The REAL Cloud Threat, and Five Ways to Combat It

Netskope

Your enterprise perimeter is a giant plastic bag with tiny holes, and your sensitive information is water. Without the right tools and processes, there is little you can do to protect your company’s sensitive data. While sanctioning the best cloud apps and protecting them with good security is a great start, it isn’t a silver bullet.

If you take a look at the most visible and impactful recent security breaches, they were carried out easily: Hackers gained access to privileged users’ accounts and used that corporate access to siphon sensitive data out of the corporate network.

This is the REAL cloud threat.

How does it happen? Three ways:

  1. Weak passwords. For whatever reason (corporate policy or app shortcoming), the user isn’t required to create a strong password. This puts the user in the annoying position of either having to reset his password frequently or risk corporate data.
  2. Compromised credentials. A user may visit a malicious website (or one that could be temporarily used for malicious purposes) and unknowingly download malware or create an account on the site, which can compromise the account credentials.
  3. Phishing and social engineering. Phishing and social engineering are two security mainstays that neither money nor technology seem to be able to solve. Whether delivered by cloud apps or good, old-fashioned email, these tricks allow the bad guys to download clandestine malware to a user, gain access to the corporate network, and either exfiltrate data immediately or create a backdoor to do so later.

Here’s my advice: First, embrace the cloud! (This is an easy one because your users are already there and they aren’t going back.) Next, apply these five simple techniques to mitigate risk of user account compromise:

  1. Enforce frequent password changes in cloud apps, use single sign-on, and use multi-factor authentication for business-critical cloud apps.
  2. Govern user access to cloud apps using a Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) like Netskope). Access policies can be by user group, location, or device classification (e.g., corporate devices get full access to a corporate sanctioned app, whereas BYOD devices get limited, web-based access).
  3. Alert on user access from risky or unexpected countries, or proximity events such as the same user logging in from two disparate locations, so that your security teams are aware of potentially compromised credentials.
  4. Manage users with compromised credentials from prior breaches by finding and alerting on users with stolen account information (personal or corporate) seen on the dark web, and prompting them to change their passwords in your corporate cloud apps. You can even do this in a CASB like Netskope in conjunction with a leading single sign-on solution like Ping Identity.
  5. Do your due diligence on cloud service providers. Leading CASBs have a well-defined yardstick (such as Netskope’s Cloud Confidence Index) that enables you to assess the enterprise-readiness of your cloud apps by looking at capabilities such as enforceability of password policies, user and admin audit logging, and support for multi-factor authentication.

Have you had to deal with compromised user accounts in your environment? What was your trick for dealing with them?