Communication Between Stakeholders

Once the execution of a cybersecurity project is established, communication is essential.
One or more communication channels must be created or determined to bring necessary information to stakeholders: senior management, project developers, vendors, clients, etc.

The development of a communication plan is highly recommended in these cases. The periodicity and the information each group will receive on the implementation of the project will be established through it. Many projects are unsuccessful due to poor communication between stakeholders, so it is essential to organize it in order to prevent this from happening.

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User Awareness

Presenting the purpose and importance of cybersecurity projects is an essential part of informing and raising users’ awareness. In order to engage employees and show how their actions can affect everyone within a digital environment, training should be applied with practical examples of the dangers posed by cyber risks and showing how to prevent them using the tools and solutions provided by the project.

Moreover, teams should be aware of Incident Response, Disaster Recovery, and Business Continuity Plans. In this way, it will be possible to create a greater sense of responsibility and engagement in all users, and not only in those specifically assigned to the company’s IT area.

Monitoring and Control of Scope, Term, and Budget

The scope of a project contains the mapping of all the work necessary for its progress and completion. It contains the defined goals and each of the stages for implementing the project. Monitoring and controlling the scope is to always remain alert for any changes that may arise in the development of the project, managing which are necessary or dispensable; which are within the budget and schedule available; and which have had approval and agreement from all people involved.

It is still necessary to track each of these changes to obtain an optimization of time and assignment of staff in the establishment of tasks so that the modifications do not negatively affect the project journey.
It is also important to create a project scope statement and make sure all stakeholders understand it. When dealing with external clients, it is also necessary to have a policy of changes and restrictions.

Conclusion

In this article, you found out what are the critical factors to succeed in developing cybersecurity projects. Did you like our content? Then share it with someone also interested in the topic.

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Top 7 Types of Phishing Attacks and How to Prevent Them

Top 7 Types of Phishing Attacks and How to Prevent Them

Top 7 Types of Phishing Attacks and How to Prevent Them

Social engineering, in the context of information security, consists of practices performed by hackers to manipulate users to take actions that go against their interests, exploiting their vulnerability and lack of knowledge for their benefit.

One of the main types of social engineering is a phishing attack, which has been growing every day. According to the Verizon Data Breach Investigation 2022 report, 20% of data leaks in the surveyed period involved phishing.

These numbers warn us about the need of knowing the different types of phishing and how to avoid this threat – topics covered in this article. To facilitate your understanding, we divided our text into topics. They are as follows: 

  • What Is Phishing?
  • How Phishing Works
  • Top 7 Types of Phishing Attacks
  • Common Phishing Signs
  • Best Practices for Preventing Phishing Attacks
  • senhasegura GO Endpoint Manager: The Solution to Protect Against Phishing Attacks
  • About senhasegura
  • Conclusion

Enjoy the reading!

 

What Is Phishing?

Phishing is a very common type of social engineering in which hackers impersonate legitimate entities or trusted people to manipulate their victims and ask them to perform certain actions, such as providing sensitive information or clicking on malicious links.

Social engineering attacks such as phishing are present in almost all cybersecurity incidents and often involve other threats, such as network attacks, code injection, and malware. 

How Phishing Works

Typically, cybercriminals use means such as social media to gather data from their victims, such as names, roles, interests, and email addresses. 

Then, this information is used to create a false message on behalf of a trusted entity, such as banks, the victim’s workplace, or the victim’s university.

In the messages, the user is asked to download malicious attachments or click on links to malicious websites in order to collect confidential information, which may include usernames, passwords, and bank details.

Some attackers use inappropriate fonts, logos, and layouts in phishing emails, making it easier to identify them as such, but cybercriminals are increasingly getting better at this, making their messages look authentic.

Top 7 Types of Phishing Attacks

Here are the top 7 types of phishing used by cybercriminals to manipulate their victims:

Deceptive Phishing

Deceptive Phishing is the most common among types of phishing. In it, attackers impersonate a legitimate entity to access their victims’ personal data or login credentials, using messages with threats and a sense of urgency to manipulate them.

