Apr 10 2008   8:01PM GMT

Dear Network Administrator – Please Change Your Password Like Everyone Else!

Arian Eigen Heald Arian Eigen Heald Profile: Arian Eigen Heald

I have a nifty little .vbs script I wrote last year. I send it to the network administrators before I come on site, ask them to run it and send me the results. It tells me username, login ID, description, length of password, last login date, acct locked, etc. It also tells me when the last time the password was changed. I use it to check for terminated users still on the system and that password controls are indeed what they say they are.

In the last 9 out of 10 Windows Domain IT audits, what group of people hasn’t changed their password(s) in over a year (sometimes two)? You guessed it. The last network admin got a little huffy, when I inquired, and replied, “We do comply with corporate policy! We just change them manually.” She cc’d my boss and her boss. Ouch.

I guess she didn’t read the file she sent me: it’s right there in plain text – the exact date. I copied and pasted her team’s last change dates, simply replying to ALL, and referencing the attached file. I try to be polite when watching someone loudly and publicly announce how badly they want to eat their shoes. After a pregnant day of silence, she came back with a very polite response telling me they were designing a new group policy just for their group to ensure passwords were changed in compliance with corporate policy. I could tell the shoe leather wasn’t very tasty.

I’ve done it too, as an administrator; somehow we don’t think that the rules should apply to us. After all, we’re the good guys! How, a non-engineer might ask, do they circumvent the group policy? Simply go into the administrative interface and select the checkmark for “password never expires.” All done.

As an IT auditor, I represent my company’s standard for IT, and so does a network administrator. If I am not following the rules, why should anyone else? Network Administrators have the most powerful rights on the network – capturing their passwords would allow a thief into everything. And the longer you don’t change it, the more time people have to work on getting it.

Plus, it just makes us engineers look bad.

P.S., the next most common group of non-changers? CEOs.

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