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Patch Management

Who Watches the Watchmen?

By July 19, 2016June 22nd, 2022No Comments
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You might recognize this article’s title as an important question posed in Alan Moore’s classic graphic novel, “Watchmen.” If you’re unfamiliar with the novel, this line examines what happens when heroes (the Watchmen) are left unchecked. What happens when one of them goes rogue? It’s a call for a checks and balances approach, one that applies to various aspects of life and business.

Consider an IT department’s system management tool. These tools are used by IT departments of all sizes, from small start-ups to larger early-stage firms with explosive growth. These tools are similar to a hero protecting citizens, but in this case it’s a company’s valuable data requiring protection. What happens if the tool is compromised? Who watches the tool when the tool is designed to do the watching?

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This is a question many businesses face when using agent-based solutions. If the agent is compromised and backdoor access is gained through the agent, then what happens to the network? Are there measures in place to mitigate the branding disaster that could follow? For some context, an agent is software that runs on a system and sends information to a central location for use by another program or service. Agentless solutions still collect the necessary data, but use the previously installed software instead of installing and maintaining software on every machine in the network.

The problem of unauthorized access or comprised agents is not simply a theoretical scenario. Recently, Panda Security and Symantec Altiris IT Management Suite (ITMS) had emergency patches released for their agent-based endpoint management software. Both clients had vulnerabilities in the agents that enabled unauthorized access to installed networks. It gave unauthorized users the ability to access system-level privileges, effectively controlling the system management tool undetected.

So what’s the solution for detecting and properly managing system management tools? Or as Alan Moore so eloquently puts it, “who watches the watchmen?”

Read the full article on Entrepreneur.com.

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