Of Saints, Sinners and The Least Privileged

BeyondTrust, December 16th, 2011

As I’ve waded through the hundreds of published insider breaches from just the last two years, what is a clear recurring theme is that of the vagaries of human nature. Not meaning to wax poetic, but it is always an individual who misused their own, or some other insider’s, privileged access authorizations to information technology systems to their own devices and/or gains.

That begs two questions:
What sets these people on their path to misuse of privilege?

Are they personally responsible or is the organization’s lack of controls partially responsible as well?

As we have pointed out many times—at the intersection of people, processes, and technology that make up the engine of modern business—it’s human nature that is the weakest link. And, all too often, it’s the tendency of almost the entire IT industry—vendors, analysts, and press—to ignore this.

Put another way, you can’t rely on everyone being a saint or competent all of the time. It’s not just malicious malcontents intent on destroying the system who can cause havoc, but also the negligent, misinformed, and down- right nosey who can compromise sensitive data. In all cases, it’s more often than not the case that such people have way too much privilege access— admin rights on the desktop, root password on the server—for the role they are required to play.