How to Properly Manage Non-Human Identities
In today's digital age, businesses are increasingly dependent on technology to conduct their operations. With this reliance comes an ever-growing number of identities and accounts, both human and non-human, that need to be managed and secured. Non-human identities, such as service accounts and Internet of Things (IoT) devices, are often overlooked but can pose significant security risks to a business if left unmanaged. This white paper aims to explore the importance of managing non-human identities and the potential risks they can pose to a business if not properly managed.
Non-human identities, such as service accounts and IoT devices, are used to automate tasks, access network resources, and perform various functions. These non-human identities are often granted elevated privileges, allowing them to access sensitive data or make changes to system configurations that regular user accounts cannot. The privileges given to these identities make them prime targets for cybercriminals looking to exploit vulnerabilities and gain unauthorized access to a business's network.
Service accounts are non-human identities used by applications and services to access network resources and perform tasks on behalf of users or other applications. These accounts are used to automate tasks and run background services, such as database backups and system monitoring, that require access to network resources. Service accounts are often given elevated privileges, allowing them to access sensitive data or make changes to system configurations that regular user accounts cannot.
The Risks of Unmanaged Service Accounts:
Unmanaged service accounts pose a significant security risk to a business. The following are some potential risks:
- Compromised Service Accounts: Service accounts with elevated privileges can be a target for cybercriminals looking to gain unauthorized access to a business's network. If a service account is compromised, the attacker can use the account to access sensitive data, install malware or ransomware, or make unauthorized changes to the network.
- Overprivileged Service Accounts: Service accounts are often given elevated privileges to access network resources and perform tasks. However, if these privileges are not properly managed, they can become overprivileged, allowing the account to access resources it doesn't need to perform its task. Overprivileged service accounts can lead to increased security risks and can make it easier for attackers to gain unauthorized access to a business's network.
- Compliance Issues: Businesses in certain industries, such as healthcare and finance, are required to comply with industry-specific regulations, such as HIPAA and PCI DSS. These regulations require businesses to implement specific security measures to protect sensitive data. Unmanaged service accounts can lead to compliance issues, as businesses may not be able to provide an audit trail for service account activity or may not be able to demonstrate that service accounts are properly managed.
Best Practices for Managing Service Accounts:
Managing service accounts is essential to ensure the security of a business's network. The following are some best practices for managing service accounts:
- Inventory Service Accounts: The first step in managing service accounts is to identify and inventory all service accounts used by the business. This includes service accounts used by third-party applications or services.
- Implement a Least Privilege Policy: Service accounts should be granted the minimum privileges necessary to perform their tasks. This helps to reduce the risk of overprivileged service accounts and limit the potential damage caused by a compromised service account.
- Implement Strong Password Policies: Service accounts should be subject to the same password policies as human user accounts. This includes requiring strong passwords and enforcing password expiration policies.
- Regularly Monitor Service Account Activity: Regular monitoring of service account activity can help to detect any unauthorized access or suspicious activity. This includes monitoring login attempts, resource access, and changes to system configurations.
- Implement Regular Reviews: Regular reviews of service accounts