The Importance of User Access Reviews

By: Mike Detrow, CISSP, Senior Consultant and Manager of IT

The FFIEC has emphasized the importance of reviewing user access granted within all of the IT systems in use at a financial institution, including but not limited to: the network operating system (Active Directory®), core processing system, new account and lending platforms, document imaging system, internet banking system, and wire transfer system through its recent statement about compromised credentials. The frequency of these reviews will depend on the size and complexity of the financial institution; however, it is a good practice to perform an annual review at a minimum. User access reviews will help to identify accounts that have been assigned excessive privileges, accounts with access that have not been updated to reflect job position changes, accounts that do not require password changes in accordance with the institution’s policies, and dormant accounts. Failing to perform user access reviews on a regular basis will place the institution at a higher risk for:

  • A terminated employee gaining remote access to the network or email system
  • Segregation of duties issues if an employee moves to a new department, but retains system privileges from the previous department
  • Misuse of dormant administrative accounts that are still active
  • System compromise through the use of vendor passwords that never expire

The user access review process should include an employee that is independent of the system administration role for each IT system to verify that an administrator is not assigning excessive privileges to users or creating hidden accounts to use for illicit activities.

For some systems, the process to obtain all of the security details in an easy-to-understand report can be difficult. This is the case with Active Directory unless additional tools are used to compile the information into a simple report. To simplify the process of reviewing Active Directory accounts, Young & Associates, Inc. has developed the Account Auditor for Active Directory. This tool makes it easy for financial institutions to generate the following security reports:

  • A listing of all of the user accounts within Active Directory
  • Group memberships for each account
  • Dormant accounts
  • Disabled accounts
  • Accounts with passwords that do not expire
  • Accounts with passwords that have not been changed within the past year

The Account Auditor for Active Directory will simplify your network operating system user account review process, reduce IT Audit findings, and is designed to work with your Windows® server operating system to generate your information quickly and easily. There’s no new software to install! It available for just $100.  Click here for more details.