How often do you have to log into the office from home? I am sure that many of you, like me, work occasionally from a home office. I often have to connect to a VPN in order to access internal company file shares and other resources, in addition to services such as email. Perhaps you have to connect outside of office hours for emergency access, using special accounts sometimes referred to as break-glass (or firecall) in order to repair an email or web server which has gone down. Remote access for employees is a common requirement in most organizations.
To take another use case, maybe you are not even an employee. You might be a third-party vendor that needs to log onto a server at another company for product maintenance. Large organizations very typically outsource maintenance to other specialized companies, whether it’s operational systems such as heating and ventilation, or networked systems such as routers and firewalls. Off-shore outsourcing is another example of where entire departments such as IT, support, call centers, and the like are operated by third-party organizations overseas.
The bottom line is that many organizations have internal and external entities that need to access the network on a regular basis. The problem though, is how can you be sure that the credentials used for access are being properly managed? As seen all too often, hackers will leverage external company credentials in order to find a route in. After all – you are only as strong as your weakest link.
Given that it can be a challenge to essentially lock down credentials that stored outside the organization, there needs to be Context – We need to identify all the runtime parameters of the request in order to make sure the appropriate decision is made regarding access. To that end, you need answers to questions like:
- Who is trying to log on?
- What system are they trying to access?
- Where are they logging in from?
- What day of the week is it?
- What is the time of day?
Applying context allows you to incorporate best practices to privileged access that can help protect your organization from a breach. For example, if we know that a break glass account is for emergency use only, let’s only make it available out of hours. Also, if we would normally expect that account to be accessed via a remote worker working from home, let’s also make sure the request is coming in via the VPN concentrator.
BeyondTrust's Password Safe allows the dynamic assignment of just-in-time privileges via Advanced Workflow Control, allowing organizations to lock down access to resources based upon the day, date, time, and location. By limiting the scope to specific runtime parameters, it narrows down the window of opportunity where someone might be exploiting misappropriated credentials. For example, if you normally expect the HVAC contractor to be logging on from particular systems, you can ensure that access is only permitted from predefined allowable address ranges. Similarly you can set up policies to control when the accounts are accessible, and alert when specific access policies are invoked.
Advanced Work flow control also provides conditional controls to determine who the requests get routed to for approval. For example, if you log in during regular business hours, maybe you might be auto-approved. If you log in during the day from Site A your access request may be routed to a different person than if you log on from Site B.
On top of granular access controls, Password Safe ensures managed accounts have their passwords regularly rotated, even upon release – every password issued can be a one-time password for security. The product also has an integrated session manager (at no extra charge) that can automatically log users onto resources without ever revealing the password, record all activity for later playback, and allow real-time session monitoring, with options to remotely manage/disconnect active sessions.
For more information on advanced workflow control and how you can implement just-in-time privileges access control in your organization, check out this webinar replay or download this e-book, ‘Six Critical Capabilities of Password Management.’
Martin has been helping organizations solve challenges in the privileged account management and identity and access management space for over 24 years. At Dell Software, Martin managed a team of Solution Architects, focused on designing and implementing solutions in the Privileged Account Management (PAM) space. Prior to joining Dell, Martin was Sr. Product Manager for Novell Privileged User Manager, a privilege management application acquired from Fortefi, an organization where he served as Vice President, Corporate Development. Prior to this, he was Program Manager of Client Technologies at Symantec where he was responsible for many ground-breaking field and channel enablement applications. Additionally, Martin managed the European QA group at Axent Technologies and has held various management positions in consulting, systems development, and operations. Martin is a regular speaker for security events, and webinars.