Privileges, Passwords and People:

Published on
September 13, 2023

Privileges, Passwords and People:

The Human-Centric Approach to PAM

In today's digital age, the importance of securing privileged access and accounts within organisations cannot be overstated. The Identity landscape and more specifically the privilege access and account landscape can be extremely challenging. When you are looking at implementing privileged access controls into any organisation, the ecosystem can have their varying levels of complexity due to the a number of different factors. Such examples of greater complexity can include large amounts of internal customisation, non-standard infrastructure, a myriad of different networks across different physical and virtual environments. All of these challenges can be overcome with a technical implementation of a PAM solution that can look to standardise the organisation; the complexity will determine the length of the implementation but is still achievable. However, despite the technical complexities that come with implementing a PAM solution, it's important to recognise that one major factor that can impact the success and adoption of the program is often overlooked - humans.

A saying goes, "PAM is simple, people are complex." and for a successful PAM program and adoption of good PAM practices, a dedicated focus is required on education, collaboration and communication across all people in the organisation - not an after thought.

This perspective on the human-centric approach to PAM is not just a viewpoint; it's a foundational principle for J Group Consulting. Every engagement we undertake underscores the importance of the human element. We recognise its value, and we're committed to making it a core component of our strategy.

Here are some key points relating to how PAM adoption can be successful at your organisation:

Embedding education & awareness from the outset - bring everyone along for the ride

Just like the planning, design and implementation of the PAM platform, there should be a dedicated stream focussed on the education and awareness of the PAM program. This can include general awareness sessions to people at all layers of the organisation; this will not only bring in the transparency of the program to break down some of the general misconceptions of Security in an organisation, but also start to win the trust that people are being brough along for the journey.

Other types of awareness and education, can include

  • Formal training / e-learning modules - develop a learning module to provide a pathway for people to understand the expectations of their role and what good looks like for the organisation in relation to PAM.
  • In-formal educational sessions - Scheduling "Lunch and Learns" or "Brown Bag" sessions to educate on certain topics of PAM which may include guest speakers or even having repeatable scheduled no-agenda drop-in sessions for people's questions, use case or concerns
  • Vendor certification - Offer vendor certification training related to certain areas of the business
  • PAM Open-House - give a view or even people an inside view into the inner workings of the PAM Program i.e. attend planning sessions, workshops, sprint showcases etc.
  • Internal Blog or Newsletter - Regularly sending out PAM newsletters or updates can help to keep the program top-of-mind and educate employees on new developments or best practices.
  • Gamification - turn the education into a game or competition to make the learning process more engaging.
  • Scenario-based or interactive simulation training: Simulating real-life scenarios can help employees understand how PAM applies to specific situations and how they can respond appropriately.  

Business Champions

Having Business Champions is akin to having ambassadors for the PAM program within the different units or departments of an organisation. Here's why they are vital:

  • Peer-level Advocacy: Sometimes, instructions or initiatives coming from the top or from a different department may not resonate as effectively as those coming from within the team. Business Champions act as these peer-level influencers who can guide, encourage, and rally their colleagues.
  • Feedback Loop: These champions become a crucial feedback mechanism. They can convey the challenges, concerns, and questions from the ground level back to the PAM implementation team, ensuring that the solutions and training are tailored to the actual needs of the users.
  • Hands-on Support: Business Champions, being more familiar with PAM processes, can offer immediate help or clarification to their peers, reducing the time taken to address minor issues or doubts.

Cultivating Buy-In from Key Stakeholders

Garnering the support and alignment of all major stakeholders, including senior management, risk teams, architecture, and engineering, is imperative to ensure a holistic and integrated approach to PAM implementation and its subsequent success.

  • Unified Vision: For a PAM program to succeed, it is essential that all major stakeholders share a unified vision and understanding of its importance. This ensures that everyone is pulling in the same direction.
  • Resource Allocation: Senior management's buy-in ensures that the necessary resources – be it time, personnel, or funds – are allocated to the PAM program.
  • Incorporation into Broader Strategies: When stakeholders from risk, architecture, and engineering are on board, they can better integrate PAM considerations into their broader strategies and daily operations, ensuring seamless alignment.

Grind and grind

Perseverance and consistent effort in the face of challenges, often referred to as 'grind and grind,' are essential traits to ensure the long-term success and adaptability of a PAM initiative.

  • Persistence is Key: Implementing PAM and ensuring its adoption is not a one-off task. It requires continuous effort, monitoring, and iteration. The environment, threats, and business requirements evolve, and so must the PAM strategy.
  • Celebrate Small Wins: Recognise and celebrate milestones, no matter how small. This keeps the momentum going and encourages the team.
  • Iterative Approach: Always be on the lookout for feedback and be ready to make changes. The initial strategy might need tweaking, and that’s okay. The goal is constant improvement.

Establish and Maintain Trust

Building and upholding trust is paramount, as it not only ensures seamless PAM adoption but also fosters a collaborative environment where users confidently rely on the system's integrity and effectiveness.

  • Reliable Service: Ensure the PAM system is consistently available and highly resilient
  • Prompt Service Delivery: A fast and efficient PAM system fosters trust, as users can seamlessly access services without interruptions.
  • Efficient and streamlined Process: Streamlining PAM procedures to be user-friendly and efficient bolsters user confidence and trust, ensuring they see the system as an enabler rather than a hindrance.
  • Open Communication: Maintain trust by being transparent about system updates, changes, or potential downtimes.

In conclusion, while the technical aspects of PAM are pivotal, the human touch stands as the cornerstone of its success. Prioritising education, cooperation, and impeccable service delivery ensures the fruitful implementation and widespread embrace of PAM in any organisation. At J Group Consulting, we firmly believe and practice this philosophy, understanding the irreplaceable value of the human component in any successful PAM implementation. If you're keen on embarking on this journey, J Group Consulting is here to guide you every step of the way. Our extensive expertise, combined with a deep appreciation for the human factor, ensures that we offer tailored solutions perfect for your needs.  

Don't wait. Secure your organisation's future now. Reach out to our team today and let's work together to create a robust, efficient, and trusted PAM environment for your business.

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