Lack of privileged user management causes confidential details to be viewed

New research has found that increased threats to sensitive and confidential workplace data are created by a lack of control and oversight of privileged users.

A survey of more than 5,000 global IT operations and security managers found that 64 per cent of ‘privileged users' access sensitive or confidential data because of their curiosity, not for their job function.

The survey, conducted by HP and the Ponemon Institute, also found that 68 per cent of privileged users believe they are empowered to access all the information they can view, while 58 per cent believe that customer data is most at risk in their organisation due to the lack of proper access controls.

It also found that 52 per cent of respondents are at least likely to be provided with access to restricted, confidential information beyond the requirements of their position.

Dr. Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute, said: “The findings demonstrate key areas of concern, and clearly identify budget, identity and access management technologies, and network intelligence technologies, as the three most critical success factors for governing, managing and controlling privileged user access across the enterprise.”

Tom Reilly, vice-president and general manager of enterprise security products at HP, said: “This study spotlights risks that organisations don't view with the same tenacity as critical patches, perimeter defence and other security issues, yet it represents a major access point to sensitive information.

“The results clearly emphasise the need for better access policy management, as well as advanced security intelligence solutions, such as identity and privileged user context, to improve core security monitoring.”

Of the respondents, 27 per cent said that their organisations use technology-based identity and access controls to detect the sharing of system administration access rights or root-level access rights by privileged users; 24 per cent said they combine technology with process.

Nearly 80 per cent of respondents reported that deploying a security information and event management (SIEM) solution was critical to governing, managing and controlling privileged user access rights.

CA Technologies' Tim Dunn previously told SC Magazine that people are "the biggest vulnerability" and privileged user management is the least dealt with.

He said: “Look at the security market: what people are accessing and who they are are two different things. We need to integrate the two into one overall description, but we are not linking tools, and that is why we create context-aware management.

“Privileged user management is about providing and security identity, making sure you are who you say you are, and that there is no separation or sharing of administrator accounts. It is about approving the identity of someone and it is also about access control. The biggest threat to organisations is the internal employee; when it gets malicious they can do a lot of damage.”

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