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.

Password Rotation, Phishing and Authentication Limitations, Oh My!

Posted January 26, 2011    Peter McCalister

As we have pointed out in several recent blog posts, getting users to choose effective passwords is hard.  This is particularly important to us at BeyondTrust since for our PIM solutions to function correctly we need to accurately  authenticate a user to know what access privileges to grant them  While new technologies for user authentication  are on the way, they aren’t here just yet.

There are several options today for improving user passwords but they all have issues.   Requiring user to choose strong password often leads to them writing theirs down a yellow sticky pad so they can remember it.  Password rotation is standard defense against password cracking attacks, but a recent Microsoft study suggests password rotation just causes people to choose easier to remember phrases as passwords.  Biometrics are expensive and far from foolproof as shown in this recent MythBusters episode.  2 factor authentication should be the norm but is perceived as expensive and inconvenient.  Even if implemented it’s still susceptible to social engineering and phishing attacks.

So there are no easy answers to assure a user is who they say they are.  As with all security decisions, you need to weigh the costs of a solution versus the risks, but practically we recommend 3 things:

  • Enforce strong passwords but make it easier for people to create them.  You can provideguidance about better ways to create strong but memorable passwords or suggest the use of passphrases rather than passwords.  Finally, you could publish links to password strength testers like Microsoft’s so people aren’t surprised at the moment of truth when asked to input their new strong password.
  • For more secure situations, like systems administrators who may be able to access critical corporate systems, go with 2 factor authentication,  it’s the current gold standard.
  • Finally, recognize that authentication will never be perfect.  So implement least privilege at all levels to limit exposure.  Not every user needs to be an admin on their desktop and not every system admin needs to access all system with all commands

I f you have any tips or techniques you would like to share, please add them to the comments.

Leave a Reply

Additional articles

pbps-customer-campaign-image

You Change Your Oil Regularly; Why Not Your Passwords?

Posted September 11, 2014    Chris Burd

There are many things in life that get changed regularly:  your car oil, toothbrush and hopefully, your bed sheets.  It’s rare that you give these things much thought – even when you forget to change them. But what if you’re forgetting something that can cost you millions of dollars if left unchanged for long periods…

Tags:
, , ,

On-Demand Webcast: The Little JPEG that Could (Hack Your Organization) with Marcus Murray

Posted September 10, 2014    Chris Burd

IT security has come a long way, but every once in a while you see something that makes you think otherwise. Every day, internal and external hackers breach and traverse “secure” environments, making you wonder just how easy it is for attackers to completely compromise your network. In a new on-demand BeyondTrust webcast, Marcus Murray,…

Tags:
, , , , ,

Retina Vulnerability Audits – September 2014 Patch Tuesday

Posted September 9, 2014    BeyondTrust Research Team

The following is a list of Retina vulnerability audits for this September 2014 Patch Tuesday: MS14-052 – Cumulative Security Update for Internet Explorer (2977629) 35141 – Microsoft Cumulative Security Update for Internet Explorer (2977629) 35142 – Microsoft Cumulative Security Update for Internet Explorer (2977629) – IE8/2003 35143 – Microsoft Cumulative Security Update for Internet Explorer (2977629) – IE8…