Security, Tips and Techniques

Tracking high-privileged users requires a strict security policy

By Greg Wendt • August 25, 2015

While some organizations believe hacks come from only external sources, these companies may be missing an even larger threat: internal, privileged users. According to the study, titled Ponemon Institute’s Survey on Data Security Breaches, sixty-nine percent of companies reporting serious data leaks responded that their data security breaches were the result of either malicious employee activities or non-malicious employee error. While some attacks can be unintentional, to protect your organization from internal aggravators, there are a couple of steps your business can take.

Start by defining the policy

High-privileged users by definition have access to the most sensitive information within the organization. Their access is coveted by both external hackers and malicious internal users. Safeguarding your company requires an in-depth look at current security policies and how they could be improved. There should be guidelines put in place detailing what access each member receives, as well as strict account management practices. This can include requiring privileged users to change their passwords biweekly or bimonthly to ensure important data is always secured or implementing a least privilege arrangement. This practice gives users the bare minimum for their positions’ needs when it comes to access.

In addition, your company could eradicate “all powerful” accounts that allow entitled users access to almost all information in a business’s system. Instead, delegate access to particular data to different people, using a specific identification password or username that can be tied to that person. Certain actions within the system would then be accessible by only people who have been granted that permission. Multifactor authentication would limit and verify which privileged users are able to complete specific behaviors within the system.

Multifactor authentication can prevent malicious insiders from hacking into secure data.

Add extra security measures

Users with great power, also comes great responsibility.  Our security survey results show greater than 80% of respondents expect high-privileged users to utilize  increased security measures such as multi-factor authentication.  Privileged users with particular leverage should still have to meet and pass certain security requirements for access to data and functions. To keep company information as secure as possible, it is important to increase protection by implementing specific protocols, including data masking.

Data masking is a smart backup for multifactor authentication. If a user is able to make it through one level of security but cannot view other data, the system hides secure information. Only the most basic, non-harmful data is visible. Continued failed login attempts at every level of authentication would result in increased masking of secure materials.

Log employee actions

The phone rings, the caller accuses someone of changing their data because their paycheck was not deposited into their account – now the response has to begin.  It’s vital to monitor users’ conduct within the system at every level. Specifics are necessary to audit people’s access as well as perform incident response. High-privileged users impact and influence on company data must be tracked within the overall data security solution. Although this security measure is difficult to complete, it can be done with the correct logging software. With a firewall that includes analysis of a user’s record and behaviors within the portal, companies can have a better idea of what secure information is misused.

High-privileged users can wreak just as much havoc on a system as external hackers. In fact, 25 percent of respondents said a malicious insider was the cause of a company breach in the past year, according to Forrester Research. To avoid system intrusions, whether vengeful or not, it’s vital for your company to have a security policy in place to monitor users. Multifactor authentication, data masking and logging analysis are all beneficial tools to protect your organization’s critical information.

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