Think You’re Safe from Internal Threats? The NSA Breach Will Make You Think Twice.

Rod Simmons, June 13th, 2013

When reading a recent article in the USA Today about how Edward Snowden, a former Booz Allen Hamilton employee and NSA contractor, was able to steal sensitive data via non-specific vectors, I was reminded of the illusion that threats are predominately external to organizations. Even though we might not know exactly how Snowden was able to access sensitive information, we do know that internal threats are as considerable a problem as external threats.  Tools like PowerBroker Unix & Linux, PowerBroker for Windows, PowerBroker PasswordSafe and/or PowerBroker Database help mitigate privilege related risk. We recently did a webinar on How to Manage and Secure Privileged Accounts, which highlights the technical and business challenges organization are faced with as they try to control access to sensitive data.

There is nothing technically savvy about taking advantages of a company’s inability to recognize the importance of privileged accounts. Organization need to do an internal audit and ask themselves:

  • Do we need a better way to manage our privileged accounts?
  • Should some accounts be put into a password safe and require workflow approval for access?
  • Should we delegate using a policy of what, when, where, and under what conditions people can do without exposing the root password?
  • Should we audit and report on all database activities?

If you did not know, the only right answer to these questions is “yes”.

At the end of the day, you have to trust your employees and contractors. Given the NSA likely does better background checks than any organization, some things cannot be avoided. However, that does not mean you can ignore the importance of securing your organization starting with privileged accounts, along with proactive vulnerability assessment and prioritized patching.