Welcome!

Cloud Security Authors: Elizabeth White, Zakia Bouachraoui, Pat Romanski, Yeshim Deniz, Liz McMillan

Related Topics: FinTech Journal, @CloudExpo, Cloud Security, @DXWorldExpo, @ThingsExpo

FinTech Journal: Article

Maximum Cybersecurity | @CloudExpo @Centrify #BigData #InfoSec #Cybersecurity

According to a 2014 study from IBM and Ponemon, corporations pay an average $145 per record in a data breach

In Privilege We Trust: Locking Down Super-Users for Maximum Cybersecurity

Privileged Identity Management (PIM) is the lowest common denominator in today's most treacherous corporate and governmental security breaches. Or more accurately: Privilege Mismanagement. Sony, Target, Anthem, JP Morgan Chase, the city of San Francisco and many others succumbed to the reality that the identity of a single super-user account can be subverted for the purposes of manipulating sensitive organizational data, correspondence, commercial goods and intellectual property.

It's a numbers game. Think of the janitors who can open all the doors, or the card dealers who take in all the chips, or the bank tellers who process all the cash. These positions are analogous to IT administrators who, while they don't rank as high as the CEO in the organizational hierarchy, nonetheless hold the keys to the kingdom. So when a rogue government wants to find out who among their ranks is leaking information to foreign media, they don't hack individual human-rights reporters or their bosses. They hack the network and email administrators at whichever publications revealed the worst of their transgressions.

According to a 2014 study from IBM and Ponemon, corporations pay an average $145 per record in a data breach, with an average total cost of $3.5 million. The overall cleanup cost of breaches for some of the US's major retailers ranged from just over $4 million to more than $100 million. Lost revenue ranged from approximately $40 million to more than $1 billion. The study also revealed that more than 37 percent of data breaches involved a malicious or criminal attack; 35 percent concerned a negligent employee or contractor (the human factor); and 29 percent involved glitches that included both IT and business process failures.

Today's IT infrastructure is disjointed and scattered
One of the biggest challenges facing PIM is an increasingly decentralized IT infrastructure. The number of exposed surfaces has multiplied from the days of a single onsite server to now include cloud servers, mobile devices, the Internet of Things (IoT) and offsite facilities such test labs and production centers. In fact, as more enterprises embrace the cloud, privileged accounts increasingly lie outside physical headquarters and belong both to internal IT and remote third parties such as contractors and vendors. Therefore it is no surprise that privileged accounts are easy and automatic targets for hackers and malicious insiders alike.

When it comes to securing all of the fragmented pieces of an enterprise network mosaic, challenges rise in four distinct pillars:

  1. Whereas in the past IT administrators operated under the radar for hackers, now they are prime targets
  2. Big Data and the decentralization of systems and infrastructure have vastly increased the scale of privileged accounts; they now span thousands of servers instead of one or two
  3. The consumerization of IT has spawned "Shadow IT," which has multiplied privileged accounts even further
  4. The number of people who actually merit privileged access has increased, due to outsourcing and third-party vendors; in many cases even core IT is outsourced to a third party

It's not just outsiders who have the potential to wreak havoc. Disgruntled insiders can cause damage as well. Consider the infamous case of San Francisco city employee Terry Childs, who was arrested after refusing to grant City Hall access to its own network. The system contained emails, payroll information, police records and a host of other sensitive data. Childs handed over passwords when his one condition was met, which was a private, jailhouse meeting with Mayor Gavin Newsom.

Complicating matters even further, not all insider threats are proactive. A 2014 data breach report from Verizon revealed that half of all IT vulnerabilities and security and operational issues were the result of user and administrator mistakes. In other words, accidental threats have the same potential as malicious ones to cause harm with data, infrastructure and reputations. More than ever, privileged accounts are central to the health and wellbeing of the enterprise and therefore must be carefully guarded.

Identity is the new perimeter
There is a solution to today's advanced threat landscape and it begins with a holistic, purpose-built platform that draws an impenetrable circle around every potential server and device. Identity is the new corporate perimeter, and its footprint extends far beyond a physical campus to encompass an amorphous, identity-activated entity in the cloud.

Legacy systems were built around the assumption that all privileged access would be on-premise. But today we live in a hybrid world where cloud infrastructure is preferred and where the cloud makes concessions for onsite systems, rather than the other way around. With the right cloud PIM system in place, enterprises can take advantage of benefits such as reduced upfront costs, flexible pay-as-you-go pricing and faster ROI. Perpetual licenses are expensive, difficult to deploy and totally anachronistic in today's service-based pricing atmosphere.

