Ghosts of Past Employees

PAM at a desk

This blog post started as a seasonal message from our Newsletter. We’ve expanded it to be appropriate for the rest of the year. With more employees changing jobs in 2021 than ever before, there are likely to be a few skeletons in the closet.

As we approach October 31st, I wanted to dig into the History of Halloween. How can we learn from practices of the past and save ourselves from the ghosts of the present? The origins of Halloween date back to the Celts celebrating the end of harvest as the cold dark winter approached. The Celts believed that on this night of the year, the boundary between the world of the living and dead became blurred. When ghosts of the dead return to earth. You’re likely thinking: why is Teleport making this segue to Halloween? Below is why access control has more in common with Halloween than you think!

🎃 Things that go bump in the night

It all starts with a creaking door, or going to explore that one creepy building you know you shouldn’t. There is something happening — you don’t know what. But you don’t want to stick around. Running modern infrastructure can feel like this. There are millions of alerts firing off in your SIEM and a lot of port scans from suspicious IPs. As with all spine-chilling shadows, they quickly become less creepy when you apply a bit more light to them — by being able to see the back of that creepy basement, or capture all of the access logs. You get a full picture of what’s happening, and it quickly becomes less scary.

👻 Ghosts of past employees

Companies and projects are interesting beasts. People come and go, and while you can still git blame, that person might be long gone. Any organization will have traces of past employees’ contributions, but the last thing you want is seeing them access a system they shouldn’t. The ghosts can appear by accident, an employee using an old kubeconfig or an alias to SSH into a server that still has their public key on it. This is why it’s important to use short-lived credentials, for 8hrs or a week, ideally populated from a central identity provider to give access to systems. Once an employee leaves, you know for sure that they won’t come and scare your infrastructure. If you’re new to Teleport, this is exactly the problem that Teleport solves.

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🔥 Relight the fires with sacred embers

When the Celts celebrated Halloween, they would have a large bonfire and burn crops as sacrifice to Celtic deities. When the celebration was over, they would relight their home hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, using embers from the sacred bonfire. This would help protect them during the coming winter.

This type of ceremony might feel very similar for companies that have been hacked and have had to build back stronger. Once the root cause is found, it’s important to take the learnings back to each team and build a more resilient system. At Teleport we have regular external security audits where we learn about possible threats. We collectively rally around these findings, and come back to build a stronger system for everyone — thereby relighting a better product for the next digital winter ahead.

Hopefully, Teleport can help you ward off the evil spirits and spooks. Get started with our Free & Open Source Community edition.

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