BeyondTrust has completed its annual Privilege Benchmarking Study (you might remember it as “Privilege Gone Wild” in previous years), and the results from this year’s study tell a tale of two approaches to mitigating the risks of insider privilege abuse – one good, one bad.
Want the full details? Get Privileged Acccss Management best practices, including how to make them work in your enterprise, download the results paper now.
If you managed to stay awake in your 10th grade Literature class, you’ll recognize the theme below. Stay with me now…

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”

Privilege Benchmarking Study 2016 Over 500 senior IT, IS, legal and compliance experts across the world were asked about their privileged access management practices. Their responses were divided into two tiers based on industry best practices, with top-tier companies distinguishing themselves as far better prepared to mitigate the risk from data breaches. Here’s what we learned…

Enterprise passwords: “It was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness”

With 63% (2016 Verizon DBIR) of confirmed data breaches involving weak, default or stolen passwords, it’s never been more important to apply discipline and accountability over enterprise credentials. Although 76% of top-tier respondents frequently have passwords changed, among bottom-tier respondents to the survey, only 14% regularly cycle their passwords. Further widening the gap, top-tier companies were much more likely to have a centralized enterprise password management policy – 92% of them do – in contrast with just 25% of bottom-tier organizations.

Session monitoring: “It was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity”

While it’s one thing to better manage your enterprise credentials, it’s an entirely separate issue to monitor privileged accounts while in session. Top-tier companies seem to have a better handle on this than their bottom-tier counterparts, with 71% of top-tiers monitoring privileged user sessions, and 88 percent restricting access with a measure of granularity. Among bottom-tiers, fewer than half (49%) can monitor sessions, and only 37% have granular capabilities to restrict access.

Application and asset risk “It was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair”

Understanding the risk in an application targeted for privilege elevation is a noted weak point for bottom-tier respondents. How weak? When we asked if they were able to evaluate the risks posed by individual apps or systems, 6% said they could do this, while 52% said they “just knew” what the risks were. Kinda like, “Trust me, I’ve done this before.” Famous last words, to be sure. Among top-tier organizations, fully 9 out of 10 grant privileges based on apps rather than users. Among bottom-tier companies, this falls to 46%. In a related stat, 91% of top-tier companies are also more likely to actually conduct vulnerability assessments, compared to just 20% of bottom-tier organizations.

What to do if your privileged access management practices fall more in line with bottom-tier organizations: “It was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness”

Fortunately, the best practices of top-tier organizations can help provide a pathway to closing critical gaps in privileged access management coverage. Here’s what we learned from the top-tiers:
  • Implement granular least privilege policies to balance security with productivity. Elevate applications, not users.
  • Use vulnerability assessments to achieve a holistic view of privileged security. Evaluate individual application and asset risk before granting privileged access.
  • Reinforce enterprise password hygiene with policy and an overall solution. As the first line of defense, establish a policy that requires regular password rotation and centralizes the credential management process.
  • Improve monitoring of privileged sessions. Real-time monitoring and termination capabilities are vital to mitigating a data breach as it happens, rather than simply investigating after the incident.
  • Integrate solutions across deployments to reduce cost and complexity, and improve results. Simplify privileged access management with tools that span multiple environments and integrate with other security systems, leaving fewer gaps.
Want more detail on the best practices, including how to make them work in your enterprise? Download the results paper – or, take a look at the infographic for a summary. If you would like to meet with one of our security strategists to benchmark your own privileged access management practices, contact us today!