Friday, August 17, 2012

A quick tale about a PMT

After my last post about PMTs I remembered one situation (in a previous and distant life) when I worked for a financial institution security office. We were being hammered by Internal Audit about our controls around access provisioning. There were several cases that we couldn’t find the access request form (paper!) for adding users to domain groups. Of course, there was an Identity Management plan that was promising to magically automate everything, but we needed something to address our needs until then.

So I created a simple PMT solution. We modified the Access Database that was used to record the content from those access request forms to generate a text log file, used a sysinternals tool to dump the Event Log from the PDC (Well, some time ago…NT4 domains! :-O) to a text file and I created a script that would compare all events of access management (creation of groups, users, users to groups) with the forms we registered. Any deviations were then investigated by the team.

It was fun to see how much was done informally by the domain administrators. That new process forced new habits to them (such as immediately informing us any time they needed to do something that would appear in the logs), solved our problems with IA and didn’t cost a dollar (at least no green dollars). Considering the number of mistakes (honest mistakes, but that were providing excessive access rights) that were identified, we actually reduced risk to the organization.

If a financial institution, that is normally more formal and process oriented could do it, why can’t those solutions be useful everywhere else?

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