Here are some common techniques used in Deceptive Phishing:

  • Use of legitimate links in emails, including contact information of the organization they are impersonating;
  • Combination of malicious and non-malicious codes to cheat Exchange Online Protection (EOP). It is possible, for example, to replicate the CSS and JavaScript of a tech company’s login page to steal users’ account credentials;
  • Use of abbreviated URLs to deceive Secure Email Gateways (SEGs) and “time bombing” to redirect users to a phishing landing page;
  • Change of an HTML attribute in brand logos to prevent email filters from detecting the theft of the company’s symbols;
  • Emails with minimal content, often in image form, to avoid detection.

Spear Phishing

Spear Phishing is also among the types of phishing that use email, but this model is more targeted. In practice, hackers use open-source intelligence (OSINT) to gather publicly available company data. 

Then, they focus on specific users, using this information to make the victims believe the message is from someone within the organization, thus facilitating the accomplishment of their requests.

To identify Spear Phishing, one needs to be aware of unusual insider requests, shared drive links, and documents that require a user login ID and password.

Whaling

Whaling is also among the types of phishing that use OSINT. Known as Whale Phishing, Whale Fraud, or CEO Fraud, this type of attack consists of identifying the name of the organization’s CEO through social media or corporate website and sending a message posing as them and making requests to victims.

To identify this type of attack, one must pay attention to abnormal requests made by leaders who have never sent this type of message before, for example. Moreover, it is important to verify the message has not been sent to or via a personal email. 

Vishing

Vishing is voice phishing, which happens when a cybercriminal contacts their victims by phone to awaken their sense of urgency and make them respond to their requests.

To identify Vishing, it is valid to check if the phone number used is from an unusual or blocked location, if the time of the call coincides with a stressful event, such as a tax filing season, and if the personal data requested is unusual.

Smishing

Smishing is an evolution of Vishing, which is characterized by sending texts asking the user to take a certain action to change a delivery, such as clicking on a link that installs malware on their device.

One can spot it by going to the service website and checking the status of the delivery or by comparing the area code with their contact list.

Pharming

Pharming is among the most difficult types of phishing to identify. It consists of hijacking a Domain Name Server (DNS) and directing the user who enters the website address to a malicious domain.

To protect yourself against this type of attack, you need to look for websites that are HTTPS, not HTTP, and be aware of indications that the website is false, such as strange fonts, spelling errors, or incompatible colors.

Angler Phishing

Angler Phishing is a type of attack in which malicious users send notifications or messages in a social media app to convince their victims to perform certain actions.

In such cases, it is advisable to be careful about notifications that may have been added to a post with malicious links, direct messages from people who hardly use the app, and links to websites shared in direct messages.

Top 7 Types of Phishing Attacks

Here are the top 7 types of phishing used by cybercriminals to manipulate their victims:

Deceptive Phishing

Deceptive Phishing is the most common among types of phishing. In it, attackers impersonate a legitimate entity to access their victims’ personal data or login credentials, using messages with threats and a sense of urgency to manipulate them.

Here are some common techniques used in Deceptive Phishing:

  • Use of legitimate links in emails, including contact information of the organization they are impersonating;
  • Combination of malicious and non-malicious codes to cheat Exchange Online Protection (EOP). It is possible, for example, to replicate the CSS and JavaScript of a tech company’s login page to steal users’ account credentials;
  • Use of abbreviated URLs to deceive Secure Email Gateways (SEGs) and “time bombing” to redirect users to a phishing landing page;
  • Change of an HTML attribute in brand logos to prevent email filters from detecting the theft of the company’s symbols;
  • Emails with minimal content, often in image form, to avoid detection.

Spear Phishing

Spear Phishing is also among the types of phishing that use email, but this model is more targeted. In practice, hackers use open-source intelligence (OSINT) to gather publicly available company data. 

Then, they focus on specific users, using this information to make the victims believe the message is from someone within the organization, thus facilitating the accomplishment of their requests.

To identify Spear Phishing, one needs to be aware of unusual insider requests, shared drive links, and documents that require a user login ID and password.

