In IT, the principle of least privilege (PoLP) refers to the concept that any process, program or user must be provided with only the bare minimum privileges (access or permissions) needed to perform a function. For instance, if a user account has been created for accessing database records, it need not have admin rights. Also, a programmer responsible for updating lines of legacy code can do so without access to the company’s financial records.
PoLP is a cybersecurity best practice and often considered a critical step for protecting privileged access to a businesses’ high-value assets and data (including customer/employee records). Since this principle extends beyond the scope of human access, it is also applicable to systems, applications and connected devices that require certain permissions or privileges to perform a task.
What Least Privilege is Used For
Did you know that two of the most infamous data breaches on record, namely the ones at Home Depot[i] and Target[ii], occurred due to a compromise of their network credentials? In both the cases, hackers used privileged accounts to access critical business data and private records of customers. Taking a cue from these breaches in the past, you need to understand that whoever is looking after your IT must deploy security strategies for users and applications that perform critical functions within the network. It’s not enough to just put up protections to stop cybercriminals from getting in, you must prepare for the eventuality that they might, and limit the harm that each user profile might be capable of doing.