Challenge

Accenture generates billions of data interactions daily, transmitting information through various networks, platforms, systems and geographic locations. Keeping the technical infrastructure and data secure while allowing our employees the appropriate flexibility to do their jobs is a continual challenge, especially given our globally dispersed workforce serving clients in more than 120 countries.

The size and scope of Accenture’s businesses create a unique, complex infrastructure—one with numerous entry points to information on various applications and servers. Managing access to all this data can be daunting, especially as teams work collaboratively across multiple ecosystems and applications, all requiring at some point access to the same account. Ensuring proper and protected authorized credential usage required Accenture’s Information Security organization to create a secure, managed authentication process at scale.

Strategy and solution

In collaboration with Accenture’s internal IT organization, Accenture’s Information Security team integrated an automated privileged access management approach (PAM).

This solution further protects Accenture and client data through enhanced security controls tracking when information is being accessed, handled, transmitted, hosted or stored. Specifically, only those individuals in approved, role-specific positions with authorized credentials are allowed access to certain types of data, environments, infrastructure and platforms.

The PAM approach requires employees to follow an established process to gain access to privileged credentials information no matter where they are located across the workstream. Along with providing a stronger layer of protection, this process also allows our Information Security organization to monitor for suspicious activity and confirm client data protection compliance.

The initial and ongoing planning of our PAM approach, as well as its broad execution, required global teams and leaders to be educated on the proper actions and behaviors to protect information. An extensive training program was rolled out and customized for the different needs of our teams. A significant amount of educating had to take place, confirming employees understood how to work within this new structure of account and privileged access. Training objectives have since expanded to include educating teams on the automated process of adding new and/or different accounts to PAM. This education has strengthened behaviors and actions that further protect Accenture and client data.

"Our PAM approach is one of maintaining line-of-sight to the infrastructure and those accountable for its management, strengthening the layer of protection around our account management."

— KRIS BURKHARDT, Managing Director – Technology & Operations, Accenture Information Security

Transformation

Our use of best-in-class technology and credential protection software has delivered several benefits:

Audit capability
We improved our ability to audit our privileged accounts. With it, we can identify where account credentials are created, how they are granted and who is responsible for managing credential use.

Optimization of processes and protections
Through our technology ecosystem we have been able to build and optimize automated processes and protections, restricting privileged access to only those resources working from Accenture-managed and protected laptops.

Stronger controlled environment
Use of PAM creates a stronger, controlled environment that allows Accenture to understand who within the organization has user privileges and how they are using them. Authorized credentials are better managed since they are housed within a safeguarded environment, a secure repository “vault” that isolates and protects these valuable assets within our cloud and other platforms. Adding an additional layer of protection, this vault is only accessible by those with the proper credentials.

Automated account onboarding
Each new account brings with it unique security needs, whether it is the provisioning of a new server, or access to a specific platform or machine. Through the PAM approach, new accounts can be automatically onboarded into this system—creating a more streamlined and standardized approach to keeping the account protected throughout its life cycle.

Implementation of our PAM solution helps Accenture address the critical responsibility of protecting the data of our company and clients by enabling proper and protected authorized credential usage. As cyber attacks continue to target privileged credentials, our use of PAM helps optimize our cyber resilience, strengthening our defenses to ensure the overall security health of our technology and data environment.

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