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Compromised credentials a leading point of attack in data breaches

22 Apr 2016

Compromised credentials are still to blame for almost a quarter of data breaches, resulting in the majority of companies extending internal access control policies to third parties.

This is according to a new Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) survey titled ‘Identity Solutions: Security Beyond the Perimeter’.

In February 2016, the CSA released a report titled, “The Treacherous Twelve: Cloud Computing Top Threats in 2016,” which revealed top concerns of IT security professionals in cloud computing.

Data breaches, account hijacking and malicious insiders all rated as top threats. These attacks often occur because of a lack of scalable identity access management systems, failure to use multifactor authentication, insufficient password use and a lack of ongoing automated rotation of cryptographic keys, passwords and certificates, according to the CSA.

As such, it’s not surprising that insufficient identity, credential and access management ranked as the top vulnerability in today’s released findings, says the CSA.

“The survey results are insightful into understanding insufficient identity, credential and access management, as it relates to the evolving, increasingly cloud-based enterprise,” said Luciano “J.R.” Santos, CSA executive vice president of research. 

“We hope that organisations and cloud providers can use this information to help gain an understanding of how to protect themselves and their data beyond the perimeter, as they begin to adopt cloud environments.”

Key findings include:

  • Of those who indicated their company reported a data breach, 22% of respondents noted the breach was due to compromised credentials. In addition, 65% of respondents indicated that the likelihood their company would experience a future breach due to compromised credentials was medium to high.
  • Surprisingly, there were no significant differences in security solutions used between respondents who reported a breach and those who either did not report or did not know of a reported breach in their organisations.
  • Companies embracing big data solutions consistently adopted more perimeter and identity security solutions.
  • 76% of internal access control policies extended to outsourced IT, vendors and other third parties.

“The survey findings reiterate that compromised credentials are a leading point of attack used in data breaches,” said Bill Mann, Centrify chief product officer.

“We hope that these findings will encourage organisations to leverage single sign-on, multi-factor authentication, mobile and Mac management, along with privileged access security and session monitoring, in order to minimise attack surfaces, thwart in-progress attacks and achieve continuous compliance.

"It’s also critical that companies secure internal and external users as well as privileged accounts – and it’s great to see that many organisations are already taking that step and extending access control policies to third parties.”

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