SecurityBrief Asia logo
Asia's leading source of cybersecurity and cyber-attack news
Story image

Identity and access: the fight is on

By Contributor
Fri 1 Jul 2022

Article by Forter CISO Gunnar Peterson.

As was reported quite widely in APAC, earlier this year, cybercriminals infiltrated Okta's systems, an authentication company thousands of organisations around the world use to manage access to their networks and applications.

The threat actor gang, known as Lapsus$, gained access to the laptop of one of Okta's third-party support engineers for five days, potentially affecting a small number of the company's customers.

Okta said the access was limited, but this wasn't even the biggest issue. While cyberattacks are so frequent these days, this incident was different because the bad actors cleverly targeted the very tools that so many customers use to restrict network access.

Blue team defenders are used to protecting our data, applications, and users with access controls and other security mechanisms, which is why attacks like this are especially challenging when they target identity and access control systems - the very thing defenders rely on to keep intruders out. Identity is now much more than a glue layer for distributing access; it is a frontline perimeter for defenders. In fact, Microsoft corporate vice president and CISO Bret Arsenault summarised the issue perfectly: "Hackers don't break in; they log in."

Identity and authentication mechanisms, like multifactor authentication, are commonly used as a first line of defence. However, agencies across the world, such as the FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), recently issued an alert warning that this technology on its own is failing against sophisticated, evolving cybercriminal groups and tactics.

According to the alert, the exploitations occur after actors gain access to a victim's on-premises network and then leverage privileged access to subvert mechanisms that grant access to cloud and on-premises resources. They are also compromising administrator credentials to manage cloud resources. Simply put, our adversaries are dynamic and intelligent, and defenders cannot rely solely on static, list-based access control systems. Our access control protection layers need to be backstopped by monitoring systems that can detect malice and continually improve access control quality.

Access control mediates communications between users and the applications and data. But when attackers turn their focus from the applications and data and instead focus on companies' identity and access control systems, the job of defending systems gets fiercely complicated.

To cope with a more targeted malicious environment, access control systems need to adapt to user behaviour and types of requests and flows. The protective access control layers must co-evolve with the intelligence gained from the detection layer. This requires automation to scale efficiently.

Identity and access control systems focus on enforcing authentication and authorisation policies. However, detecting malice requires more insight, and technology exists to fill that gap. Identity graphs go beyond the access control matrix to inspect user behaviour for tactics like token tampering, forgery, and other tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) that can adversely impact networks with account takeovers and lateral movements. Access to systems should be monitored not only for policy compliance but also for known malicious behaviours.

Interestingly, an NSA/CISA alert also recommends cloud tenants pay attention to locking down tenant single sign-on (SSO) configuration and service principle usage, as well as hardening the systems that run on-premises identity and federation services. Monitoring the use of SSO tokens and the use of service principles in the cloud can help detect the compromise of identity services.

If you have a chance to observe a red team attack on your system, you may notice that your access control system probably functions the same during a legitimate log-in as it does when it's under attack. It shouldn't. The access control system should be defended by looking for known attack behaviours and stepping up its posture to meet these challenges. As attacker tactics dramatically increase in frequency and sophistication, defenders must co-evolve and add ongoing malice detection to our identity and access control stacks.

