Endpoint

1/31/2017
03:10 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Report Says Death Of The Password Greatly Exaggerated

Passwords are far from dead - thanks to the Internet of Things, the traditional authentication mechanism will explode in the next decade,

By 2020, the exchange of data between systems will require more than 300 billion human and machine passwords to authenticate, according to a new report out today that concludes that the growth of internet of things (IoT) devices and online accounts will drive this password explosion.

In spite of some hopeful technologists' predictions of a password-free future, the report's authors posit that this won't come to fruition anytime soon if at all. And in the meantime, they believe the password situation will continue to mushroom. 

"Passwords are not dead, in fact, the footprint of passwords will significantly grow over the next four years," says Joseph Carson, a cybersecurity expert with Thycotic, which with Cybersecurity Ventures co-authored the report.

Carson points to failed predictions such as one from IBM back in 2011 that there would be no more passwords by 2016 as completely off the mark when it comes to maintaining authentication over systems today. "Some companies have supplemented with multifactor authentication such as biometrics; however, they've never replaced passwords," he says. 

As Carson explains, biometrics were once lauded as the ultimate password replacement, but the more analysis that is done, the more clear it becomes that these authenticators are not a good out-and-out replacement for shared secrets.

"Biometrics will never, ever replace passwords. The main challenge is that passwords can be changed. they can be rotated, managed, and protected," Carson says. "But if a biometric authenticator is ever compromised, you can't ever replace it." 

Given that and the fact that passwords are on track to continue to accumulate, it is crucial for enterprises to take stock of their password threat exposure. Just in the Fortune 500 alone, the report predicts that employees will be juggling a total of 5.4 billion password-protected accounts by 2020, with about 1.35 million privileged accounts. 

As users increasingly deal with dozens of accounts at a time, it can be easy for them to look for shortcuts in how they manage and maintain their password portfolio. Carson warns that good password hygiene is essential and that users need to be mindful of risks that they may not have considered. For example, the "social factor" of single-sign-on systems through social media accounts is putting out a tremendous volume of additional passwords that are vulnerable to theft but opaque to the user.

As Carson explains, many people mistakenly believe that when they use a social account to sign in somewhere else, this is just a one-time use password being generated. 

"However, it is actually creating a continuous connection between that vendor and your profile. and that account continues," he says. "Those passwords are unmanaged, unchanged, and not clearly transparent to the human who owns them. That's something that definitely needs to be addressed.

Related Content:

 

Ericka Chickowski specializes in coverage of information technology and business innovation. She has focused on information security for the better part of a decade and regularly writes about the security industry as a contributor to Dark Reading.  View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
6 Security Trends for 2018/2019
Curtis Franklin Jr., Senior Editor at Dark Reading,  10/15/2018
Most IT Security Pros Want to Change Jobs
Dark Reading Staff 10/12/2018
4 Ways to Fight the Email Security Threat
Asaf Cidon, Vice President, Content Security Services, at Barracuda Networks,  10/15/2018
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Latest Comment: Too funny!
Current Issue
Flash Poll
The Risk Management Struggle
The Risk Management Struggle
The majority of organizations are struggling to implement a risk-based approach to security even though risk reduction has become the primary metric for measuring the effectiveness of enterprise security strategies. Read the report and get more details today!
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2018-10839
PUBLISHED: 2018-10-16
Qemu emulator <= 3.0.0 built with the NE2000 NIC emulation support is vulnerable to an integer overflow, which could lead to buffer overflow issue. It could occur when receiving packets over the network. A user inside guest could use this flaw to crash the Qemu process resulting in DoS.
CVE-2018-13399
PUBLISHED: 2018-10-16
The Microsoft Windows Installer for Atlassian Fisheye and Crucible before version 4.6.1 allows local attackers to escalate privileges because of weak permissions on the installation directory.
CVE-2018-18381
PUBLISHED: 2018-10-16
Z-BlogPHP 1.5.2.1935 (Zero) has a stored XSS Vulnerability in zb_system/function/c_system_admin.php via the Content-Type header during the uploading of image attachments.
CVE-2018-18382
PUBLISHED: 2018-10-16
Advanced HRM 1.6 allows Remote Code Execution via PHP code in a .php file to the user/update-user-avatar URI, which can be accessed through an "Update Profile" "Change Picture" (aka user/edit-profile) action.
CVE-2018-18374
PUBLISHED: 2018-10-16
XSS exists in the MetInfo 6.1.2 admin/index.php page via the anyid parameter.