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[Infographic] 4 Steps to Secure Shell Key Management Bliss

By Jason Thompson on October, 27 2014
Jason Thompson

Former Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Jason served as Vice President of Worldwide Marketing until October 2014.

Secure Shell is an essential component in the day-to-day functions for many IT professionals. In fact, a recent Forrester study found 82% of organizations use Secure Shell and 68% consider Secure Shell important or critical to their business.

While most enterprises use Secure Shell to run and maintain essential business processes, few have ever examined their deployment process of Secure Shell. Secure Shell keys are often created without any oversight or management, and the elevated privileges that accompany Secure Shell keys means there is a higher risk for data breaches and compliance violations.

Why Does Secure Shell Deserve Your Attention?
Few people will deny the security of the Secure Shell protocol itself, but after nearly two decades of usage, Secure Shell key deployments have grown considerably and become difficult to manage.

More often than not, Secure Shell credentials possess elevated privilege access. If one of the many identities is compromised, whether it be a malicious insider or external threat, this bad actor can leverage those elevated privilege levels to gain access to your enterprise's most vital assets. Needless to say, the potential for disaster exists, and managing the who, what, when, and how of Secure Shell identities is crucial to the information security integrity of any modern enterprise.

It's time to take action. Here are four steps to get you started on the road to key management bliss.

1. Discover
The first step - conduct a discovery of all existing trust relationships to better understand the scope of your Secure Shell key environment. This breaks down into three simple action items.

  1. Locate all Secure Shell private and public user keys
  2. Associate Secure Shell user keys with identities
  3. Map all trust relationships

2. Monitor
Monitoring capabilities give you visibility into when and where all Secure Shell authorizations are taking place in your data center. Gain security intelligence into your network to identify policy violations and potential malicious activity.

In addition, you can monitor any changes in the key environment including moves, adds and deletes. Don’t forget to look for configuration changes too, including access level (i.e., root), permissible commands, authentication methods and allow/ deny sub-channel settings.

3. Remediate
Leverage your newfound visibility to take corrective actions and ensure that only authorized identities have access to your Secure Shell environment. This will restore compliance and improve your overall security posture.

Unify your Secure Shell configurations with a central management system so you can be sure this powerful protocol is being used correctly within your environment. By centralizing key management, you can more seamlessly add, remove, and rotate Secure Shell identities and host keys - saving time and overhead. When performing these remedial actions, remember to:

  • Remove rogue, orphaned, and unused Secure Shell keys
  • Rotate existing keys that are older than policies allow
  • Enforce policies on Secure Shell versions, keys and configurations

4. Manage
Coupled with continuous monitoring, centralized management and reporting capabilities keep your dynamic data center secure and compliant, while saving time and money. This enables efficient and accurate onboarding and offboarding of privileged users, contractors and Machine-to-Machine authorizations.

Your ongoing management should include:

  • Full life-cycle management including configuration, provisioning, removal and rotation
  • Simplified management using group-based controls
  • Integration with enterprise identity management systems
  • Controls to prevent users from secretly adding keys
  • Lower costs – less manual activity means fewer errors
  • Automation of Secure Shell access controls with existing processes and solutions

Ready to take that first step?
If you think your environment may be at risk or out of compliance, make an appointment for your Secure Shell HealthCheck. This comprehensive evaluation will provide you with quick results and actionable information that will help you assess the current state of your Secure Shell environment.


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