Administrator Credentials: High Impact Security Breach

When you think about enterprise data security, the first thing you picture is an outside intruder. It might be some kid in a dark basement hacking into your servers, or maybe a more sophisticated attack from a cyberspy contingent overseas. However, one of the greatest threats to your enterprise data security stance might be sitting in a cubicle at your office.
While hackers are growing more and more sophisticated, much of the threat to your organization actually comes from inside. That isn’t to say that any of your employees has malicious intent — though it’s possible — but they may be poorly trained, or your enterprise data security policies may be poorly enforced. Such potential security risk lies within every business, from the extensive enterprise computer network to the small business with a handful of synced desktops and laptops.
This security hole can be attributed to administrator credentials. Plugging the hole is challenging because administrator accounts and their access credentials are essential to the security of the network. Still, they are often ignored. Malicious or careless insiders can easily use administrator privileges to gain unlimited access to the network. Cybercriminals, who know all about administrator credentials, can crack weak or standardized administrator passwords to break into your system. Worst of all, these network service administrator credentials are often given default factory settings that are never changed. The IT team may not even know that they exist.

Minimize the Risk

Because this security risk takes multiple forms, several strategies must work in concert to protect against it. To minimize risks from insiders, organizations should disable computer ports for flash drives or CD-ROM drives whenever their use is not actually required.
Administrator passwords should be changed regularly. This is good practice for all passwords, but because administrator credentials are rarely used, it is all too easy to forget about them. Commercial tools for privileged identity management can automate the process of finding and managing those little-used administrator accounts. Still, the crucial first step in getting a handle on this security challenge is being aware that it exists across multiple administrator accounts.