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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

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PowerBroker for Mac: A Least-Privileged Apple a Day…

Posted July 27, 2015    Jason Silva

BeyondTrust PowerBroker for Mac reduces the risk of privilege misuse by enabling standard users on Mac OS X to perform administrative tasks successfully without entering elevated credentials.

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On Demand Webinar – Now is the time for Privileged Account Management

Posted July 24, 2015    BeyondTrust Software

In this webinar, SANS Instructor and Founder of Voodoo Security, Dave Shackleford, will revisit several hacking and breach scenarios that involved privileged accounts, and use these as examples while discussing tools and tactics to get this problem under control once and for all.

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Privileged Account Management: The Time is Now

Posted July 22, 2015    Dave Shackleford

There’s plenty of problems we don’t have great options for in InfoSec today. Malware is a pain point that keeps evolving rapidly. 0-day exploits are tough to prepare for. Privileged account management? We got this. We know the root causes, we know how it manifests, we know how to get it under control effectively, and there are great technology solutions that are enterprise-class.

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