RealNews

Los Alamos County shores up security

Security within the Los Alamos (N.M.) County’s information technology department wasn’t quite up to par when systems manager Laura Gonzales came on board three years ago. It was common practice to share passwords among her 16-member IT staff to enter systems, and when something did go wrong with the county’s information systems, it was difficult to find who was responsible. On one occasion, the system went down for about 30 minutes, and “there was no way to know who caused it,” she said. Although she voiced her concern to the county’s independent auditor, attention shifted toward battling destructive wildfires in 2000. After “getting things normalized,” Gonzales focused on improving security for the Unix-based network server. One concern was limiting the number of users who had access to critical systems. After researching security and access authorization technologies, she said she settled on California-based Symark Software’s PowerBroker software, which sits on top of the servers and enables system administrators to assign administrative privileges and authorization without disclosing the root password. Full Story

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