Whaling

Whaling is also among the types of phishing that use OSINT. Known as Whale Phishing, Whale Fraud, or CEO Fraud, this type of attack consists of identifying the name of the organization’s CEO through social media or corporate website and sending a message posing as them and making requests to victims.

To identify this type of attack, one must pay attention to abnormal requests made by leaders who have never sent this type of message before, for example. Moreover, it is important to verify the message has not been sent to or via a personal email. 

Vishing

Vishing is voice phishing, which happens when a cybercriminal contacts their victims by phone to awaken their sense of urgency and make them respond to their requests.

To identify Vishing, it is valid to check if the phone number used is from an unusual or blocked location, if the time of the call coincides with a stressful event, such as a tax filing season, and if the personal data requested is unusual.

Smishing

Smishing is an evolution of Vishing, which is characterized by sending texts asking the user to take a certain action to change a delivery, such as clicking on a link that installs malware on their device.

One can spot it by going to the service website and checking the status of the delivery or by comparing the area code with their contact list.

Pharming

Pharming is among the most difficult types of phishing to identify. It consists of hijacking a Domain Name Server (DNS) and directing the user who enters the website address to a malicious domain.

To protect yourself against this type of attack, you need to look for websites that are HTTPS, not HTTP, and be aware of indications that the website is false, such as strange fonts, spelling errors, or incompatible colors.

Angler Phishing

Angler Phishing is a type of attack in which malicious users send notifications or messages in a social media app to convince their victims to perform certain actions.

In such cases, it is advisable to be careful about notifications that may have been added to a post with malicious links, direct messages from people who hardly use the app, and links to websites shared in direct messages.

Common Phishing Signs

Keeping an eye for signs is a way to protect yourself from the action of malicious attackers who use different types of phishing to manipulate their victims. The following are the main indications of this threat:

Emails Exploring a Sense of Urgency

Messages that stimulate immediate action through threats or another way of awakening a sense of urgency should be faced with suspicion. After all, in this context, the goal of hackers is to ensure their victims respond to their requests in a hurry, before they can even notice inconsistencies in the email received.

Inadequate Tone

An important feature of phishing is that messages can use inadequate language and tone. Therefore, if you receive a message from a friend with an overly formal tone, suspect.

Unusual Requests

Emails with unusual requests often consist of phishing attacks. In practice, the victim may receive a message asking them to perform an action normally performed by the IT department, for example.

Spelling and Grammar Mistakes

In general, organizations often set up spellchecking of their emails. Thus, it is important to pay attention to spelling and grammatical mistakes that may indicate a phishing attack.

Incompatible Web Addresses

Another way to detect phishing attacks is by comparing the sender’s address with previous communication, which may point to incompatibility.

To do this, simply hover over the link in an email before clicking on it to see its true destination.

Unexpected Requests

Often, cybercriminals use fake login pages associated with emails that appear to be legitimate. On these pages, they can request financial information, which should in no way be provided by users without them checking the website that allegedly sent the email.

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Best Practices for Preventing Phishing Attacks

Here are some best practices to prevent different types of phishing:

Train Your Employees

Educating your employees is the first step you should take to prevent phishing attacks, after all, unprepared people are an easy target for malicious agents. Nevertheless, the training offered must go beyond the traditional approach and include recent and sophisticated threats.

Use Email Filters

Usually associated with spam, email filters go beyond this capability and indicate threats related to phishing attacks. In practice, using an email filter can prevent the user from receiving a large number of phishing emails.

Ensure Protection Against Malicious Websites

Knowing that organizations are filtering emails to prevent phishing, cybercriminals have been attacking website codes. 

So, you must install website alerts in browsers so that they point out possible risks to end users.

Limit Internet Access

Another way to reduce the risks associated with malicious websites is to create access control lists, which deny the connection to certain websites and applications to everyone who tries.

Require the Use of Multi-factor Authentication

One of the main goals of cybercriminals is to steal users’ credentials, a risk that can be reduced by using multi-factor authentication (MFA). 

