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Cybersecurity Tips

Three Things You Need to Know About Privileged Password Security

By SolarWinds Passportal

As managed services providers (MSPs), password management goes beyond simply providing convenient password resets for your customers. Offering robust password management services also includes securely storing, sharing, creating, and handling passwords—and all of this is even more important when it comes to privileged passwords.

To best protect privileged passwords and implement more advanced password granular access control, password management strategies should include a password vault solution. A password vault solution or secure password manager can automate privileged account and credential discovery, access control, rotation, onboarding, alerting, and reporting. To help MSPs find the right solution for their needs, this guide will explain the top three things MSPs should know when it comes to privileged access passwords and privileged password security.

What is a privileged access password?

Privileged passwords are a subset of credentials that provide specific users with higher levels of access and permissions across systems, accounts, and applications. In a modern IT environment, privileged passwords and credentials can be used in several ways. They can serve a multitude of varying privileged account types, including root, domain admin, sysadmin, and workstations with admin rights. They’re also needed for operating systems, databases, applications, directory services, cloud instances, social media, and Internet of Things (IoT). 

Because these privileged passwords unlock an elevated level of access to potentially sensitive data on your customers’ networks, privileged credential management has the potential to have much more devastating consequences if handled poorly. These privileged credentials are also much more highly sought after by hackers and bad actors because of their access to privileged information. Instead of relying on insecure storage options like spreadsheets, companies should turn to MSPs for more secure options, like password management solutions with built-in features that support privileged credential management. 

Privileged credential risks that password management works to mitigate

Without client password management that includes privileged password security and granular access control management, MSPs risk exposing themselves to the following security issues: 

Human error

With so many passwords to remember and keep updated, employees are prone to forgetting passwords, which can lock them out of certain systems and throw a wrench in productivity levels. To prevent this from happening, many employees will use the same password for multiple accounts, use simple passwords that are easy to remember, or write passwords down. While it may be easier for users to apply their usual password across privileged accounts, that would be a mistake—such decisions create vulnerabilities which are often easy for hackers to exploit. 

Lack of oversight and audit challenges

IT teams sometimes share root, Windows Administrator, and several other privileged passwords, which can make it very difficult to trace actions back to the associated user. Shared accounts complicate accountability and auditing practices. Processes need to make it possible to have full transparency into the activities performed during a privileged session, both for compliance and security reasons. A strong password management solution can make this manageable. 

Lack of visibility

If different teams are managing their credentials separately, or not managing their credentials at all, it can make it difficult to track passwords—which is especially risky when it comes to privileged passwords. The right password management solution offers centralized password management that provides increased visibility and security to your customers. 

Privileged password management solutions help MSPs avoid these risks by giving them a comprehensive toolset that establishes accountability, facilitates audits, and helps ensure adherence to best practices.

What MSPs should know about privileged password security and management

There are a few key items that can help MSPs make their privileged password management as successful as possible. The following tips highlight what MSPs should look for as they aim to streamline privileged password management and select the right tool to aid this process. 

1. Automate privileged password management 

Privileged password security demands several practices to keep administrative credentials safe and accessible to those who need them, without exposing those credentials to the risk of unauthorized use. Password rotation for privileged accounts is a useful practice to avoid compromise. For shared privileged accounts with multiple people using them, password automation and rotation become even more critical. As people come and go (and thus need to have their access to passwords revoked), regular password changes help mitigate that risk. 

SolarWinds Passportal is a cloud-based solution that helps you automate password management. It provides security and removes the burden of memorization from the user by generating strong, complex passwords—and automatically expiring and rotating them according to the configured frequencies.

2. Protect and secure customer data 

To improve security and help ensure customer data is protected, MSPs should look for a password vault solution that provides data encryption both in storage and when it’s accessed. 

SolarWinds® Passportal fits the bill, offering advanced encryption of data both at-rest and in-transit. Passportal also allows you to enforce end user password resets and lets you update a network service account password typically in a matter of minutes. 

Passportal helps you gain insight into how customer credentials are being used, allowing you to easily demonstrate the value you bring to your customers. To prove that your security measures are consistent and reliable, you can drill into your privileged password accounts. As an example, you can rapidly generate reports on password complexity within any given domain and view how many unique passwords exist on each account. For auditing purposes, Passportal gives you access to several reports which allow you to perform audits based on customer or user.

3. Streamline privileged password management processes

Password management is a key part of an MSP or IT administrator’s role. However, managing each end user’s credentials at an individual level can be extremely time consuming and resource intensive. Passportal lets MSPs manage, search, configure, and update customer credentials through a single, centralized dashboard. The tool provides automation features to auto-expire passwords at any frequency, automatically generate a unique complex password, set the password for the account in Active Directory, AzureAD, or Microsoft 365, and create an audit log recording these actions. Granular access offers control over which functions each user can perform within the platform. 

The right password vault solution for your MSP

A powerful password management system like Passportal can streamline and automate the complete privileged credential lifecycle, ensuring best practices are complied with. Passportal also lets you set the password for the account in Microsoft 365, AzureAD, and Active Directory. You can create an audit log to record that this action has been performed, and use auto-discovery on the local Windows network to identify where individual passwords have been used.

The benefits of this tool are extensive, allowing you to establish a robust password management and IT documentation strategy that provides added value to your customers. This is a user-friendly and dynamic tool that can significantly improve your approach to password management, giving you unrivaled insight into privileged password security. To learn more, schedule a demo of Passportal here


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