What Is Privileged Identity Management (PIM)?

What Is Privileged Identity Management (PIM)?
What Is Privileged Identity Management (PIM)?

With cyber threats becoming more sophisticated, networks need better security and control over access. Access authorisation is also a significant topic in identity and access management, offering various management protocols and procedures for authenticating a user’s identity.

Privileged identity management emerges as a strategic and secure mechanism that is purely dedicated to managing, monitoring, and controlling access to privileged accounts. Let us understand the framework of Privileged Identity Management.

What Is Privileged Identity Management?

PIM, short for Privileged Identity Management, is an effective mechanism and a significant component of cybersecurity for an organisation’s network security. A few network accounts can be deemed privileged, such as those of administrative officers, chief officers, or superusers. These accounts can be called privileged accounts.

These privileged accounts sometimes need elevated access rights, which allows them to perform administrative activities and also access sensitive databases.

When we talk about PIM’s functioning, it operates with the help of a combination of security tools and software that manage and monitor privileged accounts while also providing a safe and secure space for them.

It enforces stringent controls over password policies and also complies with all regulatory standards. With all its salient features, PIM acts as a defence mechanism, proactively negating the possibility of unauthorised access attempts and improving overall network security.

How Does a Privileged Identity Management System Work?

1. Privileged Users – Provisioning

If an organisation is implementing the privileged identity management system, the first thing they need to do is identify privileged accounts. Ensuring that these accounts are limited and few in number is paramount.

Once these accounts are designated and registered in the system, the organisation must move to the next step and that is limiting the privileges of those privileged accounts.

2. Limited Privileges

It is important for privileged identity management tools to follow the least privilege principle across the network. This will decrease the surface of the effect in case a hacker somehow gets in and performs a cyberattack.

The organisation needs to categorise these privileged accounts and allot a level of authority according to their job and responsibilities. This will define the scope of access!

3. Authentication

Most organisations choose to integrate two-factor or multi-factor authentication with their privileged identity management system. The deployment of MFA enhances the procedure of verification and authentication of user identity.

Along with that, the privileged identity management system also carries out password rotation to keep the password policy intact and keep the password changing. This is for enhanced security of the network.

4. Role-Based Access Control

When the user goes through the registration process for authentication and authorisation, they are segmented according to the jobs and responsibilities they have.

As mentioned above, they will be allowed to access specific departments in the network according to their scope of work. This will keep the work segregated and sorted while also keeping the sensitivity of access intact.

This also helps reduce the surface of attack, and we will talk about it later in the benefits section.

5. Session Monitoring and Audits

Once all the users are registered with the identification system for their access rights, they can continue with their particular sessions. When a user gains privileged access to the network for a specific session, the system starts to monitor this session.

These sessions are recorded in the form of history and reports. This allows the system to detect any unauthorised or fraudulent action and suspend any suspicious session at that given moment. This system is extremely beneficial for network safety and security.

Features of Privileged Identity Management

1. Employment of MFA

Privileged identity management usually incorporates multi-factor authentication for granting access to privileged accounts.

Multi-factor authentication is widely used for its multiple layers of protection, it is mostly because the system can verify the user's identity through various modes. This makes access difficult for unauthorised users or hackers.

2. Just-In-Time Access

Now, there are privileged accounts that usually are authorised to gain access to higher levels of information that contain sensitive information.

However, when the organisations are big, there might be a user or two who need temporary or short-span access to those segments in the network. With PIM, it is easy for such users to gain access to complete that single task they need to look after.

3. Privilege Access History

With the help of the continuous monitoring of what goes on in the network with PIM, it becomes easy to seek information about particular sessions.

This is because PIM lets the system record session histories to monitor the happenings and activities of privileged accounts or just-in-time access requests/sessions.

This report or session history can tell which privileges were used, when and for how long, making it easy to monitor and manage the network.

4. Monitoring And Reporting Session

The best thing about privileged identity management is that it monitors the user sessions. As mentioned above, the sessions are tracked and recorded for safety and security purposes.

This enhances the visibility of the network in the system, helping in detecting any kind of suspicious or unauthorised activity. The PIM system also conducts audit trails and reports all the account details.

This benefits the organisation to comply with the regulations as well as ensure accountability.

5. Access Controls

The best and biggest feature of PIM is the access control it provides. It regulates and restricts access whenever necessary and monitors and reports it as well.

Privileged identity management also provides role-based access control. This means that the PIM system will allow users access according to the authority they have based on their jobs and responsibilities. This ensures authorised access on different levels!

Benefits of PIM (Privileged Identity Management)

1. Enhanced Security

Every network requires an efficient and effective security system, especially when it comes to access to sensitive information. With the help of stringent access control, continuous session monitoring and reporting, and other such provisions, that level of security can be achieved.

PIM enables all of the abovementioned functions, and hence, it is only fair to consider it a security-enhancing mechanism.

2. Assured Compliance

There are various regulations and requirements established and stated by official laws, like HIPAA and SOC2 that an organisation has to comply with.

These laws usually state that there should be limited access to sensitive and confidential data within the organisation's network. With PIM, fulfilling these criteria becomes easy.

3. Simplified Access

With the functions of privileges and trusted access, privileged identity management offers easy and simplified access to privileged users. These privileged users or privileged accounts present within the network can access designated resources.

They can request privileged access and, along with that, request to gain access in case of lost credentials.

4. Reduced Cost

When it comes to many management and control duties, the requirement of a dedicated IT team becomes paramount. However, with PIM, that isn’t the case.

The mechanism itself has predefined frameworks and procedures that the tools follow. The security tool follows a set of access policies and structures, reducing auditing, monitoring, and IT costs.

5. Risk Reduction

With big organisations, inactive accounts can be a huge issue. These accounts make the network highly vulnerable to cyberattacks. PIM functions in a way that helps the system find those inactive accounts.

Due to all the monitoring and report creations, these inactive accounts become easy to spot and revoke.

Privileged Identity Management vs. Privileged Access Management

As discussed above, PIM is a system that identifies the users in order to grant them privileged access up to their level and authority. Now, let us understand how PAM is different from PIM.

PAM usually deals with the management prospects of privileged accounts, access rights, and their credentials. PAM is responsible for identifying the level of the user’s hierarchy and allotting access accordingly.

Hence, we can say that verifying access identities is PIM’s function, and managing and controlling the access rights of those users is PAM’s duty.

So, we can definitely see the similarity of function between the two, but they are fundamentally different in how they function.

Ending Notes

We can end this blog by saying that privileged identity management systems have emerged as a profound and robust system for managing, monitoring, and controlling identities at the time of authentication.

Along with enhancing the security quotient of the network, it also segregates and simplifies access and work.

With the help of multi-factor authentication and its integration with a privileged identity management system, you can form a comprehensive authorisation and identity and access management protocol.

Look for renowned service providers, such as Instasafe, to install such systems for efficiency and better security.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What are the common challenges faced while implementing PIM?

There can be a few challenges at the time of PIM implementation, including existing system integration, user awareness, compliance is compulsory, balance between security and operational efficiency.

2. How does PIM work?

PIM employs different tools and protocols to monitor, manage, and secure user accounts that qualify as privileged. Its functions include access control, password policies, monitoring, and provisions for just-in-time access.

3. Is PIM and Identity and Access Management the same thing?

PIM is a subset of identity and access management that focuses on security privileges accounts and managing their identities. Identity and access management encompasses a broader range of management and identification activities related to network users.