In practice, this mechanism requires the user to use two or more items to authenticate themselves by combining something they know (such as a password), something they have (such as a token), and something associated with who they are (such as fingerprint or facial recognition).

Remove Fake Websites

You can count on solutions that monitor and eliminate counterfeit versions of your website. This way, you can prevent your employees and customers from clicking on malicious links.

Back Up Regularly

It is very common for phishing attacks to be associated with malware, including ransomware, which can impact the productivity of your business if you do not have a data backup program.

senhasegura GO Endpoint Manager: The Solution to Protect Against Phishing Attacks

One of the most effective solutions to prevent different types of phishing is senhasegura GO Endpoint Manager, which allows you to protect computers remotely connected to Windows and Linux endpoints. 

This tool:

  • Allows you to control lists of authorized, notified, and blocked actions for each user, reducing threats related to the installation of malicious software and privilege abuse;
  • Ensures compliance with regulations such as PCI, ISO, SOX, GDPR, and NIST;
  • Enables provisioning and revocation of access for privileged local users, without having to install any agent on the target device;
  • Records all requests for the use of administrative credentials in session logs; and
  • Allows the segregation of access to confidential information, isolating critical environments and correlating environments.

About senhasegura

senhasegura guarantees the digital sovereignty of organizations. This is because it acts by avoiding the traceability of actions and loss of information on devices, networks, servers, and databases.

Our services are also useful to bring our customers into compliance with audit criteria and strict standards such as PCI DSS, Sarbanes-Oxley, ISO 27001, and HIPAA.

Conclusion

In this article, you saw what phishing is, how this cyberattack works, what the different types of phishing are, and how to identify them. We have also shown the features of senhasegura GO Endpoint Manager and how it contributes to avoiding this threat.  

Do you need this solution in your company? Contact us.

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ISO 27001 – Key Benefits of ISO 27001

ISO 27001 – Key Benefits of ISO 27001

ISO 27001 – Key Benefits of ISO 27001

The process of digital transformation has intensified in companies of all sizes and industries, and is considered an essential factor for business success. One of the main consequences of this process is the exponential growth in the amount of data from customers, partners, and suppliers that are handled by these companies. 

No wonder the jargon “data is the new oil”: when properly handled, data is a powerful tool for decision-making, providing crucial information so that companies can act quickly and assertively in this new context. 

However, this digitalization process is accompanied by new business risks, especially those related to cybersecurity. By considering these new threats, organizational leaders have increasingly associated cybersecurity risks with business risks.

Implementing proper cybersecurity management requires companies to develop the policies and processes necessary to ensure the protection of this data. These policies and processes range from defining Information Security in the organization to the roles and responsibilities of those involved.

To define, guide, and verify the implementation of these cybersecurity policies and processes, some standards have been created by the market. One of the most recognized standards by the industry is ISO 27001, developed by the International Standards Organization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). One of the main goals of the ISO/IEC 27001 standard is to help companies manage and protect their information assets so that they are secure. The standard enables the implementation of a robust approach to managing Information Security and building cyber resilience.

For this, the ISO 27001 standard provides for the implementation of an Information Security Management System, or ISMS. The ISMS proposed by ISO 27001 encompasses the application of processes and controls for the proper management of Information Security. According to ISO 27001, ISMS is part of the organization’s management system and is based on business risk management. This includes the creation, implementation, and maintenance of the appropriate business processes for effective Information Security.

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The implementation of ISO 27001 assists a company in ensuring the integrity, confidentiality, and availability of data in accordance with defined policies and processes. However, for the ISMS to be effective and efficient, it must be continuously evaluated and reviewed by the respective responsible parties. For this, ISO 27001 provides for the implementation of a continuous improvement cycle of the ISMS processes. This improvement cycle, also called the PDCA cycle, consists of the following steps:

  • Plan, which includes the development of the objectives, policies, processes, and procedures of the ISMS;
  • Do, which addresses the steps necessary for the implementation of the objectives, policies, processes, and procedures established in the previous step;
  • Check, which aims to evaluate and measure the performance of the ISMS;
  • Act, which allows the application of corrective actions according to the measured items.

