Separation of Duties

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Personnel Policies – Separation of Duties

If you plan on taking the Security+ exam you should have a good understanding of the various personnel policies that organizations implement including a separation of duties policy. These policies are used to define and clarify issues such as personnel behavior, expectations, and possible consequences. Personnel learn these policies when they are hired and as changes occur.

This blog is an excerpt of acceptable use topics from the CompTIA Security+: Get Certified Get Ahead: SY0-401 Study Guide.

Some of the other policies directly related to personnel are:

 

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Separations of Duties Practice Test Question

Here’s a sample separations of duties question for the Security+ exam from the CompTIA Security+: Get Certified Get Ahead: SY0-401 Study Guide.

Q. A group of server administrators maintains several database servers, but they cannot access security logs on these servers. Security administrators can access the security logs, but they cannot access data within the databases. What policy is the company using?

A. Separation of duties policy

B. Policy requiring dual accounts for administrators

C. Job rotation policy

D. Mandatory vacations policy

Ideally, you should not only know what the correct answer is, but also why it is correct and why the incorrect answers are incorrect.

Separation of Duties

Separation of duties is a principle that prevents any single person or entity from being able to complete all the functions of a critical or sensitive process. It’s designed to prevent fraud, theft, and errors.

Accounting provides the classic example. It’s common to divide accounting departments into two divisions: Accounts Receivable and Accounts Payable. Personnel in the Accounts Receivable division review and validate bills. They then send the validated bills to the personnel in the Accounts Payable division, who pay the bills.

If Joe was the only person doing both functions, it would be possible for him to create and approve a bill from Joe’s Most Excellent Retirement Account. After approving the bill, Joe would then pay it. If Joe doesn’t go to jail, he may indeed retire early at the expense of the financial health of the company.

Separation of duties policies also apply to IT personnel. Consider network defense. A firewall is a preventative control that attempts to prevent attacks and a network-based intrusion detection system (NIDS) is a detective control that attempts to detect attacks. If a single administrator managed both systems, it’s possible that issues could be overlooked resulting in errors. However, by separating the tasks between two people, it reduces the possibility of errors.

As another example, a group of IT administrators may be assigned responsibility for maintaining a group of database servers, but do not have access to security logs on these servers. Instead, security administrators regularly review these logs, but these security administrators will not have access to data within the databases.

Consider what should happen if one of the IT administrators is promoted and is now working as a security administrator? Based on separation of duties, this administrator should now have access to security logs, but access to the data within the databases should be revoked. However, if the administrator’s permissions to the data are not revoked, the administrator will have more permissions than needed violating the principle of least privilege. A user rights and permissions review will often discover these types of issues.

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Additional Security+ questions to help you prepare for the new performance based questions. These are included with the full bank of Security+ practice test questions and are divided into different sections. For example, you'll have access to the following links:

- Performance Based Question - Set 1

You'll see a graphic explaining what you might be required to do on the actual exam to match different types of security to mobile devices and servers in a data center. You'll then have two questions that test your knowledge and ability to correctly answer the questions. This question also includes a link to a graphic showing the end solution for the overall performance based question simulation.

- Performance Based Question - Set 2

You'll see a graphic explaining what you might be required to do on the actual exam to match different types of attacks with the name of the attack type. You'll then have five questions that test your knowledge and ability to correctly answer the questions. This question also includes a link to a graphic showing the end solution for the overall performance based question simulation.

- Performance Based Question - Set 3

You'll see a graphic showing a network with computers and servers separated by a firewall. The firewall is used to control traffic between the computers and users using rules within an access control list (ACL).  You'll have three questions that test your knowledge and ability to correctly identify the relevant components of the rule. The incorrect answers and explanation provide you with insight into how to correctly answer this type of question on the actual exam.

- Performance Based Question - Set 4

You'll see a graphic explaining what you might be required to do on the actual exam related to what a forensic analyst would do during an investigation. You'll then have two questions that test your knowledge and ability to correctly answer the questions. This question also includes a link to a graphic showing the end solution for the overall performance based question simulation.

- Performance Based Question - Set 5

You'll see a graphic explaining what you might be required to do on the actual exam to match protocols and ports. You'll then have seven questions that test your knowledge and ability to correctly answer the questions. This question also includes a link to a graphic showing the end solution for the overall performance based question simulation.

- Performance Based Question - Set 6

You'll see a list of security controls along with a graphic showing devices and locations within an organization, along with instructions on what you might be required to do on the actual exam to match the controls with the devices and locations. You'll then have four questions that test your knowledge and ability to correctly answer the questions. This question also includes a link to a graphic showing the end solution for the overall performance based question simulation.

- Performance Based Question - Set 7

You'll see a list of authentication methods and authentication factors along with instructions on what you might be required to do on the actual exam to match the authentication methods with the authentication factors. You'll then have six questions that test your knowledge and ability to correctly answer the questions. This set also includes a link to a graphic showing the end solution for the overall performance based question simulation.

- Performance Based Question - Set 8

You'll see a graphic explaining what you might be required to do on the actual exam to match different types of attacks with the name of the attack type. You'll then have five questions that test your knowledge and ability to correctly answer the questions. This is similar to Set 2 but expands on the possibilities. The set also includes a link to a page showing the end solution for the overall performance based question simulation.

