17th July, 2023
TABLE OF CONTENTS
A service account is a non-human privileged account that is used by the operating system to run SaaS apps, virtual machine instances, automated services, and various background processes.
Moreover, with the emerging need of service accounts in the organization, handling them has become a challenging task for IT teams. So what you as an IT manager can do is consider implementing best practices to help your IT team securely and effectively manage your service accounts.
You must be wondering what type of challenges one can even face while managing service accounts. IT teams often encounter a few challenges, such as password management challenges; failing to update all references to the new password can lead to incorrect password usage, resulting in a cascade of system failures and potential account lockouts.
Furthermore, using an incorrect password by a service can trigger the operating system to think the account is under attack, leading to the subsequent lockout of the account. Consequently, every service relying on that locked-out account will also fail, causing disruptions.
Additionally, due to the potential risks and complexities involved, many IT teams choose to ignore the issue altogether rather than face the possibility of downtime. As a result, service accounts are often configured with non-expiring credentials that remain unchanged for a long time, leaving systems and SaaS apps vulnerable to security breaches.
Another example is the visibility challenge; service accounts, being non-human/machine accounts, often operate in the background without direct human interaction. This lack of interaction can lead to reduced visibility as long as the services appear to be running smoothly. Thus, many IT teams face visibility issues when it comes to monitoring and managing service accounts effectively.
However, a particular concern is the potential for multiple identities (users) to have access to a single service account, sharing the same login details. This shared access makes it difficult to determine individual users' specific actions.
So how is your IT team going to mitigate these challenges? In brief, your team can set up-to-date passwords for service accounts and keep on changing them periodically. Further, to mitigate visibility challenges, your team needs to keep track of who has access to which applications by monitoring and conducting audits. By doing so, your team will be able to mitigate the risk of security breaches and manage your service accounts effectively.
However, to make the management of service accounts smoother, your team needs to take additional steps and follow best practices. So, let's explore how implementing these best practices can help your team effectively handle service accounts.
Given below are the 5 best practices that will help your team streamline managing service accounts efficiently.
If your IT team doesn't know where your service accounts are, it will be a challenging task to protect them. As many IT teams struggle with this because they don't even know how many service accounts they have or where they're located. These accounts can be like secret backdoors that let unauthorized users and hackers bypass security measures and compromise important accounts.
Even insiders with bad intentions can create service accounts to access sensitive data without getting caught for a long time. The problem is that IT teams often feel helpless because they can't manually find and keep track of all the service accounts. They just don't have enough resources for that.
So the simple solution is to opt for an effective platform, such as Zluri, that can help your IT team find and assess the privileged access rights of your service accounts in Active Directory.
It helps your IT team identify the most concerning areas and generate a customized report showing the risks. Your IT team can download and share this report to take action and protect your service accounts better. It's a great way to start the process of discovering and securing your service accounts.
Not only this, with Zluri's discovery methods, i.e., single sign-on and identity providers, finance and expense management systems, direct integration with apps, desktop agents (optional), and browser extensions (optional), your team can find who has access to accounts, what level of permission is granted to them, whether the employee who is accessing the account falls under critical users and more.
Most IT teams lack the time, tools, or motivation to keep track of the service accounts. As a result, numerous service accounts may exist without any proper oversight or accountability. Due to this, the chances of such accounts getting compromised are high. Moreover, IT teams need a solution to document/record each account's data, identify the individuals with access credentials, determine the associated services, and establish review, deactivation, or deletion schedules for these accounts.
To address this challenge, it is recommended to seek advanced solutions, such as Zluri, that automate the process of identifying unmanaged and unknown accounts. Doing so can significantly reduce the burden of manually documenting, classifying, and inventorying service accounts, saving valuable time and resources.
Below are the ways your IT team can ensure secure access to service accounts:
Disallow access to sensitive data
Establish comprehensive access control rules and policies, and enforce Access Control Lists (ACLs) to safeguard sensitive and critical data against unauthorized access by service accounts. Additionally, ensure that ACLs are in place to restrict service accounts from modifying the registry or writing to files and folders with elevated privileges. By implementing these measures, your team can effectively limit the capabilities of service accounts and minimize the risk of potential security breaches.
Limit login time
To protect sensitive data, limiting which machines service accounts can log into is important. Your IT team can also set specific times when service accounts are allowed to log in. It's crucial not to let service accounts stay logged in for extended periods. By doing this, your team can control and restrict service account access, ensuring they don't get unauthorized access to sensitive information.
