Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Endpoint //

Authentication

5/2/2017
06:00 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
100%
0%

Striving For Improvement on World Password Day

Consumer hygiene and poor authentication practices create toxic combo.

World Password Day couldn't come at a better time. It's just a couple days away and in the last month running up to it, no fewer than five studies have come out warning how consumers remain lousy at password hygiene and businesses still stink at identity and access management across the board.

Meanwhile, news a few weeks ago of wide-scale breaches of Amazon third-party resellers demonstrate how rampant password reuse opens so many sensitive systems to compromise with a trivial amount of effort from the bad guys.

Most notable among the studies was the release last week of the 10th annual Verizon Data Breach Investigation Report (DBIR), which included a heavy emphasis on the risk of poor password management and hygiene. According to this year's report, 81% of hacking-related breaches examined in this year's crop leveraged stolen and/or weak passwords.

According to a different study released last week by Gigya, 70% of consumers use seven or fewer passwords across all of their online accounts. That's pretty scary considering that according to another study this spring the average American Internet user now has 150 accounts requiring a password. Meanwhile, in a report out today by VMware, the number one identity and access management challenge named by IT pros is password management, 41% of whom named it as a top challenge. Even security professionals are guilty of poor password hygiene.

A survey by Thycotic released last month showed that 53% of security professionals haven't change their social network passwords in more than a year and 20% haven't changed them at all.

With the volume of stolen passwords floating around on the Dark Web now well into the billions these days, the DBIR authors warn businesses that they need to be wary of the ramifications of credential stuffing attacks that look to take advantage of reused passwords lurking in their user base. 

"Even if you are not breached, there are armies of botnets with millions (or billions) of credentials attempting to reuse them against other sites. In other words, even though components of authentication weren’t compromised from you, it doesn’t mean they were not compromised," the DBIR explained. "Again, if you are relying on username/email address and password, you are rolling the dice as far as password re-usage from other breaches or malware on your customers’ devices are concerned."

This means bolstering multi-factor authentication and rethinking the situations in which username/passwords are the only barrier between credential-stuffers and sensitive data.

"If a username and password is the only barrier to escalating privilege or compromising the next device, you have not done enough to stop these actors," the DBIR explained. "Network segmentation establishing more granular security zones that require multi-factor authentication may require the attackers to shift their tactics and stand out from the crowd."

While all of these dire warnings may sound like scare tactics and FUD, there are plenty of real-world examples of how poor password management and a lack of multi-factor authentication put business at risk. Most recently, a report by the Wall Street Journal claimed that a dramatic increase of malicious takeover of Amazon third-party seller accounts to perpetrate fraud was likely the result of organized credential-stuffing attacks.

The idea behind World Password Day on May 4 is to help break the cycle of data breaches that beget more data breaches through credential stuffing. Organizers use the day as an opportunity to encourage people to change their existing passwords and ensure that each of their accounts has got a unique password guarding it.

"There is an interesting 'domino effect' that data breaches can have across multiple accounts. To avoid needless risk and to protect their identity in the event of a breach, people can take a minute to adhere to some password management best practices that include using a unique password for every application or account, and making sure the password is long and more complex – ideally twelve characters should be thought of as a minimum," says Kevin Cunningham, president of IAM vendor SailPoint. "After all, protecting identity is key to the safety of personal data."

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
 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Threaded  |  Newest First  |  Oldest First
pamister
50%
50%
pamister,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/5/2017 | 11:22:22 PM
Understandable and one more point to make
I like what was said in your article.  The one point I would add is that creating a backup of your daily activity is quite useful. Additionally, makesure that the backup is new, not an overwrite the previous copy. The additional point is made such that if you get caught up in an attack, the attack does not become a part of the only clean backup that you have.
Edge-DRsplash-10-edge-articles
7 Old IT Things Every New InfoSec Pro Should Know
Joan Goodchild, Staff Editor,  4/20/2021
News
Cloud-Native Businesses Struggle With Security
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  5/6/2021
Commentary
Defending Against Web Scraping Attacks
Rob Simon, Principal Security Consultant at TrustedSec,  5/7/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you today!
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
Recent breaches of third-party apps are driving many organizations to think harder about the security of their off-the-shelf software as they continue to move left in secure software development practices.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2021-27734
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-17
Hirschmann HiOS 07.1.01, 07.1.02, and 08.1.00 through 08.5.xx and HiSecOS 03.3.00 through 03.5.01 allow remote attackers to change the credentials of existing users.
CVE-2021-27342
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-17
An authentication brute-force protection mechanism bypass in telnetd in D-Link Router model DIR-842 firmware version 3.0.2 allows a remote attacker to circumvent the anti-brute-force cool-down delay period via a timing-based side-channel attack
CVE-2021-31727
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-17
Incorrect access control in zam64.sys, zam32.sys in MalwareFox AntiMalware 2.74.0.150 where IOCTL's 0x80002014, 0x80002018 expose unrestricted disk read/write capabilities respectively. A non-privileged process can open a handle to \.\ZemanaAntiMalware, register with the driver using IOCTL 0x8000201...
CVE-2021-31728
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-17
Incorrect access control in zam64.sys, zam32.sys in MalwareFox AntiMalware 2.74.0.150 allows a non-privileged process to open a handle to \.\ZemanaAntiMalware, register itself with the driver by sending IOCTL 0x80002010, allocate executable memory using a flaw in IOCTL 0x80002040, install a hook wit...
CVE-2021-32402
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-17
Intelbras Router RF 301K Firmware 1.1.2 is vulnerable to Cross Site Request Forgery (CSRF) due to lack of validation and insecure configurations in inputs and modules.