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Security In Context

Bringing you news and commentary on solutions and strategies for protecting your critical IT infrastructure.

There is No Patch For Stupidity

Post by Peter McCalister January 24, 2011

No, I’m not talking about a Boy or Girl Scout patch (or merit badge) now awarded for making dumb errors with information technology at work.  I’m referring to the ever present vendor tech support cry of “just install the patch” whenever something goes wrong.

In this case, the patch is a “fix” for the buggy software that invariably caused some loss of data and/or productivity.  But what happens when the error is human error?  Unfortunately there are no “patches” for that, unless you count getting rid of said employee and replacing him/her with someone smarter.  A common cry of helps desk personnel worldwide is PEBKAC! If you forgot what that means then remind yourself at this post on Reducing Help Desk Costs Is a Least Privilege Benefit.

Accidents happen and if you are still providing excessive privileges to your desktop/laptop users or server/network/database/cloud/virtual administrators, then you are at risk of the accidental misuse of privilege.  Sometimes these accidents can cause harm that is newsworthy.  In this instance you not only have to deal with the problems created, but the public fall out that follows from the press and blogosphere.

First you need to eliminate admin rights on windows desktops and root privileges off of servers, then you implement a privilege identity management solution to create a “least privilege” environment such that no one will have enough permission to cause harm if they misuse their privileges.  In this way you can mitigate the severity of potential user stupidity and not have to deal with the help desk crying PEBKAC or fear an unpleasant expose in the Wall St Journal, local paper, wikileaks.com or the blogosphere.

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