Credential Management Best Practices and Tools

Navigating the intricate dynamics of maintaining optimum security in a large-scale organization or a high-profile government institution is no easy task. Balancing seamless accessibility with stringent security measures is often a monumental task, particularly when it comes to managing user credentials. However, a robust understanding of credential management best practices can make this endeavor significantly more manageable.

At the crux of all this is credentials, and ensuring that they stay safe and are not exploited will probably represent half of your security team’s responsibilities.

Managing the credentials of a large organization doesn’t have to be this hard, however. Since you can abstract most of the complexity behind sophisticated and robust systems and policies that are readily available, all you need to do is, well, stay in the know. And if what you need is documentation and guidance, there’s plenty of that too.

So, to help you strengthen your team’s skill set and decrease the chance of suffering a security breach due to negligence or oversight, I have prepared this article for you.

In this article, I will walk you through the subject of credentials management, what it is, and why it is essential to guarantee a robust level of security against security threats.

Additionally, I will offer you some of the industry best practices regarding credential management implementations and also the top three solutions that you can find on the market to implement in your organization.

So, let’s jump into it.

What is Credential Management?

Credential management, or credential management systems, are systems or mechanisms that allow the administration of the lifecycle of user credentials (issuance, modification, or revocation) that an organization operates with. These credentials serve as the keys to an umbrella of platforms, tools, and services that an organization’s staff uses to fulfill their roles. In essence, it’s a centralized gatekeeper of credentials, privileges, and policies to an organization’s resources and means of production.

Credential Management Best Practices

The credentials the organization uses are handled by this established form of software known as the credential management system. This system is part of what is known as the public key infrastructure (PKI), which is a set of roles, policies, hardware, software, and procedures to create, manage, distribute, use, store and revoke digital certificates and manage public-key encryption.

Simply put, the PKI is an agreement that binds public keys with the respective identities of entities (like people and organizations) which is then enforced by the gatekeeper (credential management system) to enforce security policies and privileges.

One of the most common implementations of security policies on the organization’s infrastructure of credentials is the Zero-Trust model, where all entities are given only the absolutely necessary credentials and privileges according to their roles.

Why is Credential Management Important?

As we know, organizations require to provide user credentials to control access to sensitive data and services. However, those credentials hold significant potential for abuse if not appropriately managed.

Why is that? Well, because much like an entity or individual goes through different roles and responsibilities during their tenure in an organization, so must the credentials they hold.

Moreover, granting privileges to credentials without considering the scope of their roles is one of the most common ways of security exploitation in the industry, as bad actors misappropriate credentials at the lowest levels of the organization with significant privileges assigned to them.

Credential Management

Finally, credentials not quickly purged when the user leaves the organization pose a significant risk to the organization. And since the legal grounds for protection and enforcement available to the organization usually end with the user contract there’s very little you can do.

Some of the most notorious challenges that credential management aims to tackle are the following:

  • Multi-platform access management.
  • Credential lifecycle management (issuance, modification, or revocation).
  • Organizational security complexity.
  • Security policy enforcement.

Credential Management Best Practices

Though secure credential issuance is essential, security best practices don’t stop there. As stated before, ensuring that a credential is used securely throughout its course, including any modifications or adjustments, is vital.

Here are some of the best practices regarding credential management:

  • Make use of a robust and trusted credential management solution.
  • Enforce a complex and robust set of password policies.
  • Build your credential infrastructure under the Zero-Trust model.
  • Introduce a form of Hardware Security Modules (Hardware keys).
  • Require two-factor authentication across the organization.
  • Implement an internal certificate sign authority when possible.
  • Restrict session length and privileges.
  • Perform penetration tests and drills on your organization.
  • Have a reliable credential revocation protocol in place.
  • Log all user activity.

There are, of course, plenty more steps that you can take to strengthen your organization’s security. And these go beyond the scope of credential management. However, these recommendations will ensure that your efforts and resources are focused on the right areas for the best results.

Top 3 Solutions for Credential Management

One of the most essential components of a robust credential management mechanism is, well, the system that’s built on it.

As a captain of a big vessel, your decisions significantly impact the crew’s security. Likewise, choosing which solution to implement in your organization can dramatically impact your security and your crew’s experience. And this, in turn, can affect the enforcement of the policies required to keep the vessel safe.

So here are some of the recommendations I have for the best credential management system solutions available on the market.


As a cloud-based credential management system, Passportal consolidates identity management and access management controls in a straightforward console.

Its system can manage access privileges to numerous sites, making it an excellent tool for centralized IT units.

Key Features:

  • LDAP and Active Directory integration
  • On-site and cloud-based system access
  • Temporary accounts
  • Robust password generator

Dashlane Business

Another credential manager based in the cloud, Dashlane Business, offers many of the excellent services that its popular end-user solution already provides.

With a robust password manager, you can be confident that all user account information is safe in a secure, encrypted vault on the Dashlane cloud server. This makes it really easy for your users to access it from any device in any location.

Key Features:

  • Cloud-based system access
  • Credential encryption
  • Password vault
  • Robust password generator

LastPass Enterprise

Much like the previous contender, LastPass is another well-known solution for end-users and enterprise users. This comes as a paid package for businesses called LastPass Enterprise.

LastPass Enterprise is a cloud-based credential management service that can conform to other access management systems on-site and in the cloud.

Key Features:

  • Single-sign-on environment
  • Credential encryption
  • Integrated multi-factor authentication
  • Password distribution system

Moving Forward

In this ever-evolving world of technology, keeping tabs on all the potential threats and vulnerabilities that bad actors can exploit is a daunting task, to say the least.

Securing your system so it can weather the onslaught of security threats is difficult enough. A big part of this is the inherent trust that we put in the many actors that need to interact with the platform itself. This is why credential management solutions are so important to prevent breaches and exploitation of trust from bad actors or disgruntled ex-employees.

If you don’t yet have any credential management system in place, your organization is beyond 50 people, or the nature of the system you manage is very sensitive, I advise you to consider investing.

Beyond this, much of your security team’s work would be pointless, as it doesn’t matter if you have the tallest walls when you don’t check who goes through the gates and keep tabs on where they go.





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