What is Privileged Access Management (PAM) Software?

What is Privileged Access Management (PAM) Software?

A privileged access means elevated permissions for users (“Super users or System Administrators”) who are performing critical changes in critical systems in the IT environment.

Normally, system admins are usually have full control over these accounts and it’s almost impossible to monitor and audit privileged access specially in enterprise environments that contains wide variety of systems, OS & applications.

Also these environments contain critical customer data (“Personal Identified Information – PII“) and any security breach or data leakage will impact the brand and of course impact business revenue.

Cybercrime increased by 600% due to COVID-19 pandemic and recent data breach statistics found that 63% of successful attacks come from internal sources, either control, errors, or fraud. And 33% of data breaches involved social engineering. You can check the full report from purple security here

So the need of PAM software become crucial, mandated by some regulations and also is needed for ISO27001 certification.

How does privileged access management work (PAM)?

For the first time PAM may seem a complicated software that controls all servers on the OS level, but the idea behind it is very simple.

Legacy PAM solutions are basically consists of a password vault that stores privileged accounts information (“ex: Accounts in sudo group in Linux Red-hat and root account”), the PAM can use root or a privileged user to login to the target OS then it discovers all accounts.

But next generation PAM solutions also control access management and monitor sessions, and in this step the PAM acts as a proxy between the requester (“System Admin”) and the server.

So the requester will request a session which can be controlled by the following:

  • approval cycle manual/automated to get the session token.
  • the session can be time restricted. (“ex: session will last 2 hours only, or can start at 3 PM and terminated at 4 PM”)
  • Command restriction, so if the requester is a DB admin we can restrict DB commands that allow the admin to view PII in DB tables.
  • Command restrictions actions, like notify PAM admin that requester has written a restricted command or maybe session termination before the command result appears on the screen.
  • create alarms based on different use cases.
  • some next generation PAM solutions contains AI engines that monitor mouse movement or keyboard strokes and auto detect misbehavior or attacks.
  • Most of next generation PAM solutions are compatible with most operating systems, ILOMs and virtualization managers.

Why privileged access management is important?

Usually enterprises and large organizations are the main user for PAM solutions, but recently many small business and startups are using more sophisticated security solutions like PAM, due to the rise of GDPR and other regulations that mandates security compliance with laws.

Who needs Privileged Access Management (PAM) Software?

with the rise of information era, the most important asset every organization have is DATA so if you have data that need to be secured from unauthorized access then PAM will be beneficial.

startups in FinTech, Big data, Social media and IOT. Enterprises in banking, Telco and FMCGs are the most users of PAM solutions.

Top Privileged Access Management (PAM) Software providers

You can also explore many software providers with reviews and detailed info from g2 Privileged Access Management Software category

Top Features to consider while choosing you PAM solution

  • Password Vault
  • SSH Session Management
  • Reporting
  • Text Indexing
  • Restriction Policies
  • Cloud Based
  • 2FA
  • Asset Auto Discovery
  • Mobile App
  • Full-session audit, recording
  • Behavioral Analysis
  • Real time alerting
  • APIs

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