| To assure individual accountability and prevent unauthorized access, application users (and any processes acting on behalf of users) must be individually identified and authenticated.
A shared authenticator is a generic account used by multiple individuals. Use of a shared authenticator alone does not uniquely identify individual users. An example of a shared authenticator is the UNIX OS 'root' user account, a Windows 'administrator' account, an 'SA' account, or a 'helpdesk' account.
For example, the UNIX and Windows operating systems offer a 'switch user' capability allowing users to authenticate with their individual credentials and, when needed, 'switch' to the administrator role. This method provides for unique individual authentication prior to using a shared authenticator.
Some applications may not have the need to provide a group authenticator; this is considered a matter of application design. In those instances where the application design includes the use of a shared authenticator, this requirement will apply.
There may also be instances when specific user actions need to be performed on the information system without unique user identification or authentication. An example of this type of access is a web server which contains publicly releasable information. These types of accesses are allowed but must be explicitly identified and documented by the organization.
When shared accounts are utilized without another means of identifying individual users, users may deny having performed a particular action. |