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Security In Context

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

When Misuse Of Privilege Is Priceless

Post by Peter McCalister June 29, 2011

Sometimes the abuse of IT admin power doesn’t involve a price tag. Take for instance, Walter Powell, a disgruntled IT manager who hacked his former employer’s computer and replaced the CEO’s digital presentation to instead display a lewd pornographic image on the 64-inch screen that the CEO was presenting to his board of directors. While we have documented extensively the costs that this kind of calculated attack can cost an organization, in this case, the cost could almost seem priceless.

IT administrators have unlimited access to a company’s most valuable assets: sensitive corporate information, critical hardware, data and database management systems. The damage they can wreak is almost limitless.

Although this latest incident ranks on the extreme (geeky) side of fired employee retaliation, it brings up the important point of monitoring highly privileged users. These are the users that have the ability to cause the most damage, yet they are often the most difficult to watch and control. IT security teams have a tough time tackling this problem.

Actively monitoring these privileged userscan offer much needed visibility into who is accessing corporate data and what they’re doing with it. To do this effectively, organizations must carefully log user activity and track policy violations. For an overburdened IT staff, this can look like a complex and daunting task. But it shouldn’t be.

Allowing any employee unfettered access to all company assets is both unnecessary and dangerous. Implementation of a privilege identity management solution enables IT admins to continue to access the applications required to do their jobs effectively without unnecessarily putting the organization at added risk…and embarrassment.

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