Security in Context: The BeyondTrust Blog

Welcome to Security in Context

Bringing you news and commentary on solutions and strategies for protecting critical IT infrastructure in the context of your business.

Administrative Privileges are Behind Many, but not all Breaches

Posted January 18, 2011    Peter McCalister

Ok – so even we admit not EVERY security breach is related to administrative privileges. We saw how horrible the passwords were of Gawker users; we know hackers exist too and there is a remaining 10% of critical Microsoft vulnerabilities that can’t be mitigated by removing admin rights. A recent reporton Virgin Media’s email recycling, which would allow a new email recipient to “retrieve a forgotten password” of the email’s previous owner could not be prevented with any measure related to administrate privileges.

But lets take a look at the last week:

  • IBM’s DeveloperWorks site recently had this replacing certain pages after hackers leveraged a vulnerability to gain access. Since it requires admin access to upload new web pages, it’s reasonable to suggest they used a vulnerability to gain administrative privileges. Could IBM have prevented it? The hacker-posted website seems to indicate as much.
  • Vodafone just suffered a breach somehow related to password sharing. You may think this is a password issue, but since the breach involved hundreds of customer accounts, which passwords do you think could grant access to hundreds of accounts? Yup – you got it – an admin’s password. Few other people have access to entire databases.
  • This one is particularly interesting, because it highlights that “Printers and copiers are often overlooked as a potential source of a data security breach but they need to be handled just as carefully as a PC.” Some printers keep copies of everything ever printed and employees tinker with their printer settings almost as often as their desktops. How many help desk inquiries do you get regarding printers?

Leave a Reply

Additional articles


Answering the age-old question, ‘What’s plugged into my network?’

Posted October 9, 2015    Alejandro DaCosta

“What’s plugged into my network?” is a question I hear frequently from security administrators. And, really, it’s no surprise why. No longer do we have to account just for the physical servers in our datacenters, workstations and a few network devices. Now we need to keep track of roaming laptops, dynamic virtual systems, off-site cloud deployments and BYOD.


Closing the Vulnerability Gap

Posted October 7, 2015    Brian Chappell

Managing vulnerabilities is a significant challenge for many organizations. The main difficulties with managing this manifest in two key areas. The first is that the list isn’t static. The second is priority.


Scottrade Breach: Identified by Federal Officials

Posted October 5, 2015    Morey Haber

Late afternoon on October 2nd, news leaked out of another large security breach, now at Scottrade. The identity count of records, in the millions again (4.6 million is the latest). This breach comes on the second day of national CyberSecurity month, the first being Experian/T-Mobile breach.