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Posts tagged ‘Privileged Access Management (PAM)’

Securing Machine Identities Needs To Be A Top Cybersecurity Goal In 2021

Bottom Line:  Bad actors quickly capitalize on the wide gaps in machine identity security, creating one of the most breachable threat surfaces today.

Why Machines Are the Most Challenging Threat Surface To Protect

Forrester’s recent webinar on the topic, How To Secure And Govern Non-Human Identities, estimates that machine identities (including bots, robots and IoT) are growing twice as fast as human identities on organizational networks. Forrester defines machine, or non-human, identities as robotic process automation (bots), robots (industrial, enterprise, medical, military) and IoT devices.

The webinar points out that one of the fastest-growing automation types is software bots, with 36% used in finance and accounting, 15% used in business line and 15% in IT. The webinar also points out that in 2019, there were 2.25 million robots in the global workforce, twice as many as in 2010 and 32% of global infrastructure decision-makers expect their firms to use robotic process automation (RPA) over the next 12 months.

According to the Forrester Consulting white paper, Securing The Enterprise With Machine Identity Protection, over 50% of organizations find it challenging to protect their machine identities today. Unprotected machine identities are making it easy for bad actors to take control of entire networks of devices. Bad actors rely on organizations’ bots to provide the cover they need to attack networks and devices, often undetected for months or years.

Forrester found that machine identities are left exposed to bad actors because organizations aren’t adopting the tools they need to create and manage a centralized Identity Access Management (IAM) strategy across all machines. This includes defining and enforcing policies, auditing each machine and endpoint and better integrating support across machines and monitoring systems.

Furthermore, by adopting a more modern Privileged Identity Management (PIM) approach, organizations could solve many of these challenges. Leading PIM solutions providers include Centrify, which has succeeded in adapting to the ephemeral nature of securing machine identities by delivering machine identity and credential authentication based on a centralized trust model.

The Forrester report’s bottom line is that machines are isolated, exposed and more vulnerable than any other endpoint on a network. The following graphic compares protection strategies and finds a majority of organizations struggling to deliver them:

Securing Machine Identities Needs To Be a Top Cybersecurity Goal In 2021

Machine Identities Are Networks’ Weakest Security Link 

According to a Venafi study, machine identity attacks grew 400% between 2018 and 2019, increasing by over 700% between 2014 and 2019. Malware capable of compromising machine identities continues to gain momentum, doubling between 2018 and 2019 and growing 300% over the five years leading up to 2019. According to Kount’s 2020 Bot Landscape and Impact Report, 81% of enterprises are regularly dealing with malicious bots today and one in four say a single bot attack has cost them $500,000 or more. Furthermore, many organizations may not realize how many bots and machine identities they have – and bad actors capable of creating hundreds using automated scripting tools.

Forrester provided the following data points underscoring how vulnerable machines are to botnet and identity-based attacks today:

  • The 2017 Mirai botnet attack is a cautionary tale of the dangers of using default security credentials on machines and IoT devices. Using botnets to automate scans of vast blocks of IP addresses for potential telnet ports to log into, the Mirai botnets were programmed to rapidly try a series of basic usernames and passwords to gain access to IoT devices and machines. The Mirai botnets were successful, gaining control of thousands of machines and orchestrating them to deliver one of the largest DDOS attacks in history.
  • It’s common for enterprises to lose track of how many bots they’ve created, giving malicious actors the perfect cover to mask their movements. Instead of creating their bots, malicious actors look to disguise their movements across a network with a company’s bots. Forrester’s webinar mentioned how a large North American insurance provider deployed 400 software bots for customer-facing digital chatbots and processing claims, among other tasks.
  • There’s often no oversight of who has the rights to create and launch bots internally, leading to potentially thousands of bots without secured identities. One of the most troubling findings presented during the webinar is how loose the process is to create a bot – with no checks and balances in place or means of achieving consistent identity management.

How To Strengthen Machine Security

The more challenging any machine threat surface is to protect, the more opportunity it provides bad actors to breach them. A good place to start is by clarifying who owns keeping Transport Layer Security (TLS) and previous-generation Secured-Sockets Layer (SSL) client and server certificates, code signing certificates, Secure Shell (SSH) host and cryptographic keys so they are kept up to date. Letting those fall through the cracks will leave thousands of machines exposed and exploitable on networks.

