Endpoint Privilege Management (EPM) ensures that end-users run applications with the lowest privilege possible. EPM also determines whether or not an application can run and under what kinds of privileged conditions. Use of EPM enables organizations to prevent and isolate attacks on desktops, laptops and servers, limiting the information that can be stolen, encrypted or ransomed.
Gartner analyst Lori Robinson sees endpoint privilege management as the combination of privilege management and application control. In her view, EPM ensures that only trusted applications operate in an environment and that they run with the lowest possible privileges given. Via endpoint privilege management, organizations can remove local admin access with minimal impact on end-users.
What is endpoint privilege management?
Endpoint privilege management provisions users with means to run trusted applications and to conduct authorized tasks. When it comes to operations for which end-users were not previously approved, end-users must request access.
In other words, with endpoint privilege management, employees do not have permissions for anything beyond what’s required for the role. In cyber security, this is defined as the “principle of least privilege.”
Benefits of endpoint privilege management
EPM is advantageous in that it protects digital work environments, workflows and end-users. But there are additional benefits to be aware of:
1. EMP removes administrative rights from end-users.
High privileged accounts are common malware targets (and through which cyber criminals can gain access to the corporate network). EPM means that you can reduce this risk effectively without compromising user productivity.
2. EMP assigns privileges to applications.
When an application is launched an endpoint privilege management system assigns necessary privileges to users. This functionality is invisible for end-users, allowing them to remain productive via their account.
3. EPM offers simple and centralized admin management.
Administrators can easily declare applications in policies and configure identification options. Afterwards, admins can assign the applications to the required users and configure desired options (warning messages, audit and monitoring…etc). Such policies can be automatically provided to a group, if wanted. It’s easy to deploy them during a subsequent application cycle.
4. Endpoint privilege management establishes application control.
Aside from controlling specific privileges assigned to applications, endpoint privilege management can also be used to control the applications that a user may install or operate. Whitelists can be used to retain logs of approved applications on a system. Policies can block unauthorized applications, and other unapproved materials.
Cyber attack prevention: Endpoint privilege management
Endpoint privilege management offers cyber security professionals a way to implement zero trust best practices, as it ensures increased privilege endpoint visibility, which assists in the suppression and prevention of cyber attacks on endpoints.
In architecting privileged access management for cyber threat prevention purposes, Gartner analyst Homan Farahmand says: “The privileged access threat landscape is growing with a higher risk of enabling cyber attacks and severe consequences. Technical professionals must architect privileged access control capabilities to defend against exploitation scenarios and to resist advanced persistent threats.”
In the event of exploitation or misuse, local admin access can lead to network compromise. In turn, this can result in data loss, high support costs and poor user experience. Users with unfiltered local administrative privileges retain full control of the endpoint. They have the ability to execute against file system changes, to run unauthorized processes or apps, to disable security and system settings…etc. Theoretically, those with unfiltered local administrative privileges could install malware or change standard desktop configuration settings.
While local admin rights aren’t as powerful as domain-level privileges, they shouldn’t be dismissed. Cyber criminals can exploit local admin rights to gain access to further network controls. After wheedling into an endpoint system, criminals can then use the passwords and privileges to access the most valuable assets.
What is EPM without privilege escalation?
Endpoint privilege management can keep cyber attacks limited to users’ devices. Via privilege escalation, users can curtail lateral movement by restricting local admin privileges on endpoints.
An endpoint privilege management system is not designed to replace firewalls or anti-virus. When it comes to a comprehensive endpoint security, integrate this type of privileged management into additional technologies.
For more insights into the importance of privileged access management (PAM) and zero trust, please click here.