Even as the IT community observed the ‘World Password Day’ on May 5, it is surprising and alarming that organizations keep on suffering data breaches due to the misuse of passwords. The idea of ‘World Password Day’ is to remind, reassess and rethink the password management policy in respective organizations.
On an individual level, we do consider our email passwords or social media account passwords delicate enough to secure our personal information. Who likes to see his/ her privacy breached?
Similarly, on a larger scale, organizations require a robust password management policy to ensure the primary security of confidential databases, cloud resources, critical financial assets, or even overall access management of IT resources. A single credential breach or unauthorized access can wreak havoc on the organization – both financially and reputation-wise.
Here are some incidents of password breaches and consequent catastrophes that happened in the first quarter of 2022.
These incidents show that somewhere we are still leaving loopholes behind when it comes to managing and protecting passwords for the security of sensitive and confidential business information.
- A data analytics firm in the USA exposed data of almost 198 million voters due to unprotected passwords – misused by a hackers’ group
- More than 214 million social media users’ details of a European agency were exposed due to easy and password-less access to the database – abused by some insider
- A risk and compliance startup from the APAC region suffered a data breach due to the compromise of passwords by some unauthorized and unknown users
Why are passwords vulnerable?
To answer this million-dollar question, we must analyze the procedures that IT security teams follow to manage passwords in their organizations. Even if they are privileged passwords, then also organizations throw a lackadaisical attitude towards managing them securely.
More than 80% of data breach incidents happen due to poor privileged password protection strategies (no randomization of passwords, no frequent changes of the passwords etc.).
A single data breach incident can cost organizations millions of dollars, yet the IT security measures that organizations take to prevent catastrophes are very minimal or sometimes nothing. Still, organizations fail to provide utmost security to all the passwords available in the enterprise network. There are several reasons behind password vulnerabilities:
- Users tend to have simple passwords (eg. names, date of birth, ongoing calendar year etc.) so that they can memorize them easily. However, it increases the vulnerability due to the predictability factor.
- Users maintain an excel sheet or sometimes a simple word file of all the passwords for convenience. Alternatively, they keep it written somewhere for easy access. None of the processes is secured as it paves the way for the malicious actors to misuse passwords as per their wishes.
- Passwords shared through emails bear a high risk of misuse. In situations where employees leave the organization and his/ her emails are accessed by someone else, then he/ she could get unwanted access to the passwords. Moreover, if emails are hacked, then also the passwords could lose their confidentiality.
- Another risk, probably the maximum risk lies with shared passwords. A single password shared with multiple end-users can be disastrous as there are chances that the main culprit remains undetected in case of compromise of the account. In worse conditions, it could result in the loss of ownership of the account.
In a vast IT infrastructure, there are thousands of privileged accounts that have privileged credentials to access all the sensitive and confidential business information. Ideally, these credentials should have a robust security mechanism to ensure data security and data privacy. However, organizations often fail to value the crux of passwords and hence, resulting in the vulnerabilities mentioned above.
Adding to the woes, hacking techniques are getting more sophisticated day by day and the number of passwords is also increasing uncontrollably for various accounts, systems or databases. In this backdrop, the organizations must take adequate IT security measures to ensure secure password management practices.
How do you ensure Password Protection?
ARCON, being a global thought leader in IT risk preventive solutions, always propagates enterprises for implementing the right and adequate password protection techniques. It is one of the most crucial IT security areas for enterprises to protect information assets from malicious and unauthorized access. Moreover, when it comes to privileged passwords, extra preventive measures become mandatory as they are the gateways to all confidential business information.
The vulnerability of passwords is more evident in a shared and distributed environment. If privileged accounts or credentials are shared by multiple users, information assets are prone to breaches. Hence, organizations must ensure that privileged accounts are resistant enough against password hacks. ARCON’s flagship solution Privileged Access Management (PAM) offers a robust password vault engine that rules out the chances of unauthorized access and password abuse. This powerful automated engine makes sure that –
- The Privileged passwords are stored in a highly secured manner with AES-256 encryption. It creates a centralized secure repository of passwords for multiple systems so that no password can be duplicated by anyone under any circumstance.
- The passwords are automated and frequently rotated and randomized so that the prerequisites of a strong password policy are mandated. It creates a virtual preventive fortress that stops any unauthorized user from accessing any sensitive information at any point of time.
- Privilege password vaulting assists the IT administrators to adopt a robust privileged access management practice that helps in forensic analysis to find out who has done what to the passwords.
Strong passwords are the safety locks that protect the treasure trove of business information from unwanted thefts. ARCON | PAM’s Password Vault tool offers an extra security layer around the credentials in real-time to ensure authorized access to the critical systems and mitigate data breach threats.