Security Manager's Journal: Getting up to date on expired access rights
Employees come and employees go, but access rights tend to live on long after their departures
Computerworld - I've been reviewing user accounts and access rights, and what I'm finding is that while our new-hire process does a good job of providing the right levels of access to our employees, our termination process isn't as good at removing access privileges.
That's no surprise to me, because people who are in need of access are good at motivating action. When someone leaves, there's no one clamoring to have his access taken away. But as the security manager, it's the taking-away part I'm most interested in. I want to know if we are removing access in a timely manner when employees leave the company.
I started my review by getting a list of active employees from the HR department. That wasn't as easy as you might think. I don't know how much work is involved in producing a report of current employees, but I expected that HR would be able to get a list from our benefits system or our payroll provider -- after all, we send all of our employees paychecks every two weeks, so we must be able to keep track of them. But it took a few weeks for HR to get me the list.
Once I had the list of active employees, the rest was easy. I started with Active Directory, our main source of user accounts and permissions. I pulled a list of all active user accounts and compared it with the employee list. I had to ignore a lot of accounts that are specific to various other purposes, such as software service accounts, training accounts and test accounts, but what was left matched with the employee list. So far, so good. My team does an account review of departed employees every quarter, because it's a SOX requirement, by comparing the user accounts to the termination list to ensure that everyone who was supposed to be removed no longer has access. If you think of this as a type of negative verification (what access has been removed), the other type of verification is positive (what access is active). We haven't done the positive verification of comparing user accounts to active employees in a while, because there's no external motivation to do so. In this case, my motivation was self-initiated.
But Active Directory isn't the only place we manage user accounts. Even though my company has single sign-on (SSO), we use many third-party SaaS services like Salesforce and our corporate expense management service that aren't integrated with our SSO. Employees have separate user accounts and passwords for those services. And because those SaaS services aren't included in the scope of our SOX testing, they've flown under the radar until now. I got a list of active user accounts from each of the SaaS services I was able to identify (which was surprisingly easier than getting the list of employees from my own HR department) and compared them to my active employee list.
More by J.F. Rice
- Security Manager's Journal: Peering behind the firewall
- Security Manager's Journal: Trapped: Building access controls go kablooey
- Security Manager's Journal: We manage our threats, but what about our vendors?
- Security Manager's Journal: With Heartbleed, suddenly the world is paying attention to security
- Security Manager's Journal: A rush to XP's end of life
- Security Manager's Journal: Security flaw shakes faith in Apple mobile devices
- Security Manager's Journal: Cyberattacks just got personal
- Security Manager's Journal: Target breach unleashes fresh scams
- Security Manager's Journal: Giving thanks for SIEM
- Security Manager's Journal: Hashing out secure applications
- Troubleshooting Common Issues in VoIP Learn more about Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), including common VoIP metrics used, best practices in VoIP management and tips and tricks for...
- 2013 Network Management Software (NMS) Buyers Guide This white paper contains an independent comparison study of six different network management solutions and provides guidance on how you can choose the...
- Rightsizing Your Network Performance Management Solution: 4 Case Studies This white paper discusses challenges encountered as organizations search for the most cost-effective network performance management solution.
- Global Growing Pains: Tapping into B2B Integration Services to Overcome Global Expansion Challenges A recent survey by IDG Research explored both the challenges and pain points companies face when growing globally, as well as the capabilities...
- E-Signature RFP Checklist Webcast If your organization is looking to adopt e-signatures, you may be overwhelmed by the number of providers that offer seemingly similar solutions. How...
- Cloud and Collaboration: Driving Your Business Value Mission Critical Cloud from Peer 1 Hosting is enterprise-grade. All Security White Papers | Webcasts
Our new bimonthly Internet of Things newsletter helps you keep pace with the rapidly evolving technologies, trends and developments related to the IoT. Subscribe now and stay up to date!