Have you heard of privilege escalation? It’s a common type of cyber threat that businesses today face. While consumers rarely encounter privilege escalation attacks, the same can’t be said for businesses. Whether small or large, businesses of all sizes regularly experience privilege escalation attacks. What is privilege escalation exactly?

Overview of Privilege Escalation

Privilege escalation is a cyber threat in which a malicious user illicitly gains user privileges. Information technology (IT) infrastructures, of course, often have various “levels” of user accounts. Low-level users may be able to log in to a system and view general information. A mid-level user, on the other hand, may be able to log in to a system and edit general information. But a high-level user may have unrestricted access.

High-level users may be able to log in to a system to view and edit all forms of information. They may even be able to change the permissions of the system’s other users. Administrators are considered high-level users. Also known as admins, they have more privileges than lower-level users. Privilege escalation is a type of cyber threat that capitalizes on these privileges.

How Privilege Escalation Works

Privilege escalation revolves around user privileges. To perform it, hackers or other malicious users must illicitly acquire the privileges or “rights” of a higher-level account.

Bug exploits are commonly used to carry out privilege escalation attacks. After identifying a bug in a system, a hacker may exploit it for the purpose of gaining user privileges. Depending on the type of bug, as well as the way in which it’s exploited, it may promote the hacker to a higher-level account, such as an administrator. With this higher-level account, the hacker will be able to perform tasks that he or she otherwise wouldn’t have access to

Some privilege escalation attacks involve the use of malware. Trojans, for instance, can give hackers privileges to higher-level accounts. Trojans are a form of malware. While they don’t self-replicate like viruses, trojans are difficult to detect because they are integrated with legitimate programs or other software.

Failure to spot a trojan may lead to a privilege escalation attack. The hacker who deployed the trojan may use it to gain the privileges of a higher-level account. While some privilege escalation attacks are performed via a bug exploit, others are performed by deploying a trojan such as this.

In Conclusion

In cybersecurity, privilege escalation is a type of cyber threat in which a malicious user gains the privileges of a higher-level account. It’s typically performed by exploiting a bug or deploying malware.