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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.

Computerworld’s Advice Still Relies Too Much on Trust

Posted November 17, 2010    Peter McCalister

In a Computerworld article, last week, exploring the ‘scary side of virtualization’, the reporter, took some time out in a sidebar, to offer some sage staffing advice.

His riposte, ‘Beware the All-Powerful Admin’, made clear the risk of giving server admins the ‘keys to the kingdom’ – not a good thing so consultants and IT execs unanimously agree.

They might for example create virtual FTP servers ‘or they may inadvertently use a virtual-machine migration tool to move a server onto different hardware for maintenance reasons, without realizing that the new host is on an untrusted network segment.’

His sage advice, is to establish a clear separation of duties in virtual infrastructures, and develop a strong change-management process that includes issuing change management tickets.

BeyondTrust, naturally would agree, but with one caveat. Businesses don’t rely on trust alone. BeyondTrust’s name doesn’t invite businesses to put their faith in some kind of metaphysical state that transcends our human frailties, it simply invites you to recognize that people can and do make mistakes, and when they are people with the ‘keys to the kingdom’, these mistakes can be costly.

Better to trust your people, and, take out an insurance policy against human frailties, whether those be fat fingered mistakes, or willful misuse of responsibility.

In any environment especially the deployment of virtualized environments, strong identity management practices, and specifically control around privileged access, must be put in place. As BeyondTrust’s Jeff Nielsen says: “As the number of virtual hosts increases, there is a natural tendency to create islands of identity that are difficult to manage. As individual virtual servers are created that serve the needs of departmental applications, there will be typically be a push from the departments for them to own the access to the server, specifically the privileged access, in the name of departmental efficiency. As the number of identity sources increases, the prospect for orphaned or inappropriate privileged access increases. Without a well-orchestrated management scheme for identity management and privileged access, the company will soon lose control compromising security and audit compliance.”

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Additional articles

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How to Audit VMware ESX and ESXi Servers Against the VMware Hardening Guidelines with Retina CS

Posted February 27, 2015    BeyondTrust Research Team

Retina CS Enterprise Vulnerability Management has included advanced VMware auditing capabilities for some time, including virtual machine discovery and scanning through a cloud connection, plus the ability to scan ESX and ESXi hosts using SSH. However, in response to recent security concerns associated with SSH, VMware has disabled SSH by default in its more recent…

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Privileged Passwords: The Bane of Security Professionals Everywhere

Posted February 19, 2015    Dave Shackleford

Passwords have been with us since ancient times. Known as “watchwords”, ancient Roman military guards would pass a wooden tablet with a daily secret word engraved from one shift to the next, with each guard position marking the tablet to indicate it had been received. The military has been using passwords, counter-passwords, and even sound…

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Privileged Account Management Process

In Vulnerability Management, Process is King

Posted February 18, 2015    Morey Haber

You have a vulnerability scanner, but where’s your process? Most organizations are rightly concerned about possible vulnerabilities in their systems, applications, networked devices, and other digital assets and infrastructure components. Identifying vulnerabilities is indeed important, and most security professionals have some kind of scanning solution in place. But what is most essential to understand is…

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