Remove accounts that are no longer required
Outdated and inactive service accounts often become prime targets for malicious actors, who exploit them to gain unauthorized access or establish a foothold within your network. Furthermore, these old and unused service accounts can clutter the directory and make managing and maintaining a service account challenging.
Remove redundant users rights
It is advisable to conduct regular reviews and eliminate unnecessary user rights to enhance security. This can be achieved by implementing a group policy object, such as "Deny access to this computer from the network" and "Deny logon as a batch job."
How does Zluri manage all this? It sets access control policies and rules, allowing service accounts to access limited crucial data or SaaS apps. If, due to any mismanagement, service accounts try to make an access attempt to apps or data that are not assigned, your IT team will get a real-time alert on the same. So that they can quickly restrict the account or suspend the access permission.
Also, by setting up these policies, your team can effectively restrict specific privileges and prevent unauthorized access to your network and system resources.
Furthermore, with Zluri, your IT team can set access revocation time as per the IT manager or reviewers' decision. By doing so, after completion of the task duration, it will automatically revoke access from the service accounts so that it no longer has unnecessary access to the SaaS app data.
Not only that, but it also helps your IT team identify service accounts that are inactive and outdated. Accordingly, they can terminate those accounts. Also, by setting up these policies, your team can effectively restrict specific privileges and prevent unauthorized access to your network and system resources. This helps safeguard crucial SaaS app data from security breaches.
To ensure effective management of service accounts in the long term, implementing a comprehensive governance plan is crucial. This plan should involve assigning ownership to individual users and establishing a role-based permission system encompassing administrators, requesters, owners, and approvers.
IT teams need to adopt a standardized approach for creating service accounts, aligning with their security policies. During the setup process, it is essential to determine the appropriate organizational or business unit to which the service account should be assigned, along with any necessary Active Directory (AD) attributes.
Establishing a workflow for requesting service account creation, including proper approval steps, is vital. Additionally, a clear process for assigning ownership of the account should be defined, designating an IT manager, business owner, IT admin, or security staff member as responsible for approving new account creation.
So Zluri can help your IT team delegate service account ownership to trusted employees and hold them accountable for securing credentials and tracking where and how service accounts are utilized. This way, your IT team can seamlessly track service account activity.
Your IT team needs to Implement robust monitoring and auditing practices to manage service accounts securely. So how does Zluri come to help in this situation? It enables continuous tracking of account usage and sends alerts in case of abnormal behavior. Further, it provides deep, real-time visibility into service account activities, empowering your IT teams with comprehensive capabilities to identify and respond to suspicious actions swiftly.
Also, Zluri allows your IT team to generate reports on all the above activities, which helps them to mitigate security risks and be audit ready. So overall, by leveraging Zluri's advanced features can effectively mitigate the risk of threats, ensuring a proactive approach to security.
Since that, you've learned how implementing best practices can make a difference in managing service accounts, so now let's explore how Zluri can take your access permission management to the next level.
In addition to effectively managing service accounts, Zluri also offers the capability to manage employee access, including those who serve as owners of service accounts. With Zluri’s modern IGA solution, your IT team can streamline access management by effectively managing and governing user access. This further helps ensure that the right employees have the appropriate permissions for service accounts.
By providing a holistic solution for both service account management and employee access control, Zluri enables your IT team to maintain a robust and secure access environment.
How does it make it all possible? It offers advanced capabilities such as data discovery, user lifecycle management, access request management, access certification, and more. Let’s learn more about it in detail.
Zluri's discovery engine effortlessly assists your IT team in analyzing and uncovering all service accounts within your organization. How does Zluri do it? It provides your IT team with five discovery methods, i.e., single sign-on and identity providers, finance and expense management systems, direct app integration, and optional desktop agents and browser extensions. With the help of these methods, your team can gain complete visibility into service account data.
Further, these methods enable your IT team to easily identify which service accounts have access to all SaaS apps and data, what their status is (active or inactive), and more.
Additionally, Zluri automates the identification of unmanaged and unfamiliar accounts, relieving your team from manual documentation and categorization, and resulting in significant time and resource savings.
It also provides complete visibility into employee access, including service account owners, and helps your team manage their access permissions effectively. With the help of insights, your IT team can ensure the right employees have appropriate permissions for service accounts, bolstering your organization's security posture.
