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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.

Mozilla Breach and Privileged Users

Posted January 11, 2011    Peter McCalister

If you have one of 44,000 inactive Mozilla accounts, you may have received a belated Christmas present on December 27th when the company sent out notifications of a potential leak of their account information. In this case the company was able to reassure those users there was virtually no possibility of any harm to them.

accidental misuse of privilegeHowever what’s interesting about the incident is I can only presume it ties back to a very specific administrator who on a very specific day and time made a mistake and put the database on the wrong server. Something we see with surprising frequency.

Now put yourself in Mozilla’s shoes. If this happened to you, would you know which IT staff was responsible? What would you tell the CEO? Would a witch hunt ensue and how would that impact the department?

The incident highlights once more that the IT staff can and do make terrible mistakes that can cost millions in breaches, notifications and more. Because IT staff have such deep access to the IT systems themselves, a single logistical mistake can have deep security implications.

The incident highlights why organizations need processes and systems in place that account for the very real possibility of errors by IT staff. In other words, you need to monitor and record the actions of individual administrators and remove blanket root access.

This not only creates accountability for individual staff to not make a mistake in the first place, but avoids the witch hunt when it happens. Employees need to know that if they make mistakes, the company will know it was them.

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