Other benefits achieved with the implementation of the ISO 27001 standard are:

  • Protection of a company’s business and reputation with customers, suppliers, partners, and employees;
  • Reduced operating costs and increased efficiency;
  • Protection of information, including sensitive data;
  • Reduction of cybersecurity and business risks;
  • Increased confidence level;
  • Avoidance of regulatory fines, especially those related to data protection laws, such as GDPR, LGPD, and CCPA;

We at senhasegura take security very seriously in the process of developing our Privileged Access Management (PAM) solutions. In this process, the products of our Integrated PAM Platform periodically undergo rigorous assessments, as well as audits and certifications with the strictest cybersecurity standards, including ISO/IEC 27001:2013. Obtaining this certification ensures the confidentiality and integrity of data throughout our organization, including processes and products.

It also demonstrates our commitment and ability to ensure the security of customer data, senhasegura’s security operations, product capabilities, and best development practices. In this way, we can address the needs of our customers through the products we develop, helping businesses to ensure the digital sovereignty of our customers over data and, above all, the reduction of cyber risks and business continuity.

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Top 7 Types of Phishing Attacks and How to Prevent Them

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ISO 27001 – Key Benefits of ISO 27001

The process of digital transformation has intensified in companies of all sizes and industries, and is considered an essential factor for business success. One of the main consequences of this process is the exponential growth in the amount of data from customers,...

Principle of Least Privilege: Understand the Importance of this Concept

Granting administrator access to a user who does not even have time to explain why they need this permission is not an efficient way to solve a company's problems but rather to harm its security.  This is because sensitive data can fall into the wrong hands through a...

How to Prevent DDoS Attacks in Your Company?

There are several methods by which malicious agents attack websites and destabilize network services and resources. One of the most widely used techniques is the DDoS attack, which means distributed denial-of-service. Through this attack, a website ends up becoming...

Principle of Least Privilege: Understand the Importance of this Concept

Principle of Least Privilege: Understand the Importance of this Concept

Principle of Least Privilege: Understand the Importance of this Concept

Granting administrator access to a user who does not even have time to explain why they need this permission is not an efficient way to solve a company’s problems but rather to harm its security. 

This is because sensitive data can fall into the wrong hands through a cyber invasion, in addition to the organization’s own collaborator posing a threat due to the possibility of human, accidental, or purposeful errors. 

In this context, it is recommended to apply the Principle of Least Privilege, which grants these users only the necessary permissions to perform their tasks. 

In this article, we explain in detail this concept and its importance, among other information on the subject. To facilitate your reading, we divided our text into topics, which are:

  • What is the Principle of Least Privilege?
  • Why is the Principle of Least Privilege Important?
  • 10 Benefits of the Least Access Principle
  • How to Implement the Principle of Least Privilege
  • Principle of Least Privilege: Example
  • Challenges of the Principle of Least Privilege
  • Need-to-Know Principle and Principle of Least Privilege: What Is the Relationship?
  • Zero Trust and the Principle of Least Privilege: What Is the Relationship?
  • How to Keep Your Data Protected Using Passwords
  • About senhasegura
  • Conclusion

Enjoy the read!

 

What is the Principle of Least Privilege?

Also known as Least Access Principle, the Principle of Least Privilege (POLP) refers to a concept of cybersecurity according to which users should receive only the necessary permissions to read, write, and execute files indispensable to their operations.

In practice, the Principle of Least Privilege integrates the security policy of companies and restricts access to applications, systems, and processes only to privileged users.

Depending on the system, it is possible to base these privileges on the roles of professionals within organizations. 

 

Why is the Principle of Least Privilege Important?

First, the Principle of Least Privilege is critical to reducing the attack surface, preventing the action of malicious users. This is extremely important, since privileged credentials are among the main targets of attackers.

That is, by limiting superuser and administrator access through the Least Access Principle, one can protect a company from intrusions. Moreover, it helps prevent the spread of malicious software, such as malware.