Additionally, Zluri goes the extra mile by recognizing alarming aspects and generating personalized reports highlighting risks. These reports can be downloaded and shared, empowering your IT team to take proactive measures and enhance service account security. It serves as an excellent first step towards safeguarding your service accounts.
Zluri helps your IT team effectively manage employee access from the moment they join the organization until they leave. It makes it easier for your IT team to grant employee access, make changes in access permission as needed, and revoke access when necessary. Zluri simplifies and automates the process of managing who can access what, making it more efficient and secure.
Let's take a closer look at how Zluri achieves this streamlined access management process.
Effortlessly Manage Provisioning And Deprovisioning
The IT team needs to ensure that when a new employee joins the company, they need access to the right applications from the beginning. Though it's quite a straightforward process, if done manually, it can lead to mistakes and affect both IT teams and employees productivity and efficiency.
So, it's crucial to have an automated solution that enables your IT team to manage access seamlessly from day one. How does Zluri do that?
Zluri simplifies onboarding by connecting user profiles with their digital identities during the onboarding phase. When your IT team verifies a user's identity for access, they can cross-check details from a centralized dashboard and accurately assign access based on their job role.
But that's not all – Zluri goes a step further by automating the entire provisioning process. With just a few clicks, your team can grant new employees access, ensuring they have the right permissions to necessary apps. This boosts productivity, allowing employees to start working from day one.
How does Zluri automate the process? Well, your IT team can create onboarding workflows. All they need to do is, select users whom they want to grant access to or onboard, and apps (you can even choose from recommended apps option), which all apps they want the users to have access to.
Then, your team can take necessary actions easily by clicking "add an action." Here, they can schedule the workflow and more.
Zluri even provides in-app suggestions, allowing your team to add employees to different channels, groups, or projects or send automated welcome messages.
The actions can vary for different applications and are mentioned under recommended actions. Once all the actions are set, you can directly run the workflow or save it as a playbook for future use.
For added efficiency, Zluri offers automated playbooks (i.e., collections of recommended applications for automation) that can be customized for different roles, departments, and designations. This feature streamlines the onboarding of new employees, making it as easy as a few clicks to set up their access.
Note- Apart from that, your team can set automation actions, such as by triggering if and but conditions, they can grant Kissflow access to all the employees of the finance department.
Zluri doesn’t stop there, it securely revokes access from departing employees when they resign, get terminated, or retire or those who no longer require certain application access. Even a single oversight in this process can potentially lead to security breaches, jeopardizing data security.
Zluri understands that even a single oversight in this process can lead to a security risk, compromising data security. So to mitigate this issue, it automates the deprovisioning process. With a simple click, your IT team can easily remove access from employees, making sure that all required steps are taken. This automation enables your IT team to revoke access on time, safeguarding SaaS app data from security risks like unauthorized access.
Furthermore, to automate the process, your team can simply create an offboarding workflow. All they need to do is select the users from whom they want to revoke app access, and then they will come across a list of recommended actions (such as signing out users, removing them from org units, and more).
Your team can choose one or multiple actions at once from the list; a point to note is that these actions will be executed post the deprovisioning process. Once all desired actions are added, your team can run the workflow instantly or save it as a playbook for future use.
Ticketless Access Management
One critical phase where the risk of access mismanagement arises is when an employee undergoes mid-life cycle changes. There can be a change in their role, departments, position, or they may simply require access to certain apps for specific tasks. Thus, their access requirements keep on changing.
Previously, employees had to wait for days to get their app access requests approved because the manual method involved multiple steps. But now, with Zluri's automation, this time-consuming process is eliminated.
Firstly, Zluri integrates with HRSM to keep track of employee data. This integration automatically updates and displays employee details on a centralized dashboard. This way, your IT team can easily access and verify employee information without any manual effort.
This streamlined process ensures that access permissions are always up-to-date and aligned with each employee's current role and responsibilities. Whether granting or revoking access, your team can efficiently manage user privileges based on the most current and accurate information available.
Furthermore, Zluri streamlines the access request process by making it ticketless. It offers an Employee App Store (EAS), a self-serve model, and a collection of applications pre-approved by your IT team. With this self-serve model, employees enjoy the flexibility of choosing any application from the app store and gaining quick access in no time.
