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Businesses failing to secure privileged accounts

Thor Olavsrud | July 26, 2016
A new benchmark survey finds that more than half of organizations have a failing grade when it comes to securing privileged accounts that can give attackers access to their entire networks.

Privileged accounts are a favorite target for attackers because they unlock access to virtually all parts of a given network.

"Weak privileged account management is a rampant epidemic at large enterprises and governments globally," Steven Morgan, founder and CEO at Cybersecurity Ventures, said in a statement Wednesday. "Privileged accounts contain the keys to the IT kingdom, and they are a primary target for cybercriminals and hackers-for-hire who are launching increasingly sophisticated cyber-attacks on businesses and costing the world's economies trillions of dollars in damages. We expect the needle on automated PAM solutions adoption to move fairly quickly into the 50 percent range over the next two years."

The report recommends five steps to get privileged accounts under control:

  1. Educate key stakeholders. Stakeholders need to understand why privileged account and access management security is urgent and essential. You can take the Privileged Password Vulnerability Benchmark to see how your organization stacks up against similar organizations.
  2. Discover privileged accounts. You can't protect something if you don't know exists. There are tools for both Windows and Unix environments that will help you discover where privileged accounts are located across your entire enterprise environment.
  3. Automate management and security of privileged account passwords. It's extremely difficult to stay on top of the management of privileged accounts using manual processes. Steve Kahan, vice president of Thycotic, notes there are affordable PAM solutions available for organizations of any size.
  4. Adopt and implement security policies. The report recommends adopting and implementing security policies to ensure a least privilege strategy for account access. It notes that too many accounts have been granted broad and deep privileges, and compromise of such accounts opens your entire IT infrastructure to attack. Software tools can limit privileged access without affecting user productivity.
  5. Provide greater visibility. Automated PAM solutions can give your CISO greater visibility into your environment while also helping you demonstrate compliance in audits. Thycotic offers a free template for best practice privileged account security policies.

 

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