However, it is essential to be aware of the need to apply the Principle of Least Privilege to endpoints. This helps prevent hackers from using elevated privileges to increase their access and move laterally across the IT framework.

The need to keep companies in compliance with strict auditing standards also explains why the Principle of Least Privilege is important. 

 

10 Benefits of the Least Access Principle

The main benefits of the Least Privilege are:

  • Elevation of privileges when necessary
  • Restriction of access to applications
  • Restriction of access to system settings
  • Control of the data used
  • Smallest attack surface
  • Reduction of human failures
  • Malware containment
  • Enhanced data security
  • Protection against common attacks
  • Compliance with audit criteria

Here are more details on these benefits:

 

Elevation of Privileges When Necessary

It is necessary to apply the Least Access Principle (POLP) whenever one needs to elevate the privileges of an employee to a particular application for a specific time to operate. 

 

Restriction of Access to Applications

Another purpose of the Principle of Least Privilege is to prevent an administrator from changing the settings of equipment by installing applications and exposing the organization’s network to cyber threats.

 

Restriction of Access to System Settings

The  Principle of Least Privilege also has the function of reducing administrative privileges by restricting access to system settings. 

Thus, a user may have administrative privileges without being able, for example, to change firewall settings, since the control of the environment is intended for the administrator. 

 

Control of the Data Used

Through the Principle of Least Privilege, one can record and store detailed information about each access granted and obtain greater control of the company’s data. 

 

Smallest Attack Surface

If a malicious agent breaks into a user account with limited permissions, their attack will compromise only the resources accessed by that user. In contrast, if the hacked account is an administrator, the hack will impact the entire network.

This means that, in order to reduce the attack surface used by hackers to harm a business, it is recommended to keep the minimum number of administrator accounts.

 

Reduction of Human Failures

In addition to hacking, applying the Principle of Least Privilege in your organization helps prevent problems caused by human errors. After all, users with access to resources that go beyond what is necessary to perform their tasks can, unintentionally or even purposely, delete or reconfigure something.

 

Malware Containment

The  Principle of Least Privilege helps prevent your network from getting infected by malware. This is because an administrator with many accesses can spread malware to multiple systems, while it is possible to count its dissemination on networks where Least Privilege applies.

However, it is not enough to restrict users’ access, as the same must be done in relation to applications in order to prevent this type of attack on your network.

 

Enhanced Data Security

You may remember when Edward Snowden leaked millions of classified NSA (National Security Agency) files to the media due to his privileged access. The incident has caused many problems, which could be avoided if his permissions were limited to the scope of his work.

Applying the Least Access Principle is an efficient way to limit the number of users with access to sensitive data, reducing the possibility of internal leaks and strengthening digital security. 

Moreover, in the event of a violation, the restrictions imposed by the Principle of Least Privilege allow for easier tracking of the cause.

 

Protection Against Common Attacks

Applications with high privileges are often targeted by hackers, who insert malicious instructions into SQL statements to control critical systems. However, this type of attack can be avoided through the Principle of Least Privilege (POLP), which impacts the possibility of elevating permissions. 

 

Compliance with Audit Criteria

Applying the Least Access Principle allows organizations to operate in accordance with the most stringent audit requirements, making it possible to avoid threats and reduce the downtime and losses generated by a potential attack.

 

How to Implement the Principle of Least Privilege

Some practices are recommended when the goal is to apply the Principle of Least Privilege. Some of them are:

  • Conduct an audit of the accounts;
  • Establish the Least Privilege into new accounts;
  • Elevate privileges for a limited time;
  • Ensure that elevations of privileges are appropriate;
  • Track all user actions on the network; and
  • Conduct periodic audits.

Check out these items in more detail below:

Conduct an Audit of the Accounts;

The first step in implementing the Least Access Principle is to audit all existing privileges in accounts, programs, and processes, ensuring that users are only granted the necessary permissions to perform their activities.

 

Establish the Least Privilege Into New Accounts

Next, it is important to keep in mind that new accounts must be created in compliance with the Principle of Least Privilege, regardless of whether they are used by company managers or IT staff.

