The internet is becoming the second home for almost every individual amid the global pandemic. While everyone is following strict social distancing norms, cyber attackers are swiftly creeping up on our privacy by misusing broken authentication.
Broken authentication is a term that relates to different vulnerabilities that cybercriminals exploit to bypass the authentication methods.
Poor session and credential management leads to broken authentication, which helps attackers to gain access to an individual’s credentials.
As per the FBI, there’s a substantial amount of surge in cybercrimes amid the COVID-19 pandemic since the online activity of people across the US increased rapidly.
In the last couple of years, broken authentication has accounted for the biggest data breaches that lead to the loss of millions of dollars for organizations across the world.
So how can a business secure its website?
Initially, an organization needs to have a comprehensive understanding of the underlying issues and then work on implementing a multilevel security environment.
Here we’ll be discussing the weaknesses accompanying broken authentication and how a business can overcome the challenges through identity management.
What is Broken Authentication and Session Management
Authentication is the process of recognizing an individual’s identity to provide access to services.
Broken authentication, in a nutshell, is one of the vulnerabilities that can provide access to unauthorized professionals. These attackers leverage certain loopholes in a system including poor session & credential management for a successful login.
On the other hand, session management is a process of securely handling numerous requests to a web app or an application from a particular user. It helps in facilitating secure communication between a user and a web application and also applies to a series of requests.
A session begins when a user authenticates its identity through a user-id and password.
Businesses with poor session management across their website or web apps mostly face consequences leading to data-theft and illegal access to sensitive business information.
How Broken Authentication Impacts Businesses
Cybercriminals could have different intentions while they attack a business by finding loopholes in the authentication process.
They log in with someone else’s login credentials and access their data and can even access sensitive information of a business.
Let’s understand this scenario with a broken authentication real-life example.
Suppose John is working as a marketing professional in XYZ company and he has to log in daily into the company’s web portal for updating records including total sales, new client details, and net profit/loss.
Since the company’s online portal isn’t backed by strong credential and session management infrastructure, cybercriminal gains access to John’s login credential.
The unauthorized access, which seems authentic (since actual user-id and password is used) provides access to sensitive marketing-related data that can be further destroyed, altered, or even can be sold to the competitors.
On the other hand, the organization won’t even realize a breach in their security. Even if they do, they won’t be able to find the loophole.
Using a strong layer of defense and multi-factor authentication based on certain risks could have helped in this scenario.
How Businesses Can Fix Broken Authentication
Businesses can leverage identity management services that help in securing the entire login process and consumer/employee identities.
These identity management services include certain procedures and processes that enhance the overall security of a platform and minimize the risk of a data breach through broken authentication.
Since we’ve learned about what broken authentication, poor session management, and identity management is, let’s have a look at the ways by which identity management fixes these issues.
- Multi-factor authentication (MFA)
The most important aspect that can help businesses in enhancing session security is multi-factor authentication, which provides a complete layer of security against attacks.
One-time passwords (OTP) or one-time secure login URL are the perfect examples of MFA.
MFA can be implemented on a website or web app through third-party IAM (Identity and Access Management) services providers that help businesses ensure secure logins.
MFA prevents a login when there’s a suspicious login attempt based on diverse factors and asks the user to provide another proof of identity for authentication.
- Avoid deploying an application containing default credentials.
Reports reveal that most of the businesses that faced incidents of data breach have deployed an application with default login credentials.
For instance, username-“Admin”, password-“Admin” is perhaps the most common login credential for admin dashboard in most web applications.
These credentials could be easily guessed by cybercriminals, which further allows them to sneak into a business’s confidential data.
- Implement strong password policies, which include character and length.
Implementing strong password policies across your website and web applications is perhaps a secure way to prevent cyber thefts.
You can add certain validations to your sign-up forms that ensure that users follow the recommended criteria for setting up a strong password as a weak password increases the chances of a data breach.
IAM services enable strong password policies and the admin can also set up risk-based authentication procedures.
- Setting intervals at which passwords must be changed.
Old passwords must be changed at a certain time interval for enhanced security of a platform.
Businesses must ensure their employees are prompted to change their passwords at set intervals, which can be again achieved by reliable identity management software.
- Limiting failed login attempts with an alert system to notify the admin about a possible session attack.
A reliable identity and access management solution could help you minimize the risk of a potential session attack by notifying you in advance in case of a susceptibility.
You can set up risk-based authentication through a consumer identity and access management solution that further secures your users and employees while they log in to your web app.
- Using a secure session manager that creates a unique session ID after each login.
A secure session manager provides the user with a unique session id with every login.
This login session expires if certain conditions aren’t met and hence secures the user’s and company’s information.
Identity management helps in establishing secure sessions with minimal risks by enabling appropriate session timeouts after a predefined interval.
- The OWASP application security verification standard as a baseline for creating a secure application.
The Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) Top 10 is a standard awareness document for web app developers.
Businesses must adopt the OWASP document while they are building a web application to ensure it’s secure against several vulnerabilities categorized under broken authentication.
With technology growing leaps and bounds, the increased threat to confidential user data can’t be overlooked since organizations can’t afford to deal with a data breach.
Broken authentication coupled with a lack of secure login infrastructure could be the most disastrous thing for an organization.
Fortunately, the aforementioned aspects related to identity and access management solutions provide valuable insights and explain why identity management is the need of the hour.