Privileged Account Management

Download the Practice Guide

The NCCoE has released the draft version of NIST Cybersecurity Practice Guide SP 1800-18, Privileged Account Management. Use the button below to view this publication in its entirety or scroll down for links to a specific section.

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Current Status

The NCCoE recently released a draft of the NIST Special Publication (SP) 1800-18 Privileged Account Management for the Financial Services Sector. The project's public comment period closed on November 30, 2018. 

For ease of use, the guide is available to download or read in volumes:

  • SP 1800-18A: Executive Summary (PDF)
  • SP 1800-18B: Approach, Architecture, and Security Characteristics (PDF)
  • SP 1800-18C: How-To Guides (PDF)

Or download the complete guide (PDF).

A two-page fact sheet with additional background is also available. If you have questions or suggestions, please email us at


Privileged accounts provide elevated, often unrestricted access to an organization's underlying information systems and technology, making them rich targets for both external and internal malicious actors. Often referred to as the "keys to the kingdom," these accounts have been used in successful attacks to gain access to corporate resources and critical systems (e.g., "crown jewels"), resulting in data breaches.

Complex organizations, including financial services companies, face challenges managing privileged accounts, which opens a significant risk to their business. If used improperly, these accounts can cause significant operational damage including data theft, espionage, sabotage, ransom, or bypassing important controls.

To address these challenges, the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (NCCoE), in collaboration with experts from the financial services sector and technology vendors, developed a practice guide that provides practical guidance to financial services companies who are interested in implementing a Priviledged Account Management (PAM) solution.

This practice guide demonstrates PAM solutions that use commercially available products to appropriately secure and enforce organizational policies for privileged account use. The example implementation highlights how organizations can add a security layer between users and the privileged accounts they access and includes representative use-case scenarios to address specific challenges that the financial services sector faces. The PAM reference design shows how monitoring, auditing, and authentication controls can combine to prevent unauthorized access to, and allow rapid detection of unapproved use, of privileged accounts. Our standards-based practice guide reference design can be used in whole or in part.

The NCCoE’s practice guide to address PAM for the financial services sector can help your organization:

  • identify vulnerabilities and risk factors within your organization
  • limit opportunity for a successful attack by improving control over privileged accounts
  • improve efficiencies by reducing the complexity associated with managing privileged accounts
  • simplify compliance by producing automated reports and documentation

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Collaborating Vendors

Organizations participating in this project submitted their capabilities in response to an open call in the Federal Register for all sources of relevant security capabilities from academia and industry (vendors and integrators). The following respondents with relevant capabilities or product components (identified as “Technology Partners/Collaborators” herein) signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement to collaborate with NIST in a consortium to build this example solution.

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