CyberArk PAS Review

I love the ability to customize passwords for mainframes, for example, which are limited to eight characters

What is our primary use case?

The primary use case is, of course, that we do the EPV for password vaulting and security changing, and prior to version 10 we were excited and it functioned perfectly fine. There are a few glitches with version 10 that we are not really happy with, but the functionality itself still exists and it's working like it should.

We actually have our vaults in the cloud. I don't know if we have any applications in the cloud that we're planning on managing, yet. We're not really a big AIM shop just yet, so I don't know if we're planning on utilizing CyberArk to secure infrastructure applications running in the cloud.

We're looking forward to utilizing CyberArk to secure application credentials and endpoints, however right now we have three or four AIM licenses.

How has it helped my organization?

It increases the security posture across the entire enterprise because it's not only helping to secure those infrastructure accounts but it's also helping to secure our user accounts as well.

It requires a lot more auditing and monitoring and checks. So if you don't have the right approvals, you can't get the credentials you need to do what you need to do. So if you don't have authorization, of course you can't get them anyway. In total, it's making the environment more secure. The security posture is a lot better.

What is most valuable?

I love the ability to customize the passwords: the forbidden characters, the length of the password, the number of capital, lowercase, and special characters. You can customize the password so that it tailor fits, for example, mainframes which can't have more than eight characters. You can say, "I want a random password that doesn't have these special characters, but it is exactly eight characters," so that it doesn't throw errors. 

And then, of course, the users have the ability to rotate those passwords on a daily basis with a Reconcile Account. Or, if they want to do one-time password checkouts, we can manage those, check in, check out. I like the flexibility of the changing of the password, specifically.

PSM is pretty cool, but my favorite part is I get to secure your passwords that you get to use either with or without PSM.

What needs improvement?

We had an issue with the Copy feature. Of course when we do the password rotation we restrict users' ability to show a copy of their passwords for some cases, and in other cases they actually need that ability, but we would prefer them to copy to the clipboard and then paste it where it needs to go - as opposed to showing and it typing it somewhere and you have the whole pass the hash situation going. But apparently, in version 10, that Copy feature does not work. You actually have to click Show and then copy the password from within Show and then paste it. We've had a million tickets and we had to figure out a workaround to it. 

Then there is the failed authentication now. I don't know if that was a glitch or if that was an update, because I know sometimes you don't really want to tell a person when their account has been suspended because if I'm a hacker, maybe I'm just thinking I have the wrong password. When the account is locked you don't actually want them to know the account is suspended. However, since we are the CyberArk support within our organization, we need to know that the password is suspended and we won't know that unless we have the ITA log up.

So when a user calls and says, "Hey, I'm locked out of CyberArk, I can't get into CyberArk," we have to go through all of these other troubleshooting steps because the first thing we don't think of right now is, "The account is suspended," because normally we would be told that the account is suspended. They would take a screenshot of the error and it would say, 'Hey, user is suspended, station is suspended for user so-and-so." It doesn't say that anymore. So now it just says "Failed authentication." And that could be because they might not be in the right groups in Active Directory, they might not have RSA. It could be so many different things, where before, they would be able to say, "Yeah, I'm suspended." And we could say, "Okay, we can fix that in two minutes." We just log in to PrivateArk and enable your account and you're fine. Now we're saying, "Maybe we should check PrivateArk first, just in case," to make sure you're not suspended. It's going to be a whole rabbit hole that we fall into, simply because we're not given that information upfront.

In terms of future releases, I would love to be a partner again and get a temporary license that I can put back in my home lab because my license expired. I would like to play with 10.4. I want to see it and feel it out and see if I can break it because my rule of thumb is, if I can break it, I can fix it. That is one of the things I like about CyberArk, especially over CA PAM, because with CA PAM you get no view into the back-end on how it's configured and how it's built and how it works. With CyberArk, they literally give you everything you need and say, "Hey, this is your puppy. Raise it how you want." You get to see the programming and you get to configure and everything. I've broken several environments, but I'm pretty good at fixing them now because I know how I broke them.

