Password vault software for secure password management

Passwords are integral to any business workflow. Protect them using a secure password vaulting solution.

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Last updated date : 13 Mar 2024

What is a password vault?

Organizations are home to many privileged accounts where users often are provided elevated access to business-sensitive information. Given the omnipresent nature of passwords across the corporate network, it's important to safeguard this access. Password vaults act as a single repository for users to securely store passwords and the data of the corresponding accounts.

Why do you need a password vault?

According to Verizon's 2023 Data Breach Investigations Report, the three primary ways in which attackers access an organization are stolen credentials, phishing, and exploitation of vulnerabilities. Additionally, over 74% of breaches involved the human element, with "the use of stolen credentials" playing a major role, the report notes.

Without a password vault in place, enterprises need to rely on manual, unsafe methods to streamline password management–using spreadsheets, text files, and notepads. These archaic methods are time-consuming and can compromise crucial enterprise data by exposing privileged accounts to malicious insiders and hackers. This is why a password vault is vital.

How does a password vault work?

Most password vault software allows users to import their credentials–from sheets, text files, and other password vault solutions–secure them in a central repository, and safely share them with other users in the organization. Additionally, some password vaulting solutions offer extensive capabilities for end-to-end management of privileged accounts to:

  • Secure passwords and credentials in a digital vault without exposing them in hard-coded format
  • Give access only to administrators and authorized users
  • Rotate passwords by schedule and on demand
  • Generate random passwords for one-time user-based access
  • Allow sharing passwords with various permission levels

What can you store in a password vault?

Conventional password vaults secure human identities such as user accounts, addresses, payment cards, and other personal identities. These serve as your personal strongbox to secure your digital identities.

Similarly, enterprise password vaults help streamline credential management for human and non-human identities that are essential to business workflows. These password vaults help automate credential management across the enterprise by managing privileged identities of all kinds.

Reasons to adopt an enterprise password vault

A password vault manages and secures access to many kinds of sensitive information. The benefits of using a password vault at an enterprise extend beyond just having a secure repository for passwords. Here are some of the key advantages:

  • 01

    Centralized control of critical assets

    Password vaults grant complete access and control over privileged assets. This provides strict role-based access and a granular view into high-value privileged accounts.

  • 02

    Visibility into and accountability for user activities

    Password vaults ramp up IT security by proactively tracking user activities in real time. Administrative approval is required to access critical resources. In addition, the request-release workflows and granular controls ensure that access is restricted to prevent privilege misuse.

  • 03

    More than just password storage

    Password vaults provide more than the capability to store and secure credentials of privileged accounts. They help manage and consolidate several key assets including public and private keys, web accounts, digital signature files, license keys, and digital certificates. The vault also encrypts at multiple levels, which enables it to provide high-level security against threats.

The enterprise password vaulting process

Using vaulting solutions, administrators can moderate access privileges in real-time to ensure sensitive information isn't compromised. The password vaulting process involves three fundamental steps:

01. Automated discovery of privileged assets and other information

  • Discover and take stock of all the critical assets, accounts, and passwords associated with endpoints across the corporate network.
  • Create and consolidate a robust database of credentials which are automatically updated periodically according to the input set by the admin.
  • Store the passwords in a digital vault that is encrypted at multiple levels using algorithms like AES-256, ensuring a secure repository of highly classified assets and credentials.

02. Automated randomization and rotation of passwords

  • Rotate and randomize passwords after access by a privileged user to enhance security.
  • Eliminate password fatigue and downtime by scheduling the periodic rotation of passwords.
  • Save time and effort by automating reset options that support a wide range of target systems.

03. Establishment of complete authority over passwords

  • Grant access to critical assets with different levels of permissions assigned to users.
  • Trigger a request-release workflow that requires a user to mention a valid reason for accessing a particular resource.
  • Revoke access after a user session to safeguard privileged accounts from unauthorized access and misuse.
  • Transfer orphaned accounts to other users in the network and provide access without revealing passwords in hard-coded, plaintext formats.

Finding the right password vault software

Here are some standard capabilities to look for when choosing a password vault for your enterprise:

  • Centralized, dynamic credential storage and protection for your credentials
  • Automated discovery of important IT assets and privileged accounts
  • Strong data encryption using standards, such as AES-256, that protect data in transit and at rest
  • Seamless user authentication, such as AD, LDAP, RADIUS, SAML, and smart cards
  • Secure MFA, such as TOTPs, YubiKey, and Duo Security, for accessing the vault
  • Role-based access controls for regulating elevated access to privileged resources
  • Remote session management to receive complete insights of all actions performed on the managed endpoints

Best practices for fully utilizing your password vault

In addition to utilizing a password vault in your organization, it's important to implement the right strategy to efficiently streamline password management. You can ensure this by following these best practices:

  • Maintain an up-to-date list of all active privileged accounts.
  • Store all your privileged identities, keys, and certificates in the password vault.
  • Mandate strict password policies that cover password complexity, automatic resets, timed access to accounts, and periodic SSH key pair generation.
  • Grant minimal access privileges when sharing passwords with employees, contractors, and third-party users.
  • Audit all password-related operations, like login attempts, password shares, resets, and access requests.
  • Monitor privileged user activities and sessions in real time.