What Does Least Privilege Principle Mean for Your Business, and How to Implement It?

The principle of least privilege is a security concept that requires users and systems to be given only the minimum privileges they need to complete their tasks. It helps reduce the risk of attackers gaining access to sensitive data or compromising systems. Keep reading to find out about the least privilege principle.

What Does It Mean?

If user accounts are not created correctly or default accounts are not disabled, an attacker can guess the credentials to access a system. Once inside, it does not take much for the attacker to access other systems on the network. The least privilege principle should be applied in your organization to avoid that scenario.

It states that users, programs, or systems should have precisely the amount of privilege needed to perform a given task and no more. If users only need to read a file in a folder, they should be given read access to just that file and nothing else.

In addition, from an administrator’s standpoint, if you log into Windows as an administrator, you should not use that account for your day-to-day tasks. Instead, you should create an account with limited privileges and use that one to perform the majority of your work.

Why Should You Start Implementing It?

Many breach incidents occur because attackers successfully guess or steal passwords. Many companies allow users to log in to their systems with the same account and password they use for email. Once inside, attackers often find password files containing easily accessible user credentials.

One easy way employees can protect themselves from these types of attacks is to create a unique password for important accounts, such as your workstation or VPN, and change that password at least every three months.

It is a crucial step because it means that even if an attacker gains access to your user account, they won’t be able to gain access to other accounts. In addition, this also helps prevent two-factor authentication bypass attacks.

Password managers can help employees manage complex passwords and improve their security posture without compromising convenience.

How You Can Implement It

There are several ways to implement the least privilege principle in your business. They include the following.

Role-Based Access Control (RBAC)

RBAC allows you to create groups of users with specific privileges. For example, you could create a group of users who can only read files in a particular folder and another group who can only write files to that folder.

It helps you control who has access to which systems and data. RBAC can be used in conjunction with other authentication methods, such as passwords, smart cards, or biometric factors.

Job Roles

Job roles can also help implement the principle of least privilege. For example, you could create a role for an administrator who only has the privileges needed to manage systems and another role for a user who only has the privileges required to run specific applications.

It helps ensure that users only have the privileges they need to do their job and that administrators have the necessary privileges to manage systems. It also makes it easier to revoke or change user privileges if required.

Windows Groups

Windows groups are a way of assigning permissions to a collection of users. For example, you can create a group, “Accounting,” and add all the users who need access to the accounting system to that group.

It makes it easier to manage permissions because you only have to change the permissions for the group instead of changing them for each individual user. It also makes adding users to the group easier because you don’t have to assign them permissions individually.

Least Privilege in Action

Here is an example of how least privilege can be used in practice. Let’s say you are a system administrator and you need to install a new application on a Windows server.

To install the application, you would first log in to the server as an administrator. Then, you would use the Local Group Policy Editor to create a new group and add the user account using the application to that group. You would then give the group permissions to install the application.

This process allows you to give the user account the permissions it needs to install the application without giving it the permissions of an administrator. It helps protect the server from malicious software and other attacks.

A Cloud Security Platform provides businesses with visibility into their cloud deployments with continuous monitoring of user access activity, controlling user provisioning, and ensuring that only authorized users have access to data. It helps protect companies from malware-laced phishing attacks, credential theft, server exploitation, brute force login attempts, privilege escalation via infected devices, and more.

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