What is the principle of least privilege?

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The principle of least privilege is a fundamental security concept that advocates granting users the minimum level of access necessary to perform their job functions. By adhering to this principle, application security is significantly enhanced. Limiting user permissions minimizes the potential impact of security breaches or compromised accounts. It reduces the attack surface, preventing unauthorized access and minimizing the risk of malicious activities.

Follow up question

Interviewer: Can you provide an example from your experience where the implementation of the principle of least privilege had a significant impact on the security of an application?

Correct answer: Certainly. In a previous role, we implemented the principle of least privilege during a system overhaul. By carefully defining and assigning role-based access controls, we restricted user permissions to the minimum required for their specific roles. This not only mitigated the risk of unauthorized access but also limited the potential impact of any compromised accounts. As a result, we observed a significant improvement in the overall security posture of the application

Interviewer: How do you balance the principle of least privilege with ensuring that users have the necessary access to perform their tasks efficiently? Can you share any strategies or best practices you’ve employed in this regard?

Correct answer: Balancing the principle of least privilege with operational efficiency is crucial. In my experience, we regularly conducted access reviews to ensure that permissions remained aligned with users’ current responsibilities. Implementing a robust onboarding and offboarding process helped streamline access provisioning and de-provisioning.

Additionally, we leveraged automation to assign and revoke permissions based on predefined roles, ensuring a dynamic yet controlled-access environment. Regular communication with stakeholders also played a key role in understanding evolving job requirements and adjusting access levels accordingly.

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