Partner Perspectives  Connecting marketers to our tech communities.
9/14/2016
03:00 PM
Torry Campbell
Torry Campbell
Partner Perspectives
50%
50%

Password Reuse: Dont Mix Business With Personal

Employee education, password managers, and multifactor authentication can reduce the risk of a personal breach becoming a corporate security event.

You join a social network, file-sharing service, or other online service, and of course get asked for a password. You’re busy, so you quickly type in one of your existing passwords, maybe even planning to change it later. The risk of a data breach at your company just increased dramatically.

In 2012, criminals managed to steal 112 million login credentials from LinkedIn. The account of someone who worked at Dropbox was one of those stolen, and that person had reused a password from a corporate account as the LinkedIn password. Using that info, criminals then stole over 68 million login credentials from Dropbox. The effort required for cybercriminals to pivot from a personal data breach to an attack against an organization is trivial when personal and business passwords are reused.

We did an internal survey asking employees about their password behaviors. Just over 16% said they use the same or similar passwords for both personal and corporate accounts. While this number may not seem significant, a closer look at the number involved paints a different picture.

If 16% of people reusing passwords is the average for the workforce, there will be 10.9 million examples of password reuse out of 68 million stolen credentials. As an attacker, I would start with people who have used their corporate email address as their username to identify potential targets. Then I might google some of the other names to see if I can determine where they work. For example, if I find [email protected], it is easy to presume that I work for Intel, and that the corporate email address schema is [email protected] I would then go to other popular web services and file-sharing sites (Office 365, Google Drive, Box, etc.) and attempt to gain access. Even if I only get hits on 5% of the 11.5 million who reused their passwords, that is almost 600,000 accounts I potentially now have access to. 

We asked a few more questions in our survey. Almost 25% of respondents reported that they had been notified of a breach on a personal account in the last 12 months, meaning that 4% of our surveyed group who reused passwords had also been breached. If that applies to the entire Intel Security workforce, that is 4,000 accounts throughout the company that offer potential entry points. I don’t like those odds.

Of course, part of the challenge with passwords is remembering them. To help make this easier, more than half of those surveyed rely on a set of less than 10 passwords across the myriad sites they use. Password managers have been developed to address this problem, but unfortunately almost 65% of the group say they’re not using a password manager. The good news is that almost 60% of them use multifactor authentication for some of their personal accounts -- most likely banking- and healthcare-related ones -- which provides extra protection in the event their credentials are stolen.

Passwords continue to be the weakest link in cybersecurity, and reusing passwords makes attacks much easier for cybercriminals. Employee education, password managers, and multifactor authentication are the top three tools that can be used to reduce the risk of a personal breach becoming a corporate security event. 

Torry Campbell is the Chief Technology Officer for Endpoint and Management technologies for Intel Security, formerly McAfee. From a decade at McAfee, he couples his security operations background with product management, development, and customer implementation experience to ... View Full Bio
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
sillieabbe
50%
50%
sillieabbe,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/14/2016 | 9:55:24 PM
Password Headache
At the root of the password headache is the cognitive phenomena called "interference of memory", by which we cannot firmly remember more than 5 text passwords on average.  What worries us is not the password, but the textual password.  The textual memory is only a small part of what we remember.  We could think of making use of the larger part of our memory that is less subject to interference of memory.  More attention could be paid to the efforts of expanding the password system to include images, particularly KNOWN images, as well as conventional texts.

 

Are you aware of this?

https://youtu.be/-KEE2VdDnY0
Russia Hacked Clinton's Computers Five Hours After Trump's Call
Robert Lemos, Technology Journalist/Data Researcher,  4/19/2019
Tips for the Aftermath of a Cyberattack
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  4/17/2019
Why We Need a 'Cleaner Internet'
Darren Anstee, Chief Technology Officer at Arbor Networks,  4/19/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
5 Emerging Cyber Threats to Watch for in 2019
Online attackers are constantly developing new, innovative ways to break into the enterprise. This Dark Reading Tech Digest gives an in-depth look at five emerging attack trends and exploits your security team should look out for, along with helpful recommendations on how you can prevent your organization from falling victim.
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-11486
PUBLISHED: 2019-04-23
The Siemens R3964 line discipline driver in drivers/tty/n_r3964.c in the Linux kernel before 5.0.8 has multiple race conditions.
CVE-2019-11487
PUBLISHED: 2019-04-23
The Linux kernel before 5.1-rc5 allows page->_refcount reference count overflow, with resultant use-after-free issues, if about 140 GiB of RAM exists. This is related to fs/fuse/dev.c, fs/pipe.c, fs/splice.c, include/linux/mm.h, include/linux/pipe_fs_i.h, kernel/trace/trace.c, mm/gup.c, and mm/hu...
CVE-2018-7576
PUBLISHED: 2019-04-23
Google TensorFlow 1.6.x and earlier is affected by: Null Pointer Dereference. The type of exploitation is: context-dependent.
CVE-2018-8825
PUBLISHED: 2019-04-23
Google TensorFlow 1.7 and below is affected by: Buffer Overflow. The impact is: execute arbitrary code (local).
CVE-2019-10688
PUBLISHED: 2019-04-23
VVX products using UCS software version 5.8.0 and earlier with Better Together over Ethernet Connector (BToE) application version 3.8.0 and earlier uses hard-coded credentials to establish a connection between the host application and device.