Why Is It Important to Audit The Actions of Information System Administrators

SOC 2 compliance cost

The enterprise information infrastructure administrator has a privileged account. Such a specialist can change the system configuration and view confidential information. To track the unauthorized activity of information system administrators and eliminate its negative consequences, it is necessary to audit the actions of these employees. If you are interested in SOC 2 compliance cost, then you should be aware of the importance of auditing the actions of information system administrators. In this article, you will learn about what problems this will help to avoid.

The Main Goals of Auditing The Actions of Administrators

For a company of any size, it is important to ensure full control of information security. Even those employees who fully inspire confidence in management can harm it – intentionally or accidentally.

Auditing the actions of an information system administrator allows you to:

  1. Check file logs and analyze data.
  2. Perform diagnostics of the accumulated information.
  3. Identify causes of errors and potential threats.

The audit provides transparency and accountability for the actions of employees with privileged accounts. As a result, cybersecurity SOC 2 compliance is simplified and costs are reduced.

The Human Factor in IT

In almost 80% of cases, a security breach occurs due to the abuse of privileged accounts by employees themselves. Not every company audits the actions of information system administrators and other professionals with extended access rights. Sometimes accounts are maintained manually, and control is neglected. This practice creates a favorable environment for attackers by opening the door to data. In this case, there is a possibility of hacking and obtaining confidential data and changing important documentation by third parties.

Risk factors:

  1. Weak password policy. For example, if they use the same passwords for several systems.
  2. Use of one account by several employees. For example, if administrators from different departments create a common account or the same login information. If an attacker gains access to the account, they can disable an impressive part of the infrastructure.
  3. Dismiss employees with a privileged account. Such accounts are often forgotten, and the entrance remains available, which can be used by people with bad intentions.

Invisible Entry Into The System

Threats can come from outside. For example, company employees often respond incorrectly to phishing emails. Attackers carefully work out the content and make it look like regular emails that are beyond doubt. For example, documents may come from alleged partners, where you need to follow a link or open a file. An unsuspecting employee downloads a program with malicious code, which allows unauthorized persons to get hold of information, hack into, or even intercept a privileged account. Administrators are usually savvy in matters of fake content, but newbies and sometimes experienced employees often enter their login and password on phishing sites.

A former administrator or employee could accidentally or intentionally compromise security if they discover a forgotten account. The risk in this case is increased by conflicting dismissals and poor relationships with management. There are also situations where the information department creates test accounts for testing and they remain open. Potential criminals can leak data or damage infrastructure.

Companies usually protect infrastructure from negative impacts: they implement firewalls, and anti-virus programs, and install software to detect external attacks. But this, unfortunately, is not always enough. If an employee’s credentials are captured, attackers can enter the organization’s network as an employee and steal sensitive information, disrupting the system.

Experienced attackers first study the IT infrastructure and do not give themselves away in any way. Sometimes hackers manage to establish a remote connection through a captured account. They keep the secret as much as possible and act carefully. Often, after malicious actions, it is difficult to determine the source of the problem.

Frequent consequences of the careless use of privileged accounts: the spread of viruses, theft of confidential information, system failure, and disabling access. Even experienced administrators, through indiscretion, can provoke a cyber disaster.

What Mistakes Do Administrators Make?

Administrators and other access owners can download prohibited content by disregarding the security policy and password protection. Often illegal actions are committed by employees who have access to the internal networks of the enterprise.

Due to the lack of full control over the processes of assigning owners and using accounts, the number of depersonalized records is growing. Employees can use this for personal purposes – for example, to steal databases, or delete important information. The risk of them interacting with attackers and thus helping them gain access to the infrastructure cannot be completely eliminated. As a result, the company may suffer reputational and financial losses.

Privileged users can mistakenly change the system settings, and delete important data, which will affect the functioning of its elements. It is logical that effective control is one of the primary tasks in the field of information security. 

Using PAM to Audit Administrator Activities

PAM (Privileged Access Management) is an efficient modern privileged access control system. The technology allows not only to control accounts but also to build a cybersecurity strategy. This makes it possible to identify employees who can get privileged access, to delimit their actions and powers.

The PAM system at the enterprise allows:

  • audit the actions of the administrator;
  • monitor activity in detail during work periods;
  • use multi-factor input;
  • perform a secure connection;
  • grant and revoke privileged user rights;
  • configure rules for granting extended access;
  • immediately terminate the session in case of detection of unauthorized access or execution of dangerous commands;
  • save metadata for later analysis and presentation in court.

These solutions optimize secure access control through automated password replacement and substitution, as well as timely detection of questionable activity. As a result, the risk of sharing accounts and access after employees leave the company is significantly reduced.

Final Thoughts

Administrators of information systems are capable of harming information security accidentally or intentionally. Therefore, it is important, in addition to basic protection tools, to implement automated PAM systems to audit the actions of privileged users. If you are looking for reliable modern data protection solutions, we recommend that you turn to UnderDefense. You can also get support to prepare for SOC 2 compliance, including the cost of this procedure.

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