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

Do Systems Really Fail, Or the Over-Privileged People Running Them?

Posted April 5, 2011    Peter McCalister

According to a recent Symantec sponsored survey, system failure has replaced negligence as the single biggest source of data breach involving UK firms, for the third successive year.  However, that depends on how you interpret the data.

If you add together the types of data breach caused by the vagaries of human behaviors – or as we refer to them intentional, accidental, or indirect harm – the survey suddenly looks very different.  While system failure accounted for 37% of data breaches, “malicious or criminal attacks” accounted for 29% of all data breaches, (up from 22% from 2009), with “negligence” at 34% (down 11 points from the previous year).

 Add these two together, with third party mistakes thrown in for extra measure, and you have over two thirds of data breaches caused by the people who operate the systems (which only fail a third of the time.)  As we have pointed out many times – in the intersection of people, processes and technology which make up the engine of modern business – it’s human nature which is the weakest link.  And, all too often it’s the tendency of almost the entire IT industry – vendors, analysts and press – to ignore this.

Put another way, you can’t rely on everyone being a saint or competent all of the time. It’s not just malicious malcontents intent on destroying the system who can cause havoc, but also the negligent, mis-informed, and down right nosey, who can compromise sensitive data.  In all cases it’s more often than not the case that such people have way too much privilege access – admin rights on the desktop, root password on server – for the role they are required to play.

Indeed, when technology is to blame, it’s not always the technology companies use, it’s the failure to recognize the importance of technology, such asPrivileged Identity Management systems, which can restrain over privileged users without hampering productivity, which is at fault.  With increasing costs arising from data breaches, including clean-up costs, as well as customer churn due to diminished trust, it makes sense not to rely on trust alone, when it comes to employee and third party access to sensitive data.

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Additional articles

How To Implement The Australian Signals Directorate’s Top 4 Strategies

Posted October 20, 2014    Morey Haber

The Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), also known as the Defence Signals Directorate, has developed a list of strategies to mitigate targeted cyber intrusions. The recommended strategies were developed through ASD’s extensive experience in operational cyber security, including responding to serious security intrusions and performing vulnerability assessments and penetration testing for Australian government agencies. These recommendations…

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Exploiting MS14-059 because sometimes XSS is fun, sometimes…

Posted October 17, 2014    BeyondTrust Research Team

This October, Microsoft has provided a security update for System.Web.Mvc.dll which addresses a ‘Security Feature Bypass’. The vulnerability itself is in ASP.NET MVC technology and given its wide adoption we thought we would take a closer look. Referring to the bulletin we can glean a few useful pieces of information: “A cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability exists…

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Four Best Practices for Passing Privileged Account Audits

Posted October 16, 2014    Chris Burd

Like most IT organizations, your team may periodically face the “dreaded” task of being audited. Your process for delegating privileged access to desktops, servers, and infrastructure devices is a massive target for the auditor’s microscope. An audit’s findings can have significant implications on technology and business strategy, so it’s critical to make sure you’re prepared…

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