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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.

In The Cloud You Don’t Want To Be Sudo Wrestling!

Posted November 17, 2011    Peter McCalister

In a recent discussion with several customers we asked a questions, “How many of you are deploying clouds?”, everyone raised their hand. Then we asked similar questions about public and private clouds. Everyone still raised their hand. Many companies are implementing new infrastructure that includes both private and public cloud. This is often referred to as a hybrid cloud. In the Gartner research report Top 10 Strategic Trends for 2011, cloud computing tops the list. IDC research shows security as the top challenge for cloud computing. None of this comes as a surprise to security vendors like BeyondTrust who have been working with customers to secure their datacenters including virtual environments during the last several years.

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So what’s different now? Cloud computing introduces some new challenges to controlling access to privileged information and proving compliance. Who has access to privileged information? What actions are being taken to ensure compliance? These questions become more difficult to answer once systems are deployed in the cloud. Often security is assumed to be the responsibility of the cloud provider, however as a customer you can take control of access to the operating systems of whatever is running in the cloud by implementing a least privilege solution that will ensure only authorized users can get access to the systems and that their activities are monitored and recorded to meet compliance requirements like PCI.

Some companies currently use the open source tool, sudo, as their tool for elevating privileges. With sudo, privileges can be granted quickly on a per request basis. This ad hoc method of elevating privileges often creates a series of conflicting and difficult to maintain sudoer files, hosted on local servers, with local log files. Many organizations find that a spot check of sudoer files shows privileged access for employees who are no longer with the company. Not only does this put the company at risk it doesn’t meet compliance requirements. These sudoer files become impossible to maintain as you move systems into the cloud. There is also a long list of sudo vulnerabilities making it a poor choice for cloud computing.

The best choice for implementing a least privilege solution is to have a privileged delegation strategy. A strategy that is planned and systematically implemented, one that is easy to manage and provides integrated logging while minimizing the impact to users and avoiding help desk tickets. But it isn’t enough to just implement least privilege; many companies are required by regulation to provide entitlement reporting. Regulations that require some type of entitlement reporting include Sarbanes-Oxley, PCI, and HIPPA. So your privilege delegation strategy needs to include these critical reports as well.

So like virtualization, cloud is becoming part of the infrastructure strategy for most enterprises. Privileged Identity Management (PIM) is a critical requirement of this infrastructure that ensures you meet the security and compliance needs of your company. It will eliminate the misuse of privilege both in your datacenter and the cloud, help satisfy ever changing governance mandates and deliver on-demand entitlement reports and keystroke logs as needed for audits.

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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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