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

1/31/2017
03:10 PM
Connect Directly
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
 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
News
Former CISA Director Chris Krebs Discusses Risk Management & Threat Intel
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  2/23/2021
Edge-DRsplash-10-edge-articles
Security + Fraud Protection: Your One-Two Punch Against Cyberattacks
Joshua Goldfarb, Director of Product Management at F5,  2/23/2021
News
Cybercrime Groups More Prolific, Focus on Healthcare in 2020
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  2/22/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win an Amazon Gift Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
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
Building the SOC of the Future
Building the SOC of the Future
Digital transformation, cloud-focused attacks, and a worldwide pandemic. The past year has changed the way business works and the way security teams operate. There is no going back.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-9051
PUBLISHED: 2021-02-24
** REJECT ** DO NOT USE THIS CANDIDATE NUMBER. ConsultIDs: none. Reason: The CNA or individual who requested this candidate did not associate it with any vulnerability during 2020. Notes: none.
CVE-2020-9052
PUBLISHED: 2021-02-24
** REJECT ** DO NOT USE THIS CANDIDATE NUMBER. ConsultIDs: none. Reason: The CNA or individual who requested this candidate did not associate it with any vulnerability during 2020. Notes: none.
CVE-2020-9053
PUBLISHED: 2021-02-24
** REJECT ** DO NOT USE THIS CANDIDATE NUMBER. ConsultIDs: none. Reason: The CNA or individual who requested this candidate did not associate it with any vulnerability during 2020. Notes: none.
CVE-2021-1231
PUBLISHED: 2021-02-24
A vulnerability in the Link Layer Discovery Protocol (LLDP) for Nexus 9000 Series Fabric Switches in Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) mode could allow an unauthenticated, adjacent attacker to disable switching on a small form-factor pluggable (SFP) interface. This vulnerability is due to inc...
CVE-2021-1361
PUBLISHED: 2021-02-24
A vulnerability in the implementation of an internal file management service for Cisco Nexus 3000 Series Switches and Cisco Nexus 9000 Series Switches in standalone NX-OS mode that are running Cisco NX-OS Software could allow an unauthenticated, remote attacker to create, delete, or overwrite arbitr...