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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.

Extending Password Policy To UNIX and Linux

Posted September 21, 2011    Peter McCalister

Our friends and colleagues at the Linux Foundation have been hit by a “brute force attack” and many of their sites have been taken down until the security breach is fully controlled.

The good news here? The Linux kernel and the projects’ source codes haven’t been affected. The bad news? As noted by desktoplinux.com, “Username, password, email address, and “other information” provided by users registered with the sites may have been stolen.” As a Linux user and big fan of the Linux Foundation, my personal information is likely included in the compromised set. And on a personal basis, the fix is easy–a new, strong password that’s unique to that site.

What about on a corporate level? When a breach like this occurs, say at a BeyondTrust customer with a large deployment of Linux & UNIX systems, what’s the best practice for IT admins?
I wrote a couple months back about password management and how it is the weakest link in enterprise security. There have been many studies done that show password complexity and a regular cycle of password changes improves the daunting prospect of maintaining security. This is a best practice employed in most enterprise IT organizations and a key component of compliance with regulations and standards like Sarbanes-Oxley.

Password policy is easily managed in Active Directory for Windows systems. But what about Linux and UNIX systems–as highlighted by the breach at Linux.com?

We’ve noted before that centralizing on a single directory is a security best practice, and we have a free and open source solution that enables extending password policy to Linux and UNIX systems–fulfilling best practice requirements. PowerBroker Identity Service – Open Edition is a free download for over 200 Linux and UNIX platforms and enables administrators to join machines to Active Directory and require users to login with their directory credentials. The entire process takes less than five minutes–download, install, join. The password policies that you set in your Windows environment are then extended to users on these machines.

And when a security breach occurs like the one noted above? Administrators can push out a password change requirement or trust their strong password policy to keep systems secure across the enterprise, no matter what operating system they are using.

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Additional articles

PBPS-screenshot-blog aug2014

Failing the Security Basics: Backoff Point-of-Sale Malware

Posted August 22, 2014    Marc Maiffret

At the beginning of this month, US-CERT issued a security alert relating to a string of breaches that had been targeting Point of Sale (POS) systems. The alert details that attackers were leveraging brute forcing tools to target common remote desktop applications such as Microsoft’s Remote Desktop, Apple Remote Desktop, Splashtop and LogMeIn among others….

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Troubleshooting Windows Privilege Management Rules with Policy Monitor

Posted August 21, 2014    Jason Silva

When defining and testing PowerBroker for Windows rules for production or pilots, customers sometimes tell us, “I don’t think this policy / program is working.” This is usually a case of the policy not properly triggering because of the way the rule was created. A unique feature of PowerBroker for Windows compared to other solutions is a client-side…

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BeyondTrust Webcast: Darren Mar-Elia’s 4 Active Directory Change Scenarios to Track

Posted August 20, 2014    Chris Burd

In our latest webcast, we joined Darren Mar-Elia, CTO at SDM Software, to discuss best practices for Active Directory (AD) change management. Here are some key takeaways from the presentation, followed by a link to a full-length video of the presentation. Mar-Elia kicks things off with a critical insight: that the best AD change management…

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