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October 2003

Insider threat management: Can your sysadmins be trusted?

System administrators possess the "keys to the kingdom" -- your company's IT infrastructure. As trusted insiders go, sysadmins are among the most trusted -- and the most inside. They have comprehensive knowledge of your network layout, applications and -- perhaps most worrisome -- your logging and auditing structure. Consider the case of Roger Duronio, a former sysadmin at UBS Paine Webber, who was unhappy with his salary. In February 2002, prosecutors charge, he planted logic bombs on more than 1,000 of the financial institution's computers in 370 branch offices, then quit. Ten days later, the payloads deleted vital corporate files. Not every incident involves an outright attack. Invasion of privacy, whether at random or in a concerted campaign, can open your organization up to legal liability that could cost just as much as an actual attack. You can take several steps to reduce the risk: Limit administrative access. Your e-mail admin shouldn't have root access to the database servers. Don't grant domain administrator access ...

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