Enterprise Password Management
What is Enterprise Password Management?
Enterprise Password Management is a password security method that goes beyond simply storing your company’s passwords in a secure password vault. Password management software built for the enterprise gives you visibility and control to lower your privileged account risk.
Managing human and non-human privileged accounts is critical, yet tedious for enterprise IT and security teams. But without a centralized password management system, you have no visibility or control to protect privileged accounts from attack.
What does enterprise password management software do and why is it essential?
Enterprise password management software essentially closes the number-one hole in your attack surface and protects your passwords without slowing down your business by inconveniencing your users.
Strong passwords are an important security practice. But they aren’t enough to prevent a data breach.
Alarmingly, 20% of companies fail to change default passwords, such as “admin” and “12345.”
Hackers use password cracking techniques, brute-force attacks, and social engineering trickery to steal enterprise passwords. If they get their hands on a password that uses an authentication token (password hash), they can “pass-the-hash” to breach multiple systems without requiring multiple passwords.
Password management software for the enterprise uses security controls to prevent internal and external threats from capturing master passwords, credentials, secrets, tokens, and keys to gain access to confidential systems and data. These centralized password management systems can be on-premise or in the cloud. Most important is that they provide password security for all types of privileged accounts throughout your enterprise.
Try our Free Privileged Password Management Tool for IT Teams—it's a great entry-level segue from a personal password manager to a full-featured enterprise solution.
Automation makes enterprise password management possible
You can’t simply manage enterprise passwords manually and expect to have visibility and control or keep pace with changes in your organization. Consumer password protection tools don’t have the right capabilities and can’t scale to support an enterprise. Old-school enterprise password management software is complex, expensive to manage, and slows down your systems. The more complex the software, the higher the risk of failure.
Enterprise password management solutions are much more than a “Password Manager” or a “Password Vault”
To keep your corporate passwords safe, you can’t just store them in a protected password vault and hide the key. You also need to manage role-based access provided by those passwords and keep that access up to date.
As people leave and projects change, enterprise password management software allows you to change or remove passwords in real-time. This is particularly important for shared accounts and systems that must be kept highly secure. To mitigate the risk of a data breach, enterprise-level password management solutions monitor password activity and rotate passwords regularly and automatically.
Password management best practices like password creation, rotation, monitoring, and removal must happen with no disruption to people’s work and no downtime for your systems. An enterprise password management solution designed to keep people productive eliminates the temptation to share passwords and skirt security controls.
Simplifying IT password management saves your IT team’s time
Privileged Access Management (PAM) solutions simplify IT password management. Your help desk and IT teams save time with automated account provisioning and deprovisioning, automated account discovery, automated password rotation, and consolidated reporting and auditing. IT password management can be further streamlined as your PAM solution is integrated with other critical IT systems, such as SIEM and IT ticketing systems, and diverse operating systems and platforms.
PAM is a comprehensive solution for enterprise password management that eliminates drudgery and decreases your risk of attack. With PAM software you can rotate passwords without spending hundreds of hours manually changing them and simultaneously update credentials used for services and applications without downtime. PAM software has built-in capabilities for workflow and detailed reporting that gives you maximum control and flexibility. Modern PAM solutions are available both on-premise and in the cloud, so you save time and secure privileges across your entire attack surface.
Application password management is an emerging area of concern
Privileged Access Management extends to non-human account credentials, such as those needed for applications and services to run. Application password management is critical because those credentials are not tied to a human. As such, they are more difficult to track and can sometimes be found in plain text in the code, applications, and services where they are needed. It’s critical to store these credentials in a high-speed vault so they are managed, monitored, and removed according to your security policies.
Auditing and reporting are critical to enterprise password management
To demonstrate compliance to auditors and return on investment to executives, enterprise password security software provides detailed reporting on security practices you use to manage and protect passwords.
Enterprise password protection must also secure third-party access
Enterprise password protection goes beyond managing internal employee passwords. Contractors and partners may also need limited or temporary passwords, which you need to create, manage, and remove when their lifespan is over. To keep tabs on third-party behavior in real-time, you may want to require an internal employee to authorize their access or even monitor and record sessions.
Enterprise password security software is available both on-premise and in the cloud
Enterprises operate both on-premise and in the cloud. So, enterprise password security software must be designed for both. Cloud password management is particularly important for enterprises that have privileged accounts managing cloud-based systems, applications, and development tools.
Managing and securing non-human master passwords in the enterprise
In addition to users, systems such as databases, applications, and networks all require a robust enterprise password management solution to authenticate and exchange information. These accounts aren’t tied to a unique human identity, which means you can’t rely on Identity and Access Management tools to manage them. When no individual is held accountable for password protection, the risks of a data breach increase exponentially. When no individual is held accountable for password protection the risks of a data breach increase exponentially.
Enterprise-level password security software protects all types of privileged accounts
- Service accounts
Run application services such as Windows Services, scheduled tasks, batch jobs, and Application Pools within IIS. Changing passwords for service accounts is tricky because applications are dependent on credentials for daily operations.
- Domain administrator accounts
Manage servers and control Active Directory users. They also include local domain accounts at the workstation level, which are included by default and allow everyday users excess privileges.
- Root accounts
Manage Unix/Linux platforms that can be challenging to synchronize and map to Active Directory to ensure accountability.
- Networking accounts
Represent a full-access pass to critical infrastructures such as firewalls, routers, and switches. When these accounts are breached you may never recover.
- System administrator accounts
Manage databases that can be difficult to secure and rotate because credentials are often shared among a group of IT administrators who need access in real-time. Managing Windows administrator accounts is particularly difficult in a virtualized environment as machines are rapidly deployed.
- Application accounts
Access and share sensitive information with databases and other applications. They include database logins, certificates for software signing, embedded build script passwords, configuration files, and application services used during software development. Default privileged credentials or SSH keys are often embedded in clear text or hard-coded in applications and can be easily exploited.
More Enterprise Password Management Resources:
Privileged Access Management for Dummies: Teach everyone on your team about enterprise password management and PAM