Identity Access Management – Privileged Access Management

By: Infoholic Research

29, April, 2019


Cloud Computing - cyber security - cyberdefence - Global -

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Privileged Access Management – Priority for Organizations to Protect Privileged Accounts

By Infoholic Research

Privileged Access Management (PAM) is often confused with Identity and Access Management (IAM). However, IAM and PAM both are used for addressing security concerns of data and systems by managing the access of users, with distinctive features in place. PAM is often regarded as more important than IAM.


Identity, here, refers to an individual or team and can be classified with attributes including employee, IT administrator, CEO, HR personnel, etc. in terms of cyber security, where IAM indicates providing access to sensitive information to the right user at the right time.

IAM solutions help IT teams with detailed information about access rights as well as digital identity mapping for every user within an organization including partners, employees, vendors and even customers. These solutions control the provision and regulation of access to users within any application, or system.


‘Privileged’ term here describes things with privilege, these can be users, applications, administrators, and devices. For ex: privileged identity, privileged account, privileged user, privileged system etc. A privileged user indicates it has higher or elevated access and permissions than any other user.

PAM solutions manage, control, secure and monitor privileged access to all the critical assets. For accessing the privileged account, PAM solutions take the credentials (Passwords) of privileged accounts and store it in a highly secure vault to isolate the use of privileged account. These vaults offer an extra layer of control over admins and password policies. System admins also uses PAM portal for defining policies as who can access the privileged accounts and under what circumstances. PAM solutions increase visibility of privileged account activity.

Cyber attacker usually targets privileged accounts, as they have elevated access and permissions which allows them to make admin level changes to critical applications and systems, or access highly sensitive and confidential data.  In 2018, around 80% of all breaches involved privileged identities. PAM solutions reduce the attack surface as well as impact of the breaches. PAM solutions are more important than IAM solutions but by combining IAM and PAM solutions, organizations can reduce the security risks, by enhancing visibility, access and control.

Risk associated with IAM and PAM

IAM users are considered as front-office based, while PAM users are back-office based. There are different types of security risks associated with both. IAM has low risk as it can reveal only the identity of that particular user, entire database cannot be downloaded. In contrast, PAM has high risk of security breaches, as it allows to download the entire database log files, stock levels, etc. IAM user have access to limited number of business-related applications, but PAM user has access to more number of applications or privileged accounts, that have all the details of other business-related functions.

Aligning PAM to IAM strategy

In today’s world, most organizations deploy PAM and IAM independently as both deal with access, users and roles, but combining both the solutions can take security a step further by enabling security experts to get control on all privileged accounts and users, and providing complete visibility on how the identities are being used. IAM and PAM integrated together can help the organization in verifying identity of the person, using an admin account. Integration of PAM and IAM improves compliance and reporting as well.


With the growing stringent regulations to secure sensitive and critical business data, the need for robust access control system to manage and authenticate user access has increased. Both IAM and PAM are important in terms of cybersecurity for providing protection against unauthorised access. IAM deals with the daily business users, and PAM deals with protection of users who has privileged access to confidential and sensitive data.