Industry analysts have classified the privilege identity management space into Super User Privileged Management (SUPM) and Shared Account Password Management (SAPM). When it comes to crashing your enterprise systems, destroying data, deleting or creating accounts and changing passwords, it's not just malicious hackers you need to worry about.
That's right - anyone inside your organization with superuser privileges has the potential to cause similar havoc, either through accidental, intentional or indirect misuse of privileges. Superusers may well also have access to confidential information and sensitive personal data they have no business looking at, thus breaching regulatory requirements and risking fines. The trouble is that accounts with superuser privileges, including shared accounts, are necessary: You can't run a corporate IT system without granting some people the privileges to do system-level tasks.
Who has the keys to your enterprise?
This is where SUPM and SAPM methodologies come into play. So what's the best way to manage personal and shared accounts with superuser privileges in a controlled and auditable manner? That was a key question Research Vice President Ant Allan addressed at the Gartner Information Security Summit 2009 in London back in September. When it comes to best practices for managing personal accounts with superuser privileges, Allan recommended creating three types of accounts:
- Personal accounts with full, permanent superuser privileges
- Personal accounts with full (or restricted) temporary superuser privileges
- Personal accounts with limited, temporary superuser privileges