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Security In Context

Bringing you news and commentary on solutions and strategies for protecting your critical IT infrastructure.

Insider Villain Introduced: Disgruntled Dave

Post by Peter McCalister July 11, 2011

In order to put a face on the depth and breadth of potential insiders that can be found throughout your enterprise, I will introduce you to three insider villains and three insider heroes. Each villain will represent one of the key misuse of privileges and each hero will represent key values delivered by least privilege. This first introduction will be of the most impactful and prevalent villain.

Intentional harm is the most visible misuse of privilege and usually results in significant cost to your corporation. This “insider attack” is the result of an administrator intentionally deleting or stealing data, or planting some malware. To better examine this type of privilege misuse I’d like to introduce you to “Disgruntled Dave.”

Disgruntled Dave is a fictitious character created out of the amalgamation of recently caught and reported insiders responsible for breaches ranging from the obscure to the profane.

Dave was once a trusted insider with privileged access to critical IT infrastructure but circumstances have changed such that he is now unhappy with the status quo to the point where he is intentionally doing harm such as stealing, modifying or deleting data and/or planting malware.

In organizations, it is a sad and harsh reality that trusted individuals are getting away with too many things. For example, at HSBC, a systems administrator named Falcini had unfettered root access. And what did he do with those credentials? He stole thousands of customer files and then tried to sell them to banks and tax authorities. This is becoming an increasing trend, with more and more breaches coming to light each month.

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