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.

Privileged Accounts are Pervasive and Problematic

Posted December 13, 2010    Peter McCalister

If someone is walking around your organization with t-shirt that says “Bow before me, for I am root.,” then you will have a big problem on your hands when the auditors come around or if a hacker decides to target your company for theft or cyber sabotage.

How pervasive are privileged accounts in your organization?  Just start with anentitlements audit.  Request your Information Technology department, or outsourced provider, generate a report of every user’s access status (i.e. entitlement credentials) across servers, desktops, network devices, virtual servers and cloud applications.  Once you have this, just add up how many times you see “root, ” “superuser,” “administrator,” “su,” “suid” or any other credential with superuser/administrator-level privileges.  If your organization is like most others, you will discover there is at least one account which is shared across IT admins for each server and network device. You may also discover there is one admin to 5-10 servers with this level of privilege.  If you use MS Windows in the standard configuration, then every desktop user will also have administrator level access to their desktop or laptop computer. Now that’s pervasive!

How problematic are privileged accounts in your organization?  Just ask any hacker what their number one target is for any attempt at infiltration. The answer will come back as “harvesting admin credentials for direct access to the resource desired.”  Check out this story in Forbes for one example of what happened at the University of Central Missouri, or this story in the Wall Street Journal to see what happened at Goldman Sachs.

How do you protect privileged accounts in your organization?  The short answer is to eliminate all admin rights across servers, desktops, networks devices, virtual servers and cloud environments.  You can do this by implementing a privileged identity management solution.  Check out this white paper to learn how.

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Additional articles


Scottrade Breach: Identified by Federal Officials

Posted October 5, 2015    Morey Haber

Late afternoon on October 2nd, news leaked out of another large security breach, now at Scottrade. The identity count of records, in the millions again (4.6 million is the latest). This breach comes on the second day of national CyberSecurity month, the first being Experian/T-Mobile breach.

3d image Data Breach issues concept word cloud background

Experian/T-Mobile Data Breach: When 2 Days is not Enough

Posted October 2, 2015    Morey Haber

On October 1, Experian admitted full responsibility for the loss of T-Mobile customer data. 15 million user records dating back to 2013 were effected in the breach, with data including sensitive information that may be decryptable like social security numbers and drivers licenses.


Who Moved My Front Door? (What is Privileged Account Management?)

Posted October 1, 2015    Nigel Hedges

Not too long ago, I was sitting in a room with a very fluffy sales guy. In between words such as “we’ll make this happen” and “leave it with me, I’ll get it sorted” he asked the question “What is Privileged Account Management”?