This content is part of the Security School: Privileged access management and security in the enterprise

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Preventing trusted users from misusing their privileges

Users with privileged accounts have the ability to make critical changes to your enterprise system. Find out how to control trusted users and prevent malicious actions.

"Every organization, no matter what size, will have some employees who have superuser powers. These are the people whose user accounts have the ability to make critical and system-wide changes," says Michael Cobb, managing director of CobWeb Applications, a consultancy that helps companies better secure their data. These types of trusted users have privileged accounts that fall in the range of administrator to supervisor access. Certain users, such as employees in human resources and accounts, will also have accounts with access to sensitive information like bank account details and personnel files. It is crucial that these privileged accounts remain secure to protect company resources and data.

In this podcast, Cobb discusses how enterprises can implement checks and balances that will prevent trusted users from abusing or sharing their privileges with malicious actors, whether accidentally or deliberately.

The first measure he suggests taking is using a context-aware method for granting or denying privileges to carry out sensitive tasks. This provides additional security against hackers using stolen privileged account credentials from gaining remote access to the enterprise network under the guise of a trusted user. In conjunction with the user providing accurate login credentials, details like location of the user, status of the device, time of day, network address and the role of the user should be considered before access is permitted. Privileged account access for trusted users can be set to only work at certain periods of time and confined to specific locations using geofencing.

Cobb explains the various ways that extra authentication can be applied to trusted users and the different policies surrounding passwords that can be implemented. Security for sensitive tasks can be improved through methods like splitting up an encryption key, which prevents an individual trusted user from acting alone out of personal motives.

Listen to Michael Cobb's podcast to hear about managing trusted users and their privileges.

Next Steps

Learn how to reduce security incidents by limiting privileged accounts

Find out how a large company can effectively manage privileged accounts

Discover how your enterprise can take back control of privileged identity management

This was last published in November 2016

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