What is Principle of Least Privilege (PoLP)?

What is the Principle of Least Privilege (PoLP)?

Mar 28, 2021 / Kron

As cyberattackers renew their attack methods, security teams need to close the gaps throughout the systems with more strict rules in order to protect the current IT systems. These technologies consist of various solutions ensuring access and data security, including developments that allow the controlled management of security policies. The Principle of Least Privilege or PoLP, ensures high level protection especially in terms of data access. For all details from the meaning of Least Privilege principle to its execution, check the following content.

What is Principle of Least Privilege (PoLP)?

The Principle of Least Privilege (PoLP) essentially aims to accurately limit the data access to provide a more efficient user experience and create a flawless security process. In addition to the real users such as the service providers or the employees who want to access the system, Least Privilege also consists the virtual users such as database services offers a maximum and versatile approach in terms of data access.

Since the fundamental purpose of Principle of Least Privilege is to protect the data, it is important to determine who to access the data in accordance with it’s privilege. In general, various profiles can be created such as standard user, privileged user and shared accounts for this security method, and different level of authorization can be defined on all related profiles. And since any attempt of access, either internally by employees or externally by a malicious third party, would require exclusive permissions, it virtually eliminates system breach via viruses, rootkit or malicious software.

What are the advantages of Least Privilege?

Least Privilege provides various advantages since it is a principle focusing on the system security. Also improving other aspects such as efficient and systematic operation, Principle of Least Privilege provides various advantages. The main advantages of PoLP:

  • It allows you to assign different authorizations to different user groups and therefore allows you to protect the system data.
  • You can define the desired profile to the desired party without assigning authorizations to everyone that should be accessing the system through the profiles you defined, and in turn save time and effort.
  • The Least Principle of Least Privilege ensures the authorized parties to access the system securely and rapidly.
  • And since it consists the real users and virtual users, and limits the access to data by these users as required, it prevents unpleasant surprises.
  • Thanks to its versatile security, it protects the user data efficiently and in turn prevents unwanted high risk scenarios where the company image is tarnished or material damage.

It is apparent that Least Privilege may be seen as a mere system security step, but thanks to its advantages that are far more significant, it manages to bring many positive details together. On the other hand, it is important to utilize Least Privilege with a multi-layered security system for complete system protection.

How is Principle of Least Privilege Applied?

In the Principle of Least Privilege, first the users that are supposed to access the system should be grouped based on their level of authorization. The number of these users that consist of four different profiles in general can be reduced or increased based on system needs. The four profiles are:

User Account: The standard accounts which are used to complete the standard operations of standard users are defined as "User Accounts".

Privileged Account: It is an account with elevated privileges. This account type can be broken down to different sub types. For instance, some accounts, such as the accounting teams may be required to access particular data in the system, meanwhile administrator accounts are authorized to make changes in the system, such as network administrators.

Shared Account: This is not a recommended account, however in some special cases this account may be required to be assigned to certain groups. In these scenarios, it is vital for your infrastructure that the accounts are closely monitored and controlled.

Service Account: This account, in addition to the real users that are supposed to access the system, is defined for virtual users such as database services, other services or applications.

Following user definitions and assignments are completed; it is time to look at different details that should be observed for Principle of Least Privilege. These are;

  • Creating a password that is adequately long, complex and in validity period
  • Deleting the accounts of the users who gets out of the system as soon as possible
  • Assigning the users authorization only through the hours that they work
  • Limiting the authorization by using location based restrictions
  • Similar to location based restrictions, authorizing users only for their work stations that they use

In addition to the data security options offered by the Principle of Least Privilege, you can implement Kron's Privileged Access Management (PAM) platform Single Connect that offer privileged session manager, dynamic password controller, two factor authentication (2FA), dynamic data masking and privileged task automation to ensure full protection and protect your data and have multi-layered access security.

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