It is becoming increasingly tough for IT security teams to protect user access to corporate networks and information.
Work environments are increasingly digital, hybrid, and cloud-based, and the number and range of devices trying to connect to the corporate network has proliferated. In such a complex landscape, it can be hard to see what’s going on or who has access to what inside the network and for what purpose.
Access all areas?
Employees have different access needs. Some, such as IT administrators, need high-level or privileged access to every corner of the network to be effective. This makes privileged access users a prime target for adversaries, increasing security risk, especially if the privileged user is trying to access the network remotely.
Managing the level of privileged access across the organization is business critical. A recent study found that inadequately managed privileges resulted in security breaches in more than a third (36%) of organizations surveyed for a 2022 survey by the Identity Defined Security Alliance (IDSA). Additionally, 21% reported that excessive privileges led to an insider attack.
Protecting privileged access
The problem isn’t that users have privileged access to the network, data, and systems; the problem occurs when gaps in security allow cyberattackers to take control of privileged accounts to abuse these privileges.
Once an attacker gains access to an account, for example by using social engineering tactics to steal credentials, they can access everything that user has access to. For users with privileged access, this could well include confidential or sensitive data or critical systems.
Many successful compromises go unnoticed at first, allowing the attacker to enjoy undisturbed access to the network, move laterally, download and install additional tools, compromise further machines, and more, until they either attempt to do significant damage with ransomware or malware or the security team becomes aware of the intruder and intervenes.
Cyberattacks that exploit privileged access are preventable
Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) is based on the principle that employees have access only to those assets and systems that they need to do their work. So that even if an attacker does manage to breach an account, they are limited to what the user can access. This means that first and foremost, only those who need privileged access are given it.
However, ZTNA goes further than that. Any employee is a potential security risk, regardless of their access rights, because attackers will often try to elevate their privileges or take other action to secure admin-level rights once they’ve successfully compromised a victim account and broken into the network. So ZTNA is about continuous verification of every user and device accessing the network.
Zero Trust is an approach, a philosophy — combining innovative security technologies with employee awareness and training, for example effective password hygiene, how to spot potential threats, and what to do about it. The Zero Trust premise of trust nothing, verify everything keeps organizations safe from anyone and anything who is not who they say they are, especially if they have the right to access the most sensitive parts of the business.
If you’d like to learn more about the three top tips for easy and effective privileged access management, read our new e-book, 3 Steps to Easily Manage and Secure Privileged Access. You can download it here.
Enable Zero Trust Access to your applications and data with a full-featured trial of Barracuda CloudGen Access, free for 14 days.
Watch our on-demand webinar ‘Extending Zero Trust to your SaaS applications’ and see for yourself how Zero Trust Network Access can increase security, productivity, and flexibility.