After all, if any of these users require a higher level of access afterward, it may be granted temporarily.

 

Elevate Privileges for a Limited Time

The privileges granted must be temporary whenever a user needs to raise the level of access for a specific project. In such cases, to ensure even greater security, it is possible to use single-use credentials.

 

Ensure that Elevations of Privileges Are Appropriate

Before applying the Principle of Least Privilege to accounts that already exist, you should assess which roles require elevated access and whether users actually rely on this elevation of privileges to perform their operations.

This assessment should be carried out periodically, including new tasks that may require privileged access. 

 

Track All User Actions On the Network

To apply the Principle of Least Privilege, it is also important to monitor and track all user actions on your network.

This monitoring will allow you to detect over-privileged users, track suspicious activity, and identify evidence of an intrusion before it causes incalculable damage.

 

Conduct Periodic Audits

To ensure that permissions are always at the appropriate level, periodic audits are required. 

Keep in mind that performing this type of maintenance is much easier than starting to implement the Principle of Least Privilege policy from the beginning, saving you time and ensuring more security for your company. 

 

Principle of Least Privilege: Example

Here are some cases where the use of POLP is indispensable:

  • Social Media

We advise the conscious and responsible use of social media through the application of the Principle of Least Privilege. In other words: to offer only the information necessary to make use of these media and not to share sensitive data with other user profiles.

In addition, it is important to configure privacy and security options in order to restrict users’ access to your publications.

  • Mobile Devices

Many applications request unnecessary permissions to perform their functions, such as telephone, location, and contacts, and can even be used to steal the banking details of the victims.

Therefore, it is also essential to apply the Principle of Least Privilege in this case in order to avoid damage caused by malicious apps.

  • Health System

A receptionist of a health insurance plan should not have access to the clinical and confidential data of patients. This is because, without the Principle of Least Privilege, if a malicious user invades your computer, they will have access to these files.

  • Manufacturing Companies

A manufacturing company should also grant its employees only the level of access needed to perform their tasks, rather than giving access to your entire ICS. This is because remote access to industrial resources and interconnectivity generate security vulnerabilities for the organization.

  • Retail

The retail sector usually has a high turnover of employees, which can be a problem if there is no control over the levels of access granted. For this reason, companies in the segment must apply the Principle of Least Privilege to ensure that only the right people have access to their data and resources.

  • Financial Services

Professionals working in financial services deal with millions of customer files daily. To reduce risks, it is appropriate to apply the least access principle (POLP) in that context. 

  • Outsourced Activities

Many corporations outsource services such as CRM systems, HR, and databases. When they need technical support, it is advisable to apply the Principle of Least Privilege, ensuring that outsourced professionals have access only to the system they need to repair, which reduces risks to the company.

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Challenges of the Principle of Least Privilege

The main feature of the Least Access Principle is the possibility of granting users only the necessary permissions to perform their tasks, and the major challenges related are the minimum access and the access expiration. Check it out:

  • Minimum Access

Often, the administrator is not sure if the user really needs a high level of access before providing it and grants this permission anyway to reduce inconvenience to the user and not needing to contact technical support.

Nevertheless, it is advisable not to provide privileged access without being 100% sure it is necessary. If the access provided is not required, this is unlikely to be reported to technical support, increasing the attack surface. In contrast, if the user does not receive the access they need, they may request this permission. 

  • Access Expiration

Another challenge related to privileged access is that often a user’s roles are changed over time, without removing previous privileges. As a result, many employees accumulate unnecessary privileges to perform their activities.

To avoid this problem, it is recommended to set a deadline for the access expiration, which ensures that it expires if it is not renewed. 

 

Need-to-Know Principle and Principle of Least Privilege: What Is the Relationship?

Used by governments and large organizations to protect state and industrial secrets, the Need-to-Know Principle is a concept that advocates restricting information access only to people who need it to perform their tasks, regardless of the corporation’s level of security or the authorization of superiors.

