Feeds

Admin password security 'abysmal'

Static passwords expose 'keys to the kingdom' says survey

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

Half of all enterprises have more administrative passwords than those attached to ordinary user accounts. Many (42 per cent) of these privileged passwords are never changed, according to a survey.

Cyber-Ark Software's Enterprise Privileged Password Survey looked at the use of privileged or administrative (super-user) passwords that exist within most computer systems or software applications. Examples include the root on a Unix server, administrator accounts on a Windows workstation, and Cisco Enable on a Cisco networking device. The survey of 140 IT pros shows that such passwords are more common in enterprises than previously thought and poorly administered, an oversight that creates a ready means for malicious hackers to commandeer vulnerable systems.

Weak admin password security represents a well-understood hacker risk but many firms are failing to take the threat into account in their operations despite reports of widespread security breaches and concern over the issue. Six out of 10 IT pros quizzed in the survey said that their organization has been hacked. It's not as if IT admins are unaware of the problem either - half of all IT professionals are often or always concerned about passing audits.

Cyber-Ark Software markets products that manage, log and update privileged passwords so it has a vested interested in highlighting the threat perceived by weak password security. Self-interest doesn't necessarily invalidate the survey's findings, however.

The survey suggests that changing administrative passwords is still a labour-intensive process that is too much of a chore for many firms to bother with.

"Manually changing thousands of passwords across hundreds of databases is simply impractical," an IT Executive from a Fortune 500-sized company told researchers working on the poll.

The survey concludes that privileged passwords are more powerful but less likely to be changed, a factor which exposes enterprises to heightened risk of hacker attack. Survey respondents reported that 99 per cent of individual passwords are updated, however for privileged passwords the picture is markedly different.

Privileged routers are never changed in 13 per cent of cases. The survey found that computer passwords are even less likely to be changed. Local workstation privileged passwords are never changed in 21 per cent of cases, servers (13 per cent) and enterprise software app admin passwords (42 per cent) are also never altered.

"Privileged passwords come pre-loaded onto virtually every piece of hardware and software in an enterprise. Simply put, these super-user passwords are the keys to your kingdom, and yet they are often left unguarded," said Adam Bosnian, vice president of products, strategy and sales for Cyber-Ark Software. ®

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

More from The Register

next story
DARPA-derived secure microkernel goes open source tomorrow
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
Four fake Google haxbots hit YOUR WEBSITE every day
Goog the perfect ruse to slip into SEO orfice
Putin: Crack Tor for me and I'll make you a MILLIONAIRE
Russian Interior Ministry offers big pile o' roubles for busting pro-privacy browser
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.