Definition

privileged identity management (PIM)

Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

Privileged identity management (PIM) is the monitoring and protection of superuser accounts in an organization’s IT environments.

Oversight is necessary so that the greater access abilities of super control accounts are not misused or abused. Unmanaged super user accounts can lead to loss or theft of sensitive corporate information, or malware that can compromise the network.

Super user accounts, such as those for database administrators (DBAs), CIOs and CEOs, have typically been very loosely governed. Identity management software often leaves super user accounts totally uncontrolled while enabling advanced privileges on the corporate network. Furthermore, the owners of those accounts often have no formal training in managing them.

To implement privileged identity management:

  1. Create a policy that specifies how super user accounts will be managed and what the account holders should and should not be able to do.
  2. Develop a management model that identifies a responsible party to ensure that the above policies are followed.
  3. Inventory privileged accounts to determine how extensive the population is and to identify them.
  4. Establish tools and processes for management, such as provisioning tools or specialized PIM products. 
This was last updated in November 2013

Next Steps

IT struggles to balance users who request more administrative rights to be more productive. Learn how to keep users in check with privileged user access management and understand why password security issues illustrates such a need for PIM. Learn more about PIM and multifactor authentication, and read our comparison of popular MFA products. Next, read our in-depth profiles of Vasco IDENTIKEY Server v3.6, Symantec Validation and ID Protection Service, SafeNet Authentication Service and SecureAuth idP v8.0.

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Have you had an issue with a user abusing administrative powers?
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At one point one of my network users abused administrative powers and I could only visualize it in line with undermining security as a result of weak access controls on resources. Afterwards, I had to make the correct decision by redefining the access control lists to avoid similar mishaps in future. Additionally, I came up with new operational sets, which included corresponding functionality that users were allowed to perform. This helped restore my system security.
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