Home Security Passwords ‘broken’, warning rethink on security needed

Passwords ‘broken’, warning rethink on security needed

Organisations need to reduce the risks created by hybrid IT infrastructure and rethink their security measures, including the use of passwords, according to a US-based senior executive from global identity management and security vendor Centrify.

David McNeely, Centrify’s vice-president of product strategy, says businesses increasingly recognised that “passwords are broken and users have too much access and privilege”.

“Staying with the status quo is not viable because password-based security solutions are not protecting us,” he warns.

McNeely was speaking at the Gartner Security and Risk Management Summit in Sydney on Monday, where he delivered a paper on security: Rethink Security – Identity Is the New Security Perimeter.

Last week, Gartner announced that Australian organisations will spend around $114.5 million on Identity and Access Management (IAM) technologies this year.

To reinforce his caution on security measures and password use, McNeely pointed to Verizon’s 2016 Data Breach Investigations Report which found that 63% of confirmed data breaches involve weak, default or stolen passwords – and Centrify’s own research which found that 52% of employees sometimes share their access credentials with contractors and vendors.

“For organisations to reduce the risks created by hybrid IT infrastructures, they need to move from a position of having too many passwords and too much privilege for users to a situation where all privileged access is logged and monitored as a standard procedure,” McNeely says.

“Essential steps in this migration include reducing identity silos so that users only need to remember their network identity, and killing off passwords by demanding Single Sign On (SSO) from vendors and developers. SSO enables centralised multi-factor authentication (MFA) and adaptive access control to eliminate problems caused by self-managed passwords.

“A vital step in this process is to enforce least privilege access for your systems.”

McNeely says that organisations can reduce risk by replacing shared service accounts with the ability for an authorised employee to login with MFA to temporarily elevate their privilege.

“This minimises risk because the user is only in the high-risk state for a short time — the duration of the privileged activity before defaulting back to least privilege.

“Centrify’s vision is to provide secure access to apps and infrastructure for all users from any device. To achieve this goal and survive in a hybrid IT world, organisations need to rethink how they do security,” McNeely warns.


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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).