Five pillars to secure DevOps, cloud, and IoT adoption

Are privileged access management facilities the move to next-generation technologies?
Five pillars to Secure DevOps, Cloud, and IoT Adoption

BeyondTrust, a cybersecurity company dedicated to preventing privilege misuse and stopping unauthorised access, has announced the results of the 2018 Implications of Using Privileged Access Management to Enable Next-Generation Technology Survey.

The company notes that the survey shows that 90% of enterprises are engaged with at least one next-generation technology (NGT), such as cloud, IoT, or AI. Yet, while enterprises are optimistic about the business benefits these technologies can bring, they also have concerns about the risks; with 78% citing the security risks of NGTs as somewhat to extremely large. One in five respondents experienced five or more breaches related to NGTs. Excessive user privileges were implicated in 52% of breaches.

Exciting times ahead

Now is the time to be involved in IT says BeyondTrust; next-generation, transformative technologies such as AI/Machine Learning and IoT, and business processes like DevOps are leading the way to a bright future full of operational efficiencies, greater business agility, and cost savings. Yet, the company acknowledge there is also a dark side to these NGTs: security vulnerabilities.

To better understand how security issues, such as privileged access management (PAM), affect the adoption of NGTs, BeyondTrust surveyed 612 IT professionals in 13 countries. The results are a wake-up call for anyone looking to leverage these NGTs.

DevOps has reached mainstream; AI and IoT not far behind 

The survey found broad interest in NGTs, with the most common being Digital Transformation (DX), DevOps and IoT.  IT reports these NGTs are important for organisations, with 63% saying Digital Transformation (DX) will have a somewhat to extremely large impact on their organisation, followed by DevOps (50%), AI (42%), and IoT (40%).

Significant movement toward the cloud 

Significant movement toward the cloud

The survey also found that cloud transformation is accelerating.  Respondents indicate that – today – 62% of workloads are on-premises, with 15% in a public cloud, 11% in private clouds, and 8% in SaaS applications. Over the next three years, that is projected to dramatically change: on-premises drops to 44%, public cloud jumps to 26%, private cloud increases to 15%, and SaaS increases to 12%.

One in five respondents experienced five or more breaches related to NGTs

Security issues, as a result of NGTs, happen at an alarming rate, with 18% of respondents indicating they had a breach related to NGTs in the last 24 months; which resulted in data loss, 20% experienced a breach that resulted in an outage, and 25% saw breaches over that time period that triggered a compliance event. One in five survey respondents experienced 5 or more breaches.

Too much privilege results in breaches 

The company say the study shows that more than half the time, these breaches occur due to trusted users doing inappropriate things for innocent reasons, with 13% of respondents indicating it happens ‘often’ or ‘all the time.’ In 18% of the cases, it’s trusted insiders going rogue, and in 15% of the cases, its outsiders gaining privileged access to steal credentials. In each case, excessive privileges are to blame.

There are real business costs that result from breaches. BeyondTrust say the top costs are: decreased productivity, loss of reputation, monetary damages, and compliance penalties.

Privileged access management can facilitate the move to NGTs

Respondents overwhelmingly indicate that PAM-related capabilities can improve security and facilitate a move to NGTs.  Top practices include controlling and governing privileged and other shared accounts (60%, 59%, respectively), enforcing appropriate credential usage (59%), and creating and enforcing rigorous password policies (55%). In fact, 100% of the survey respondents say they are employing at least one PAM-related best practice to avoid NGT problems with privileged access.

How privileged access management can enable the transformation to next-generation technologies

To improve security while reaping the transformative benefits that NGTs offer, organisations should implement five privileged access management (PAM) best practices that address use cases from on-premises to cloud.

  1. Discover and inventory all privileged accounts and assets. Organisations should perform continuous discovery and inventory of everything from privileged accounts to container instances and libraries across physical, virtual, and cloud environments.
  1. Scan for vulnerabilities and configuration compliance. For DevOps and cloud use cases, organisations should scan both online and offline container instances and libraries for image integrity.
  1. Manage shared secrets and hard-coded passwords. Governing and controlling shared and other privileged accounts represents one of the most important tactics organisations can employ to limit the effects of data breaches resulting from NGTs.
  1. Enforce least privilege and appropriate credential usage. Organisations should only grant required permissions to appropriate build machines and images through least privilege enforcement.
  1. Segment networks. Especially important in DevOps, lateral movement protection should be zone-based and needs to cover the movement between development, QA, and production systems.

“It is encouraging to see that organisations understand the benefits that Privileged Access Management can deliver in protecting next-generation technologies, but there are more best practices to employ,” says Morey Haber, chief technology officer at BeyondTrust. “The survey affirms that security should be at the forefront of new technology initiatives, otherwise, organisations can experience serious financial, compliance, and technological ramifications later on.”


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