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Launch Privileged Login Sessions

Hitachi ID Privileged Access Manager is designed to not only randomize and securely store privileged passwords, but also to connect users and programs to privileged accounts after appropriate authentication and authorization. Passwords and/or access can be disclosed to:

  1. frequent users, subject to access control policy;
  2. infrequent users, subject to a one-time approval workflow;
  3. applications, to replace embedded passwords, via a web services API, client-side library, OTP, IP address validation, program fingerprinting and more; and
  4. service launching infrastructure, such as the Windows SCM and scheduler, by injecting new passwords and optionally restarting services.
All disclosure is subject to user identification, strong authentication, SSL encryption in transit and audit logs.

Immediate Disclosure With Access Controls

The most common form of access control in the Privileged Access Manager is based on managed system policies. These policies are named collections of managed systems containing privileged accounts whose passwords may be randomized and access to which is controlled.

Managed systems may either be attached to a policy explicitly (e.g., "attach system SYS0123 to policy MSP-A") or implicitly, using an expression such as "all systems of type Linux at are attached to MSP-B". Expressions may be based on the operating system type, IP address, MAC address, system name or other metadata.

Managed system policies are configured with operational and access control rules, including:

  1. Which accounts' passwords to randomize on attached systems.
  2. How often to change passwords.
  3. How to compose random passwords (e.g., length, complexity, etc.).
  4. What actions to take after successful or failed attempts to disclose access.
  5. What access disclosure methods to offer authorized users -- e.g., launch a given type of client program with ID/password from the credential vault, display a password, copy buffer integration, temporary group membership or SSH trust, etc.

Privileged Access Manager users are organized into user groups, also either explicitly or implicitly. Most commonly, users are assigned to Privileged Access Manager user groups by virtue of their membership in Active Directory or LDAP groups. Groups of users are then assigned specific rights with respect to specific managed system policies. For example, "every user in group A may launch RDP sessions to privileged accounts on systems in policy B."

Business rules, such as segregation of duties between different sets of users, can also be enforced. This is done by examining, managing and limiting group membership on reference systems, such as Active Directory or LDAP.

One-Time Disclosure With Approval Workflow

Privileged Access Manager includes the same authorization workflow engine as is used in Hitachi ID Identity Manager. Workflow enables users to request access to a privileged account that was not previously or permanently authorized. When this happens, one or more additional users are invited (via e-mail or SMS) to review and approve the request. Approved requests trigger a message to the request's recipient, including a URL to Privileged Access Manager where he or she can re-authenticate and "check out" access.

The workflow process is illustrated by the following series of steps:

  1. User UA signs in and requests that access to privileged account PA on system S be made available to user UB at some later time T. UA may be the same person as UB (a self-service request).
  2. Privileged Access Manager looks up authorizers associated with LA on S.
  3. Privileged Access Manager may run business logic to supplement this authorizer list, for example, UA or UB's manager. The final list of authorizers is LA. There are N authorizers but approval by just M (M \leq N) is sufficient to disclose the password to PA.
  4. Privileged Access Manager sends e-mail invitations to authorizers LA.
  5. If authorizers fail to respond, they get automatic reminder e-mails.
  6. If authorizers still don't respond, Privileged Access Manager runs business logic to find replacements for them, effectively escalating the request. Privileged Access Manager will invite replacement authorizers next.
  7. Authorizers receive invitation e-mails, click on a URL embedded in the e-mail invitation, authenticate themselves to the Privileged Access Manager web portal, review the request and approve or deny it.
  8. If any authorizers deny the request, e-mails are sent to all participants (UA, UB and LA) and the request is terminated.
  9. If M authorizers approve the request, thank-you e-mails are sent to all participants. The e-mail sent to the recipient includes a URL to an access disclosure page.
  10. UB clicks on the e-mail URL and authenticates to Privileged Access Manager.
  11. UB clicks on a button in the web portal to check-out privileged access.
  12. UB then may click on a button to do one of the following (the options available will vary based on policy):
    1. Display the password (rarely allowed).
    2. Place a copy of the password in the operating system copy buffer (sometimes allowed).
    3. Launch an RDP, SSH, vSphere, SQL Studio or similar login session to PA on S (most common).

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Request one-time access

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  • During an emergency or during a one-time event such as a production migration, users can request access to privileged accounts.
  • Requests are subject to validation (e.g., does the request include a valid incident number?) and authorization.

Key concepts:

  • A powerful workflow engine is built into Privileged Access Manager.
  • The approval process supports:
    • Inviting multiple authorizers at one time.
    • N of M approvals.
    • Reminders, escalation and delegation to replace non-responsive authorizers with alternates.

Approve one-time access

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  • Authorizers are invited to review requests via e-mail.
  • Requests are approved or rejected via a secure, authenticated web form.

Key concepts:

  • Authorizers who don't respond promptly will receive reminder e-mails.
  • The approvals UI is works with small web browsers, such as on smart phones. This means that requests can be approved any-where, any-time.

Launch one-time session to a privileged account

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  • Once a session has been approved, the request's recipient can launch a login session to the privileged account.

Key concepts:

  • As with routine administrator access, Privileged Access Manager is normally configured to launch SSH, RDP and similar sessions rather than displaying a password value.
  • Passwords are normally re-randomized when a session completes and access is "checked in."
  • Checkout/checkin controls can limit the number of people connected to the same administrator ID at one time.
  • Late users are shown the names of people already connected to the same account.

Read More:

  • Randomize Privileged Passwords:
    Privileged Access Manager periodically randomizes passwords on privileged accounts.
  • Launch Privileged Login Sessions:
    Privileged Access Manager launches login sessions to privileged accounts subject to access control policies and/or workflow approvals.
  • Limit Concurrent Administrator Logins:
    Privileged Access Manager controls how many people can sign into the same privileged account at the same time using a checkout/checkin process.
  • Record Administrator Logins:
    Privileged Access Manager can record the login sessions it launches for users to sign into privileged accounts. These recordings are both a forensic audit trail and a knowledge sharing resource.
  • Password History:
    Privileged Access Manager captures a full history of passwords for privileged accounts. This is useful when recovering servers and databases from backup media.
  • Audit Logs and Reports:
    Login sessions to privileged accounts are logged by Privileged Access Manager and visible in reports. This makes administrators accountable for changes they may make to systems and applications.
  • Eliminate Embedded Passwords:
    Privileged Access Manager allows organizations to eliminate static, plaintext passwords embedded in applications. An API allows applications to secure acquire credentials to other applications on demand.
  • Change Service Account Passwords:
    Privileged Access Manager periodically changes passwords for accounts used to run Windows services and notifies appropriate OS components, such as service control manager and scheduler, of the new password value.
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