Despite the notoriety of NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden and the subsequent fallout over the 'insider threat', a survey by privilege management leaders Avecto indicates that IT Security Professionals still aren't taking preventative action.
The survey, which asked 348 decision makers in the information security field, was conducted at FOCUS 13 - the sixth annual McAfee security conference in October.
With the Snowden affair still fresh in everyone's minds, the survey found that the majority of those asked had reconsidered their approach to user privileges, yet only 27% had actually reprioritized their policies on admin rights since. See the full survey results here.
Avecto co-founder Paul Kenyon said that although there has been an increase in discussion regarding privilege management policies, the subsequent lack of action by organizations has been a surprise.
"We were acutely aware of the fact that this was a big problem," Kenyon said told SearchSecurity. "What we weren't aware of necessarily was that organizations also accept this is a problem, but they're not prepared at the moment to do much about it."
According to Kenyon, it's not difficult to get to the root of why users gain privileged rights. To put it simply, in a Windows environment, users often need local administrator rights to install and run applications and to generally maintain productivity, leading to what is often referred to as privilege creep. This can be particularly problematic in larger organizations, as users obtain administrator rights for a specific task or project without ever having them revoked.
However, even with privilege management solutions now allowing organizations to take a much more granular approach to controlling user privileges, many are still not focusing on their privilege management strategy. "Organizations need to accept this is part of their security defense in-depth approach to ensuring their organization is as protected as it possibly can be," Kenyon said. "We have to manage our privileges. We have to ensure people are getting the necessary set of privileges, not too few and not too many."
Although the concept of least privilege dates back to at least 1977, Kenyon says that it has only really taken off in the last few years as organizations begin to transition away from the soon-to-be unsupported Windows XP to Windows 7, which has served as a unique window of opportunity in terms of reining in administrator rights.
Click here to see the full SearchSecurity article.