CyberArk PAS Review

I see a lot of security issues are addressed by the solution. For example, audit issues for privileged accounts.


What is most valuable?

As a security engineer, I mostly implement the Enterprise Password Vault Suite (Vault Server, Central Policy Manager, Password Vault Web Access) as this is the base upon which every additional component is built. I am using and implementing the additional components, such as the Privileged Session Manager and Application Identity Manager, more and more.

How has it helped my organization?

When implementing CyberArk, I see that a lot of security issues are addressed by the solution. For example, audit issues for privileged (non-personal) accounts, which have a sufficient amount of impact on the organization when being compromised or misused.

A major benefit next to the auditing capabilities is the secure storage of the accounts in questions. CyberArk has the most extensive hardening and encryption techniques I have seen in a product, with equal intentions.

Additionally, CyberArk can reduce the attack surface of these accounts by retaining the privileged accounts (protecting the credentials) within a secure environment only to be accessed through a secured proxy server (Privileged Session Manager). What I have also seen is that the Privileged Session Manager can aid in the adoption of CyberArk within an organization as it allows the end user to keep using his personal way of working (e.g., Remote Desktop Manager, Customized Putty).

Another burden that organizations have is the need to manage hard-coded credentials. CyberArk also has a solution for this, allowing the credentials to be stored in the vault, where they can be retrieved by a script or applications through the execution of a command instead of hard-coding the credentials. There is also a solution available for accounts used in Windows scheduled tasks, services and more.

The last generic, relatively new improvement for customers is the ability to monitor and identify the usage of the accounts managed by the suite. By using Privileged Threat Analytics, you can match the usage of CyberArk against the actual (logon) events retrieved from the corporate SIEM. Next to this, PTA profiles privileged account usage to discover malicious patterns such as different IP addresses or usage of an account on an unusual day. This is a very useful practice to gain an enhanced view on these privileged accounts and can eventually limit the impact of any malicious usage because of early detection.

What needs improvement?

In every product, there is room for improvement. Within CyberArk, I would like to see more support for personal accounts. It can be done right now, but I can imagine changing a few aspects would make this easier and more foolproof.

Next to that, the REST API is not as capable as I would like. CyberArk is getting close, though.

Lastly, I would love to see a password filler that can provide raw input (like a keyboard). There are scenarios where administrators do not have the ability to copy and paste a password from the clipboard. As typing over a long random password is a tricky job, a raw password filler would be a solution that could overcome this issue.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been involved with CyberArk for three years now. During this period, I have designed, implemented and supported multiple CyberArk environments.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

During the time that I have worked with CyberArk, I was able to conclude - based on experience and colleague stories - that this is one of the most stable products I have ever encountered. I have never seen any stability issue that was not related to a human error or a configuration issue.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

As far as I’m aware, we have not encountered any scalability issues. I have heard of some issues with the database of CyberArk when scaling to excessive amounts of entries, a long time ago. These issues have been fixed, as far as I know.

In addition, it is possible to have issues with the Central Policy Manager when you configure it wrong.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support for our customers is primarily handled by ourselves, with CyberArk technical support to fall back to. I have seen great improvements in the quality of support over the years and they continue to do so. The response is fast and the quality is good.

There is room for improvement in bug tracking. When a bug is confirmed, it is hard to track when or if it will be released in one of the future releases. As CyberArk is building an entire new support portal, I hope that this will be improved someday.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

My company did not previously use a different solution. My company has had CyberArk in their portfolio for more than 10 years now.

How was the initial setup?

Our company has set up a ‘generic’ and fast implementation plan based on our experiences and best practices. This plan provides a straightforward approach, which can be customized into a complex solution to suit every customer's needs.

In general, the installation is quick, but the actual work is found in the process of onboarding new account(type)s as this requires a significant amount of communication and coordination.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Try to create a good design with a CyberArk partner before you start thinking about licensing. Then, you will have a good view on the components needed to suit your environment from the start towards a fully mature environment.

What other advice do I have?

Do not think too big at the start.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: My company is a certified CyberArk partner.
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