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Insider Threats Aren’t Perpetrated By The Obvious: Part 1

Posted June 7, 2011    Peter McCalister

It would be nice if every villain inside your organization walked around wearing a big sign that broadcasts “bad guy looking to do bad things”, but alas it is only in the cartoons and movies of Hollywood where you can always find the stereotypical bad guy: black top hat, curled black mustache and sinister grin.

In real life enterprises, insiders look like you and me. Just regular employees doing their job and collecting their paycheck. That’s why “securing the perimeter within” is so important.

What are the boundaries within your extended enterprise (read: “the perimeter within”)?
Physical: This seems fairly obvious as the physical server and desktops through out the organization; however if you dig a little deeper, you discover a whole lot more. Mobile devices have infiltrated the enterprise as has supporting network devices which require individual privileged accounts to exist on the corporate network and a proliferation of databases and directories which also contain sensitive information. When defining the perimeter within, it is important to consider any and everything that either has privileged account designations or can contain sensitive information.
Virtual: Nowadays a server or a desktop isn’t always just a physical manifestation of a machine, but can be just one of multiple “virtual images” that exist on one physical machine in order to leverage the unused computing capacity within the enterprise. Don’t forget to monitor the virtual sprawl that also proliferated because of this.
Cloud: The buzz word du jour is cloud. Whether of the public (outsourced) or private (internally managed) variety, this is just making data and applications available via the internet. Anyone who has been in enterprise computing for longer than three years will recognize this as better marketing for concepts that have been around for decades: SaaS/Paas/IaaS for public cloud and portal/intranet/extranet for private cloud. Either way, this unique way of managing information also brings unique security, identity management and regulator compliance requirements to bear.

Now that you have a better understanding of what the perimeter within looks like, we can move on to talk about the types of things insiders can do to threaten your security, compliance and governance policies…but that will be another blog. In the interim, check out this whitepaper on Demystifying Privilege Identity Management.

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