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
Threaded  |  Newest First  |  Oldest First
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.


 

 
Mobile Banking Malware Up 50% in First Half of 2019
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  1/17/2020
Active Directory Needs an Update: Here's Why
Raz Rafaeli, CEO and Co-Founder at Secret Double Octopus,  1/16/2020
Google Lets iPhone Users Turn Device into Security Key
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  1/15/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
The Year in Security: 2019
This Tech Digest provides a wrap up and overview of the year's top cybersecurity news stories. It was a year of new twists on old threats, with fears of another WannaCry-type worm and of a possible botnet army of Wi-Fi routers. But 2019 also underscored the risk of firmware and trusted security tools harboring dangerous holes that cybercriminals and nation-state hackers could readily abuse. Read more.
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
How Enterprises are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
Organizations have invested in a sweeping array of security technologies to address challenges associated with the growing number of cybersecurity attacks. However, the complexity involved in managing these technologies is emerging as a major problem. Read this report to find out what your peers biggest security challenges are and the technologies they are using to address them.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-5647
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-22
The Chrome Plugin for Rapid7 AppSpider can incorrectly keep browser sessions active after recording a macro, even after a restart of the Chrome browser. This behavior could make future session hijacking attempts easier, since the user could believe a session was closed when it was not. This issue af...
CVE-2011-3612
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-22
Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF) vulnerability exists in panel.php in UseBB before 1.0.12.
CVE-2011-3613
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-22
An issue exists in Vanilla Forums before 2.0.17.9 due to the way cookies are handled.
CVE-2011-3614
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-22
An Access Control vulnerability exists in the Facebook, Twitter, and Embedded plugins in Vanilla Forums before 2.0.17.9.
CVE-2011-3621
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-22
A reverse proxy issue exists in FluxBB before 1.4.7 when FORUM_BEHIND_REVERSE_PROXY is enabled.