Furthermore, today's best PIM solutions not only offer a broad set of capabilities for identity consolidation, privilege management and privileged session auditing, they address security and audit requirements for the management of both cloud and onsite access to critical production systems and applications by employees and third parties - all without the hassle of a VPN.  The net result is increased security, improved compliance and comprehensive reporting and auditing.

The king's guard
For companies looking to gain maximum control over their network, PIM is paramount. Privileged accounts merit an extra layer of security over normal accounts and require constant attention to ensure they're not being violated. No CEO wants to find him- or herself in the same place as leaders at Target and Anthem, and no CIO wants a breach of that magnitude on their record. Now they have an elite guard to protect them.

More Stories By Tom Kemp

Tom Kemp is co-founder and chief executive officer at Centrify. Under his leadership, the company has become one of the fastest growing security vendors in the industry with over 5,000 customers, including nearly half of the Fortune 50.

Prior to Centrify, Kemp held various executive, technical and marketing roles at NetIQ Corporation, Compuware Corporation, EcoSystems Software, and Oracle Corporation. Mr. Kemp was also an Entrepreneur in Residence at leading venture capital firm Mayfield.

He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science and History from the University of Michigan.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


IoT & Smart Cities Stories
Dion Hinchcliffe is an internationally recognized digital expert, bestselling book author, frequent keynote speaker, analyst, futurist, and transformation expert based in Washington, DC. He is currently Chief Strategy Officer at the industry-leading digital strategy and online community solutions firm, 7Summits.
Digital Transformation is much more than a buzzword. The radical shift to digital mechanisms for almost every process is evident across all industries and verticals. This is often especially true in financial services, where the legacy environment is many times unable to keep up with the rapidly shifting demands of the consumer. The constant pressure to provide complete, omnichannel delivery of customer-facing solutions to meet both regulatory and customer demands is putting enormous pressure on...
IoT is rapidly becoming mainstream as more and more investments are made into the platforms and technology. As this movement continues to expand and gain momentum it creates a massive wall of noise that can be difficult to sift through. Unfortunately, this inevitably makes IoT less approachable for people to get started with and can hamper efforts to integrate this key technology into your own portfolio. There are so many connected products already in place today with many hundreds more on the h...
The standardization of container runtimes and images has sparked the creation of an almost overwhelming number of new open source projects that build on and otherwise work with these specifications. Of course, there's Kubernetes, which orchestrates and manages collections of containers. It was one of the first and best-known examples of projects that make containers truly useful for production use. However, more recently, the container ecosystem has truly exploded. A service mesh like Istio addr...
Digital Transformation: Preparing Cloud & IoT Security for the Age of Artificial Intelligence. As automation and artificial intelligence (AI) power solution development and delivery, many businesses need to build backend cloud capabilities. Well-poised organizations, marketing smart devices with AI and BlockChain capabilities prepare to refine compliance and regulatory capabilities in 2018. Volumes of health, financial, technical and privacy data, along with tightening compliance requirements by...
Charles Araujo is an industry analyst, internationally recognized authority on the Digital Enterprise and author of The Quantum Age of IT: Why Everything You Know About IT is About to Change. As Principal Analyst with Intellyx, he writes, speaks and advises organizations on how to navigate through this time of disruption. He is also the founder of The Institute for Digital Transformation and a sought after keynote speaker. He has been a regular contributor to both InformationWeek and CIO Insight...
Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settlement products to hedge funds and investment banks. After, he co-founded a revenue cycle management company where he learned about Bitcoin and eventually Ethereal. Andrew's role at ConsenSys Enterprise is a mul...
To Really Work for Enterprises, MultiCloud Adoption Requires Far Better and Inclusive Cloud Monitoring and Cost Management … But How? Overwhelmingly, even as enterprises have adopted cloud computing and are expanding to multi-cloud computing, IT leaders remain concerned about how to monitor, manage and control costs across hybrid and multi-cloud deployments. It’s clear that traditional IT monitoring and management approaches, designed after all for on-premises data centers, are falling short in ...
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
Dynatrace is an application performance management software company with products for the information technology departments and digital business owners of medium and large businesses. Building the Future of Monitoring with Artificial Intelligence. Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more busine...