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 their IT systems with more strict rules in order to protect the current them. 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. In this blog post we’ll explore the meaning of Least Privilege principle and how to implement it.

What is the Principle of Least Privilege (PoLP)?

The Principle of Least Privilege (PoLP) essentially aims to accurately limit data access to provide a more efficient user experience and create a flawless security process. In addition to the real users, such as service providers or employees who want to access the system, Least Privilege also addresses virtual users such as database services, and offers a maximum security but 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 will access the data in accordance with their assigned privilege level. In general, various user profiles can be created, such as standard user, privileged user, and shared accounts, while using this security method, and different levels of authorization can be defined for 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 breaches via viruses, rootkit, or malicious software.

What are the advantages of Least Privilege?

Least Privilege provides various advantages since it focuses on system security, while also improving other aspects such as efficient and systematic operation. The Principle of Least Privilege provides various advantages:

  • It allows you to assign different authorizations to different user groups and therefore allows you to protect the system data.
  • You can assign a particular profile to a specific party without assigning authorizations to everyone accessing the system by using the profiles you defined, and in turn save time and effort.
  • The Principle of Least Privilege ensures authorized parties access the system securely and rapidly.
  • It includes real and virtual users and limits access to data by these users according to your requirements, thus preventing unpleasant surprises.
  • Thanks to its versatile security, it protects user data efficiently and in turn prevents unwanted high risk scenarios that may result in negative impact to the company image or material damage.

Least Privilege may be seen as a mere system security step, but it has far reaching and significant advantages. However, it is important to employ Least Privilege along with a multi-layered security system for completesystem protection.

How is the Principle of Least Privilege Applied?

According to the Principle of Least Privilege, the first step is to group the users that are supposed to access the system based on their level of authorization. These users can be classified in four different profile types, and their general number can be reduced or increased based on system needs. The four profile types are:

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

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

Shared Account: This is not a recommended account type, however, in some special cases this account may need to be assigned to certain groups. In these scenarios, it is vital for the security of your infrastructure that these accounts be 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, and other services or applications.

Now that we defined the different user account types, it is time to look at other aspects that should be considered in relation to the Principle of Least Privilege:

  • Creating passwords that are adequately long, complex, and valid for a limited time period
  • Deleting accounts of users that leave the organization as soon as possible
  • Assigning users authorization only during their regular working hours
  • Limiting authorization by using location-based restrictions
  • Similar to location-based restrictions, authorizing users to access only the work stations that they use

In addition to the data security options offered by the Principle of Least Privilege, Kron's Privileged Access Management (PAM) platform, Single Connect, offers privileged session manager, password vault, multi factor authentication (MFA), dynamic data masking, and privileged task automation features, to ensure full protection and protect your data with multi-layered access security.

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