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Risk

11/14/2008
08:23 PM
George V. Hulme
George V. Hulme
Commentary
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Pssst. What's Your Password?

Your company invests heavily in provisioning and identity management software. Password are to be changed every 90 days or so. The goal is to make sure accounts are secure and users are accountable for their actions. Problem is: Everyone is sharing passwords.

Your company invests heavily in provisioning and identity management software. Password are to be changed every 90 days or so. The goal is to make sure accounts are secure and users are accountable for their actions. Problem is: Everyone is sharing passwords.Well, not everyone. But a lot of corporate workers are, if a recently released study is to be believed. From Tim Wilson, in today's DarkReading:

Account sharing -- the act of giving one's account information to others to save time or money or to bypass security processes -- is pervasive behavior in most organizations and online services, experts say. The problem: Most organizations don't know when it occurs or how widespread the practice is.

In a data leakage study released Wednesday by Cisco Systems, researchers reported that 44 percent of end users have allowed others to use their company-issued computers without supervision. Most of the respondents said they gave access to co-workers, but a significant portion also gave access to friends or family, and 5 percent admitted to giving out their passwords to individuals outside the company.

Did you catch that? Nearly half of all end users let others use their systems without supervision. Now, as harmless as letting your husband use the corporate-issued laptop for his own work research or the kids look up some facts for their schoolwork may seem, the fact is that it shouldn't be going on. All it takes is for a teenager to download a single maliciously crafted Flash movie, and you just potentially hosed the security of your company. If they run a forensic analysis of what happened, the blame is going to fall on you.

While being that lax with corporate-issued equipment is shocking enough -- 5% of those surveyed admitted to handing out their passwords to people outside the company. That's just negligent and dangerous enough to blow a hole through the best-planned security program.

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