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Cloud Security
Organisations struggling to secure new cloud environments
“In the wake of COVID-19, organisations substantially accelerated their digital transformation initiatives to accommodate a remote workforce."
Story image
Malicious app downloads
Bitdefender finds malicious campaign active on Google Play
Bitdefender has released research about a new Google Play campaign that bypasses the storefront's security checks to deliver potentially malicious content and advertisements.
Story image
Malware
Top security threats for July 2022 revealed in new report
Securonix Threat Labs has been keeping an eye on each and every threat impacting customers and is aware of widespread campaigns.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Verizon supports Fujifilm's cybersecurity advancements
Verizon Business is supporting Japan’s Fujifilm Holdings to strengthen its global cybersecurity monitoring and cyber intelligence capabilities.
Story image
Cybersecurity
‘Windows shops’ target admin rights to de-risk their environments
New data shows up to 75% of critical vulnerabilities could be mitigated through a rights and privileges crackdown
Story image
Gartner
Fortinet attributes Gartner-reported growth to ZTNA approach
Zero-trust is slowly becoming a dominant enterprise security strategy for businesses, and the Gartner report highlights that although prominent, it is often underutilised.
Story image
Mobiles
Demand grows for future-proof mobile access solutions
HID Global, in partnership with IFSEC Global, recently released the 2022 State of Physical Access Control report for the fourth year running.
Story image
scam
Classiscam threat expands to target leading platforms in Singapore
Researchers at Group-IB have uncovered that Classiscam, a sophisticated scam-as-a-service operation, has expanded to Singapore.
Story image
Solutions
Ivanti reveals potential ROI of 261% for Endpoint Management Solution
Ivanti has announced the results of a commissioned Total Economic Impact (TEI) study conducted by Forrester Consulting.
Story image
Data Protection
Zero Trust, but verify - finding the OT in ZerO Trust
The move to remote and cloud-based technologies has shifted the goalposts for cybersecurity. It now needs to cover multiple people, devices, platforms, and networks.
Story image
Cyber attacks
Dramatic uptick in threat activity with exploits growing nearly 150%
"While it’s not a surprise given increased attack opportunities like remote work, it’s still a worrying development and one we cannot ignore."
Story image
Malware
Kaspersky uncovers new attacks by advanced persistent threat group
The attacks involved modifications of the well-known malware, DTrack, as well as the use of a brand-new Maui ransomware.
Story image
Collaboration
Schneider Electric launches Connected Services with Claroty
Schneider Electric is teaming up with Claroty to assist in maintaining cybersecurity for physical assets - a critical issue.
Story image
VMware
Latest VMware threat report reveals truth about deepfakes
"Cyber criminals have evolved. Their new goal is to use deepfake technology to compromise organisations and gain access to their environment."
Story image
Cybersecurity
Education sector seeing highest volumes of cyber attacks
When breaking down the numbers to education attacks by region in July 2022, A/NZ was the most heavily attacked.
Story image
Collaboration
Lacework launches new capabilities for better threat detection
Lacework has announced new capabilities that enable organisations to uncover more critical threats to their infrastructure and empower teams.
Story image
DevOps
Dynatrace extends application security capabilities for runtime environments
Dynatrace has announced that it has extended its Application Security Module to detect and protect against vulnerabilities in runtime environments.
Story image
Check Point Software
Check Point Research finds vulnerabilities in Xiaomi's mobile payment mechanism
Check Point Software's research teams have uncovered vulnerabilities in Xiaomi's mobile payment mechanism.
Story image
Mobility
Cradlepoint launches architectural extension of NetCloud solution
With this latest release Cradlepoint is focused on helping lean IT organisations with advanced SD-WAN and zero trust capabilities.
AWS Marketplace
Learn how security orchestration, automation, and response (SOAR) enhances your security strategy.
Link image
Story image
IDC
High level of Customer Identity & Access Management adoption
The study from Okta revealed that the pandemic has either accelerated or highlighted the need for digital-first strategies.
Story image
Ransomware
Sophos reveals latest ransomware trend impacting orgs
Sophos has announced in a new whitepaper that Hive, LockBit and BlackCat, three prominent ransomware gangs, consecutively attacked the same network.
Story image
Microsoft
Avast reveals zero-day exploits targeting Chrome and Microsoft
Avast, released its Q2/2022 Threat Report today, revealing a significant increase in global ransomware attacks, up 24% from Q1/2022.
AWS Marketplace
Whitepaper: A practical guide for mitigating risk in today’s modern applications
Link image
Story image
Cybersecurity
Claroty research unveils new attack that targets PLCs
Claroty has released research detailing a new type of cyber-attack, one that weaponises programmable logic controllers (PLCs).
Story image
ExtraHop
Organisations exposing highly sensitive protocols to public internet
More than 60% of organisations expose remote control protocol SSH to the public internet, while 36% of organisations expose the insecure FTP protocol.
Story image
Microsoft
8x more users attacked via old Microsoft Office vulnerability in Q2
"Criminals craft malicious documents and convince their victims to open them through social engineering techniques."
Story image
Email scams
HelpSystems shines light on impact of response-based threats
Response-based attacks targeting corporate inboxes have climbed to their highest volume since 2020, representing 41% of all email-based scams.
AWS Marketplace
Watch this webinar to gain building blocks for data mesh, and how AWS customers today are successfully enabling domain driven data.
Link image
Story image
Cloud Security
Tenable makes additions to Cloud Security portfolio
Tenable has announced additions to Tenable Cloud Security that represent the next step in assessing threats related to cloud vulnerabilities.
Story image
Machine learning
Sysdig releases CDR offering to combat cryptojacking
Sysdig has unveiled a cloud detection and response (CDR) offering powered by machine learning to combat cryptojacking.
Story image
Data analytics
Pressure on orgs to up their data analytics game - study
A recent report from Sisense highlights data transmission, analysis, and risk management remain top concerns for data professionals in APAC.
Story image
Cloud Security
Lookout named Strong Performer in 2022 Gartner Peer Insights
Gartner has recognised Lookout as a Strong Performer in the 2022 Gartner Peer Insights Voice of the Customer for Security Service Edge (SSE).
Story image
Facial recognition
Benefits vs risks of facial recognition technology
Once a distant, futuristic concept, facial recognition technology is now found in many technological applications with a variety of different functions. 
Story image
Gartner Magic Quadrant
Gartner names Lookout a Visionary in 2022 Magic Quadrant
Gartner has recognised Lookout as a Visionary in the 2022 Magic Quadrant for Security Service Edge (SSE) and one of the top three offerings in the 2022 Gartner Critical Capabilities for SSE report.
Story image
Data Protection
Safeguarding your financial data
As the digital revolution marches on, managing data security has never been more important. Here are five important steps to take toward better financial data security.
Story image
Biometrics
Can biometrics help? 123% increase in Gen Zs scammed online
In the three years leading up to 2022, the number of Gen Zs who fell victim to online scams rose by 123%, according to Ping Identity.
Story image
Privileged Access Management / PAM
The importance of stopping identity sprawl for cybersecurity
The 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) shows that 61% of all breaches involve malicious actors gaining unauthorised, privileged access to data by using a compromised credential. Unfortunately, it is often too late when the misuse of a credential is detected.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Concentric AI protects sensitive data with new capabilities
The new capability reveals sensitive data shared across email and business messaging platforms and highlights who has inappropriate access to content.
Story image
Cybersecurity
CISOs need to consider a risk-based cybersecurity strategy
Rather than talking in terms of attack vectors and vulnerabilities, CISOs and security decision-makers must look at actual business risk.