Continuous advancements in digital technology have enabled businesses to access vast amounts of information, allowing them to improve productivity, make better business decisions, and enjoy a host of other benefits. However, all these gains come with one important warning: the risk of data breaches.
Still, with proper implementation of information security and compliance, businesses can navigate the digital world with more confidence. At the core of this system is the principle of least privilege or POLP.
What is the POLP?
The POLP is built on the premise that every user or process is a source of potential threat. Based on this assumption, they are given minimum access, enough only to carry out their functions. Admin access is given only to those who need it, while programmers could access legacy codes but not the financial records. In other words, only legitimate users can log in, and they can only run commands that are approved for their functions.
Why is POLP important to Businesses?
Many businesses lose significant revenue due to information security breaches. In some cases, important designs, blueprints, or business strategies are hacked. Aside from surface-level costs, a compromised security system can lead to legal fees, increases in insurance premiums, and other hidden costs. It could also damage a brand, reducing the confidence of potential clients, customers, or business partners.
By implementing the principle of least privilege, the possibility of intruders gaining access to key IT systems is greatly reduced. This helps protect sensitive information, whether from user accounts, applications, or devices. What is more, the POLP can help contain the damage to the point of origin in the rare cases where data breaches are successful. This will stop it from damaging the entire system and causing more losses.
How to Implement the POLP
The norm of least privilege is applicable to all levels of an IT system, from end users to databases to applications to networks. Below are some ways that it can be implemented.
Managing User Accounts
Users responsible for making database entries should only be given access to the information of said databases. This will limit the impact of data breaches in case the user’s device is infected by malware from phishing emails and other sources. If POLP is not implemented and the user is given root access, the damage will be more extensive.
Managing MySQL Accounts
The database management system must be set up such that numerous accounts are employed to perform specific jobs. This way, functions are distributed, and the impact of data breaches is reduced. For instance, a user who sorts data should not be able to delete records. This will ensure that successful attackers would only be able to sort records and not wipe out an entire database.
Giving Access Only When Needed
There are times when some users would need temporary root privileges. Correspondingly, access should be restricted when necessary. One way to maintain security in these situations is to use disposable credentials.
Aside from the above examples, businesses can conduct regular privilege audits. There are many reputable network security providers who can help with this and other elements of the POLP.