09:40 AM
Connect Directly

Privileged Account Control Still Weak In Most Organizations

Two studies this week show there's a long way to go in securing credentials for risky accounts.

A pair of studies out this week illustrate how privileged account management remains the bane of infosecurity programs, as most enterprises still struggle to control these accounts in spite of the risk they pose.

The risk is significant, according to a study by CyberArk  that analyzed dozens of enterprise networks and found that 88% are significantly susceptible to attacks through privileged credentials theft and abuse. In about 40% of the cases, simple Windows hosts offer attackers all the credentials they need for a complete network takeover.

Meanwhile, a survey of IT security leaders conducted by Dimensional Research on behalf of Dell found that most understand the importance of managing privileged accounts. One in four believe better control over these accounts would reduce their likelihood for breach. And 80% of respondents say they do at least have a defined process for managing them. The problem is that in many instances that process is pretty unreliable.

For example, just about one in three of these respondents say that management process is tracking these accounts using Excel or other spreadsheets. Additionally, 37% of respondents report that default admin passwords on hardware and software are not consistently changed; and the same ratio of respondents report that multiple administrators share credentials.

"Privileged accounts really are the 'keys to the kingdom,' which is why hackers seek them out and why we've seen so many high-profile breaches over the past few years use these critical credentials," says John Milburn, executive director and general manager of identity and access management for Dell Security.

This jibes with other statistics released elsewhere this year. For example, the Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report found that one in five security incidents is caused by privileged account misuse. Meanwhile, anecdotal evidence supports the evidence that these accounts are an Achilles heel of enterprise-class organizations. For example, the massive breach at the Office of Personnel Management earlier this year could be attributed to weaknesses in privileged account management at the agency and its associated contractors.

"With credentials for a privileged account, an attacker can gain complete control over the host or hosts that accept those credentials," the CyberArk report said. "This allows the attacker not only to access and breach all the sensitive data on those hosts,
 but also to perform other malicious actions such as installing malware and disabling or reconfiguring security controls."


Ericka Chickowski specializes in coverage of information technology and business innovation. She has focused on information security for the better part of a decade and regularly writes about the security industry as a contributor to Dark Reading.  View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Government Shutdown Brings Certificate Lapse Woes
Curtis Franklin Jr., Senior Editor at Dark Reading,  1/11/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
The Year in Security 2018
This Dark Reading Tech Digest explores the biggest news stories of 2018 that shaped the cybersecurity landscape.
Flash Poll
How Enterprises Are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
How Enterprises Are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
Data breach fears and the need to comply with regulations such as GDPR are two major drivers increased spending on security products and technologies. But other factors are contributing to the trend as well. Find out more about how enterprises are attacking the cybersecurity problem by reading our report today.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
PUBLISHED: 2019-01-17
** DISPUTED ** An issue was discovered in BMC PATROL Agent through 11.3.01. It was found that the PatrolCli application can allow for lateral movement and escalation of privilege inside a Windows Active Directory environment. It was found that by default the PatrolCli / PATROL Agent application only...
PUBLISHED: 2019-01-17
A spoofing vulnerability exists when a Skype for Business 2015 server does not properly sanitize a specially crafted request, aka "Skype for Business 2015 Spoofing Vulnerability." This affects Skype.
PUBLISHED: 2019-01-17
A Cross-site Scripting (XSS) vulnerability exists when Team Foundation Server does not properly sanitize user provided input, aka "Team Foundation Server Cross-site Scripting Vulnerability." This affects Team.
PUBLISHED: 2019-01-17
An information disclosure vulnerability exists when Team Foundation Server does not properly handle variables marked as secret, aka "Team Foundation Server Information Disclosure Vulnerability." This affects Team.
PUBLISHED: 2019-01-17
Multiple command injection vulnerabilities in NeDi before 1.7Cp3 allow authenticated users to execute code on the server side via the flt parameter to Nodes-Traffic.php, the dv parameter to Devices-Graph.php, or the tit parameter to drawmap.php.