“Confusing” endpoint-security messaging obscuring privileged-account links: CyberArk

Many companies looking to secure their endpoints are struggling with “very confusing” messaging that complicates the process of extending policy-based security to those endpoints, a security strategist has warned on the eve of the release of an endpoint-security tool designed to better integrate endpoint controls with privileged-account management policies.

Technology from Viewfinity, which CyberArk acquired in October for $US30.5m ($A43.4m), establishes a 'least privilege' approach to security that creates a perimeter of sorts that encompasses endpoints rather than trying to isolate them from the network.

This close-but-not-too-close approach allows businesses to keep applications at arm's length and limit their access if suspicious behaviours are detected. And that, chief marketing officer John Worall told CSO Australia, “makes sure that attacks cannot download or install any malware that gives them a base inside the enterprise.”

“We look at the endpoint first and foremost as being a privilege problem,” Worrall explained. “But any time you try to manage privileges at the endpoint you have concerns about putting up so many obstacles that it's very expensive for the IT manager to support, or it's putting up obstacles to users to getting their jobs done.”

Even the endpoint-security market has become an obstacle, with a broad and complex range of dozens of available industry solutions often muddying decisions about the best way to secure endpoints.

The Viewfinity technology addresses this by centralising privileged-account control, allowing enforcement of consistent policies across applications and logging capabilities that “give administrators a much better way to understand what's happening in the system,” he said.

“If you can limit the installation of potentially bad malware at the endpoint, you can go a long way towards making sure attackers don't get past that point of infection.”

Improvements in visibility were key to surfacing the growing need for privileged-account management, an increasingly important aspect of holistic security policy that has surfaced in the context of everything from Telstra's data-retention infrastructure to Vodafone's Privileged User Management Access framework.

Late last year, CyberArk research found that 40 percent of Windows servers have privileged accounts that could be exploited to gain unimpeded access to the rest of the corporate network.

These vulnerabilities were remnants of outmoded security policies that had failed to rein in account-based security policies, Worrall said while noting that customers were rapidly realising the scope of the problem – particularly in the context of increasing cloud usage that exacerbates the issue.

“We look at this like the firewall market back in the 1990s,” he said. “If you had an Internet connection you needed a firewall, even if you didn't know it at the time. Similarly, every IT system that has privileged access has an account in it. The message of making sure that you solve your privilege problem, is clearly becoming part of the industry dialogue whereas it wasn't, just 12 to 18 months ago.”

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