3 Ways to Prove Identity & Combat Cybercrime: National Cybersecurity Awareness Month

The Secret to Security

What if I told you that the secret to security was just one, simple and attainable thing?

Fort Knox is the de facto standard of security. It has granite walls that are four feet thick, vaults housing gold constructed with 27 inches of steel and one of the largest surveillance network on earth. Not to mention, it has the U.S. Army guarding the facility.  Yet, there is “one thing” that really helps protect this compound.

Area 51 is one of the most highly classified areas in the world. Its protective measures include elaborate fences, an actual army of guards and cameras galore. Moreover, it is in the middle of a dessert. However, once again, there is “one thing” that helps keep this location secure.

Facebook is hands down one of the biggest social network on earth. This alone makes it “hacker target number one,” so security is a massive concern. It has special rooms dedicated for hard disc erasing and redundant data centers to ensure continuous up time. To step it up they even hold internal contests looking for security vulnerabilities from within. But, there is “one thing” that really helps keep them safe.

So what is the “one thing?” While helpful, it is not a bullet proof perimeter — it is just a basic first step to security. Humans have been building walls around things since the beginning of time and people have been doing tricky things to break past them. Think the Greeks Trojan horse breaking into Troy.

The “one thing” that helps ensure your secured environment stays secure is proof of identity. It is that simple. No one expects to walk in the door of Fort Knox, Area 51 or Facebook with just their name written on a “Hello My Name Is” badge. Yet in the world of cybersecurity, this is often the case.

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Verizon states that last year 63% of breaches were a result of weak, stolen or default passwords. Using just the most basic authentication of a username and password leaves the door wide open for attackers. Despite warnings, weak passwords are reused over and over across many systems.

We all have too many passwords to remember. It seems that every other week there is another massive user breach. This data frequently gets posted straight to the internet for the taking. Just over the past few years, billions of credentials have been posted. One of your passwords is out there. I’ll stop here, but point is, it’s easy to have your username and password stolen.

So back to the “one thing”– what can you do to prove identity? Luckily it is easy and within your grasps. On a personal level, make sure to enable two-factor verification. Choose to receive a text message with a code to log into GoogleLinkedInFacebook, your bank, etc. That is just my public service announcement. I want to talk corporate security now.

How Do You Prove Identity in Corporate Networks?

  1. Consolidate identities into a single directory used for logging into all resources. This will be for all users, including privileged users. It will be for web apps, on-premise applications, infrastructure and devices.
  2. Deploy a multi-factor authenticator system that is easy to use, flexible and secure. Easy is mandatory, so have your users download an application to their smart phone so that they’ll receive push notifications and be under corporate management. This system works great when it is fast, efficient and works with modern devices. If it is built right, it will not slow down productivity.
  3. Require the use of your multi-factor authentication system. Enforce it each time a user logs in for the first time. Is he coming from somewhere you are not expecting him? Require multi-factor. Have an IT Admin looking to elevate privilege? Require use of multi-factor authentication. Use this on web apps, servers, databases, VPN’s, big data, ITSM, BI, everywhere…

Focus on identity and you will lower your risk exposure. Most regulations, security standards and security best practices talks to identity. By default you will have addressed some of the most challenging compliance concerns. And, the best part is that you have a solution that makes your users’ work life easier and securer.

Learn more about strengthening security with adaptive multi-factor authentication (MFA) across enterprise identities here