When we talk about digital security, its application involves the use of mandatory access control (MAC) and discretionary access control (DAC) solutions.

The Principle of Least Privilege, in turn, refers to the need to direct just the accesses each user of a network or system needs to perform their functions. 

 

Zero Trust and the Principle of Least Privilege: What Is the Relationship?

Under the Zero Trust-based security concept, organizations should not rely on anything that is within or outside their boundaries. Therefore, any access requests must be checked and evaluated before being granted.

To limit which systems a user can access, this security model uses features such as auditing, credential protection, and multifactor authentication (MFA).

Moreover, it is recommended to apply the Principle of Least Privilege as a strategy to limit the level of access of users only to the necessary permissions.

 

How to Keep Your Data Protected Using Passwords

The cyber universe requires many security measures to mitigate risks, and POLP is one of the most effective. However, there are other ways to protect an organization’s resources and data, and one of them is to choose secure passwords. 

Here’s what you should take into account to set a password:

  • Use long and complex passwords. This prevents hackers from using techniques to guess them. However, just using complex passwords may not be enough to avoid the action of malicious attackers.
  • Many devices are configured with default passwords. Change them immediately.
  • Avoid reusing your passwords on different accounts. In addition, constantly check if you have ever been a victim of data leaks through senhasegura Hunter. In that case, change your passwords immediately.
  • Set up your passwords to be changed frequently. The ideal is at least every three months.
  • Do not write down, store in an easily accessible place, or share your passwords with others, thus avoiding unauthorized access.
  • Consider password management solutions, or even privileged access management (PAM), to manage the use of systems and devices.
  • Use multifactor authentication (MFA) mechanisms to add a layer of security to your accounts.
  • Set up means of retrieving access, such as including phone numbers or emails.
  • Passwords are one of the oldest security mechanisms in the computing world and are also one of the main attack vectors by hackers. And in the “new normal” era, with increasing threats resulting from the covid-19 pandemic, it is vital that users be alert and properly protect their digital identities. In this way, we can avoid cyberattacks that can cause considerable damage not only to people, but also to businesses. Remember: security starts with you!

 

About senhasegura

We, from senhasegura, are part of the MT4 Tecnologia group, created in 2001, to promote cybersecurity.

We are present in 54 countries, providing our clients with control over privileged actions and data. In this way, we avoid the action of malicious users and data leaks. 

We understand that digital sovereignty is a right of all and this goal can only be achieved with applied technology. 

Therefore, we follow the life cycle of privileged access management, before, during, and after access, by using machine automation. Among our commitments, the following stand out:

  • To ensure more efficiency and productivity for businesses, as we avoid interruptions due to expiration;
  • To perform automatic audits on the use of privileges;
  • To automatically audit privileged changes to detect abuses;
  • To ensure customer satisfaction;
  • To perform successful deployments;
  • To provide advanced PAM capabilities;
  • To reduce risks;
  • To also bring companies into compliance with audit criteria and standards such as PCI DSS, Sarbanes-Oxley, ISO 27001, and HIPAA.

 

Conclusion

By reading this article, you saw that:

  • The Principle of Least Privilege is a security policy, where each user of a system must receive only the necessary permissions to complete their activities;
  • This allows to reduce the attack surface and avoid the action of malicious attackers;
  • It also brings other benefits, such as avoiding the proliferation of malware and human failures, that may generate risks;
  • To implement the Least Access Principle in an organization, it is necessary to audit existing accounts, ensure that elevation of privileges is granted for a limited period, and track all actions of users on the network, among other good practices;
  • As examples of situations in which the Principle of Least Privilege should be applied, we highlight social networks and health systems, among others;
  • The main challenges related to the adoption of the Principle of Least Privilege refer to minimum access and access expiration;
  • The Principle of Least Privilege can be associated with the Need-to-Know Principle and the Zero Trust-based security model.
  • In addition to using the Principle of Least Privilege, keeping an organization’s data secure involves other measures, such as the adoption of strong and unique passwords.

 

Did you like our article on the Principle of Least Privilege? Then share it with someone who may be interested in the topic. 

 

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