What is Unauthorized Access

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Although the category “unauthorized access” is not limited to specific attacks against networks, it does cover the most common type of attack that is executed now a day. When users, whether legitimate or not, connect to a service, they may be greeted with a message stating “Unauthorized Access Is Prohibited.” If user continues to attempt to access the system, their actions are unauthorized. Unauthorized access is when someone gains access to a website, program, server, service, or other system using someone else’s account or other methods. Unauthorized access refers to attackers accessing a network without receiving authorization. These attacks can occur both outside of and within a network. This attack category does not include an attacker who is connecting to see whether a service is active there; that typically falls into the “reconnaissance” category. Nor does the absence of any warning banner mean that access by anyone is authorized. This category includes any attempt by a user who knowingly tries to access a system to which that person does not have specific access permissions. Among the causes of unauthorized access attacks are weak passwords, lacking protection against social engineering, previously compromised accounts, and insider threats. From doors that are left open when they should be closed to easily forged credentials, there are a number of types of unauthorized access that can leave an organization at risk. There are 5 different ways an outsider can gain access to secure area. They are as follows:

Tailgating: One of the most common types of unauthorized access is tailgating, which occurs when one or more people follow an authorized user through a door. Often the user will hold the door for an unauthorized individual out of common courtesy, unwittingly exposing the secure area to unauthorized person. One way to decrease the likelihood of tailgating is by giving training to all credentialed users on security and awareness. An even more effective reduction technique is to implement turnstiles, mantraps or another solution that restricts entry to one individual at a time and generates an alarm if someone tries to circumvent the system.

Door Propping: Similar to tailgating, propping doors open, most often for convenience, is another common way unauthorized individuals gain access to a location. Some access control systems include the capability to detect when doors are propped and alert security personnel, who can respond and investigate the situation as needed.

Levering Doors: Many doors can be easily levered open using something as small as a screwdriver or as large as a crowbar. Advanced access control systems include forced-door monitoring and will generate alarms if a door is forced. The effectiveness of these systems varies, with many systems prone to a high rate of false positives, poor database configuration or lack of active intrusion monitoring. With proper tools and tactics in place, they are highly effective at detecting door levering.

Keys: Whether stolen, lost or loaned out, keys pose a major problem. They are often impossible to track when lost, forgotten, stolen or loaned to someone else, and if an individual tends to tailgate to enter the building, he or she may not notice missing keys for several days. During that time, there is huge risk, and the only way to ensure the continued security of a building is to re-core locks on multiple doors, which can be very expensive. Electronic key management solutions can be deployed to track keys, with the added benefit that many of these systems can be integrated with access control for an added layer of security.

Access Cards: With the added advantage of identifying authorized users who swipe in with an access control reader, electronic key cards are a more high-tech alternative to traditional keys. However, they are prone to the same risks associated with keys, namely the potential to be lost, stolen or shared with an authorized or unauthorized person. From a technology perspective, there are four main categories of access cards: Magnetic stripe, proximity smart cards and contact smart cards. Each has its pros and cons, with some more susceptible to risk than the others. Magnetic stripe cards are the easiest to duplicate and are susceptible to wear and tear or damage from magnetic fields. Proximity cards and smart cards are much less susceptible to duplication, and smart proximity cards can be programmed with much more information than access cards, allowing them to be used for a variety of interactive applications in addition to physical access, including network access. Some proximity smart cards, however, require a small battery, which can diminish their lifespan.

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