Privileged access management (PAM) allows organizations to centrally store, manage, and secure administrative credentials and other high-value secrets. While using a secure central platform to store login credentials can greatly reduce the risk of data breaches, it can also make it harder for automated security testing tools to fully scan web applications. Learn how Netsparker integrates with PAM solutions to address this challenge.
Why Organizations Need Privileged Access Management
Protecting and managing business data and secrets has always been a challenge. Rapid business transformations combined with migration to the cloud and the rise of remote working have only exacerbated the problem. Trying to seal every door that cybercriminals could possibly exploit would be difficult and impractical – it is much easier to manage and control access to the most critical systems and data. Privileged access management solutions promise to do just this.
Privileged access management is a secure way for organizations to restrict and monitor access to their most critical and sensitive systems. Most attacks follow a typical scenario. First, attackers try to gain a foothold in the network, perhaps by using phishing or exploiting a known vulnerability. If this is successful, they then try to escalate their privileges in the system, paving the way for further malicious activity, such as creating new users with elevated privileges or accessing and stealing sensitive data. While conducting these malicious actions, attackers can also erase their tracks to prevent anybody from noticing their presence in the network.
This is why it is vital for organizations to take full control of privileged access and monitor it closely. However, for organizations struggling with digital transformation and now also the coronavirus pandemic with all its consequences, securing privileged access is a major challenge. A recent survey confirmed this, revealing that too many users have privileged access to sensitive information.
Zero Trust is the Way
To maintain control of data and secrets while also preventing malicious attacks, implementing a zero-trust security policy is crucial. It is based on the idea that enterprises should not trust anything inside or outside of their networks and every user trying to access the network should explicitly verify their identity. User privileges should also be limited only to the information and systems they need to perform their jobs.
To implement a zero-trust policy, enterprises can utilize a mix of existing technologies, such as multi-factor authentication (MFA), identity and access management (IAM), and privileged access management (PAM). MFA and IAM are effective ways of improving end-user access security but do not address privileged user accounts that have access to an enterprise’s most critical and sensitive systems and should be protected rigorously. This is where PAM comes into the picture.
Privileged access management brings many advantages. It is designed to control, manage, and monitor privileged users. Typical PAM features include password vaulting, session logging and tracking, two-factor authentication, and automated provisioning and de-provisioning. A PAM solution also prevents privileged users from abusing their access and can notify an administrator about any such attempts. PAM can also provide detailed reporting functionality to help companies maintain a comprehensive audit trail and meet stringent compliance requirements and standards.
Despite these benefits, PAM solutions involve some disadvantages for companies. Most notably, they can be costly and difficult to set up. Privileged access management also covers a relatively small subset of users, such as executives, security admins, and IT staff.
PAM Solutions on the Rise
The rise of PAM solutions is no surprise, as surveys confirm that many enterprise breaches are related to privileged access credentials. According to the Centrify survey Privileged Access Management in the Modern Threatscape from 2019, 74% of surveyed IT decision-makers whose organizations have been breached in the past say it involved privileged access credential abuse. This aligns with Forrester’s estimate that 80% of data breaches are connected to compromised privileged credentials.
Unsurprisingly, many organizations have started to embrace and implement privileged access management. According to Statista.com, the global PAM market, worth 900 million U.S. dollars in 2016, is expected to grow to over 2 billion U.S. dollars this year. There are already effective and powerful solutions on the market, including CyberArk and HashiCorp Vault. Recently, Netsparker introduced integration with HashiCorp Vault to help customers keep privileged access credentials under tight and centralized control.
HashiCorp Vault: Easy Secrets Management
HashiCorp Vault was created to address the problem of secrets management. In this case, secrets can include username-password combinations, database login credentials, certificates, and other data that allows you to authenticate with a system or authorize access. To prevent secret sprawl, Vault centralizes all such passwords, credentials, and keys, and encrypts them both in storage and in transit between Vault and client systems.
In addition to centralized storage and management, Vault provides an audit trail, tracking which key was used to access a web server or who accessed the system with which credentials. Apart from secrets, Vault can also be used to provide encryption for application data.
Another useful Vault feature is dynamic secrets. Instead of storing long-lived credentials, Vault provides short-lived credentials to reduce the risk of attackers successfully reusing stolen credentials. Secrets can be easily rotated and revoked. In case of leaks, you can determine which credentials were exposed and rotate them quickly. Because you also know which systems used compromised secrets, you can protect them better.
Using Netsparker with Privileged Access Management
Netsparker is a complete web application security solution that integrates with dozens of products, including privileged access management solutions such as HashiCorp Vault. While all data entered into Netsparker and generated during application scanning is well protected, PAM integration lets you take security even further and ensure that plain-text secrets never leave your systems. That way, you can fully scan applications that require authentication without ever entering application access credentials into Netsparker.
For organizations that use HashiCorp Vault, we have provided this step-by-step guide to configuring Netsparker for this PAM product. By integrating Vault into web application scanning as a source of secrets, you can eliminate the need to share sensitive credentials for vulnerability scanning on password-protected web pages, automate credential retrieval, and safely and easily manage credentials without disrupting vulnerability scanning workflows.
Setting up privileged access management can help your organization protect the keys to your IT kingdom and shows that you take security seriously. And if you do, then you will know that regularly scanning all your web applications with a quality DAST tool like Netsparker is a must to identify and fix vulnerabilities before they can be exploited by cybercriminals.