The Password Is: Liability - InformationWeek

InformationWeek 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.

IoT
IoT
News
News
2/25/2004
02:55 PM
Connect Directly
Google+
LinkedIn
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

The Password Is: Liability

A new report says passwords are the weakest link in business IT; a Microsoft-RSA partnership aims to offer help.

Passwords are the weakest link in enterprise IT. That's the message in a new report citing the security risks faced by business travelers, as well as from RSA Security Inc. and Microsoft as they unveiled RSA SecurID tokens to simplify and secure Windows logins.

In a report for network-security company Secure Computing Corp., security consultant Rodney Thayer found that business travelers run a risk of compromising their company networks when they use public Internet access points.

"There really is a risk. There are a lot of opportunities for people to gain your password," Thayer says in the report, "Remote Insecurity: How Business Travelers Risk Exposing Their Companies When Remotely Accessing Company Networks."

At an airport Internet kiosk, for example, he suggests that an attacker could install a keyboard sniffer to capture all keystrokes entered in a hidden file. Such programs are freely available over the Internet and can be easily downloaded and installed.

Thayer also tested the security at a coffee shop with commercial wireless Internet access. He says that by using available software, an attacker could capture password data, use a keyboard sniffer to capture keystrokes, or simply "shoulder surf"--watch as a user enters his or her password.

While Thayer cannot attribute specific security breaches to such tactics, he says he's aware of numerous incidents that can't be explained by anything but stolen passwords. "This isn't a risk that can be ignored," he says.

With password resets comprising 40% of help-desk calls, according to RSA, a move toward something more secure and less costly for companies starts making sense. Users frustrated with monthly password changes probably won't object.

The RSA SecureID tokens add an extra step for security: Instead of typing in only a password, users of the tokens also must enter a random number that appears on their so-called SecureID, a key-chain fob or plastic card they carry with them. The number changes every minute, generated by an algorithm that also resides on a server inside a company's computing center.

The tokens, which stem from an Microsoft-RSA agreement disclosed Tuesday at RSA's annual security conference in San Francisco, would protect Windows-based computers with the token scheme, whether they're portable or attached to a company network.

"Despite highly publicized corporate security breaches caused by individuals who have circumvented password systems," RSA Security president and CEO Art Coviello said in a statement, "many companies still rely on them for user access to desktops and the network domain."

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
2020 State of DevOps Report
2020 State of DevOps Report
Download this report today to learn more about the key tools and technologies being utilized, and how organizations deal with the cultural and process changes that DevOps brings. The report also examines the barriers organizations face, as well as the rewards from DevOps including faster application delivery, higher quality products, and quicker recovery from errors in production.
News
The State of Chatbots: Pandemic Edition
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  9/10/2020
Commentary
Deloitte on Cloud, the Edge, and Enterprise Expectations
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  9/14/2020
Slideshows
Data Science: How the Pandemic Has Affected 10 Popular Jobs
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  9/9/2020
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Video
Current Issue
IT Automation Transforms Network Management
In this special report we will examine the layers of automation and orchestration in IT operations, and how they can provide high availability and greater scale for modern applications and business demands.
White Papers
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Sponsored Video
Flash Poll