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Poor password choices make it easy for credential stuffing attacks, Digital Shadows warns

By Sara Barker
Mon 29 May 2017
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Password re-use across enterprise organisations is one of the main ways cybercriminals get inside networks and steal credentials, a new report from Digital Shadows says.

The criminals are using credential stuffing tools to automate account takeover attempts, which means they brute force credentials into login pages until a match with an existing account is found.

Digital Shadows says it found that 97% of Forbes 100 businesses suffered credential exposure, many of which were used across different platforms. Employees' poor username and password choices contribute to the ease of use through which criminals can conduct their attacks.

“Many organisations are suffering breach fatigue due to the huge numbers of credentials exposed via not only high profile incidents like those suffered by Myspace, LinkedIn and Dropbox, but also from tens of thousands of smaller breaches,” comments Rick Holland, VP strategy at Digital Shadows.

“It is critical that businesses arm themselves with the necessary intelligence and insight to manage their digital risk and prevent this problem credential exposure from escalating into an even more severe problem.”

Digital Shadows says that the most common targets for such credential stuffing attacks include the technology, broadcasting, gaming and retail sectors.

Multi-factor authentication does provide additional barriers, but it is not the 'silver bullet' to stop attacks, the company warns.

“Enterprises - and the companies that work for and with them - need to be better prepared for this sort of brute force attack,” Holland says.

The company has put together a list of tips to help enterprises and employees avoid credential stuffing.

1. Monitor for leaked credentials of your employees. Troy Hunt’s https://www.haveibeenpwned.com is a great resource for this, alerting you to instances of breaches including your organization’s email domain.

2. Monitor for mentions of your company and brand names across cracking forums. This can help to inform the security solutions you invest in. Use Google Alerts for this. It can help identify the specific risks to your business.

3. Monitor for leaked credentials of your customers, allowing you to take a more proactive response.

4. Deploy an inline Web Application Firewall. Commercial and open source web application firewalls, like ModSecurity, can be used to identify and block credential stuffing attacks.

5. Increase user awareness. Educate your staff and consumers about the dangers of using corporate email address for personal accounts, as well as reusing passwords.

6. Gain an awareness of credential stuffing tools. Keep an eye on the development of credential stuffing tools, and of how your security solutions compare to their capabilities.

7. Implement multi-factor authentication that doesn’t leverage SMS. This can help to reduce account takeovers, but make sure this is balanced against the friction it can cause.

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