Paramount Defenses: A global cyber security company defending foundational Microsoft Active Directory environments

Paramount Defenses is a global cyber security company that develops and delivers innovative, mission-critical cyber security solutions to empower organizations worldwide secure and defend the very foundation of their cyber security, their foundational Microsoft Active Directory environments.

Here are some insights from the founder, Sanjay Tandon

Could you please provide an overview of Paramount Defenses?

From the Fortune 100 to governments worldwide, Microsoft Active Directory is the foundation of cyber security and the heart of privileged access at over 85% of all organizations worldwide, and in these organizations, the vast majority of all privileged access resides within their Active Directory. Established in 2006, Paramount Defenses is widely recognized as a pioneer in the paramount privileged user/access audit space. Today more than ever, privileged access audit, privileged user identification and privileged account discovery are all essential for and critical to cyber security, privileged access management (PAM), NIST framework adherence and regulatory compliance. The company’s global customer base spans six continents worldwide, and over the years, its customers have included Microsoft, IBM, Google, BP, Halliburton, the Governments of the United States, United  Kingdom, Saudi Arabia and other countries, the United Nations, and numerous other organizations.

Do you think robotics and AI might be able to help defend against incoming cyber-attacks?

AI could definitely have a valuable role to play in defending against incoming cyber-attacks. However, AI in itself is not sufficient to adequately protect organizations from all cyber-attacks and in fact the most damaging cyber-attacks thus far have actually been caused by a perpetrator being able to breach an organization’s security perimeter and then obtain and misuse privileged access from the inside. In fact, it is a less known fact that 100% of all major recent damaging cyber security breaches, including Snowden, JP Morgan, Target, the Sony Hack, Anthem, the OPM Breach and others, have all involved the compromise and subsequent misuse of a single Active Directory privileged user account. Thus, technology in itself can never adequately prevent of defend against cyber-attacks. Adequate cyber security defenses almost always require the right combination of technology, people and processes.

How do you manage to serve the needs of highly volatile IT industry?

The IT industry is indeed volatile and fast-paced, with change and evolution being the only constant, and thus generally speaking, serving the needs of the IT industry does require the ability to foresee changes and rapidly adapt to change. In our case, our focus is on the bedrock of organizational cyber security, which given its nature has been generally stable albeit gradually evolving, and we have been laser-focused on ensuring that we can continuously adapt to be able to empower our global customers.

A cybersecurity company has two big responsibilities, one – to secure oneself from being attacked and two –securing other companies against attacks. First is rather tough than the later one, how do you manage both?

This is a very good question. Indeed, securing oneself from being attacked is very important for cyber security companies and cloud computing companies in particular, because if perpetrators could breach a cyber security company or a cloud company, they could possibly gain unauthorized access to the data and assets of all companies that are being protected by the breached cyber security or cloud company. Cognizant of this fact, we go to great lengths to secure our own IT infrastructure and IT assets. Unfortunately, for security reasons, we’re unable to share how we adequately protect ourselves. By helping our customers accurately identify privileged users in their foundational Active Directory deployments, we help them minimize the number of such high-value targets, and when the compromise of even one such unidentified privileged user could result in major cyber security breach, by helping organizations identify hundreds, and in some cases, thousands of privileged users, we help them measurably reduce their attack surface by over 99% in some cases, thus helping them reduce their risk.

Could you please tell us more about your products and services?

We are primarily known for our flagship Gold Finger Active Directory Audit Tool Suite. The Gold Finger Suite is comprised of seven unique Active Directory audit focused tools that provide organizations the ability to comprehensively audit just about every aspect of Active Directory Security. Thus, whether it be performing an inventory of Active Directory, enumerating group memberships, analyzing Active Directory security permissions, calculating Active Directory effective permissions, or identifying privileged access/users across Active Directory domains, Gold Finger lets organizations do all of this and more, and do so at the touch of a button. Of the seven tools that comprise the Gold Finger suite, the most popular tool, and the one we’re primarily known for, is our unique Active Directory Administrative/ Privileged Access and Delegation Audit Tool. This tool can perform the remarkable feat of being able to automatically determine effective permissions/effective access across an entire Active Directory domain, even one comprised of a hundred thousand objects, and do at the touch of a single button, in effect accomplishing in minutes, what could otherwise take months to accomplish, and easily cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to do so. It thus enables organizations to easily find out exactly who has what privileged access in their Active Directory, exactly what access they have, and exactly how they are entitled to this access today.

