It has become essential to protect oneself against data thefts and hackers in the modern age, as cybercrimes are reportedly increasing. Scores of unethical internet users target unprotected or privileged accounts to access sensitive information.
Here’s where the least privilege principle, most often called PoLP, comes in extremely handy. It is an incredible concept indispensable to computer security, effectively limiting the access rights of users to only specific information strictly essential to complete the tasks at hand.
Therefore, when users or programs are permitted to read, edit, and execute a file, access is given only to the data needed to perform the task at hand. This reduces (and often eliminates) the risk of security breaches and data thefts.
Consider the concept with an example
There are privilege accounts, service accounts, and shared accounts, among other types in an organization that need constant monitoring and reviewing. To study PoLP, consider a user account as an example.
An entry-level employee is tasked with entering critical information into a specific database. The employee only needs access or rights to enter the information and not edit or delete data to complete this task. But if given access to those features, the employee may make mistakes and end up editing critical information. They may also commit identity thefts, which are among the most typical cyber crimes globally.
Alternatively, if the user is given only data entry rights for the task, the rest of the sheet is protected even if the employee accidentally clicks on a phishing link. Otherwise, the malware attack may not be limited to the entries, and in fact, spread to the very roots of the entire system.
Benefits of PoLP
Organizations use this fantastic concept in several ways to bolster data security and prevent cyber attacks. Consider the following list of benefits to understand how valuable the PoLP idea truly is to businesses worldwide.
- Excellent security
Several years ago, an intelligence employee could leak top-secret company documents because he had unlimited access to sensitive information. Even if the employee was tasked solely with creating efficient database backups, he could initiate a breach.
Several companies and other organizations have implemented PoLP to protect classified data from insiders as outside threats. This proves how efficient the concept can be in determining limits for users accessing critical company information.
- Aids in data classification
The least privilege principleenables organizations to keep track of all their data, who has access to it, and where it is stored. It can also empower administrators to decide which high-level employees would hold privilege accounts and which ones should have entry-level access.
Moreover, it helps companies classify their data into various categories and determine which ones require the highest level of security.
- Reduced attack surfaces
Attack surfaces are those points or places from where hackers and viruses enter the system. When you give minimal access to vital databases, it becomes easy for your security team to monitor and identify vulnerabilities in the storage and other areas.
Consequently, they can repair the weak points of these aspects so that malware infiltration and cyberattacks are prevented effectively.
- Stops malware spread
Enforcing limited privilege goes a long way in protecting your entire system from malware infections. When there are least privileges on critical endpoints, it stops malware from accessing more space and spreading laterally to infect the whole machine. Therefore, it can prevent damage and protect against data leaks.
- Greater stability
Using PoLP can make your system more stable as it limits the effects of routine or unexpected changes to the specific zone in which they are made. This overall stability can help your business grow a lot quicker and with fewer cyber threats and malware infections. As a result, employees and customers are delighted with adequate security protocols and policies.
- Better audit preparedness
Systems built on the dependable principle of least privilege are far less susceptible to audits. That’s because most common regulations require companies to implement PoLP as a fundamental directive, efficiently streamlining compliance. This helps prevent malicious or involuntary damage to pivotal systems.
So, if the situation ever comes to an audit, the company will be better equipped to handle it when it has PoLP in place.
- Improves user productivity
One fundamental aspect of implementing PoLP is to provide time-based access to users for the exact amount of time needed to complete the current task. It helps executive users reduce malware and theft risks while ensuring user productivity.
As a result, there will be fewer attacks and malfunctions, ensuring all your data is perfectly organized and protected.