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Security In Context

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

Data Breaches…And How Insiders Affect Them

Post by Peter McCalister October 31, 2011

With all the data breaches in the news these days, security is definitely a hot topic in the information technology community. Preventing risks and threats is the core of keeping information, and ultimately people, safe.

A lot of discussion goes on about the best way to do this- which is often quite unnecessary, in my opinion. Instead of debating whether it’s criminal outsiders of disgruntled/malicious/accident prone insiders, let’s take a look at how your assets get hacked/breached/leaked/etc. in the first place. It starts with insiders. Your employees and your 3d party contractors are given access to information within a database, which creates a gateway for critical information to get out. Whether those insiders abuse that information or not, they are still acting as the access point for data to escape. Sometimes data is leaked and/or stolen when outsiders hijack credentials and hack into your network. Other times it’s the actual employee who is responsible. Either way- the more people who have unmanaged access to data, the wider you are opening your door for a breach.

When we look at this situation, which plagues most organizations in many different industries, it seems daunting and nearly impossible to control. Fortunately, there is a fix- and a seemingly simple one at that. The key is to create as few access points as possible across all platforms in your organization, and then granularly monitor and manage the access points that are necessary. For example, desktop users should run as standard users, and those with access to servers should not be given the root password. In database environments, all DBA activity should be closely monitored, and hypervisor privileges in virtual enterprises must be granularly managed. It is through this process, which has been identified multiple times on this blog, that least privilege is truly implemented.

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