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Of Saints, Sinners and The Least Privileged

Posted December 16, 2011    Peter McCalister

As I’ve waded through the hundreds of published insider breaches from just the last two years, what is a clear recurring theme is that of the vagaries of human nature. Not meaning to wax poetic, but it is always an individual who misused their own, or some other insider’s, privileged access authorizations to information technology systems to their own devices and/or gains.

That begs two questions:
What sets these people on their path to misuse of privilege?

Are they personally responsible or is the organization’s lack of controls partially responsible as well?

As we have pointed out many times—at the intersection of people, processes, and technology that make up the engine of modern business—it’s human nature that is the weakest link. And, all too often, it’s the tendency of almost the entire IT industry—vendors, analysts, and press—to ignore this.

Put another way, you can’t rely on everyone being a saint or competent all of the time. It’s not just malicious malcontents intent on destroying the system who can cause havoc, but also the negligent, misinformed, and down- right nosey who can compromise sensitive data. In all cases, it’s more often than not the case that such people have way too much privilege access— admin rights on the desktop, root password on the server—for the role they are required to play.

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Additional articles

Dark Reading

2014: The Year of Privilege Vulnerabilities

Posted December 18, 2014    Chris Burd

Of the 30 critical-rated Microsoft Security Bulletins this year, 24 involved vulnerabilities where the age-old best practice of “least privilege” could limit the impact of malware and raise the bar of difficulty for attackers.

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Looking back on information security in 2014

Posted December 16, 2014    Dave Shackleford

Dave Shackleford is a SANS Instructor and founder of Voodoo Security. Join Dave for a closer look at the year in security, and learn what you can do to prepare for 2015, with this upcoming webinar. 2014 has been one heck of an insane year for information security professionals. To start with, we’ve been forced…

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December 2014 Patch Tuesday

Posted December 9, 2014    BeyondTrust Research Team

This month marks the final Patch Tuesday of 2014. Most of what is being patched this month includes Internet Explorer, Exchange, Office, etc… and continues a trend of the greatest hits collection of commonly attacked Microsoft software. Probably the one thing that broke the mold this month is that for once there is not some…

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