For how long have I used the solution?

Three to five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Prior to version 10, I was gung-ho CyberArk. I wish we would have waited until version 10.7 as opposed to 10.3. But for the most part it's stable, it's just that there are glitches in the matrix right now. We'll have to work those out.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I have worked with both CyberArk and what was formerly Xceedium and is now CA PAM, and in my opinion, I'm gung-ho CyberArk. CA PAM is not scalable like that at all. I love the fact that the different components can be installed in multitude or in singularity on different servers.

I understand the concept of it being an appliance, and technically it is an appliance because of how CyberArk hardens everything. But the fact that I can put my vault here in a central location on one net for example, and I'll have a CPM in California, a CPM in Texas, a CPM in New York, a CPM in Florida, and actually be able to grow with my company and not necessarily have to continue to grow my vault until I get to a certain number accounts - yet I can still manage everything across the country, if not the world - I love that. I love the flexibility and the capability of being able to pull those components out.

How is customer service and technical support?

I'm not a fan of technical support with CyberArk. It's like jumping through red tape and hoops. Quite frankly, it's almost like when you call CyberArk you get the Help Desk or the level-one. I'm a level-one. I got the CCD, I know how to do the initial troubleshooting. When I call CyberArk it's because I can't figure the problem out. So I need a level-two, three, four. I don't need you to tell me, "Hey, open a ticket and then give me logs."

I would like to say, "Can I get a WebEx please? Can you just look at this because I can tell you exactly what I did and how I did it, and then I just need you to help me fix it, because we've been doing this for about 30 minutes now, and when it gets to an hour it's going to start costing my customers money. So can we fix this today rather than tomorrow?" I'm not the biggest fan of tech support.

Which solutions did we use previously?

I have had experience with CA PAM. That's the only other password vaulting technology that I've used so far. I've used SailPoint IdentityIQ, but that's not really password vaulting. Apparently, there is a partnership growing that allows you to provision CyberArk through SailPoint, which I worked on with the CDM project - and it was a headache last year. So I'm excited about the new CM technology that they have that's allowing for that integration, but other than that, I haven't really done much.

How was the initial setup?

I have done several installations for the CDM contract of CyberArk and I've done several upgrades as well.

The installation is as straightforward as it comes. There are some glitches, but it's not with CyberArk, it's with the environment that I'm installing in. In that environment they don't ever follow directions, so we have to get there and say, "We need you to rebuild your vault because you did it from an image and not from the CD, and it's not supposed to have any GPOs, it's not supposed to be on the domain. CyberArk tells you this in their paperwork. We told you this." But, of course, they don't listen. We get there and they spend a day telling us, "Hey, we have to rebuild our server." And we say, "Okay, well thanks for those eight hours. I appreciate it."

What was our ROI?

The biggest return on investment would be the security itself. I've seen ethical hackers that attempted to infiltrate a component or a department in the agency and they were stopped at the gate. They tried every which way they could and they just couldn't get the passwords they needed to get to the elevated accounts to get to where they wanted to go. So it was just great to see CyberArk in action.

What other advice do I have?

Do your research. That would be my biggest advice. CyberArk is a great tool. However, it is not the only tool that does what it does and, in some cases, for a lot of people, other passport vaulting tools are more toward what they would need in their environment.

I would give CyberArk an eight out of 10, and the two missing points would probably be mostly because of technical support. I would love to actually get the support that I asked for. I would love to actually get the help that I'm asking you for as opposed to you telling me, "Yes, I can help you. I need you to fill out these papers and jump through that hoop and then cut a cartwheel and rub your belly while you pat your head at the same time." If it wasn't for that, it would be more towards a 10.

My most important criteria when selecting a vendor are

  • credibility
  • functionality.
Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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