Feeds

Admin password security 'abysmal'

Static passwords expose 'keys to the kingdom' says survey

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

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. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
'Kim Kardashian snaps naked selfies with a BLACKBERRY'. *Twitterati gasps*
More alleged private, nude celeb pics appear online
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
UK.gov lobs another fistful of change at SME infosec nightmares
Senior Lib Dem in 'trying to be relevant' shocker. It's only taxpayers' money, after all
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
TOR users become FBI's No.1 hacking target after legal power grab
Be afeared, me hearties, these scoundrels be spying our signals
Snowden, Dotcom, throw bombs into NZ election campaign
Claim of tapped undersea cable refuted by Kiwi PM as Kim claims extradition plot
Freenode IRC users told to change passwords after securo-breach
Miscreants probably got in, you guys know the drill by now
THREE QUARTERS of Android mobes open to web page spy bug
Metasploit module gobbles KitKat SOP slop
BitTorrent's peer-to-peer chat app Bleep goes live as public alpha
A good day for privacy as invisble.im also reveals its approach to untraceable chats
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.