Gartner Research

How to Manage Authentication and Credentials for Software Accounts

Published: 12 September 2013

ID: G00255707

Analyst(s): Felix Gaehtgens


Applications and scripts use credentials to authenticate to other applications and databases. Managing them is different than for human users, and represents a considerable source of risk when not addressed properly. This research outlines best practices that balance risk against realities.

Table Of Contents
  • Key Challenges



  • Document Software Accounts and Their Use
    • Use Software Account Discovery Methodologies to Help Identify Accounts That May Have Fallen Through the Cracks
  • Avoid Sharing Software Accounts Between Applications and Between Environments
  • Enforce the Principle of Least Privilege
  • Track Usage of Software Accounts
    • Using Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) Tools to Track Software Account Usage
  • Eliminate Hard-Coded Passwords
  • Disable Interactive Login for Software Accounts
  • Use Really Long and Complex Passwords
  • Protect Application Log and Trace Files
  • Avoid Sending Passwords Over Unencrypted Connections
  • Deploy Specialized Tools From PAM Vendors
  • Disable Automatic Password Expiration for Software Accounts
    • Using Managed Service Accounts on Windows Server 2008, Windows 7 and Beyond

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