Privileged passwords are literally the keys to your kingdom and must be controlled properly. One common stumbling block for projects around privileged passwords is that once the password inventory is created, the sheer volume and prevalence of these codes is overwhelming. Personnel can say: ”we never secured these before so why bother now?“ In these situations, the most successful auditors take a deep breath, drink a tall latte and start putting together a stepped plan with reasonable deadlines, deliverables and consequences.
6. Remember computers are people too
While 99% of enterprises change passwords for employees, up to 42% never change hard-coded and embedded passwords for application IDs, testing scripts and batch jobs. (Source: Cyber-Ark Enterprise Privileged Password Survey.) According to Mark Diodati of the Burton Group, this creates an App2App password problem that is ”exponential. For example: 300 hosts x 2 applications per host x 5 scripts per application = 3000 stored passwords.“ Often, these passwords are in clear text and readily available to every developer or database administrator in an organization.
All in all, no privileged password management system is complete without an App2App component. However, since application passwords are stored in scripts that must be re-coded, tested and deployed, most organizations I work with break out fixing past code from making future mistakes. Once again, a stepped plan can be your best friend.
One final note: no policy for managing privileged passwords would be complete without related reporting structures. Audit reports for privileged passwords often cover such topics as when passwords are updated, any update failures and which individual identities performed tasks under a shared account.
So there you have it, the greatest threat now posed to IT security is due to the smallest of things, a tiny code embedded in virtually every piece of hardware and software. However, armed with a strong plan and the knowledge you’re protecting your organization, any auditor can become a successful warrior against today’s top IT security threat.
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