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Security in Context: The BeyondTrust Blog

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

Closing the Password Security Loophole on Mac OS X 10.7

Posted September 30, 2011    Peter McCalister

More and more Macs are cropping up in enterprise IT environments. Studies have shown as much as 94.7% growth in the “very large business” category. It’s no secret that Apple has been on a tear in the consumer markets, and the enterprise market is not far behind.

But what about the security concerns presented by Macs in the enterprise? A password security hole was discovered in Mac OS X 10.7 Lion where a user’s password can be changed without knowing the current password, and without restarting the system. This obviously opens up the system to insider threats–and presents a glaring compliance concern for organizations responsible to adhere to SOX and PCI regulations. When a user leaves his desk, anyone that knows this process could jump on the machine and change the password to anything they wish.

So what can IT administrators do to mitigate this loophole? Certainly Mac users want to and will use the latest version of Mac OS X that’s available. It’s an easy upgrade from the App store. So keeping users on Snow Leopard or earlier versions of OS X isn’t an option. Here are two simple solutions.

1. Don’t have users login with their local accounts. Instead, require that user authentication is done using Microsoft Active Directory, where users login using a centrally-managed account. This in itself is a prime solution to the security loophole, as the loophole only affects local accounts. A free and easy tool for AD authentication on Macs is Powerbroker Identity Services – Open Edition. This tool installs in < 5 minutes and will have users logging in with their AD credentials.
2. Set a screensaver lock to come on the system after a designated amount of time. It’s a common best practice to lock your machine when you leave your desk–but let’s be honest–how many of us really do this? IT administrators usually set screensaver locks to come on after 10-15 minutes using group policy through Active Directory on their Windows machines. Using PowerBroker Identity Services – Enterprise Edition allows IT admins to extend those same group policies to Mac OS X, Linux, and UNIX machines.

The growth of Macs in the enterprise is an exciting prospect. From an IT standpoint, make sure that you’re ready for the influx by having the tools on hand to manage them properly and keep insider threats to a minimum.

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Additional articles

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On Demand Webinar: Because Auditing Stinks Sometimes

Posted July 2, 2015    Lindsay Marsh

Auditing stinks. Well, mostly stinks. In this on demand webinar, lead by Group Policy MVP Jeremy Moskowitz, you’ll learn the three key tenets to real Group Policy auditing. Tenet 1: Why do you care about Group Policy auditing? Tenet 2: How does Eventing help you know “Who did what?” Tenet 3: How does Reporting tell…

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Stopping the Skeleton Key Trojan

Posted June 29, 2015    Robert Auch

Earlier this year Dell’s SecureWorks published an analysis of a malware they named “Skeleton Key”. This malware bypasses authentication for Active Directory users who have single-factor (password only) authentication. The “Skeleton Key” attack as documented by the SecureWorks CTU relies on several critical parts.

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On Demand Webinar: 10 Steps to Building an Effective Vulnerability Management Program

Posted June 26, 2015    BeyondTrust Software

In this on demand webinar, Cybersecurity Expert, Derek A.Smith will take you through his 10 steps for a successful vulnerability management program and how to get started now.

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