Securing all access: an unquestionable duty of every company
Expert Opinion by Stefan Rabben, Sales Director of DACH & Eastern Europe, WALLIX
In a context where digital usage is changing significantly and cybercrime is now considered the third largest economic force in the world, the need to protect access to organizations’ infrastructures is greater than ever. By securing access, organizations ensure business continuity, comply with regulatory requirements and, most importantly, make data accessible to all, facilitating innovation and ensuring their economic competitiveness.
The pandemic has caused the world to experience an acceleration of digital transformation, hence the need for secure access to corporate data has never been greater. Just think about the standardization of telecommuting, the massive growth of cloud services, or the huge increase in the number of mobile devices. However, many of the applications that allowed organizations to continue their business during the long months of lockdown have led to a considerable increase in the number of access points to their IT infrastructures. Considering that these access points are potential gateways for hackers, protecting the data and applications behind them has become an urgent task. The 2021 record leaves no room for doubt: 40 billion pieces of personal data were hacked, i.e. about 10 pieces of personal data per individual worldwide, a 78% increase over 2020.
However, this record is likely to be broken many times over as cybercrime is currently undergoing a kind of industrialization, which will greatly increase the cyber risk weighing on the economies of many countries. Hacker organizations are now operating very close to businesses. What’s more, cybercrime is considered the third largest industry in the world, with its global cost having risen from $3 trillion in 2015 to $6 trillion in 2021 and a whopping $10.5 trillion by 2025. These costs include personal and/or financial data damage and destruction, money theft, productivity, funds misappropriation, fraud, intellectual property theft and reputational damage We also have to take into account the costs incurred by organizations due to business interruption — which can sometimes last for a long period of time after the attack — as well as the investment they have to make to recover hacked data and systems.
Security no longer exists, only the right protection.
We now live in a paradigm shift era where there is no longer security at the perimeter, where users — be they people or machines — are increasingly mobile and need to access organizations’ data at any time and from anywhere. Data itself is becoming ephemeral (cloud storage, SaaS solutions, automation) to control costs and gain flexibility. This applies to all sectors, including the most critical such as healthcare, industry, or government, which urgently need to protect this access to ensure business continuity, regulatory compliance and, even more importantly, data accessibility, which in turn enables innovation and strengthens economic competitiveness.
To protect access, companies should implement measures such as the following:
- Multi-factor authentication (MFA) to neutralize the risks associated with compromised credentials.
- Remote access management, based on the latest security technologies, as this maintains remote access for suppliers, employees, or third-party administrators.
- Session management to monitor, track, and audit sessions.
- Password management to secure and rotate passwords and keys, as well as removing hard passwords.
- And finally, least privilege management to grant the right privileges to the right user at the right time and to stop the spread of malware by blocking lateral and vertical movement.
Integrated solutions for the best possible protection
WALLIX combines these measures into a single solution called PAM4ALL. It helps companies to quickly implement a Zero Trust architecture with strong authentication and access control tailored to users, whether human or machine, depending on the task they need to perform and for a given period (Just-In-Time). It is also important that security managers have a constant overview of the activities occurring on the corporate network so that they can intervene quickly in the event of advanced threats or even malware. Strong authentication must be implemented, privilege elevations controlled, lateral movements blocked, and local administrator rights removed. Accounts, keys, and certificates need to be secured, for automation and DevOps practices. These DevOps environments should be secured in this way, regardless of the type of automation platform used and without exposing credentials (no hard coding). Access control policies ensure that appropriate levels of privileges are granted and considering best practices for password rotation, procedures can be defined without disrupting internal work processes.
Therefore, it is absolutely necessary to protect all access, not just privileged accounts. The principle of least privilege protects all vulnerable users and workstations in an organization. All employees at some point in their working day use some form of privilege to access certain internal resources. The challenge is to grant access at the right time with the right level of privileges to complete the expected task, regardless of where it is needed:
- For all users: whether they are employees, suppliers, partners, individuals, or machines, etc.
- For all types of situations.
- On all corporate strategic resources.
- On all the company’s devices.