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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.

Do you want to do this the “hard” way?

Posted May 28, 2013    Mike Yaffe

Too often I see people working on what they can fix, what is easy. It’s like when I exercise, if I see progress I keep working at it but the problem areas (there are a lot of them) can wait until tomorrow. Over the past several years I see organizations doing a better job with their network vulnerabilities and most people are now starting to tackle web application security – be it in the form of static or dynamic testing. Any security is better than no security, which is great…But when we ask folks “what are you doing about end user security or administrator privileges?”…we get a blank stare like we asked them to pick up the dinner check.

In security we should NOT bite off more than we can chew. We have to focus the resources and money we have, and come up with compensating controls if we can’t solve the challenge in a meaningful way. The challenge I see is that as an industry we get so distracted with cloud, MDM, and every other Gartner buzz word -  we get so sidetracked with the things we WANT to do and don’t focus on the things that we CAN do.

However, my real gripe (I know you are thinking I have already used my quota for the day) is that we are focusing on what is easy, not what we should be doing and that means it’s hard sometimes. To me that means taking a look at the whole infrastructure – not only the traditional vulnerabilities (network, web) but also taking a look at end users, their machines and the privileges and passwords they have.

In a previous life, we used to perform phishing attacks on end users to gauge their behavior. Customers would regularly get anywhere from 15-25% of their end users to click on a link that they weren’t supposed to. I don’t care if you’ve bought every piece of technology under the sun, if you have end users doing foolish things, you are hosed. I know this isn’t an easy problem to solve, and companies have been trying to modify consumer behavior for years, but if this is your single biggest threat vector, where the malware is being injected from, where the compromises are starting why wouldn’t you do anything about it? I know it’s hard to do, but it is something you can fix….today.

We, as an industry, have to push ourselves to tackle the tough problems. I know that as soon as I start getting up at 6am to go run, I’ll be ready to tackle the next hill…. If you are up for it, sign up for the webcast to see how we can help.

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