Prioritizing machine identities and securing machine credentials is a must-have in 2021, as botnet attacks are quickly increasing due to bad actors’ being able to spin up thousands of them in days. The following are key steps to get started:

  • Taking a Zero Trust approach to managing every machine identity authentication on a network now could save thousands of hours and dollars in the future. Taking a least privilege access approach to managing machines now will pay off in the future, as the workloads of machines and non-human entities continue to grow more complex. The Forrester webinar expands on this point by explaining how new, more complex inter-machine relationships are evolving quicker than legacy approaches to endpoint governance and security can keep up.
  • Privileged access controls need to be more adaptive, secure and scalable than many organizations’ static-based approaches to securing machines are today. Forrester recommends replacing long-standing hardcoded credentials with session-based ones assigned via API calls from a vault. Machines are being used 24/7 and have access patterns completely different from humans using the network, making dynamically-assigned, ephemeral credentials even more important to protect a network. Privileged Identity Management (PIM) proves effective at providing privileged access controls for machine identities, with Forrester mentioning Centrify, HashiCorp and others as leaders in this area. Centrify’s approach is noteworthy in enrolling machines with its platform via a client to establish a trust relationship, so applications running on that machine can also be authenticated using a short-lived, scoped token.
  • Monitoring more machines on a network often leads to a transition from legacy to integrated log monitoring systems that can capture, analyze and report anomalous activity across a network. Log Monitoring systems are proving invaluable in identifying machine endpoint configuration and performance anomalies in real-time. AIOps is proving effective in identifying anomalies and performance event correlations in real-time, contributing to greater business continuity. One of the leaders in this area is LogicMonitor, whose AIOps-enabled infrastructure monitoring and observability platform have proven successful in troubleshooting infrastructure problems and ensuring business continuity.
  • Perform periodic audits to track all bots and machines in use across an organization, using Microsoft Active Directory to inventory and manage all of them. One of the most valuable take-aways from the Forrester webinar is the need to manage machine identities and their credentials centrally. Forrester mentions Microsoft Active Directory as one option. The companies providing services in this area include Centrify, which pioneered Active Directory bridging to authenticate human and machine identities based on a centralized model from a single identity repository.

Conclusion

Machines, or as Forrester calls them in their webinar, non-human identities require more precise, adaptive and ephemeral identity structures and access controls. CISOs and CIOs need to take greater ownership of machine identity authentication and provide Identity Access Management (IAM) and Privileged Access Management (PAM) down to the bot and non-human identity level. With the exponential growth of malicious bots tracking machine identities, now is the time to place machine identities among the highest priority of any cybersecurity strategy in 2021.

83% Of Enterprises Transformed Their Cybersecurity In 2020

83% Of Enterprises Transformed Their Cybersecurity In 2020

  • 73% of enterprises (over 500 employees) accelerated their cloud migration plans to support the shift to remote working across their organizations due to the pandemic.
  • 81% of enterprises accelerated their IT modernization processes due to the pandemic.
  • 48% of all companies surveyed have accelerated their cloud migration plans, 49% have sped up their IT modernization plans because of Covid-19.
  • 32% of large-scale enterprises, over 500 employees, are implementing more automation using artificial intelligence-based tools this year.

These and many other insights are from a recent survey of IT leaders completed by CensusWide and sponsored by Centrify. The survey’s objectives on understanding how the dynamics of IT investments, operations and spending have shifted over the last six months. The study finds that the larger the enterprise, the more important it is to secure remote access to critical infrastructure to IT admin teams. Remote access and updating privacy policies and notices are two of the highest priorities for mid-size organizations to enterprises today. The methodology is based on interviews with 215 IT leaders located in the U.S.     

Key insights from the survey include the following:

  • The overwhelming majority of enterprises have transformed their cybersecurity approach over the last six months, with 83% of large-scale enterprises leading all organizations. It’s encouraging to see small and medium-sized businesses adjusting and improving their approach to cybersecurity. Reflecting how digitally-driven many small and medium businesses are, cybersecurity adjustments begin in organizations with 10 to 49 employees. 60% adjusted their cloud security postures as a result of distributed workforces. 

