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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

Are Your Data Security Efforts Focused in the Right Area?

Posted January 28, 2015    Scott Lang

Vormetric Data Security recently released an insider threat report, with research conducted by HarrisPoll and analyzed by Ovum. Based on the survey responses, it is apparent that there is still a great deal of insecurity over data. However, the results also show that there may be misplaced investments to address those insecurities. I will explain…

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GHOST Vulnerability…Scary Indeed

Posted January 28, 2015    BeyondTrust Research Team

A vulnerability discovered by Qualys security researchers has surfaced within the GNU C Library that affects virtually all Linux operating systems. The vulnerability lies within the various gethostbyname*() functions and, as such, has been dubbed “GHOST.” GHOST is particularly nasty considering remote, arbitrary code execution can be achieved. In an effort to avoid taxing DNS lookups, glibc developers introduced…

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Your New Years Resolution: Controlling Privileged Users

Posted January 27, 2015    Dave Shackleford

Is 2015 the year you get a better handle on security? The news last year was grim – so much so, in fact, that many in the information security community despaired a bit. Really, the end-of-the-year infosec cocktail parties were a bit glum. OK, let’s be honest, infosec cocktail parties are usually not that wild…

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