That said, it is clear that Childs managed to create an environment in which he was the only individual with administrative access to critical network devices. This is a good example of someone misusing the powerful credentials provided to an administrator, and an organization either not setting -- or not enforcing -- security policy that prevents this type of single-person control.
An enterprise should take two steps to ensure it doesn't fall victim to the same type of ransom attack that Childs perpetrated on San Francisco. To start, create an access policy and verify that administrators are following it. It's inexcusable for a system administrator to possess the only administrative password to any type of device and not have provisions to share it with others. What if Childs were incapacitated or otherwise unable to return to work?
There's one common practice I've seen in many enterprises, and it's fairly low-tech: administrators simply write the password on a piece of paper, seal it in an envelope, sign the back of the envelope and place it in a safe accessible to management. In the event of an emergency, management can retrieve the password from the safe. Administrative passwords are automatically changed after any such use. To ensure that administrators are following this policy, management periodically selects a random sample of systems, retrieves the passwords for them from the safe and attempts to log in to the server, confirming that the password is accurate.
Dig Deeper on Enterprise User Provisioning Tools
Related Q&A from Mike Chapple, Enterprise Compliance
The HHS security risk assessment tool is designed to help healthcare providers meet the HIPAA security requirement. Expert Mike Chapple explains how ...continue reading
PCI DSS requirement 6.6 demands application security compliance through one of two options: an application firewall or a code review. Expert Mike ...continue reading
Are HIPAA-compliant hosting services a better option for compliance than a secure storage API? Expert Mike Chapple analyzes.continue reading
Have a question for an expert?
Please add a title for your question
Get answers from a TechTarget expert on whatever's puzzling you.