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
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
10 Ways to Keep a Rogue RasPi From Wrecking Your Network
Curtis Franklin Jr., Senior Editor at Dark Reading,  7/10/2019
The Security of Cloud Applications
Hillel Solow, CTO and Co-founder, Protego,  7/11/2019
Where Businesses Waste Endpoint Security Budgets
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  7/15/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
Building and Managing an IT Security Operations Program
As cyber threats grow, many organizations are building security operations centers (SOCs) to improve their defenses. In this Tech Digest you will learn tips on how to get the most out of a SOC in your organization - and what to do if you can't afford to build one.
Flash Poll
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
Your enterprise's cyber risk may depend upon the relationship between the IT team and the security team. Heres some insight on what's working and what isn't in the data center.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-10100
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-16
NASA CFITSIO prior to 3.43 is affected by: Buffer Overflow. The impact is: arbitrary code execution. The component is: over 40 source code files were changed. The attack vector is: remote unauthenticated attacker. The fixed version is: 3.43.
CVE-2019-10100
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-16
BigTree-CMS commit b2eff67e45b90ca26a62e971e8f0d5d0d70f23e6 and earlier is affected by: Improper Neutralization of Script-Related HTML Tags in a Web Page. The impact is: Any Javascript code can be executed. The component is: users management page. The attack vector is: Insert payload into users' pro...
CVE-2019-10100
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-16
PluckCMS 4.7.4 and earlier is affected by: CWE-434 Unrestricted Upload of File with Dangerous Type. The impact is: get webshell. The component is: data/inc/images.php line36. The attack vector is: modify the MIME TYPE on HTTP request to upload a php file. The fixed version is: after commit 09f0ab871...
CVE-2019-13612
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-16
MDaemon Email Server 19 skips SpamAssassin checks by default for e-mail messages larger than 2 MB (and limits checks to 10 MB even with special configuration), which is arguably inconsistent with currently popular message sizes. This might interfere with risk management for malicious e-mail, if a cu...
CVE-2019-10100
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-16
Zammad GmbH Zammad 2.3.0 and earlier is affected by: Cross Site Scripting (XSS) - CWE-80. The impact is: Execute java script code on users browser. The component is: web app. The attack vector is: the victim must open a ticket. The fixed version is: 2.3.1, 2.2.2 and 2.1.3.