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Security In Context

Bringing you news and commentary on solutions and strategies for protecting your critical IT infrastructure.

Add an Identity Management Stitch to Your Enterprise and Save Nine

Post by Peter McCalister February 9, 2011

I have a friend who, at any given moment, can recount any of the old wives tales he grew up hearing. Most of them I just roll my eyes at, but every now and then there’s a little gem that makes life a little easier. Take “a stitch in time saves nine.” That’s legitimate advice. The concept of taking certain actions before a large-scale problem evolves transcends all aspects of the human existence, and even spreads to the security of your enterprise. One particularly useful stitch comes in the form of preventing the misuse of privileges within the walls of your company.

We are all human. Unfortunately, this means that we are all susceptible to making mistakes and causing problems. In our enterprises, if those mistakes include information only accessible with privileged administrator rights, those problems become increasingly complicated and expensive. What happens when your IT manager, who is basically the omniscient god of your enterprise because he has root access, accidentally sends sensitive data to an outside source? Or what if a regular user, who is running as a super, disables security settings that make the network vulnerable to malware attacks? These things have happened and can happen to you. People are the weakest link, as Edward Hurley of SearchSecurity points out. The security of an enterprise is only a strong as the people behind the technology. Why then would intelligent and successful heads of companies allow their human users to run free with advanced admin rights, knowing full well their finite human shortcomings? Your guess is as good as mine.

There are countless examples of employees inviting breaches, whether accidentally or not, into their organizations. The scope of the damage is huge: from the stolen Goldman Sachs code to McDonald’s compromised customer data to Honda’s email database breach, it’s baffling that some enterprises aren’t protected against such issues. While I don’t have the answer to this oversight in security, I do have a solution. Add a stitch to your enterprise and prevent nine later- implement a policy that removes unnecessary administrator rights and disables the accidental misuse of privileges. Put in place aleast privilege management system.

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