All they need to do is raise a request, and the IT team will verify and review their identity before providing access to the requested application. If approved, employees gain access right away. If access is declined, they receive prompt notifications, reasons for the decision, any modifications made, or suggested alternatives for the application, all viewable in the "Changelogs."
Now, let's talk about a critical part of managing access: access reviewing. It's essential to ensure that each user has the right level of access to apps and data to keep everything secure. But manually reviewing access can take a lot of time and effort. For example, if a user had admin-level access before, but it was revoked two months ago, your team needs to check if they still have the right access or if they were given admin access again.
That's where Zluri comes in with its automated solutions. Zluri automates the entire access review process, gathering all the necessary user access data in one place. This makes the reviewing process much easier and more efficient for your team.
This was just an overview, Zluri is not only restricted to these few access review capabilities, it has more to offer, which is exclusive and sets it apart from the competitors. So, let’s explore them one by one.
Unified Access Review
Zluri's unified access review feature helps your IT team easily see which users can access specific SaaS apps and data. Zluri gets this information from an access directory where all the user access data is stored in one central place.
Using this data, your IT team can check if users are admins or regular users and see which departments they belong to. This helps ensure that users have the right access privileges based on their roles.
To keep everything running smoothly, Zluri's activity & alerts feature provides real-time updates on user activities and notifies IT teams about new logins. These insights help reviewers quickly and confidently make decisions during access reviews, ensuring the right people have the right access all the time.
Automated Access Review
No more manual headaches with spreadsheets and JSONs! Zluri takes the hassle out of access reviews by automating the entire process. Just head to Zluri, create a certification, and select the apps and users you want to review, and the rest of the reviewers will review and update you about the compilation via email.
So, by automating this process, you get 10 x better results than manual methods and save your IT team's efforts by 70%. Now let’s move ahead and see how it works.
Once you have gained access to contextual data through Zluri’s unified access feature, you can step further by creating access rules around these insights. For example, if someone is an admin on Salesforce, you can easily set up a review policy specifically tailored to that scenario.
Next comes the schedule certification feature, where you can create certifications based on the gathered information. This allows you to take actions based on the insights you've gained. For instance, you can use data like last login, departments, user status (active or inactive) and more to make informed decisions during the review process such as whether the user can carry on with the existing access or need any modification.
With Zluri's context-rich information, your team can confidently take actions that align with your access management policies. It's a smarter, more efficient way to ensure the right access for the right users, all while keeping your data secure. Zluri's automated access reviews and access rules are the key to simplifying your access governance process.
Secure access orchestration/auto-remediation
After completing the access review, the necessary changes will be implemented based on the actions set during certification creation. These actions, such as access modification or removal, are all part of a secure access orchestration process. This process ensures that access is managed securely and efficiently, protecting your organization's data and resources.
For example, when creating a new certification in Zluri, your team will encounter configuration actions to set up deprovisioning and modification playbooks. If the reviewers decline access permissions, the deprovisioning playbook will automatically run. The same goes for the modification playbook. Reviewers must provide reasons for declining or modifying access permissions in both cases.
It's important to note that these actions will happen automatically after the review is completed, which is why this process is called auto-remediation.
Apart from that Zluri also offers integration features that are quite beneficial at the time of gathering access data. Though Zluri already has data within its platform, integration allows it to gather even more valuable insights. Leveraging these integrations further enhances your access review process and strengthens the overall security posture of the organization.
For example, the top priority for the company is to review the Identity System and core applications, as they pose the highest risk. The Identity System stores crucial employee data and requires timely and thorough reviews to ensure security. So what Zluri does is it integrates with Salesforce, Okta, Azure, and other applications. Further, these integrations play a crucial role in gathering identity system and SaaS app data, providing valuable insights and streamlining the review process.
Additionally, Zluri generates reports that are commonly associated with audit logs or audit trails. These audit reports serve as valuable documentation to share with auditors or keep as a reference for future reviews. And audit trails act as roadmaps, showcasing the changes made during previous reviews.
For instance, if an employee's admin-level permissions were changed to user-level, it becomes essential to review and ensure that the access remains appropriate or if there were further changes back to admin. Understanding the reasons behind any upgrades is crucial for maintaining proper access control.
So Zluri automatically generates reports on such changes, which further helps in the reviewing process.
So, don't wait any longer! Book a demo now and see for yourself how Zluri can help your IT team effortlessly manage access.
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