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Identities Are The New Security Perimeter

  • Privileged credentials for accessing an airport’s security system were recently for sale on the Dark Web for just $10, according to McAfee.
  • 18% of healthcare employees are willing to sell confidential data to unauthorized parties for as little as $500 to $1,000, and 24% of employees know of someone who has sold privileged credentials to outsiders, according to a recent Accenture survey.
  • Apple employees in Ireland have been offered as much as €20,000 ($22,878) in exchange for their privilege access credentials in 2016, according to Business Insider.
  • Privileged access credentials belonging to more than 1 million staff at a top UK law firm have been found for sale on the Dark Web.

There’s been a 135% year-over-year increase in financial data for sale on the Dark Web between the first half of 2017 and the first half of 2018. The Dark Web is now solidly established as a globally-based trading marketplace for a myriad of privileged credentials including access procedures with keywords, and corporate logins and passwords where transactions happen between anonymous buyers and sellers. It’s also the online marketplace of choice where disgruntled, angry employees turn to for revenge against employers. An employee at Honeywell, angry over not getting a raise, used the Dark Web as an intermediary to sell DEA satellite tracking system data he accessed from unauthorized accounts he created to Mexican drug cartels for $2M. He was caught in a sting operation, the breach was thwarted, and he was arrested.

Your Most Vulnerable Threat Surface Is A Best Seller

Sites on the Dark Web offer lucrative payment in bitcoin and other anonymous currencies for administrators’ accounts at leading European, UK and North American banking institutions and corporations. Employees are offering their privileged credentials for sale to the highest bidder out of anger, revenge or for financial gain anonymously from online auction sites.

Privileged access credentials are a best-seller because they provide the intruder with “the keys to the kingdom.” By leveraging a “trusted” identity, a hacker can operate undetected and exfiltrate sensitive data sets without raising any red flags. This holds especially true when the organizations are not applying multi-factor authentication (MFA) or risk-based access controls to limit any type of lateral movement after unauthorized access. Without these security measures in place, hackers can quickly access any digital businesses’ most valuable systems to exfiltrate valuable data or sabotage systems and applications.

81% of all hacking-related breaches leverage either stolen and weak passwords, according to Verizon’s 2017 Data Breach Investigations Report. A recent study by Centrify and Dow Jones Customer Intelligence titled, CEO Disconnect is Weakening Cybersecurity (31 pp, PDF, opt-in), found that CEOs can reduce the risk of a security breach by rethinking their Identity and Access Management (IAM) strategies. 68% of executives whose companies experienced significant breaches in hindsight believe that the breach could have been prevented by implementing more mature identity and access management strategies.

In A Zero Trust World, Identities Are The New Security Perimeter

The buying and selling of privileged credentials are proliferating on the Dark Web today and will exponentially increase in the years to come. Digital businesses need to realize that dated concepts of trusted and untrusted domains have been rendered ineffective. Teams of hackers aren’t breaking into secured systems; they’re logging in.

Digital businesses who are effective in thwarting privileged credential access have standardized on Zero Trust Security (ZTS) to ensure every potentially compromised endpoint, and threat surface within and outside a company is protected. Not a single device, login attempt, resource requested or other user-based actions are trusted, they are verified through Next-Gen Access (NGA).

Zero Trust Security relies upon four pillars: real-time user verification, device validation, access and privilege limitation, while also learning and adapting to verified user behaviors. Leaders in this area such as Centrify are relying on machine learning technology to calculate risk scores based on a wide spectrum of variables that quantitatively define every access attempt, including device, operating system, location, time of day, and several other key factors.

Depending on their risk scores, users are asked to validate their true identity through MFA further. If there are too many login attempts, risk scores increase quickly, and the NGA platform will automatically block and disable an account. All this happens in seconds and is running on a 24/7 basis ― monitoring every attempted login from anywhere in the world.

A recent Forrester Research thought leadership paper titled, Adopt Next-Gen Access to Power Your Zero Trust Strategy (14 pp., PDF, opt-in), provides insights into how NGA enables ZTS to scale across enterprises, protecting every endpoint and threat surface. The study found 32% of enterprises are excelling at the four ZTS pillars of verifying the identity of every user, validating every device using Mobile Data Management (MDM) and Mobile App Management (MAM), limiting access and privileges and learning and adapting using machine learning to analyze user behavior and gain greater insights from analytics.

NGA is a proven strategy for thwarting stolen and sold privileged access credentials from gaining access to a digital business’ network and systems, combining Identity-as-a-Service, Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) and Privileged Access Management (PAM). Forrester found that scalable Zero Trust Security strategies empowered by NGA lead to increased organization-wide productivity (71%), reduced overall risk (70%) and reduced cost on compliance initiatives (70%).

Additionally, insights gained from user behavior through machine learning allow for greater efficiency — both on reduced compliance (31% more confident) and overall security costs (40% more likely to be confident), as well through increased productivity for the organization (8% more likely to be confident). The following graphic from the study ranks respondents’ answers.

Conclusion

Making sure your company’s privileged access credentials don’t make the best seller list on the Dark Web starts with a strong, scalable ZTS strategy driven by NGA. Next-Gen Access continually learns the behaviors of verified users, solving a long-standing paradox of user experience in security and access management. However, every digital business needs to focus on how the four pillars of Zero Trust Security apply to them and how they can take a pragmatic, thorough approach to secure every threat surface they have.

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