This unique and valuable information provides organizations valuable and actionable intelligence that they can use to minimize the number of privileged users in their foundational Active Directory deployments. For example, one of our customers had a few hundred privileged users within their Active Directory, and a vast majority of these privileged users indirectly had privileged access, by virtue of a combination of deeply nested group memberships and numerous complicated delegated security permissions, none of which are easy to readily recognize or connect with the naked eye. With Gold Finger, in less than five minutes, they were able to identify each one of these few hundred privileged users, as well as identify exactly how these users had privileged access. Once they had this information, they were able to easily and systematically go about reducing the number of privileged users in their Active Directory down to a bare absolute minimum. In doing so, they were able to reduce the number of privileged users in Active Directory from a few hundred to less than ten, thereby substantially and measurably reducing their attack surface and enhancing their risk posture.

What do you feel are the reasons behind your service popularity?

We believe that there are two primary reasons behind the popularity of our products and solutions. The first and the most important reason is that there is only one correct way to accurately audit/ identify privileged access in Microsoft Active Directory deployments, and that involves the accurate determination of effective permissions/effective access, and ours happens to be the only solution in the world that can accurately identify/audit privileged access in Active Directory based on the determination of effective permissions/effective access. It is a less known fact that the key to identifying all privileged access at organizations worldwide lies in being able to accurately determine Active Directory effective permissions, and unfortunately for most organizations and cyber security companies, this remains a challenge. Our solutions are unique in the ability to be able to accurately determine effective permissions in Active Directory, thereby being unique in their ability to deliver accurate privileged access insight. The second reason behind our popularity is likely the fact that our solutions can instantly and automatically determine effective permissions/effective access across entire Active Directory domains, even those with a hundred thousand objects, and do so at the touch of a button, thus making it really easy for organizations to accurately audit/ identify privileged access across their entire Active Directory. In essence, we like to believe that we’ve made solving possibly one of the biggest and most difficult challenges in cyber security i.e. the accurate identification of privileged users/access, in and across entire Active Directory deployments as easy as touching a button.

How big is your organization today?

Our global customer base spans six continents worldwide, and we develop and offer over half a dozen products. We’re big enough to be able to adequately help organizations worldwide, as well as develop, deliver and support numerous products, at all times.

What do you think is the next big thing in security marketplace?

Cyber security is a vast and important space, with numerous myriad challenges to address. Whilst we could definitely share our thoughts on the next big thing, considering just how dynamically the cyber security arena can change, we’d prefer to focus on some of the most important areas in cyber security in 2019, and to that end, considering the immense potential for damage that lies in perpetrators being able to compromise and misuse privileged user accounts in and at organizations worldwide, it only seems logical that privileged access management (PAM) could be very big and important worldwide, primarily because it focuses on helping address and mitigate possibly the most powerful attack vector in organizational cyber security i.e. the compromise and misuse of privileged power, i.e. the compromise of the “Keys to the Kingdom.” That said, as you’ll hopefully agree, just like you can’t hit what you can’t see, you can’t protect what you can’t identify, and thus ultimately, the success of privileged access management will to a large degree depend on the organizations getting the very first step in privileged access management right i.e. the ability to accurately identify all privileged users aka perform accurate privileged account discovery.

About Paramount Defenses

Paramount Defenses was founded by and is led by Sanjay Tandon, formerly Program Manager for Active Directory Security at Microsoft Corporation.

From the U.S. Government to the Fortune 100, Microsoft Active Directory is the very foundation of cyber security and the very heart of privileged access at over 85% of all organizations worldwide.

Prior to establishing Paramount Defenses, Tandon was Program Manager for Active Directory Security on Microsoft flagship Windows Server Development Team. In that capacity, he was Microsoft’s authoritative subject matter cyber security expert on Active Directory Security. While at Microsoft, for his contributions to Microsoft, Tandon was awarded the “Passion for Customers” award at Microsoft.

"Our innovative, patented, Microsoft-endorsed cyber security capabilities uniquely help secure and defend foundational Active Directory deployments worldwide."

“We lead the world’s largest professional group of Active Directory security professionals, comprised of over 3500 IT professionals who collectively represent 1000+ organizations from across 100+ countries worldwide.”