Report Reveals IT Help Desk Workers to Be Targets for Social Engineering

Failings in security measures make the help desk the weakest link in company security.

Help desk workers have been revealed to be the weakest point of entry for criminals using social engineering and technical attacks. A report released by the SANS institute and RSA focused on the current state of security and privacy practiced by IT help desk workers.

Part of the problem was found to be how these workers are judge on performance. Emphasis is placed on the number of requests they can solve (volume) and the speed in which they can solve them (time). Little attention is given to security and correct documentation of day-to-day activities conducted within the company.

Compounding the security risk of the help desk is the finding that organizations are using only basic personal information to confirm the identity of the callers, information that is easily accessible to anyone. In order to maintain their helpfulness, many help desk workers were found to be bypassing security controls used to properly identify callers.

What may be an even greater issue is the entering and storing of sensitive information into the help desk database, including personal health information. This information is often transmitted via non-secured channels such as email. Equally as dangerous are the notes jotted down on paper by help desk employees. These notes in many cases were found to contain sensitive data.

In the end, the report concluded that the root of the problem was a considerable lack of training, tools, and technology. The report states “help desk services are a rich entry point for social engineers and technical attackers. Help desks — and their applications — hold the ‘keys to the kingdom’ to better serve user requests.”

Original article by Steve Ragan.
Read the full story here.

One Response

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