MFA & PAM: How These Security Methods Work Together to Provide Layered Protection
Providing convenient, remote access to employees is now considered status quo rather than a bonus. As the workplace continues to shift and the dust around the pandemic starts to (hopefully) settle, remote work is going to remain.
Corporate IT environments have never been more complex, and the security landscape is more threatening than ever. Businesses must prioritize securing their environments and reducing their cyber risk as much as possible.
As there is no single solution that can prevent all cyber attacks, a multi-layered defense strategy is the only approach that will significantly reduce risk. Two crucial layers of this strategy are multi-factor authentication (MFA) and privileged access management (PAM).
It’s common that these two security solutions are confused for one another. In this blog, we’ll discuss what each of these security methods do, how they differ, and how they work together to provide layered protection for your business.
Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is a security method in which two forms of credentials (or authentication) are required prior to being granted access to an account or system. Instead of relying on a password alone, MFA goes a step further.
The second form of authentication can take multiple forms, including a:
- PIN number
- Physical key (like a badge or keycard)
- Authenticator application
- Biometric verification (such as fingerprints, voice, or facial recognition)
This second form of authentication makes it more difficult for an unauthorized individual to gain access. In the event they’re able to bypass the first layer of authentication, it’s less likely that they’ll make it past the second. The MFA method provides your system with two layers of proof that the individual accessing the account is who they say they are.
In addition to restricting access to certain accounts, MFA can also restrict certain activities during specific times. While an employee may be able to log into their account late at night, they could be barred from transferring funds after hours. Or a late-night log in could require an additional layer of authentication before certain activities can be completed.
While MFA has been around almost as long as the internet, it’s still evolving. At Cisco Live! 2022, Cisco announced their strategic vision for Zero Trust moving forward. They outlined that trust is never permanent. Therefore, they will seek to make users continuously reauthenticate themselves while maintaining seamless processes. They’re calling this Continuous Trusted Access. This vision aims to consistently evaluate both the user and device’s trustworthiness behind the scenes and apply the appropriate access experience based on the current levels of risk.
Privileged Access Management (PAM)
Privileged Access Management (PAM) is a locally deployed software solution that is used to “secure, control, and monitor access to an organization’s critical information and resources.”
While MFA authenticates users to the system or network, PAM manages user credentials and determines the user’s level of access to the system.
There are multiple forms of PAM, including:
- Access password management
- Privileged session management
- Vendor privileged access management (VPAM)
- Application access management
A PAM system provides an organization with a way to monitor their entire network and see which users have access to what data. This specifically applies to privilege user accounts that have elevated permissions, such as administrative accounts, Microsoft Active Directory accounts, and more.
How do MFA & PAM Overlap?
MFA is the first layer of security and PAM is the second. Users will connect to a PAM solution using their MFA credentials. These two solutions work together by first authenticating the user and then providing the privileged access the user was seeking.
Next Steps: Reduce Your Risk with a Layered Approach to Security
There is no such thing as total protection against cyber threats. However, using cyber security best practices, businesses can significantly reduce their risk with a multi-layered approach to make it as difficult as possible for malicious actors.
Whether your environment is on-prem, in the cloud, or hybrid, your security should remain a top priority.
To learn more about PAM, MFA, and securing your environment, contact an Arraya expert today.
Visit https://www.arrayasolutions.com/contact-us/ to connect with our team now.
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