Welcome!

Agile Computing Authors: Elizabeth White, Karyn Jeffery, Liz McMillan, Jeev Trika, Yakov Fain

Related Topics: Agile Computing

Agile Computing: Blog Post

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility: Managing Privileged Users

How to Mitigate Negative Outcomes from Privileged User Access

Since the advent of the SuperUser, there has been a thorn in the side of Information Security. Administrators must be able to perform system management functions, but systems have been designed to grant them access far beyond what they actually need to do their jobs. As a result, IT has had to come up with crafty ways to help mitigate who has access to privileged accounts and the underlying data in those accounts. They have tried everything from password management, to keystroke logging, to change control procedures, to privileged user management (such as sudo, powerbroker, etc.).

However, all of these approaches have focused on either "who" can become a privileged user or "how" they can access sensitive data. In essence, they've been missing the point, which is much more about what the privileged user is able to do with data.

If you are wrestling with how to mitigate negative outcomes from privileged user access to data (and attackers who wish to exploit privileged users), here are a few different methods to consider:

  • Password Management - Create a process where privileged users must check out a password after going through an approval process, usually a change control system. (This mitigates an individual admin from just jumping into the system at will, but does not control what they can do, or if a vulnerability is abused in the system.)
  • Privileged User Management - Tools like sudo can be used to control who can run what commands as a privileged user (i.e. - jsmith can run mount as root to mount file systems). This controls individual admins to a limited set of commands, but the sudo configuration is still managed by a full root user, and doesn't control access to data, as root.
  • Keystroke Logging - Commonly used to watch what an individual does on a system, and is seen to be a very cumbersome method.
  • Data Firewalling - A tool like Vormetric Data Firewall is an effective last line of defense because it employs a separation of duties from data, all driven by policy. It uses transparent encryption (failsafe), integrated key management (no keys known to individuals), and a criteria-effects rule set to only allow approved users/processes to access data. This can be used to allow the business application to see its data, but the administrator to only see cyphertext, if anything at all. This means that admins can be monitored and limited from access to data, while still being able to perform needed tasks.

When looking to mitigate and control your privileged users so that you can keep your organization out of the media headlines around data breaches, the best method is almost always to address the problem at its root...the data itself. By taking an "inside-out" approach to security and focusing on the end-goal of data first, you can deliver a much more refined, and secure, solution.

More Stories By Sol Cates

Sol Cates (@solcates) was promoted to the role of CSO at Vormetric in February 2013. As CSO, he is responsible for ensuring Vormetric’s internal security profile remains robust while also understanding how security is perceived and used by IT/IS and how it drives technical decision making and buying behavior at the boardroom level. Cates partners with teams through the company to engage both customers and partners, and he speaks publicly to elevate industry understanding of data security best practices in today’s complex cyber threat landscape. The technical depth and understanding of the information security space Cates has developed over the last 17 years is rooted in the intelligence community, financial services industry and other large enterprise organizations. He originally joined Vormetric in 2003, when he spent four years as a systems engineer. After holding a similar role at SignaCert (acquired by Harris) for three years, Cates returned to Vormetric in November 2009 as director of field engineering and solutions architecture. In this role, he grew and led a world-class technical sales team to great success, by installing understanding of the business, not just the technology. As an active problem solver, he built the original prototype of Vormetric Toolkit, which enables enterprise and cloud service provider (CSP) customers to automate and accelerate their data security deployments. Cates’ career also includes technical sales, engineering and support leadership roles at Tripwire, Symantec and Spectra Physics. Cates has developed many real-world solutions for customers, including iPhone and Android applications as well as elastic SaaS platforms.

@ThingsExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that Tintri Inc., a leading producer of VM-aware storage (VAS) for virtualization and cloud environments, will exhibit at the 18th International CloudExpo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that BMC Software has been named "Siver Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. BMC is a global leader in innovative software solutions that help businesses transform into digital enterprises for the ultimate competitive advantage. BMC Digital Enterprise Management is a set of innovative IT solutions designed to make digital business fast, seamless, and optimized from mainframe to mo...
Customer experience has become a competitive differentiator for companies, and it’s imperative that brands seamlessly connect the customer journey across all platforms. With the continued explosion of IoT, join us for a look at how to build a winning digital foundation in the connected era – today and in the future. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Nguyen, Group Product Marketing Manager at Adobe, will discuss how to successfully leverage mobile, rapidly deploy content, capture real-time d...
SYS-CON Events announced today that EastBanc Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. EastBanc Technologies has been working at the frontier of technology since 1999. Today, the firm provides full-lifecycle software development delivering flexible technology solutions that seamlessly integrate with existing systems – whether on premise or cloud. EastBanc Technologies partners with p...
SoftLayer operates a global cloud infrastructure platform built for Internet scale. With a global footprint of data centers and network points of presence, SoftLayer provides infrastructure as a service to leading-edge customers ranging from Web startups to global enterprises. SoftLayer's modular architecture, full-featured API, and sophisticated automation provide unparalleled performance and control. Its flexible unified platform seamlessly spans physical and virtual devices linked via a world...
SYS-CON Events announced today that ContentMX, the marketing technology and services company with a singular mission to increase engagement and drive more conversations for enterprise, channel and SMB technology marketers, has been named “Sponsor & Exhibitor Lounge Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York. “CloudExpo is a great opportunity to start a conversation with new prospects, but what happens after the...
Companies can harness IoT and predictive analytics to sustain business continuity; predict and manage site performance during emergencies; minimize expensive reactive maintenance; and forecast equipment and maintenance budgets and expenditures. Providing cost-effective, uninterrupted service is challenging, particularly for organizations with geographically dispersed operations.
The IoT is changing the way enterprises conduct business. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Hoffman, Vice President at EastBanc Technologies, discuss how businesses can gain an edge over competitors by empowering consumers to take control through IoT. We'll cite examples such as a Washington, D.C.-based sports club that leveraged IoT and the cloud to develop a comprehensive booking system. He'll also highlight how IoT can revitalize and restore outdated business models, making them profitable...
IoT generates lots of temporal data. But how do you unlock its value? How do you coordinate the diverse moving parts that must come together when developing your IoT product? What are the key challenges addressed by Data as a Service? How does cloud computing underlie and connect the notions of Digital and DevOps What is the impact of the API economy? What is the business imperative for Cognitive Computing? Get all these questions and hundreds more like them answered at the 18th Cloud Expo...
SYS-CON Events announced today Object Management Group® has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management...
In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Bruce Swann, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Adobe, will discuss how the Adobe Marketing Cloud can help marketers embrace opportunities for personalized, relevant and real-time customer engagement across offline (direct mail, point of sale, call center) and digital (email, website, SMS, mobile apps, social networks, connected objects). Bruce Swann has more than 15 years of experience working with digital marketing disciplines like web analytics, social med...
The IoTs will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, will demonstrate how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and share the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the development proc...
What a difference a year makes. Organizations aren’t just talking about IoT possibilities, it is now baked into their core business strategy. With IoT, billions of devices generating data from different companies on different networks around the globe need to interact. From efficiency to better customer insights to completely new business models, IoT will turn traditional business models upside down. In the new customer-centric age, the key to success is delivering critical services and apps wit...
Join us at Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo 2016 – June 7-9 at the Javits Center in New York City and November 1-3 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – and deliver your unique message in a way that is striking and unforgettable by taking advantage of SYS-CON's unmatched high-impact, result-driven event / media packages.
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, will provide an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life ...
As cloud and storage projections continue to rise, the number of organizations moving to the cloud is escalating and it is clear cloud storage is here to stay. However, is it secure? Data is the lifeblood for government entities, countries, cloud service providers and enterprises alike and losing or exposing that data can have disastrous results. There are new concepts for data storage on the horizon that will deliver secure solutions for storing and moving sensitive data around the world. ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MobiDev will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. MobiDev is a software company that develops and delivers turn-key mobile apps, websites, web services, and complex software systems for startups and enterprises. Since 2009 it has grown from a small group of passionate engineers and business managers to a full-scale mobile software company with over 200 develope...
WebRTC is bringing significant change to the communications landscape that will bridge the worlds of web and telephony, making the Internet the new standard for communications. Cloud9 took the road less traveled and used WebRTC to create a downloadable enterprise-grade communications platform that is changing the communication dynamic in the financial sector. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Leo Papadopoulos, CTO of Cloud9, will discuss the importance of WebRTC and how it enables companies to fo...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MangoApps will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. MangoApps provides modern company intranets and team collaboration software, allowing workers to stay connected and productive from anywhere in the world and from any device. For more information, please visit https://www.mangoapps.com/.