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Gain Control Over Your Service Accounts

Service accounts are a vital part of any system, and their security is of utmost importance. Proper management of service accounts is essential to ensure that they are not compromised, but who has time to sort through and manage service accounts? No one.

However, if you don’t gain control of your Service Accounts, its likely a malicious user will. That's why we've compiled a list of best practices for you. From creating to deactivating, these tips will help you get the most out of your service accounts while keeping them secure.

1. Set guidelines for service account provisioning

Organizations should establish guidelines for who can create service accounts and what level of access they should have. For example, only administrators should be able to create new service accounts and assign permissions. Creating too many service accounts can increase the risk of unauthorized access, so it's important to limit creation to those who really need them and understand the permission level needed for the account to operate successfully.

2. Rotate service account credentials

Service account credentials should be rotated on a regular basis, just like any other type of passwords. By doing so, you can help prevent unauthorized access in the event that credentials are compromised. This task doesn’t have to be daunting; my blog post, Planning and Implementing a Successful Service Account Password Rotation, will outline some ways to help you overcome the insecurity of rotating your passwords.

3. Use the least privilege principle

When it comes to permissions, it's important to follow the principle of least privilege. This means only granting the minimum amount of access necessary to perform a task. By doing so, you can help reduce the risk of unauthorized access and data breaches. Good Example would be - deny log on locally and deny log on through Remote Desktop Services for services accounts that need to run an application on a server.

4. Audit your Service Accounts yearly for activity

If it is being used, document how and where its being used and if there is a plan for expiration. If the account is no longer being used, deactivate it. Often, the original use for an account may is longer be needed but the service account lives on. These accounts are lost, forgotten about, and most likely have never had their passwords rotated. For accounts like these the risk of a data breach increases daily.

5. Utilize Privileged Access Management tools

There are several Privileged Access Management (PAM) tools available that can help you control access to your systems and data. PAM tools can provide a variety of features, such as the ability to keep tabs on and audit last password rotation, track if the account is being used to run dependencies, see where the account is being used, as well as lifecycle management. But most of all Password Management Tools can make it easier to manage multiple service accounts by providing a central location for all your passwords.

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