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Three Ways CXOs Can Avert Super-User Security Threats With Privileged Account Management

Today, on Cyber Monday, online retailers and banks are bracing for the likelihood of increased data breaches and security threats, while online shoppers are taking extra precautions to protect personal information. Every day, Americans trust that the corporate and government IT systems handling their critical identity information, such as credit card numbers, social security numbers and tax returns, are equipped with appropriate security measures to keep personal data safe. Heightening awareness of potential security risks is an essential step to thwarting malicious attacks. All too often, however, public and private entities must also recognize that even more risky exposure exists when administrative privilege is exploited, regardless whether by external adversaries or internal threats. Quest Software (now part of Dell) has a deep understanding of the problems organizations face when they don’t properly control and audit administrative access and “super-user” accounts.

According to a survey conducted earlier this year at The Experts Conference, an annual gathering of global IT pros co-sponsored by Quest and Microsoft, half of the responding organizations reported that their No. 1 compliance issue is ensuring correct user access rights (including privileged user access). In the case of managing privileged accounts, this challenge intensifies when administrators are given the “keys to the kingdom,” with far-reaching, shared anonymous access rights to vital IT systems. In the private sector, failure to manage access to information and compliance with security mandates can mean lost revenues, failed audits and damage to the brand. In government, managing user access rights represents a high stakes game in which getting out ahead of emerging threats is a matter of national security. To this point, Privileged Account Management is noted in many security standards, including ISO 27001 and NIST 800-53. A new report developed by Enterprise Management Associates, on behalf of Quest, identifies inadequate administrative access controls as “one of the most egregious IT risk gaps in many organizations.”

The report, “ Why You Need to Consider Privileged Access Management (And What You May Not Know About It That You Should),” examines some of the most common excuses companies give to justify this oversight, and offers useful insight into how modern Privileged Account Management (PAM) practices and corresponding technology solutions can close the risk gap with flexible policy control, automated workflows and comprehensive reporting to enhance security, achieve compliance and improve efficiency.

To further help CXOs avert these all-to-common security risks, Quest offers three pragmatic tips:

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