Balancing BYOD risk with Privileged Access Management

Modern IT infrastructures are diverse and complex. The number of endpoints has greatly increased and the proliferation of remote work means organizations’ security perimeters have been scattered far and wide. The increased prevalence of BYOD (Bring Your Own Devices) policies used by remote employees and third-party contractors has played a major role in threatening corporate security. More BYOD endpoints mean more digital avenues into critical systems that need to be protected.

Businesses also need to find the right balance between securing their network and keeping external access open. Allowing BYOD brings risk, but it also brings productivity and cost-saving benefits when compared to supplying all external workers with company technology. A strong access security framework comprising Privileged Access Management and Endpoint Privilege Management can provide this balance, allowing for a transparent and secure relationship between organizations and third parties.

Balancing BYOD risk

BYOD brings new and varied devices into an organization’s network. The days of fixed workstations protected by internal security within one company building are long gone. Organizations don’t have the same visibility or control over BYOD as they do over company assets. In a worst-case scenario, malware could be accidentally downloaded by a BYOD user and used to hijack their device – and their privileged credentials – for remote access into confidential and internal systems.

However, for many modern businesses, BYOD is here to stay despite the potential risks. On a daily basis, external users might need to:

  • work from home or another site
  • carry out short-term freelance work
  • access resources during off-hours
  • perform remote maintenance tasks

It’s no longer possible for critical assets to be siloed by region or isolated from the external world. This is especially true for geographically fragmented organizations with complicated IT infrastructures. Manufacturers need to monitor and manage connected IoT systems as IT and OT converge. Healthcare organizations require expert maintenance of their highly sensitive medical equipment. Companies worldwide need to keep up with the rapidly advancing digital transformation. Therefore, the risks of BYOD need to be mitigated as efficiently as possible.

The concept of Defense in Depth needs to be applied when it comes to modern resources and networks. Defense in Depth is where a business has multiple layers of security that are able to match the complexity of their corporate network. A single line of defense is not enough to protect from BYOD risk. Strong access security frameworks comprising Privileged Access Management (PAM) and Endpoint Privilege Management (EPM) can work at the granular level needed to keep critical resources safe.

Managing BYOD with PAM

PAM solutions implement the Principle of Least Privilege to mitigate the risks of external access. Having a robust PAM solution helps to reduce the potential harm if a BYOD user was to be compromised, by ensuring that users only have access to the minimum number of resources they need to do their jobs. This in turn makes BYOD users a smaller risk if their device and user credentials were to be compromised.

Effective PAM solutions compartmentalize BYOD users and their authorizations, meaning no user can make unauthorized actions no matter which device or from where they are accessing the network. They also allow IT admins to:

  • revoke users’ access when their need expires
  • monitor users’ privileged access in real-time and flag or terminate the suspicious activity
  • centrally manage all systems’ privileges, accounts, and users
  • create an audit trail of all activity via privileged sessions

BYOD can make the abuse of systems and data easier – but PAM can stop privileged users from wreaking havoc within a network. A solution such as WALLIX Bastion makes PAM an enduring and pervasive force in an organization’s security and compliance efforts. Endpoint Privilege Management (EPM) in conjunction with a PAM solution provides the defense in depth needed to mitigate the risks of BYOD.

Protecting BYOD at the endpoint

Endpoint Privilege Management (EPM) solutions such as WALLIX BestSafe enforce the principle of least privilege at an organization’s endpoint devices. Endpoints are ideal targets to gain access into a corporate network – especially BYOD endpoints outside the scope of corporate perimetric security measures. In the past, cybersecurity solutions relied on protecting against known exploits, but this offers little help against new or ‘zero-day’ threats. Attack vectors evolve and change so much that defenses need to be proactive as opposed to reactive.

Endpoint Privilege Management aims to provide an ‘immune system’-type defense for an organization’s endpoints. EPM follows the zero-trust model of cybersecurity, stopping and assessing any device that is not part of the ‘host organism’. When it comes to BYOD, no device or user is automatically assumed to be trustworthy.

The strongest EPM solutions address privileges at the process and application-level – not just the user level. This essentially means that processes and applications can run only with a precise set of privileges in a specific context. When users can’t self-elevate their privileges, processes can’t be hijacked to perform malicious operations. PAM and EPM bring peace of mind to host organizations, and the third parties they work with too.

Realizing PAM benefits for BYOD users

A transparent working environment is advantageous to all parties. Accessing a network via a PAM solution allows BYOD users to be confident that their devices comply with the security procedures and regulations of the host organization. This brings mutual confidence that everyone is working from the same page, without slowing down productivity or encouraging users to find loopholes in a security procedure.

Collaborative tools are often needed by third-party workers. However, businesses can be wary of deploying software that opens a communication tunnel straight into the core of their critical systems. PAM solutions such as WALLIX’s Bastion can grant two users access to the same session while guaranteeing security, advanced recording, and confidentiality of passwords – even if one user is using a personal device.

PAM solutions mean BYOD users still only need one unique login that grants access to all authorized resources. They can remote-connect seamlessly without changing their routine and being forced to switch to new connection tools, and offering complete oversight and traceability of all actions to the organization. Both parties can also work through a secure external connection such as an HTTPS portal. Working through a PAM solution offers peace of mind to the host organization while demonstrating accountability and trust on the part of the BYOD user.

A balance needs to be found between the cost-saving and productivity benefits of BYOD and an organization’s access security. That’s why it’s more vital than ever that businesses protect themselves with strong PAM and EPM solutions. These solutions allow IT admins to flexibly open up infrastructure to external connections – with complete security.

Learn more about the theory behind access security and how it is implemented by downloading WALLIX’s ‘Beginner’s Guide to Access Security’ whitepaper.

Beginner's Guide to Access Security