Choosing the Best Enterprise Password Management Solution

By: Ernest Sampera on January 7, 2020

Security remains a key concern for any organization that manages large volumes of data. While the range of cyberattacks facing security professionals continues to expand and become more sophisticated, the biggest challenge in enterprise security is also one of the oldest and least complicated.

Passwords.

Weak or common passwords have consistently been shown to be the Achilles’ heel of many organizations’ cybersecurity systems. Using a combination of password cracking techniques, brute-force attacks, or social engineering (such as looking over someone’s shoulder as they enter a password or stealing a sticky note with the password on it), hackers can gain access to systems and bypass security completely. In the case of admin passwords tied to privileged accounts, they may even be able to access the entire system once they log in.

According to Verizon’s 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report, a shocking 80 percent of hacking-related data breaches involved compromised or weak password credentials. The same study found that stolen credentials were involved in 29 percent of all breaches, regardless of the attack type. Given these risks, organizations need to think long and hard about how they manage their passwords and access lists. There are also legal issues to consider. Starting in 2020, for instance, California prohibited the use of weak default passwords for IoT devices. Rather than using generic defaults such as “admin” or “password,” each device must be issued a unique password to prevent cyberattacks from gaining access to networks and data through unsecured devices.

Managing passwords, then, remains a key concern for today’s companies. That’s why many of them are implementing a variety of enterprise password management tools.

What is Enterprise Password Management?

Password security software allows enterprises to centralize security controls in their on-premises or cloud-based systems. They guard against both external and insider security threats that seek to capture master passwords, credentials, secrets, tokens, and other keys that might allow attackers to access data and network applications. At the same time, a password management solution makes it easier for organizations to manage role-based access through passwords, greatly simplifying password security.

For larger enterprises, managing access is a difficult and time-consuming task. Whenever employees move from one position to another or new projects get underway, passwords need to be created, changed, rotated, or removed in real-time to reflect the most up-to-date access authorization for shared and secure systems. Consumer-level password protection solutions don’t have the ability to scale with an enterprise’s needs and using a manual system (such as a spreadsheet or even physical notebooks) creates the potential for human error and theft.

Password management solutions not only store an organization’s passwords in a fully encrypted environment, but also incorporate best practices for password creation, rotation, monitoring, and removal. By automating key password management tasks, organizations can maintain high levels of security without disrupting employee productivity or system downtime.

A Guide to the Best Enterprise Password Manager Solutions

There are a number of good business password managers available on the market today, but it can be challenging to select the right one for an organization’s specific needs. Here is a brief overview of some of the leading enterprise password management tools.

Thycotic Secret Server

Available for on-premises and cloud-based networks, Secret Server can manage up to several thousand enterprise passwords. The program incorporates two-factor authentication, AES 256 encryption, and 100-character passwords with automated, real-time backup. A variety of enterprise packages are available at different pricing levels, making it a good choice for an organization’s team password manager.

LastPass

Whether organizations use the LastPass mobile device application or browser extension, the program stores passwords in a centralized, secure data vault. The vault is protected by a master password, encryption, multi-factor authentication, and salted hashes. Using the mobile device application also offers an additional layer of security with biometric authentication. Pricing is based on a per-user basis.

Dashlane

Dashlane uses a password generator to create and store complex passwords, cycling in new passwords every 90 days. In addition to the standard encryption protections, it also scans the internet in search of leaked or stolen data. When it finds evidence of a possible leak, it issues an alert for users to investigate. The solution charges on a per-user basis.

1Password

This solution provides a secure “virtual vault” to store passwords, software licenses, and other confidential data. The vault is “locked” by a PBKDF2-guarded master password and multi-factor authentication. Accessible through a browser extension, it can also store passwords locally or synchronize files through Dropbox or iCloud. Pricing is on a per-user basis, but special enterprise plans are available.

CyberArk Enterprise Password Vault

CyberArk uses a secure centralized vault to store privileged account credentials and manage access lists. It can store and protect SSH keys and passwords for on-premises, cloud, and hybrid environments while also providing the auditing and control features needed to monitor how privileged accounts are being used. Although one of the more expensive solutions, CyberArk is one of the most secure options available to enterprise customers.

Enterprise password management isn’t something an organization can afford to take for granted. Given the high costs associated with data breaches and the increased legal scrutiny when it comes to safeguarding customer information, investing in a solution that shores up one of the biggest cybersecurity vulnerabilities is a smart long-term investment.

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