83% Of Enterprises Transformed Their Cybersecurity In 2020

  • 48% of all organizations had to accelerate cloud migration due to the pandemic, with larger enterprises leading the way. Enterprises with over 500 employees are the most likely to accelerate cloud migration plans due to the pandemic. 73.5% of enterprises with more than 500 employees accelerated cloud migration plans to support their employees’ remote working arrangements, leading all organization categories. This finding reflects how cloud-first the largest enterprises have become this year. It’s also consistent with many other surveys completed in 2020, reflecting how much the cloud has solidly won the enterprise. 
83% Of Enterprises Transformed Their Cybersecurity In 2020
  • 49% of all organizations and 81% of large-scale enterprises had to accelerate their IT modernization process due to the pandemic. For the largest enterprises, IT modernization equates to digitizing more processes using cloud-native services (59%), maintaining flexibility and security for a partially remote workforce (57%) and revisiting and adjusting their cybersecurity stacks (40%).
83% Of Enterprises Transformed Their Cybersecurity In 2020
  •  51% of enterprises with 500 employees or more are making remote, secure access their highest internal priority. In contrast, 27% of all organizations’ IT leaders say that providing secure, granular access to IT admin teams, outsourced IT and third-party vendors is a leading priority. The larger the enterprise, the more important remote access becomes. The survey also found organizations with 250 – 500 employees are most likely to purchase specific cybersecurity tools and applications to meet compliance requirements. 
83% Of Enterprises Transformed Their Cybersecurity In 2020

 

Conclusion & Wrap-Up  

IT leaders are quickly using the lessons learned from the pandemic as a crucible to strengthen cloud transformation and IT modernization strategies. One of every three IT leaders interviewed, 34%, say their budgets have increased during the pandemic. In large-scale enterprises with over 500 employees, 59% of IT leaders have seen their budgets increase.

All organizations are also keeping their IT staff in place. 63% saw little to no impact on their teams, indicating that the majority of organizations will have both the budget and resources to maintain or grow their cybersecurity programs. 25% of IT leaders indicated that their company plans to keep their entire workforce 100% remote.

It’s encouraging to see IT leaders getting the support they need to achieve their cloud transformation and IT modernization initiatives going into next year. With every size of organization spending on cybersecurity tools, protecting cloud infrastructures needs to be a priority. Controlling administrative access risk in the cloud and DevOps is an excellent place to start with a comprehensive, modern Privileged Access Management solution. Leaders in this field, including Centrify, whose cloud-native architecture and flexible deployment and management options, deliver deep expertise in securing cloud environments.

Digital Transformation’s Missing Link Is Zero Trust

    • Enterprises will invest $2.4T by 2020 in digital transformation technologies including cloud platforms, cognitive systems, IoT, mobile, robotics, and integration services according to the World Economic Forum.
    • Digital transformation software and services revenue in the U.S. is predicted to reach $490B in 2025, soaring from $190B in 2019, attaining a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 14.49% according to Grand View Research published by Statista.
    • IDC predicts worldwide spending on the technologies and services that enable the digital transformation of business practices, products, and organizations will reach $1.97T in 2022.
    • Legacy approaches to Privileged Access Management (PAM) don’t protect the new threatscapes digital transformation initiatives create, making Zero Trust Privilege essential for enterprises.

B2B customers, including manufacturers looking to replace legacy production equipment with smart, connected machines, have high expectations when it comes to product quality, ease of integration, and intuitive user experiences. Replacing factories full of legacy assets with smart, connected machinery is one of the most powerful catalysts driving digital transformation today. Innovative smart, connected machinery and the performance gains they provide are the oxygen that keeps customer relationships alive. That’s why digital transformation forecasts from the World Economic Forum, Grand View ResearchIDC, and many others predict perennial growth. The many forecasts reflect a fundamental truth: digital transformation done with intensity creates a customer-driven renaissance for any business.

