Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Security Management //

Access Management

3/28/2018
08:05 AM
Simon Marshall
Simon Marshall
Simon Marshall
50%
50%

Why Privileged Account Management Is So Difficult for Enterprises

A report from security firm Thycotic finds that enterprises struggle with protecting Privileged Account Management from outside attacks. However, there are better ways to protect data.

In a stereotypical scene from the Middle Ages, marauding hordes would lay siege to a castle, braving trebuchets and boiling oil from the defenders in a war of attrition. But what if instead sleeping guards missed something fundamental, like forgetting to raise the drawbridge?

Metaphorically, this is exactly what is happening today as enterprises worldwide have become complacent about complying with IT safety standards that govern access to privileged accounts, running the risk of losing command and control of vital enterprise IT networks, processes, credentials and data.

A new report titled "Privileged Access Management Risk & Compliance," delves into the global state of Privileged Account Management (PAM), putting 500 organizations under the microscope. It finds that nearly two thirds of firms indicated that they would fail an access controls audit.

Privileged accounts offer top level access to the most valuable data, and are often the most sought-after credential by hackers because they relinquish enterprise control to, well, just about anything.

"In regard to compliance, organizations are failing to take it seriously -- approaching it as a checkbox rather than an ongoing continuous process to improve security," Joseph Carson, chief security officer at Thycotic, which conducted the survey, told Security Now. The company also sells PAM tools and products to customers.

"My personal concern is that many of the compliances are no longer a standard to raise the bar, but have become businesses losing focus on enforcing their own security control requirements... they're just doing the minimum to get the 'gold star,' " Carson added.

The report reveals a surprising lack of basic procedures that would head-off cyberattacks before impact. Nearly 75% of firms are failing to require multi-factor authentication, and 65% don't fully audit PAs. More than half are not using a secure log-on process, and about three quarters haven't fully discovered PAs.

Another 40% report of firms do nothing at all to actively discover PAs.

"I was (personally) surprised at how badly organizations are doing at protecting the most critical access controls, leaving huge gaps in security and making a hacker's job easy by allowing access to sensitive data," said Carson.

Every sector, Carson said, is behind where they should be with a defined and enforced process for PAs. More heavily regulated industries such as the financial sector are making progress, but even here, they still lack full implementation of PA security.

There are numerous compliance standards for organizations to juggle.

The European Union's General Data Protection Rules (GDPR) is the most topical, coming into play on May 25, but there are others across different industry sectors. (See GDPR Non-Compliance: Will Your Enterprise Get Busted?.)

Other best practice guides for cybersecurity include:

Yet even compliance with such a sweeping scope as GDPR is likely an helpful indicator of the success of best practice because results will only be apparent in years to come. However, in some cases, there are somewhat mitigating circumstances for why organizations are behind.

"I understand that cloud has an impact for how organizations are managing the ever-growing number of accounts and credentials," Carson said, "but when you see a problem you usually act before it gets out of control and this report tells me we are way beyond managing privileged accounts."

In other scenarios, auditors themselves are not helping because, he reckons, they're keeping the bar to pass an audit low, with firms correspondingly doing the minimum. This encourages the wrong company culture and even though firms know they should be doing more, there's no incentive.

"To me it's like explaining the importance of wearing a seatbelt in a car - and while it is important, the passengers are important, it is required by law – many still fail to comply," Carson said. "The recent example of Equifax using default credentials should be a sign to not be complacent with privileged accounts."

Related posts:

— Simon Marshall, Technology Journalist, special to Security Now

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Manchester United Suffers Cyberattack
Dark Reading Staff 11/23/2020
As 'Anywhere Work' Evolves, Security Will Be Key Challenge
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  11/23/2020
Cloud Security Startup Lightspin Emerges From Stealth
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  11/24/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win an Amazon Gift Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you today!
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-20934
PUBLISHED: 2020-11-28
An issue was discovered in the Linux kernel before 5.2.6. On NUMA systems, the Linux fair scheduler has a use-after-free in show_numa_stats() because NUMA fault statistics are inappropriately freed, aka CID-16d51a590a8c.
CVE-2020-29368
PUBLISHED: 2020-11-28
An issue was discovered in __split_huge_pmd in mm/huge_memory.c in the Linux kernel before 5.7.5. The copy-on-write implementation can grant unintended write access because of a race condition in a THP mapcount check, aka CID-c444eb564fb1.
CVE-2020-29369
PUBLISHED: 2020-11-28
An issue was discovered in mm/mmap.c in the Linux kernel before 5.7.11. There is a race condition between certain expand functions (expand_downwards and expand_upwards) and page-table free operations from an munmap call, aka CID-246c320a8cfe.
CVE-2020-29370
PUBLISHED: 2020-11-28
An issue was discovered in kmem_cache_alloc_bulk in mm/slub.c in the Linux kernel before 5.5.11. The slowpath lacks the required TID increment, aka CID-fd4d9c7d0c71.
CVE-2020-29371
PUBLISHED: 2020-11-28
An issue was discovered in romfs_dev_read in fs/romfs/storage.c in the Linux kernel before 5.8.4. Uninitialized memory leaks to userspace, aka CID-bcf85fcedfdd.