Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Risk

5/2/2019
10:30 AM
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Why Are We Still Celebrating World Password Day?

Calls to eliminate the password abound on this World Password Day - and the technology to change is ready. So why can't we get off our password habit?

Intel started the first World Password Day in 2013. By the looks of it, many in the industry want to make today's celebration one of the last.

Tim Bedard, director of security product marketing at OneSpan, explains that ever since the major breach incidents of 2013 and the couple of years after that — including Target, Home Depot, OPM, and more recently Equifax — there's no shortage of stolen credentials on the Dark Web.

"Credentials are compromised and available on the Dark Web for pennies on the dollar," he says. "And since people tend to reuse the same passwords, it's easy for hackers to gain access to people's systems."

Today's digital sprawl also makes it tough for users and security teams to manage passwords, and it leads to bad habits that can cause data breaches, adds Robb Reck, chief information security officer at Ping Identity.

"When people use the same password on multiple sites, easily guessed passwords, and passwords with patterns that change based on the site, it leads to account takeover and data theft," Reck says.  

Today the industry is witnessing a movement away from the password and toward more risk-based authentication. Security companies including OneSpan, Ping Identity, and SecureAuth have taken this path.

In risk-based authentication, software does a risk analysis of a user request and determines whether the transaction is low-, medium-, or high-risk, explains Stephen Cox, chief security architect at SecureAuth.

"If it's low-risk, the system will let them in," he says. "If it's medium-risk, the system will ask for a second factor. And if the person asks that a high-volume transaction be sent to a country where the user doesn't normally do business, the system will rate the person as malicious and block the transaction."

So the $64 million question on this World Password Day is: If the industry has the technology to eliminate the password, what's holding everyone back?

Frank Dickson, a research vice president at IDC who covers security, says companies have relied on passwords for decades, plus they are easy and inexpensive to create. Moving to a system where developers bake more security into applications slows down time-to-market and takes a lot more planning and effort, he adds.

But Dickson also says the industry tends to miss a really important point: "Better security is about 50% of the equation," Dickson says. "We tend to forget that we can create a better user experience by eliminating the password."

He points to device fingerprint technology as an example. The software takes a fingerprint of the phone, logging its brand, memory, location, and IP address. Users at a retail or banking site can simply download an app from the online site that would authenticate them on an ongoing basis. A password isn't needed; the system uses risk-based analysis to authenticate the user, Dickson explains.

"Technologies such as two-factor authentication, continuous authentication tools, and risk engines that look for suspicious behavior before granting access all allow companies to limit or remove passwords from the regular user workflow," Ping Identity's Reck says. "This improves the user experience and can also be a net gain to security when done correctly. Companies that jump on this trend will be the ones with the most seamless customer experience."

Another option, says Dr. Torsten George, cybersecurity evangelist at Centrify, is for companies to focus on privileged access management. In a recent survey by his company, 74% of respondents acknowledged that a data breach involved access to a privileged account, he says.

George offers a four-step approach to companies looking to shore up access to privileged accounts: deploy a password vault, use multifactor authentication, consolidate access to privilege accounts among system administrators, and leverage machine learning to do advanced monitoring.

"When we talk to CEOs, they are all worried about malware, but when we talk to CIOs and CISO, they are aware that identity is the issue," George says. "The password has been around since medieval times, so I think 20 years from now there will still be user names and passwords. It's stunning since there are very simple steps we can take."

On a more positive note, for those looking to eliminate the password, risk-based authentication technology offers some hope, as does a recent move by Microsoft to no longer recommend users change their passwords every 60 days. Microsoft has been moving to multifactor authentication, saying that "ancient" password practices must change.

So enjoy this World Password Day. It could be one of the last.  

Related Content: 

 

 

 

Join Dark Reading LIVE for two cybersecurity summits at Interop 2019. Learn from the industry's most knowledgeable IT security experts. Check out the Interop agenda here.

Steve Zurier has more than 30 years of journalism and publishing experience, most of the last 24 of which were spent covering networking and security technology. Steve is based in Columbia, Md. View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
privacy_recommendation
50%
50%
privacy_recommendation,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/3/2019 | 11:48:22 AM
Why World Password Day is Celebrated

World Password Day May 2, 2019, is World Password Day. It was created to raise awareness about the importance of using strong passwords, and how easy it is to improve your cyber defenses.


 

 
Where Businesses Waste Endpoint Security Budgets
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  7/15/2019
US Mayors Commit to Just Saying No to Ransomware
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  7/16/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: Now this is the worst micromanagment I've seen.
Current Issue
Building and Managing an IT Security Operations Program
As cyber threats grow, many organizations are building security operations centers (SOCs) to improve their defenses. In this Tech Digest you will learn tips on how to get the most out of a SOC in your organization - and what to do if you can't afford to build one.
Flash Poll
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
Your enterprise's cyber risk may depend upon the relationship between the IT team and the security team. Heres some insight on what's working and what isn't in the data center.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2018-17210
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-20
An issue was discovered in PrinterOn Central Print Services (CPS) through 4.1.4. The core components that create and launch a print job do not perform complete verification of the session cookie that is supplied to them. As a result, an attacker with guest/pseudo-guest level permissions can bypass t...
CVE-2019-12934
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-20
An issue was discovered in the wp-code-highlightjs plugin through 0.6.2 for WordPress. wp-admin/options-general.php?page=wp-code-highlight-js allows CSRF, as demonstrated by an XSS payload in the hljs_additional_css parameter.
CVE-2019-9229
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-20
An issue was discovered on AudioCodes Mediant 500L-MSBR, 500-MBSR, M800B-MSBR and 800C-MSBR devices with firmware versions F7.20A to F7.20A.251. An internal interface exposed to the link-local address 169.254.254.253 allows attackers in the local network to access multiple quagga VTYs. Attackers can...
CVE-2019-12815
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-19
An arbitrary file copy vulnerability in mod_copy in ProFTPD up to 1.3.5b allows for remote code execution and information disclosure without authentication, a related issue to CVE-2015-3306.
CVE-2019-13569
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-19
A SQL injection vulnerability exists in the Icegram Email Subscribers & Newsletters plugin through 4.1.7 for WordPress. Successful exploitation of this vulnerability would allow a remote attacker to execute arbitrary SQL commands on the affected system.