IT professionals have no faith in passwords or the cyber security of their organisations, according to a survey carried out by Lieberman Software at this year’s RSA conference which studied the attitudes of nearly 200 IT security professionals.
The results revealed that over three-quarters (77%) of IT professionals believe passwords are failing IT security. It also found that 53% of those surveyed thought that modern hacking tools could easily break passwords within their organizations.
“These results really tap into the mindset of the IT security industry,” said Philip Lieberman, President and CEO of Lieberman Software. “If the vast majority of respondents think passwords are failing, then it’s time to rethink how we’re using them. Attackers use automated methods to brute force credentials and gain privileged access to enterprise networks – often in a matter of minutes. Once they’re inside, they can nest there anonymously, biding their time until it’s opportune to strike. To counter this threat, organizations should take the same automated approach and apply it to their privileged credentials. Changing credentials continuously in a non-disruptive way would go a long way toward keeping the bad guys from gaining unrestricted access on the network.”
The study also showed that 45% of respondents think that even with all the IT security technology deployed in their organizations, they’re still unable to defend against cyber attacks.
“I’m not surprised that almost half of IT security professionals aren’t prepared to defend against modern cyber attacks,” Lieberman continued. “Today’s advanced threats can defeat the conventional perimeter security tools that organizations rely upon. Once the attacker gets past the perimeter, all they need to do is compromise just one privileged credential to move from system to system on the network, extracting sensitive data along the way. This comes back to the notion that passwords are failing IT security. If organizations cannot secure the credentials hackers need to gain privileged access, the massive data breaches we keep reading about in the news are only going to increase.”
According to Jonathan Sander, VP of product strategy at Lieberman Software, the solution to password issues with privileged accounts is to use both password management tools and two-factor authentication. “At the very least, the secure library of privileged passwords should demand the use of multi-factor authentication when going through the process of checking out a password” Sander explains. There are however, situations where multi-factor is not supported Sander continues, in which case “constant rotation of the passwords is the best protection you can get.”