The Principle of Least Privilege

The Principle of Least Privilege (PoLP) is the idea that every user, program, or process has access only to the information that are necessary to complete its function. As this topic has traditionally been used for government purposes, businesses and organizations have begun to implement PoLP with their employees. PoLP is a crucial component in information security as it provides several security benefits for organizations.

Access rights are normally delegated based on role- based attributes such as HR or IT. For example, if you work in the marketing department, there is no need for you to have access to employee records and data. Military organizations often use PoLP on a “need- to-know” basis of information.

Benefits of Implementing PoLP

Implementing PoLP provides several benefits for companies, all which circle back to the improvement of the company’s security posture. PoLP should be applied to all systems, applications, and users.

Increased Security

Implementing PoLP will restrict users from accessing sensitive information. This helps to protect sensitive customer or employee information.

Improved Compliance

Several compliance regulations require organizations to apply least privilege policies to their users and programs. The NIST 800-53 document suggests that all companies practice PoLP. Organizations should consider the creation of additional processes, roles, and information system accounts as necessary, to achieve least privilege. Organizations also apply least privilege to the development, implementation, and operation of organizational information systems.

Limited Attack Surface

If a user’s system in an organization is compromised, the attacker may not be able to access the whole network. This will help isolate the attack, so it will be easier to respond to and recover from the attack. This will also allow management to identify where the attack came from and which area of the business was targeted.

Higher Accountability

Implementing PoLP allows management to monitor what user or system has access to what information. In the event of a breach, they can see who or what was accessing the data at the time of the incident. It is important to document and keep logs and access records for legal issues.

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