BeyondTrust

Security in Context: The BeyondTrust Blog

Welcome to Security in Context

Bringing you news and commentary on solutions and strategies for protecting critical IT infrastructure in the context of your business.

Least Privilege Legacy Apps and the Desktop “Wild West”: Part 2

Posted January 27, 2011    Peter McCalister

This week we report the conclusions of our recent survey of 185 IT Administrators and Help Desk Operatives, in a report Legacy Applications and Least Privilege Access Management’  which reveals the way legacy apps leave Windows desktop environments unnecessarily exposed to attack from malware, as well as providing an open door to insider threats.

Our main focus was to discover which legacy apps which require users to be granted either administrator or Power User status to run, were most prevalent.  The results were revealing:

Looking closer at the data, we found that it was in larger organizations with more than 2500 active desktops, it was in-house bespoke applications (51% of respondents), and a range of ‘other legacy apps’ (40%) which force IT Admins to elevate privileges to Administrator or Super User status.

However, in organizations with fewer than 2500 active desktops, it was the popular payroll software suite, Intuit QuickBooks (33% of respondents), and again ‘other legacy apps’ (50%) which most often forced IT Administrators to elevate network access privileges to the more risky Administrator or Super User status.

Survey respondents were invited to name which legacy app they were nominating when selecting ‘Other,’ revealing over 50 different apps that were nominated (which we’ll reveal more about in later posts), with a number citing ‘too many to mention.’

This offers a revealing insight into the state of desktops today – i.e. they are littered with applications, each requiring different configuration settings for different users, making effective access management practically impossible.

What we can conclude from this, is that while the legacy app may be different, the experience of all IT Administrators and Help Desk Operatives is uniform.  Legacy applications make their lives difficult and consume a disproportionate amount of their time, regardless of the size of the organization.

This points to the ubiquity of Windows and its inherent problems in elevating privileged access based on company policy rather than the requirements of individual applications.

Fortunately, the fault is not the legacy applications.  Business need not give up the applications they need to run business as usual.  The fault is the lack of awareness of just how easy it is to automate the elevation of privilege user access at a granular level, based on the role definition of each employee.

Leave a Reply

Additional articles

VMware Hardening Guidelines-img3

How to Audit VMware ESX and ESXi Servers Against the VMware Hardening Guidelines with Retina CS

Posted February 27, 2015    BeyondTrust Research Team

Retina CS Enterprise Vulnerability Management has included advanced VMware auditing capabilities for some time, including virtual machine discovery and scanning through a cloud connection, plus the ability to scan ESX and ESXi hosts using SSH. However, in response to recent security concerns associated with SSH, VMware has disabled SSH by default in its more recent…

Tags:
, , , ,
dave-shackleford-headshot

Privileged Passwords: The Bane of Security Professionals Everywhere

Posted February 19, 2015    Dave Shackleford

Passwords have been with us since ancient times. Known as “watchwords”, ancient Roman military guards would pass a wooden tablet with a daily secret word engraved from one shift to the next, with each guard position marking the tablet to indicate it had been received. The military has been using passwords, counter-passwords, and even sound…

Tags:
, , ,
Privileged Account Management Process

In Vulnerability Management, Process is King

Posted February 18, 2015    Morey Haber

You have a vulnerability scanner, but where’s your process? Most organizations are rightly concerned about possible vulnerabilities in their systems, applications, networked devices, and other digital assets and infrastructure components. Identifying vulnerabilities is indeed important, and most security professionals have some kind of scanning solution in place. But what is most essential to understand is…

Tags:
, , , , ,