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Study finds antiquated IT safeguards and access policies leave enterprises vulnerable

Despite new security risks posed by a rapidly evolving technology environment, most companies continue to rely on the traditional username and password sign-on to verify a user's identity.


January 12, 2011  


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Despite new security risks posed by a rapidly evolving technology environment, most companies continue to rely on the traditional username and password sign-on to verify a user’s identity.

And according to a December 2010 commissioned study by Forrester Consulting, who surveyed 306 enterprises with 1,000 to 20,000+ employees on behalf of Symantec Corp., those organizations are unnecessarily leaving themselves open to unauthorized access by hackers and e-criminals.

Entitled “Enhancing Authentication To Secure The Open Enterprise,” the study yields some important new findings:

* IT environments are pushing beyond traditional corporate boundaries, a trend that is exposing enterprises to more risks. More than half of companies surveyed (54% reported a data breach in the previous year.)

 * Malware attacks are employing password vulnerability in enterprises. Hackers are moving from conspicuous attacks like malware and phishing to more insidious attacks using stolen passwords to penetrate an organization and go undetected.

* Password issues are the top access problem in the enterprise. To prevent unauthorized access, password policies have grown more cumbersome and error-prone.  Such factors as password composition requirements, duration before password expiration, and multiple passwords to access corporate resources have inundated users.

 “The IT landscape is changing so dramatically and so rapidly that one in four organizations are requiring users to remember six or more passwords to access corporate networks and applications — and as this Forrester study shows, that approach to authentication is collapsing under its own weight,” said Atri Chatterjee, vice president of User Authentication at Symantec.