Privileged Access Management

PAM vs Password Manager: Which is Best?

Learn the difference between privileged access management and a password manager and see why a powerful PAM solution can make all the difference in your cybersecurity strategy.

As businesses of all sizes face increasing cyber threats, password protection and identity management are vital components of a robust cybersecurity strategy. In today's rapidly evolving digital landscape, it's crucial to understand the tools available to protect your vulnerable data. 

49% of data breaches include stolen credentials, according to Verizon’s 2023 Data Breach Investigations Report.

One common dilemma many businesses face is understanding the distinction between Privileged Access Management (PAM) and a password manager. While both have roles in securing access to systems and data, they serve vastly different purposes. 

In this blog post, we’ll detail the differences between privileged access management software and password management software, emphasizing that while a password vault can be a valuable tool, PAM is the superior choice for IT and tech teams.

What is Privileged Access Management (PAM)?

Privileged Access Management (PAM) is a comprehensive cybersecurity solution that offers total control and security when it comes to managing access to critical systems and sensitive data. It goes beyond the scope of the best password management tools, providing organizations with the capability to manage not only passwords but also a myriad of other privileged accounts and credentials. Incorporating robust information security practices, PAM solutions ensure that sensitive information remains protected from unauthorized access.

The best PAM solutions cover the entire privileged access lifecycle: identity management, privileged access management, and auditing all activities carried out in the privileged session.

What is a password manager?

A password manager is a tool designed primarily for individual users to store and manage their login credentials. While it serves a valuable purpose for personal online security, it falls short when addressing the complex needs of IT and security teams. Password managers essentially act as digital vaults for storing passwords, offering convenience but lacking the comprehensive security features needed in today's cyber threat landscape.

PAM Solution vs Password Manager

Now that you know what each solution does, let's dive into the key differences that set PAM apart from traditional password managers:

1. An All-in-One Solution

Enterprise password managers may provide basic password storage capabilities but don’t include the broader spectrum of privileged accounts and sensitive assets that require protection. 

PAM solutions, on the other hand, are designed to monitor, manage, and control access to all privileged accounts and credentials, including H2M and M2M. This comprehensive approach includes approval workflows, robust job engines for password rotation and discovery, and session management with recording. 

With PAM, organizations can securely manage accounts, implement the principle of least privilege, tighten permissions controls, and provide secure remote access, all within a single, integrated solution.

2. Accounts for Human Factors

Aside from external threats, malicious insiders and unsafe employee behaviors pose a significant risk to privileged account security. Password managers often rely on individual users to set up, maintain, and use the application diligently. 

In contrast, enterprise PAM solutions transfer the responsibility to the IT team, which assumes the task of setting up and maintaining corporate password security. This approach mitigates the risk associated with user negligence and ensures that password security remains a top priority.

3. Achieves Zero Trust

The Zero Trust security model, grounded in the principle of "never trust, always verify," is a modern approach to cybersecurity. Password managers lack the visibility and control required to adhere to Zero Trust principles, making it challenging to protect sensitive data and meet regulatory requirements.

Enterprise PAM solutions continuously discover and manage all privileged accounts and associated passwords throughout the organization. They provide centralized oversight, including session management and monitoring for privileged account behavior, meeting the high demands of the Zero Trust model.

4. Audits for Compliance

Compliance with industry regulations and audit requirements is essential for organizations across various industries. Password manager tools often lack crucial features like immutable audit logs, customizable reports, and session monitoring or recording.

In contrast, enterprise PAM solutions offer robust session recording capabilities, facilitating forensics and generating compliance reports that satisfy auditors’ strict requirements. PAM ensures that managers can monitor administrators' access comprehensively, providing transparency and accountability.

Learn more: Privileged Access Management (PAM): A Complete Guide

5. Made for Scalability

While enterprise password managers may be an initial cost-effective option for privileged credential security, most organizations swiftly outgrow them. These tools lack advanced automation and reporting, rendering them inadequate as organizations expand.

PAM software is tailor-made for scalability, addressing the challenges posed by system sprawl and multiple disconnected technologies. PAM tools seamlessly integrate with essential IT tools, such as Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) solutions, streamlining security management and reporting.

So which is best: Privileged Access Management or a Password Manager?

While password managers offer convenience and personal online security, Privileged Access Management (PAM) stands out as the best choice for IT and tech teams seeking a comprehensive cybersecurity solution. PAM provides an all-encompassing approach, accounting for human error, adhering to the Zero Trust model, ensuring compliance and auditing, and offering scalability for organizations' evolving needs. In an era where cyber threats continue to evolve, organizations must prioritize adopting robust PAM solutions to protect their critical assets effectively.

Remember, when it comes to safeguarding your organization from cyber threats, PAM is not just a choice; it's a necessity.

Explore the best Privileged Access Management solutions with senhasegura and fortify your organization's cybersecurity defenses.

Ready for more? Learn everything you need to know about Privileged Access Management in our PAM 101 eBook.

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