Technology has allowed businesses to streamline operations, manage resources more effectively, and improve workplace productivity. However, the migration to digital platforms and techniques has also led to vulnerabilities related to cybersecurity.
Now that businesses store data in online systems and use various software to automate tasks, data security has become more important than ever.
One of the best practices used by organizations today is the security least privilege principle. Security experts and administrators are likely familiar with this as the design is well-known in information security as the principle of least privilege(POLP).
Get to know more about what exactly the strategy is, why it is important, and how it can benefit your overall organization.
What is POLP?
POLP is a security measure wherein users are only given the minimum access privileges needed to perform their jobs.
This practice requires continuous monitoring and management of access rights for employees in the organization to prevent unauthorized activities and the threats that may result from these.
In most cases, the general process would be to assign all employees with a security limited privilege account and grant more permission to your IT staff since they will be managing these accounts.
An easy way to look at it would be to consider each department in your business. The HR department, for example, will likely only need access to HR software, employee records, and other similar documents. On the other hand, the marketing department will have access to the brand book, collaterals and publication materials, and any software needed for campaigns.
Though POLP is seen to be applicable only to individuals or users, you can also apply it to services, applications, networks, and essentially every level in your infrastructure.
In fact, understanding that the principle applies to all these subjects will be important to keep your data as secure as possible.
Why is POLP Important?
POLP has grown increasingly common among organizations because of the alarming rate at which cyberattacks are occurring. With several users and subjects involved in your network, it is common for threats and attacks to originate from just a single account.
Once the threat enters the system through this account, it can continue to go through each layer in your network until the risk escalates to a wider scope.
By employing the security least privilege, you can reduce the connections between users and processes so that potential infections and viruses do not reach the core of your system.
Cybersecurity and risk management have become particularly concerning during the pandemic as the shift to remote work has made businesses more vulnerable to data breaches and third-party risks. As such, applying the POLP can help you track all movements within your network to ensure that information stays secure and protected despite the remote set-up.
Benefits of Using Least Privilege-
Implementing a least privilege policy can have several benefits for your organization, with some of the most important beings:
1. Minimization of Liabilities:
If a user reconfigures your network in a way that causes potential risks, the threat can extend to the whole network and compromise your information security.
By restricting access to specific individuals, you can limit the scope of an attack and overall minimize liabilities that may result from it. This is especially critical for large organizations since poorly managed privileges can have grave consequences if your records were to be exposed.
2. Improved Audit Capabilities:
Using security least privilege will require regular monitoring and controlling to ensure that all users are only given the privileges they need for their work. Doing this can strengthen your network security and make it easier to conduct audits.
If, say, you run into a breach or attack in one area of the network, you can easily contain it and focus on specific users, applications, or processes that were compromised by the risk.
3. Boost Customer Trust:
When handling customer data, you want to make sure you maximum security and keep them confidential. Thus, using the least privilege principle can create complex layers of security within your network to protect your data.
Threats like keylogging can permit a user to gain access to your information without your knowledge. If this gets exposed to the public, customers will feel less inclined to trust your brand and company.
4. Enhanced Protection Against Attacks:
Cyberattacks often occur in unrestricted accounts and applications since hackers can easily enter your system and move the threat up to higher levels easily.
With more restrictive access to these higher levels, you can confine threats to significantly minimize the impact.