New - Performance Based Question - Set 9

New questions recently added using a different testing engine. See a demo here. This set includes drag and drop and matching questions on ports.

New - Performance Based Question - Set 10

A random set of 20 performance-based questions using drag and drop, matching, sorting, and fill in-the blank. This set includes performance-based questions on RAID.

Get the full bank of Security+ (SYO-401) Practice Test Questions Here

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Remember this

Separation of duties prevents any single person or entity from being able to complete all the functions of a critical or sensitive process by dividing the tasks between employees. Job rotation policies require employees to change roles on a regular basis. This helps ensure that employees cannot continue with fraudulent activity indefinitely.

Separations of Duties Practice Test Question

Q. A group of server administrators maintains several database servers, but they cannot access security logs on these servers. Security administrators can access the security logs, but they cannot access data within the databases. What policy is the company using?

A. Separation of duties policy

B. Policy requiring dual accounts for administrators

C. Job rotation policy

D. Mandatory vacations policy

Answer. A is correct. A separation of duties policy separates individual tasks of an overall function between different people, and in this case it is separating maintenance of the database servers with security oversight of the servers.

Dual accounts for administrators (one for administrative use and one for regular use) help prevent privilege escalation attacks.

Job rotation policies require employees to change roles on a regular basis.

Mandatory vacation policies require employees to take time away from their job and help detect malicious activities.

Personnel Policy Comparisons

  • Separation of duties policies separate individual tasks of an overall function between different entities or different people.
  • An acceptable use policy defines proper system usage for users. Users are often required to read and sign an acceptable use policy when hired, and in conjunction with refresher training.
  • Mandatory vacations policies require employees to take time away from their job. These policies help to reduce fraud and discover malicious activities by employees.
  • Job rotation policies require employees to change roles on a regular basis. These policies help to prevent employees from continuing with fraudulent activities.

Security+ Study Resources

Simulated Performance-based Questions

Bonus - Performance Based Questions

Simulated performance-based questions included with all

packages that include practice test questions.

Additional Security+ questions to help you prepare for the new performance based questions. These are included with the full bank of Security+ practice test questions and are divided into different sections. For example, you'll have access to the following links:

- Performance Based Question - Set 1

You'll see a graphic explaining what you might be required to do on the actual exam to match different types of security to mobile devices and servers in a data center. You'll then have two questions that test your knowledge and ability to correctly answer the questions. This question also includes a link to a graphic showing the end solution for the overall performance based question simulation.

- Performance Based Question - Set 2

You'll see a graphic explaining what you might be required to do on the actual exam to match different types of attacks with the name of the attack type. You'll then have five questions that test your knowledge and ability to correctly answer the questions. This question also includes a link to a graphic showing the end solution for the overall performance based question simulation.

- Performance Based Question - Set 3

You'll see a graphic showing a network with computers and servers separated by a firewall. The firewall is used to control traffic between the computers and users using rules within an access control list (ACL).  You'll have three questions that test your knowledge and ability to correctly identify the relevant components of the rule. The incorrect answers and explanation provide you with insight into how to correctly answer this type of question on the actual exam.

- Performance Based Question - Set 4

You'll see a graphic explaining what you might be required to do on the actual exam related to what a forensic analyst would do during an investigation. You'll then have two questions that test your knowledge and ability to correctly answer the questions. This question also includes a link to a graphic showing the end solution for the overall performance based question simulation.

- Performance Based Question - Set 5

You'll see a graphic explaining what you might be required to do on the actual exam to match protocols and ports. You'll then have seven questions that test your knowledge and ability to correctly answer the questions. This question also includes a link to a graphic showing the end solution for the overall performance based question simulation.

- Performance Based Question - Set 6

You'll see a list of security controls along with a graphic showing devices and locations within an organization, along with instructions on what you might be required to do on the actual exam to match the controls with the devices and locations. You'll then have four questions that test your knowledge and ability to correctly answer the questions. This question also includes a link to a graphic showing the end solution for the overall performance based question simulation.

- Performance Based Question - Set 7

You'll see a list of authentication methods and authentication factors along with instructions on what you might be required to do on the actual exam to match the authentication methods with the authentication factors. You'll then have six questions that test your knowledge and ability to correctly answer the questions. This set also includes a link to a graphic showing the end solution for the overall performance based question simulation.

- Performance Based Question - Set 8

You'll see a graphic explaining what you might be required to do on the actual exam to match different types of attacks with the name of the attack type. You'll then have five questions that test your knowledge and ability to correctly answer the questions. This is similar to Set 2 but expands on the possibilities. The set also includes a link to a page showing the end solution for the overall performance based question simulation.

New - Performance Based Question - Set 9

New questions recently added using a different testing engine. See a demo here. This set includes drag and drop and matching questions on ports.

New - Performance Based Question - Set 10

A random set of 20 performance-based questions using drag and drop, matching, sorting, and fill in-the blank. This set includes performance-based questions on RAID.

Get the full bank of Security+ Practice Test Questions Here

Simulated performance-based questions included with

all packages that include practice test questions.

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Security+ (SY0-401) Practice Questions
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