Thoughts on Privileged Identity Management (PIM)

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As a security professional, I am often frustrated by the fact that the most important and powerful users (the system administrators, or privileged users) are the most difficult to control securely.  Due to the poor security design of many IT products and systems, administrators often share accounts, leading to a lack of personal accountability for […]

As a security professional, I am often frustrated by the fact that the most important and powerful users (the system administrators, or privileged users) are the most difficult to control securely.  Due to the poor security design of many IT products and systems, administrators often share accounts, leading to a lack of personal accountability for their actions; password quality rules are difficult to enforce, and passwords are not changed regularly; and monitoring of privileged users is difficult, further eroding personal accountability.

This has driven the evolution of a set of security tools that specialise in Privileged Identity Management (PIM).  Such tools operate by taking control over privileged account passwords, changing them regularly and ensuring they are hard to guess.  Rather than remembering a privileged password, a privileged user will request it from a portal.  PIM tools can also be set up to record administrator sessions in detail.

Capgemini has deployed PIM tools in a number of successful engagements.  Bear in mind, when deploying a PIM tool, what the ultimate deliverable is, namely, a simple, strictly enforced set of processes around the management of privileged users.  These processes must be usable by the privileged users themselves.  Like all IT changes, PIM is at heart a business change.

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