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July 08, 2011

Enterprise Password Management: Some Features You Want To Have

By David Sims, TMCnet Contributing Editor


Enterprise password management is a much talked-about issue today, what with the spate of high-profile enterprise security breaches, thus attention is now on ways to prevent identity thefts. Industry insider Beth Schultz has recently written an article on password management systems, citing the fact that Gartner (News - Alert) data shows that password-related queries “account for approximately 30 percent of total call volume for multipurpose help desks.”

Naturally, people forget their passwords all the time, especially when working under company policies to keep changing them. That’s a lot of time spent on frustratingly routine problems. Schultz notes that Gartner also found the amount of calls about forgotten passwords drops about 70 percent when companies use password-management tools.

These tools can provide self-service reset capability, for one thing, and as Schultz says, with help desk- related costs ranging from $3 to $18 per request, you can see the benefit of such enterprise password management tools that can also “streamline the change process by synchronizing access across multiple systems, and help companies strengthen and enforce password policies.”

Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida is one place Schultz says enterprise password management can be used to an advantage. "We needed a tool with enough intelligence so that when we changed an administrative password on a server or system it would scour the network for dependent services and update their credentials. Otherwise those services stop working, and that's really no fun," she quotes Brendan Hourihan, director of network and desktop support services at Flagler, as saying.

When looking for enterprise password management tools, Schultz says, Gartner recommends checking for some basic features, such as the ability to reset passwords on all the systems you use, the ability to synchronize passwords across multiple systems, availability of self-service reset capability, most typically through a browser or from the Windows sign-on interface, and availability of an interactive voice-response interface, if you want to be able to use that as a self-service reset option.

"There will always be people asking about just password-management tools and policies, but more and more people will be asking about these as part of identity and access management," Andras Cser, a principal analyst with Forrester (News - Alert) Research told Schultz.


David Sims is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of David’s articles, please visit his columnist page. He also blogs for TMCnet here.

Edited by Jamie Epstein