Is it a problem to have more than one account in an information system from security point of view?

Let me clarify a bit. It is a bank system. I wonder if having a CSO (customer service officer) with more than one account associated with him/her (more than one login name and password for the same task) would result in some security breach. Can you see a breach specific to this scenario?

  • Depends on how you use the system. If you just use it to surf for cat videos, then a user account and an admin account are probably adequate. If you use it to launch nuclear weapons, you probably need a different security plan. The question isn't "how many accounts should I have"? the question is "What is my security architecture, and how do accounts fulfill that architecture?"
    – MCW
    Jun 11 '14 at 10:28
  • @ Mark C.Wallace Let me clarify a bit. It is a bank system. so i can't see if a CSO(customer service officer) who has more than one account associated with him/her(more than one login name and password for the same task), be there, would result in some security breach. can you see one breach specific to this scenario.
    – Sray
    Jun 13 '14 at 8:52

You should certainly seek to minimize the number of accounts you have on a system, however I disagree with Ralf that multiple accounts are always a bad idea.

Yes, if you have a security model based on two sets of eyes (propose/accept) then multiple accounts subverts this. OTOH, not only do I always have a user account on the systems I admin, I disable remote acess for root. That way I need to make a conscious decision to switch on my super powers.

So, as usual, the answer is that it depends on the security model.


There are many occasions when using multiple roles dramatically reduces risk.

For example, an individual who has access to a developer environment, as well as a normal user environment. I would not want someone with dev privileges in userspace, so would expect two separate accounts - one which only works in dev, and one which only works in user. In this example the activities logged may be different in each environment.

For another example, you may have an individual who normally raises payments in their area, but on certain occasions needs to produce reports across multiple payment areas. You may provide them with initiate payment access in one area, and view only access across all areas, or you may give them their normal account for the day role, and another one specifically for the reporting role.

If you have multiple roles available to an individual, you use a toxic combinations matrix to ensure the roles they have cannot be used to subvert 4-eyes controls etc.

It is not harder to trace the actions as long as you monitor and log all the activities which may present a risk.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.