How PAM Helps Protect Big Data

(by Derek A Smith, Nov 2017)  Big data analytics is a series of methods used to examine massive amounts of data, with the aim of uncovering hidden patterns, correlations, and other insights. With currennt technology, it’s possible to analyze data and get answers from it almost immediately. Although “big data” seems to have only gained prominence over the last several years, the concept of big data has actually been around for much longer years. Today, most organizations understand that if they capture all the data that streams into their businesses, they can apply analytics and get significant value from the data.

Big Data Analytics Applied in the Security World

As a former federal agent, I worked with police departments using “big data” for such activities as hotspot identification, crime mapping, geospatial prediction, and social network analysis. With this data, we were able to anticipate localized crime spikes, impact city and neighborhood planning, and aid in investigator management decisions. For instance, an increase in criminal activity in a particular area, highlighted by crime mapping, meant more patrolmen needed to be deployed in a particular area. You can imagine the sensitivity of the data we collected, and we definitely did not want the data to end up in the wrong hands.

How Your Company Can Leverage Big Data Analytics

Big data analytics can help you to harness your organization’s data to identify and pave the way for new opportunities. It can lead to smarter business decisions and make operations more efficient, while increasing customer satisfaction and driving higher profits. But, with the growing excitement surrounding big data comes the need to access, manipulate, massage, transform and unpack all of the information at once.

Access Management Challenges of Big Data

Access to this vast amount of data needs to be controlled. Many organizations are failing to properly secure their sensitive data in big data environments. We’re seeing the results of this failure in the form of a vast increase data breaches and the diminishment of privacy, frequently accompanied by huge fines and decreased public trust. As your information needs continue to grow and change, you need a method to secure your big data. And, that is one area where privileged access management, or PAM, becomes important.

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Various questions come into play, such as:

  • Who needs access to your big data?
  • Is it part of their job description?
  • What compliance issues need to be addressed when they access it?
  • Can and should it be accessed remotely, or only onsite?
  • What other data is being introduced into the mix?
  • How much can your user’s access?
  • How long will they need access?
  • How can you restrict access to just certain portions of a dataset?

You not only need to secure your big data from unauthorized access, but also ensure that authorized users properly handle the data when accessed. By protecting your big data, you can avoid problems like regulatory non-compliance, intellectual property theft, and corporate espionage.

How Privileged Access Management Helps Secure Big Data

PAM solutions enable the creation of a secure, streamlined method to authorize and monitor all privileged users for all your relevant systems that store your big data. PAM solutions allows you to:

  • Monitor privileged account access in real time and block or flag activities that are suspicious.
  • Grant privileges to users only for systems on which they are authorized.
  • Grant access only when it’s needed and revoke access when the need expires.
  • Centrally and quickly manage access across all of your systems.
  • Create an audit trail of privileged operations.

A good PAM solution allows you to achieve integrated, end-to-end privileged access management of the system that stores your big data. If executed correctly, PAM will dramatically boost protection of your organization’s big data. If done poorly, however, or not at all, you might be facing compliance violations as well as unauthorized exposure of your big data.

You need to implement a PAM solution that can deliver a complete spectrum of privileged access management solutions – from establishing and enforcing least privilege on endpoints and servers, to securing enterprise credentials. Your PAM solution should provide you with a complete picture of your privileged system and asset security, including for the network, cloud, and virtual assets storing your big data. This is known as “zero-gap coverage,” and it reduces risk by ensuring that none of your big data assets are left unprotected. Your PAM solution will help you to determine and control user access permissions to ensure that all individuals are properly authenticated, authorized, and audited as demanded by your policy.

Basically, PAM will enable you to control who has access to what data, from what device(s), and at what time(s) to improve the security of your big data environment. PAM can help you to understand and analyze your privileged password, user, and account behavior, and assign event threat levels based on the user, asset, and application launched. This makes it easier to uncover emerging risks, pinpoint and report on at-risk systems, and take action to proactively eliminate threats. For these reasons, I highly recommended that you implement a PAM solution as soon as possible, if you do not already have one in place.

Look, the fact of the matter is that big data is here to stay and because access security vulnerabilities cause the majority of data breaches it’s time for you to take a hard look at your privileged access management. Because big data has increased access to sensitive information, you must take proactive measures to roll out a comprehensive and consistent privilege access management strategy. Implementing a PAM solution that protects your big data will help you to provide tightly enforced access controls and centrally managed least-privilege security policies for your environment. There are many security tools out there, but BeyondTrust’s PAM solution may offer an immediate return on investment by helping you automate and improve your network environment. With BeyondTrust’s PAM solution, you have access to proven leading technologies to help protect your big data environment.

For more information on how privileged access management can help secure your big data, contact us today.

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