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Top Five IT Security Threats and How to Combat Them

Best Practices From Quest Software Help Companies Improve Business Outcomes Through Smart Identity and Access Management Strategies


Faced with external security threats from hackers and others , along with a growing array of even more dangerous internal security threats, companies worldwide are feeling the heat.  Industry experts agree that strong identity and access management (IAM) technology and practices should be the cornerstone of every security strategy; but, legacy IAM offerings often are considered overly complex and difficult to maintain – a problem compounded by the advent of cloud and mobile trends affecting enterprise access. Quest Software provides a modular approach to IAM ideally suited to address a full range of security concerns. This advisory provides the top threats companies should prepare for, and specific IAM best practices they should follow to combat threats early on. 

Organizations traditionally have had only two options to address identity and access management: 

  1. Solving specific pains in an ad-hoc manner with system- and task-specific tools and practices from a variety of vendors.
  2.  Implementing a monolithic framework that seeks to address issues enterprise-wide through an almost entirely customized approach.

These options either are too customized and cumbersome to be sustainable, or too controlling and rigid to address today’s new market realities. Neither adequately addresses the business-driven needs that are forcing organizations into action. 

There is a better way. Quest Software, with its Quest One Identity Solutions, makes security and compliance simple and effective. Unlike identity and access management solutions from legacy vendors, which require extensive and costly customization, Quest‘s modular, yet integrated, approach addresses immediate concerns, but is  nimble enough to tackle future business needs – with an eye firmly on simplifying some of the most complex challenges organizations face today

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News Facts:

  • A leading provider of identity and access management solutions, Quest Software identifies the following five top security threats and offers a set of solutions, proven in the real-world,  that make achieving security and compliance not only simpler, but less expensive and more effective.

  1. Internal Excessive PrivilegeSystem Administrators with complete access to servers and data can pose a tremendous internal threat if they turn against the company. Similarly, everyone from admins up to executives poses a threat to security and data if they maintain excessive access rights after changing positions or taking on different roles. 
  2. Third Party AccessGiving partners and other third parties appropriate access to data is no longer cut and dried. Data stored in the cloud may be located across the country or overseas—or sit on physical servers owned by one vendor, but housed in facilities owned by any number of data centers. Employees of these third parties often have direct access to unencrypted data, or they may retain copies of both encrypted or unencrypted data.
  3. HactivismPolitically motivated hacking is on the rise, by operations such as Anonymous Operation and Lulz-Sec. Members of these groups assert that much of their success comes not from their technical expertise, but from having found easy targets.  While an organization may not have control over whether or not it is attacked, effective identity and access management strategies and technologies, and basic employee security training, will reduce the chances that attacks will succeed.
  4. Social Engineering – Social engineering is the age-old technique of using lies, deception and manipulation to gain sufficient knowledge to dupe an unwary employee or company. Using public social channels to detail every aspect of your upcoming “unplugged” vacation trip may be just what a scammer needs to put an attack in motion.
  5. Internal Negligence Negligence typically is an offense committed by management when “they should have known better.” Most successful data security breaches have some element of managerial negligence associated with them, such as simply forgetting to check log reports for clearly suspicious patterns.  


The Lessons – How to combat security threats:

  • Adopt a “least privilege” security posture that gives each employee the least privilege necessary to accomplish required tasks, and ensures that unnecessary access rights are revoked whenever an employee changes roles. Some of the most common implementation options to help get to a least privilege state include: assigning appropriate access directly to users based on well-defined roles, limiting access to administrator and/or root accounts – making sure that the passwords to these accounts are not shared, are changed frequently, and that there are controls in place to limit and track their use.
  • Embrace an access review policy and regular, automated access alerts that notify two or more administrators of access changes, employee changes or other critical issues. To prevent access creep, access privileges must be dynamically linked to human resources and staffing databases. Notifying more than one administrator helps overcome negligence.
  • Lock the front door by fostering education, encouraging diligence, and developing processes such as regularly changed passwords, or by adopting “harder” security access technologies with tools such as Microsoft Active Directory or multifactor authentication. Employee education can cover the logistics and basics of security, but also can address topics such as the psychology and known techniques of social engineering hacks.
  • Achieve compliance by implementing access control and separation of duties practices and technologies, and developing, implementing, and enforcing secure policy on all system access. Provide a complete audit trail of policy and activities, and eliminate non-compliant login practices.


Quest Experts Share Advice on Best Practices and More at Gartner Security & Risk Management Summit

  • Quest experts and thought leaders will exhibit and showcase Quest One at the Gartner Security & Risk Management Summit, June 11 - 14, in National Harbor, Md. (Washington, D.C. area).
  • Industry commentary can be provided by Quest executives, including Jackson Shaw, a 20-year IAM veteran who oversees Quest One product direction and IAM strategy. Please contact to schedule interviews with Mr. Shaw or other Quest luminaries.

Supporting Quotes:

John Milburn, vice president and general manager, Identity and Access Management, Quest Software

“Today’s security challenges are drastically different than they were just a few years ago. The advent of cloud computing, mobile access, and new compliance concerns has essentially taken everything organizations thought they knew about security best practices and flipped it on its head. As the nature of doing business changes, companies need to get smart – fast – about building strong and sustainable identity and access management strategies. As a trusted advisor and steadfast technology provider for nearly 90 percent of the Fortune 500, Quest Software has amassed the knowledge, experience, and technology necessary to successfully guide organizations through the new security landscape.”


Gartner, November 29, 2011, “Predicts 2012: Sophisticated Attacks, Complex IT Environments and Increased Risks Demand New Approaches to Infrastructure Protection”

“Sophisticated new threats — especially targeted attacks — the financial and reputational damage from attacks, and the growing "consumerization" of IT are among the factors increasing the complexity, difficulty and criticality of protecting enterprise IT infrastructure.  Enterprises should recognize that every new trend in technology brings new vulnerabilities, and should use some of the cost savings they realize from these trends to improve their security controls.”

Supporting Resources:

About Quest:
Established in 1987, Quest Software (Nasdaq: QSFT) provides simple and innovative IT management solutions that enable more than 100,000 global customers to save time and money across physical and virtual environments.  Quest products solve complex IT challenges ranging from
database management, data protection, identity and access management, monitoring, user workspace management to Windows management

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