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10 crazy IT security tricks that actually work

IT security threats are constantly evolving. It's time for IT security pros to get ingenious

By Roger A. Grimes, InfoWorld
July 09, 2012 06:35 AM ET

InfoWorld - Network and endpoint security may not strike you as the first place to scratch an experimental itch. After all, protecting the company's systems and data should call into question any action that may introduce risk. But IT security threats constantly evolve, and sometimes you have to think outside the box to keep ahead of the more ingenious evildoers.

And sometimes you have to get a little crazy.

[ Find out how to block the viruses, worms, and other malware that threaten your business, with hands-on advice from expert contributors in InfoWorld's "Malware Deep Dive" PDF guide. | Keep up with key security issues with InfoWorld's Security Adviser blog and Security Central newsletter. ]

Charles Babbage, the father of the modern computer, once said, "Propose to a man any principle, or an instrument, however admirable, and you will observe the whole effort is directed to find a difficulty, a defect, or an impossibility in it. If you speak to him of a machine for peeling a potato, he will pronounce it impossible: If you peel a potato with it before his eyes, he will declare it useless, because it will not slice a pineapple."

The world of network security is no different. Offer a new means for IT defense, and expect to meet resistance. Yet, sometimes going against the wave of traditional thinking is the surest path to success.

In that vein, we offer 10 security ideas that have been -- and in many cases still are -- shunned as too offbeat to work but that function quite effectively in helping secure the company's IT assets. The companies employing these methods don't care about arguing or placating the naysayers. They see the results and know these methods work, and they work well.

Innovative security technique No. 1: Renaming adminsRenaming privileged accounts to something less obvious than "administrator" is often slammed as a wasteful, "security by obscurity" defense. However, this simple security strategy works. If the attacker hasn't already made it inside your network or host, there's little reason to believe they'll be able to readily discern the new names for your privileged accounts. If they don't know the names, they can't mount a successful password-guessing campaign against them.

Even bigger bonus? Never in the history of automated malware -- the campaigns usually mounted against workstations and servers -- has an attack attempted to use anything but built-in account names. By renaming your privileged accounts, you defeat hackers and malware in one step. Plus, it's easier to monitor and alert on log-on attempts to the original privileged account names when they're no longer in use.

Innovative security technique No. 2: Getting rid of adminsAnother recommendation is to get rid of all wholesale privileged accounts: administrator, domain admin, enterprise admin, and every other account and group that has built-in, widespread, privileged permissions by default.

When this is suggested, most network administrators laugh and protest, the same response security experts got when they recommended local Administrator accounts be disabled on Windows computers. Then Microsoft followed this recommendation, disabling local Administrator accounts by default on every version of Windows starting with Vista/Server 2008 and later. Lo and behold, hundreds of millions of computers later, the world hasn't come crashing down.

Originally published on www.infoworld.com. Click here to read the original story.

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