back to article If users are a security threat, how do you manage them?

In our final mobile clinic, The Register's resident experts return to provide their opinions on the questions you've raised. Question 1: "Argggghhhh. [My biggest problem is] managing the users who keep losing their damned handsets packed full of sensitive email addresses, emails etc. We talk a lot about technology, but aren't …

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Anonymous Coward

Ferrari

You go tell the CEO's PA that you only build Red Ferraris and nobody can get a racing green Bentley

I tried.

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Good read

Though I'm not sure if it's due to me being in mobile already, but it all pretty much seems like common sense.

Scary to think that most employees don't (or won't) take the most basic of precautions with their handsets.

I carry round a Blackberry and a HTC TyTN and they're both locked securely with passcodes before you can do anything with the device due to the amount of sensitive data I carry around and this is data that's sensitive at a personal, not just business levels!

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No education

No. Don't even try to educate users. It does not work. Has the BOFH taught you nothing? I'm serious. There's no way to educate a person in a field they haven't got the intellectual background for or any affinity with whatsoever, such as computer security. Offer them a simple procedure to follow and use a cattleprod ie. serious consequences for the stupid luser who doesn't follow them to the letter. Offer incentives to the ones that do. Carrot and stick. Random sudden checks to see who if they have a password, if the password is strong enough and if they can enter it from memory. It is NOT possible to educate users, but it is perfectly possible to train them like dogs.

That is, if you really care about your company's informational security.

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One Password to rule them all.

Do have ONE password that does everything, that way people have a "trained dog's" chance of remembering it (even a strong one). Manage changes centrally. Discard systems that can't fit in.

Do NOT have different passwords for: Desk Phone Voicemail, Mobile Phone, Blackberry, Laptop PC, Desktop PC, the other Desktop PC, each of the three different terminal services accessed from those desktops, one for the travel booking system, one for the timesheet entry system, one for the timesheet approvals system, two for the personnel appraisal system, etc... Do NOT manage changes on a per service basis with different renewal intervals.

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Silver badge

Management is the weakest link

You can have all the procedures you want, you can educate all you want, you will never avoid the day someone at a higher level than you comes in and says "I need this" in complete violation of standards that he might have suggested himself.

I agree with all the points that the article makes, and I mostly agree with the comments that have been made as well.

But what you really need to plan for is what you will do when said managers laptop comes back from home full of viruses, smutware and other threats, and gets logged back on to your network.

And your plan needs to answer one single question : will you lock out his access until he has asked you to purge the stuff, or will you shut your mouth and deal with the hundreds of infections that will inevitably follow ?

In one case, you might well get fired if the offender is high up enough (some people simply cannot be blamed for anything). In the other, you might not get fired, but you'll certainly rack up overtime in an impressive way.

All other contingencies are Nice To Have, but ultimately it all boils down to whether or not you are powerful enough in your company to keep your network safe.

If that is not the case, a speedy exit strategy is a must.

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Title

Big Ixie is right. If the users don't have the capacity to understand it will never work. People will always try to make the system fit to them. I use passwords with sequential numbers on the end. It's wrong, I know that, but the system accepts it and it's easy to remember. Synchronising those passwords across 6 systems is hard at the beginning of each month but I do it to make life easy.

How many times have you asked for a user ID over the phone and been told the ID and password? It's a massive change in the way people think. Currently they don't really understand the difference between them, or do I need to ask the question differently?

So education alone won't work. You need to make it very very easy and very much in the users interest to be secure. That is the challenge. The biggest challenge facing computer security today. If anyone knows the answer please post.

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