Survey: 53 percent change privileged logins quarterly

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A survey of IT security professionals revealed that most individuals stick to a infrequent schedule for updating privileged credentials.

On Wednesday, Lieberman Software published its “2014 Information Security Survey” (PDF), which found that 53 percent of respondents changed service and process account passwords quarterly.

Of the 280 survey participants, 22 percent said they changed such passwords monthly. Six percent said they updated their credentials only once a year, while eight percent said they “never” changed their passwords.

“Service and process account passwords are privileged logins that can be stored in services, tasks, COM applications, IIS [Microsoft's Internet Information Services], SharePoint, databases, and applications,” the report said. “Service and process accounts are incredibly difficult to change manually because first you have to identity everywhere the account is in use, and then you must change the password in all of those places. As a result, some organizations simply ignore the problem.”

The reasoning behind this neglect was split among respondents.

Of those who said they "never" changed service and process account passwords, 50 percent said it was because doing so could potentially cause outages and downtime at their organization. Still, 45 percent said that those operational concerns weren't a factor.

Philip Lieberman, CEO of privileged identity management firm Lieberman Software, told SCMagazine.com in a Friday interview that the “concept of persistent administrative access,” is one of the “biggest threats” to companies, particularly as they work to stave off cyber attacks.

He added that privileged access, without proper management, was a crucial part of the advanced persistent threat (APT) attack methodology.

Persistent administrative access "is a convenience to IT, but when one machine is compromised, it can lead to the whole organization getting compromised,” Lieberman said, later advising that administrators adhere to a workflow approval process.

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