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The Intersection of Policy, Technology & People

Posted May 16, 2011    Peter McCalister

Lot’s of things come in threes. You can’t get fire unless you have heat, fuel and oxygen and a great swing just needs a tree, a tire and some rope. Turns out that you also can’t get to a least privilege environment unless you’ve dealt with the intersection of policy, technology and people.

Achieving least privilege isn’t as elusive as one might perceive and it certainly is one of the key requirements to eliminate the misuse of privilege throughout the extended enterprise (physical servers and desktops, cloud and virtual environments) or to greatly mitigate the risk of an insider breach. We have reported extensively on the cost of intentional, accidental and indirect misuse of privilege as well as highlighted numerous examples where insider breaches have cost organizations millions of dollars in the blog over the last year.

So why is it that most organizations still struggle with the decision to implement a least privilege solution let alone the steps necessary to implement it correctly? All too often, the solution is simple if one just steps back and chooses not to over-complicate the requirements. In this case the 3 step process would be:

Decide to invest in eliminating insider threats with as much tenacity and urgency as you have in preventing outsider threats.
Determine which roles (people) should have access/authorization to do what (policy) and implement a least privilege solution (technology) that enforces those policies to those people.
Monitor, measure and refine for further improvements as well as satisfy governance and compliance audit requirements.

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