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6 Warning Signs Of PeopleSoft Privileged Account Misuse

Esha Panda - March 18, 2022

Privileged user accounts are hacker magnets. With cyberattacks getting more targeted and sophisticated, intruders can easily bypass traditional authentication measures. So it’s no wonder that 74% of data breaches stem from privileged account abuse by external hackers and insiders with elevated privilege (according to the 2021 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report).

Why Compromised Account Activity Is Difficult To Detect In PeopleSoft

PeopleSoft applications usually offer limited monitoring and logging capabilities. Once a user is authenticated at the front door, it is difficult to track their activities within the system. This creates blind spots that allow the bad actors to stay undetected for months or years. A viable solution is to continuously monitor user activity around data access and usage inside PeopleSoft.

6 Warning Signs Of Privileged Account Misuse

When companies monitor outlier behavior patterns, they are more likely to detect compromised accounts or possible malicious activities. This reduces the discovery and containment time and cost. Here are six key signs to monitor that could indicate privilege account misuse in PeopleSoft.

1. Questionable Login Patterns

Always watch out for privileged users trying to log in to PeopleSoft applications outside their working hours. For example, a system admin logging in at 3:00 AM on a Sunday should trigger an alert. Additionally, sudden changes in IP address, location, device, etc., could be possible indicators of privilege account misuse.

2. Deviation From Normal Activities

Let’s say Paula from the HR department needs access to an employee’s payroll information to do her job. You find her trying to access the data outside of her login hours from a suspicious IP address. This could be a sign of privilege misuse.

3. Unusually Long Or Short Session Length

Privileged PeopleSoft users typically have a fixed set of activities. This means the duration a particular application or session is active and a specific credential is logged in could indicate malicious activities. Granular details with logs that capture employee session lengths can differentiate between normal and malicious activities.

4. Unauthorized Changes To Master Data

PeopleSoft applications often have large volumes of sensitive master data stored across multiple siloes. Any changes to master data, such as adjusting a PO amount beyond limits and direct deposit changes, need to be investigated.

5. Unusual Data Downloads And Query Running

Running queries and downloading sensitive PeopleSoft data to unauthorized devices, outside of business hours, and from unknown locations are a few warning signs of privilege abuse. In addition, an employee using unapproved workarounds for transferring data to cloud storage accounts for easy access often leaves critical data and PII vulnerable to attackers.

6. Frequently Failed Attempts At Logging Into Critical Applications

You would typically flag failed password attempts by an external user. Similar attempts by internal privileged users, however, do not raise eyebrows. PeopleSoft passwords being inherently weak, usually become the targets for attack. Erratic behaviors indicating compromised privileged accounts should always generate alerts.

How To Detect And Prevent Privileged Account Misuse In PeopleSoft

Attackers always try to make anomalous behavior appear routine and normal. To protect your PeopleSoft applications, begin with monitoring your privileged user accounts to uncover hidden business risks and data security threats in real-time. Appsian Real-Time Analytics offers the following capabilities to mitigate privileged user risk across your PeopleSoft ecosystem:

  • Continuously monitoring privileged user activity and behavior at a granular level provides visibility into what they do with their access and how they engage with data.
  • Detailed logs to capture granular transaction details like discounting, PO amount increases, recurring purchases, etc.
  • Track all the user access data points with dashboards to track off-peak access, strange IP address access, and access from unknown locations.

The next step is to prevent improper activity by adopting a layered, data-centric security model that includes –

  • Enhanced access controls with dynamic authorization policies
  • Expanded use of data masking to all fields considered personally identifiable
  • Stepped-Up Multi-Factor Authentication to prevent unauthorized access

Schedule a demo with our security experts to mitigate privileged user risk across your PeopleSoft ecosystem.

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