Businesses digitally transforming themselves are succeeding because they’ve made themselves accountable and transparent to customers. Earning and protecting that trust is the heartbeat of any business’ growth. 51% of enterprises invest in digital transformation to capture growth opportunities in new markets, with 46% investing to stay in front of evolving customer behaviors and preferences. Brian Solis’ excellent report, The State of Digital Transformation, 2018 – 2019 Edition (31 pp., PDF, opt-in) shows how digitally transforming any business with the customer first leads to greater growth. The graphic from his study illustrates this point:

 

Closing The Digital Transformation Gap With Zero Trust

Gaps exist between the results digital transformation initiatives are delivering today, and the customer-driven value they’re capable of. According to Gartner, 75% of digital transformation projects are not aligned internally today, leading to delayed new product launches, mediocre experiences, and greater security risks than ever before. Interactive, IoT-enabled experiences and products are expanding the threatscape of enterprises to include Big Data, cloud, containers, DevOps, IoT systems, and more. With that comes a host of new exposure points, many of which allow access to sensitive data that must be protected with modern Privileged Access Management solutions that reduce risk in these modern enterprise use cases.

The new security perimeter is identity. Forrester estimates that 80% of data breaches are caused by privileged access abuse. Every smart, connected machine that replaces legacy production equipment is another identity that defines a manufacturer’s security perimeter.

As the use cases and adoption of smart, connected machines proliferate, so too does the urgency that manufacturers need to replace their legacy approaches to Privileged Access Management (PAM). Relying on outdated strategies for protecting administrative access to all machines needs to be replaced with a “never trust, always verify, enforce least privilege” approach.

IT needs to improve how they’re protecting the most privileged access credentials, the ‘keys to the kingdom,’ by granting just-enough, just-in-time privilege. Of the many cybersecurity approaches available today, Zero Trust Privilege (ZTP) enables IT to grant least privilege access based on verifying who is requesting access, the context of the request, and the risk of the access environment.

The more diverse any digital transformation strategy, the greater the risk of privileged credential abuse. Thwarting privileged credential abuse needs to start with a least privilege access approach, minimizing each attack surface, improving audit and compliance visibility while reducing risk, complexity, and costs. Leaders in Zero Trust include CentrifyMobileIronPalo Alto Networks, and others. Of these companies, Centrify’s approach to Zero Trust to prevent privileged access abuse shows the greatest potential for securing digital transformation initiatives and strategies.

How To Secure Digital Transformation Strategies

IDG Research found in their Security Priorities for 2018 study that 71% of security-focused IT decision-makers are aware of the Zero Trust model and 18% of enterprises are either running pilots or have implemented Zero Trust.

Zero Trust Privilege (ZTP) is the force multiplier digital transformation initiatives need to reach their true potential by securing administrative access to the complex mix of machinery and infrastructure – and the sensitive data they hold and use – that manufacturers rely on daily.

Starting with a strategic perspective, ZTP’s contribution to securing digital transformation deployments apply to every area of planning, pilots, platforms, product, and service data being designed to stop the leading cause of breaches, which is privileged credential abuse. The following graphic illustrates how ZTP needs to span every aspect of an enterprise’s digital transformation capabilities.

Source: World Economic Forum, Digital Transformation Initiative, May 2018

Conclusion

By 2020, 30% of Global 2000 companies will have allocated capital budget equal to at least 10% of revenue to fuel their digital transformation strategies according to IDC.  European spending on technologies and services that enable the digital transformation of business practices, products, and organizations is forecasted to reach $378.2B in 2022. The perennial growth these forecasts promise is predicated on enterprises delivering new experiences and innovative products, which create the oxygen that keeps their customer relationships alive.

Amidst all the potential for growth, enterprises need to realize every new infrastructure element, machine, or connected production asset is a new identity that collectively comprises the fabric of their security perimeter. Legacy cybersecurity approaches won’t scale to protect the proliferating number of smart machines being put into use today. Relying entirely on legacy approaches to PAM, where privileged access to systems and resources only inside the network are secure, is failing today. Smart, connected machinery and the products and experiences they deliver require an entirely new cybersecurity strategy, one based on a “never trust, always verify, enforce least privilege” approach. Centrify Zero Trust Privilege shows potential to meet this challenge by granting least privilege access based on verifying who is requesting access, the context of the request, and the risk of the access environment.

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