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Key Credential Theft Protection Solutions to Protect Your Company

Posted on by Dawna M. Roberts in SecurityDecember 08, 2020

Businesses these days don’t just have a responsibility to their employees, but they are also tasked with keeping their vendors’ and customers’ data safe. As evidenced by the plethora of data breaches, most companies are not doing enough to keep their corporate information safe. 

Hackers Target Credentials

IBM published a report in 2020 explaining that stolen passwords make up the majority of information stolen in data breaches. In it, they claimed: 

“Stolen or compromised credentials were the most expensive cause of malicious data breaches. One in five companies (19%) that suffered a malicious data breach was infiltrated due to stolen or compromised credentials, increasing the average total cost of a breach for these companies by nearly $1 million to $4.77 million. Overall, malicious attacks registered as the most frequent root cause (52% of breaches in the study), versus human error (23%) or system glitches (25%), at an average total cost of $4.27 million.”

As you can see from the statistics, stolen credentials not only cost victims an enormous amount in losses, but they are also the most profitable and desirable for hackers. This is why it is so essential for companies to protect their customers’ and employee’s data. 

credential theft prevention

Why is Credential Theft a Problem for Companies?

Not only do companies experience severe financial losses in a data breach, but they may also be penalized with steep fines. The cost to their public reputation is also a factor that plays into the equation. 

Adding to the problem is that once a company’s network has been breached, the ripple effect is that customers’ or employees’ data may be used for identity theft (which could negatively affect them for years) or for credential stuffing where hackers use the stolen credentials on other accounts hoping the person reused them. They are often successful, so now the customer has additional compromised accounts due to a single data breach.

Breached/Pwned Passwords

What is a “breached” or “pwned” password? It is a password that has been stolen from somewhere. Even if your company did not experience a data breach, but one of your customers uses a password on multiple websites, and one of those was breached, that customer’s account with you is now vulnerable to hacking. 

There are massive lists of exposed credentials on the dark web. Hackers sell them for enormous profits. Some of the data come from other breaches and some from data leaks resulting from unsecured servers or online storage.

Most companies don’t even consider the danger of externally breached passwords and the effect on their own systems. If an employee’s data was breached and that person is responsible for your server. They may use the same bad practices with password creation, thus leaving your systems vulnerable.

Solutions to Prevent Credential Theft

Most built-in software solutions are not adequate to protect against breached passwords. If a company uses Microsoft Server and Active Directory, for example. Active Directory includes tools to manage users and permissions, but it has no way of comparing breached passwords against those currently used.

However, the good news is there are add-on tools to protect your company against breached passwords being leverages to gain access to your network. One such tool is called Specops for Active Directory, which continually updates a database against breached passwords to prevent the use or rather reuse of those non-compliant passwords within your systems. 

According to The Hacker News, some of the benefits of a tool like this are:

  • “Provides a list of breached passwords – Includes a combination of thousands of different sources of leaked passwords from well-known sources such as as well as obscure breached lists,
  • Contains several billion breached passwords that are checked in your environment,
  • Immediately prevents users from using passwords that are contained on the breached password list,
  • With Specops Breached Password Protection Complete, if a user changes their password to one in the leaked list of passwords, they are notified by email or SMS,
  • Their account is also flagged, forcing the user to change the password the next time they log in.”

Specops uses an API plugin to continuously communicate with the Specops server updating its database of more than 2 billion breached passwords, so you have up-to-date real-time security compliance.

If your IT specialist is uncomfortable using an API solution, they can download the complete list on the fly and install it at their leisure. The only difference is that it relies on human interaction to remain at peak efficiency. 

The policy creation tool within Specops allows you to prevent users from creating and using any previously breached passwords. Some of those benefits include:

  • “Prevent users from changing to a leaked password.
  • Force users to change leaked passwords when the Breached Password Protection Express list is updated.
  • Notify users when they are forced to change passwords.”

Companies need to do all they can to protect their assets from hackers and thieves. Specops Software is just one way you can implement better cybersecurity for your entire organization. 

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