Endpoint Privilege Management (EPM) is a cybersecurity solution designed to govern privileged access to network devices. It allows administrators to define who can access what, and under which circumstances.
In an EPM-driven setup, no end user has privileged access by default. Users must request elevated privileges on an as-needed basis, with each request going through an approval workflow. The workflow ensures that the user has a legitimate need for elevated privileges.
Administrators can use an EPM solution to implement centralized authorization and access control for all network endpoints. By ensuring that users only have the privileges they require and preventing indefinite privileged access, EPM helps to reduce an organization's attack surface and bolster its overall security posture.
Most EPM products include useful features like session management and Identity and Access Management (IAM). They can monitor and record user sessions on endpoints, providing an audit trail of privileged activities. Additionally, they can manage and rotate credentials for privileged accounts, reducing the risk of credential theft and misuse.
An endpoint is any device that connects to an enterprise network, like desktops, laptops and mobile devices. They provide end users a way to latch on to the network. Endpoint security aims to protect these network entry points from being compromised by malicious actors. Let’s look at a few reasons why endpoint security is so important:
The security perimeter is evolving. There was a time when you could define a perimeter around your infrastructure and protect it with a firewall, antivirus and/or VPN. That’s no longer the case. Infrastructures are spread across clouds and on-premise environments, employees are working remotely and clients, vendors and third parties all want to access your network.
In today's digitally connected and perimeter-less world, endpoint security is crucial and EPM solutions can help organizations achieve it. From provisioning to role-based authorization to just-in-time privilege assignment to session management, an EPM solution offers everything you need to protect your endpoints from data breaches and cyberattacks.
Hackers often target endpoints because they are directly connected to an enterprise network. User devices, like laptops and smartphones, are often used to access internal systems and sensitive data. If they’re not secured, they can act as a gateway for attackers to access the larger network.
If attackers manage to compromise an endpoint, they can install ransomware or malware, steal sensitive data or use the endpoint as a launching pad to infiltrate deeper into the network. EPM can mitigate this threat by restricting privileged access for endpoints.
Users make mistakes. Mistakes that malicious actors can exploit. For example, if your password management policy isn’t well defined, a user may be able to reuse an old password indefinitely. Or a user may not install a critical security upgrade on their laptop.
By implementing a strong endpoint security policy, you can prevent attackers from laterally moving across the network, even if a user device is compromised.
EPM solutions can restrict the access of a user to only the resources and privileges they need to do their job. This granular control significantly mitigates the threat of privilege escalation and unauthorized access to sensitive data.
EPM offers several benefits for businesses:
By eradicating the need for local admin rights, and by giving administrators full control over Privileged Access Management, EPM enhances your overall security outlook.
By implementing a unified security policy with EPM, you can achieve compliance with several regulatory frameworks and standards. EPM solutions create audit trails for all privileged activities, enabling organizations to detect any gaps, suspicious activities or intrusion attempts.
Endpoint Privilege Management can simplify the automation of several tasks, such as credential rotation and access provisioning. This reduces the workload of IT staff and minimizes the risk of human error.
Zero Trust and Endpoint Privilege Management go hand in hand. Zero Trust dictates that no user or device be inherently trusted in a network. EPM supports Zero Trust by authenticating and authorizing all endpoints on a network.
You can also configure SAML-based authentication for an EPM product by integrating it with an external identity provider, like Active Directory (AD). For example, many EPM products offer out-of-the-box integration with Azure Active Directory (AAD).
In such a setup, when a user tries to log in to the EPM dashboard, a SAML authentication request is sent to the Active Directory server. If the AD authentication succeeds, the AD returns a SAML response that contains the user’s EPM identity. EPM then uses this identity to log the user in to the dashboard.
Endpoint management is a broader term that defines the process of managing and securing all endpoints, like desktops, laptops and servers, in an enterprise network. It involves a wide range of activities, including deployment, patching, inventory, monitoring, security and reporting.
Endpoint Privilege Management is a subset of endpoint management that focuses on controlling privileged access to endpoints. It encompasses various activities, like endpoint and user provisioning, privileged identity lifecycle management, privilege assignment and removal and session management and auditing.
Yes, least privilege is a primary component of Endpoint Privilege Management. Security-first organizations use EPM to enforce the principle of least privilege (i.e. every user, application, or device should have the barest-minimum privileges they need to perform their tasks).
Least privilege drastically shrinks the attack surface of an organization by limiting the number of privileged accounts and restricting access to sensitive resources.