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Turning the Spotlight on IT’s Dirty Little Secret: Securing the Common Point of Failure in IT Risk Controls

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The rise of identity and access management has revolutionized how the enterprise defines a key domain of IT risk control. Access management has become a cornerstone of best practice in IT governance, risk and compliance control — except for the most important access of all, the privileged user for shared administrative accounts, and the embedded application identities found within applications, scripts and application servers.

These high-privilege super-user and administrative accounts that directly control IT resources and applications themselves have largely been overlooked by enterprises seeking to mature their access management strategy. These accounts are often shared and may be managed by the most minimal security controls — if not exposed outright, embedded as plaintext in application and script code, or left unchanged from out-of-the-box defaults or initial settings. Poor controls over privileged access pose significant risks, if not some of the largest a business could face.

In this white paper, provided by Brookcourt Solutions, Enterprise Management Associates, an industry analyst and consulting firm, examines the paradox of IT’s ‘dirty little secret’: the poor state of high-privilege access management that represents a common point of failure in IT governance, risk and compliance controls. This potential security and audit failure point threatens organizations worldwide and stands in stark contrast to enterprise maturity in other aspects of IT control. The research includes reporting on a distinctive approach that helps solve the challenges of bringing greater security, discipline and control to privileged access management, with minimal invasiveness to existing applications or resources.