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Schneier-Ranum Face-Off: Is Perfect Access Control Possible?
This article is part of the Information Security magazine issue of September 2009
Point: Bruce Schneier Access control is difficult in an organizational setting. On one hand, every employee needs enough access to do his job. On the other hand, every time you give an employee more access, there's more risk: he could abuse that access, or lose information he has access to, or be socially engineered into giving that access to a malfeasant. So a smart, risk-conscious organization will give each employee the exact level of access he needs to do his job, and no more. Over the years, there's been a lot of work put into role-based access control. But despite the large number of academic papers and high-profile security products, most organizations don't implement it--at all--with the predictable security problems as a result. Regularly we read stories of employees abusing their database access-control privileges for personal reasons: medical records, tax records, passport records, police records. NSA eavesdroppers spy on their wives and girlfriends. Departing employees take corporate secrets. A spectacular access ...
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Features in this issue
For the fourth consecutive year, Information Security readers voted to determine the best security products. A record 1721 voters participated this year, rating products in 17 different categories.
The demonstration of a hacking tool at Black Hat that allows attackers to escape from virtual machines to attack their guest OS elevates the seriousness of security threats to virtualization.
Encryption solves some very straight-forward problems but implementation isn't always easy. We'll explain some of the common misperceptions so you'll understand your options.
Columns in this issue
Accountability for Internet security should be placed on users, not service providers such as hotels.
Security experts Bruce Schneier and Marcus Ranum debate whether perfect access control is possible.
Passing an audit can lull an organization into a false sense of security.