CyberArk Pinpoints Causes of Identity Attack Surface Surge

By Greg Tavarez, TMCnet Editor  |  June 20, 2023

User identities (encompassing usernames, passwords and authentication factors) lie at the heart of any cybersecurity framework. As technology advances, though, so do exploitative tactics employed by cybercriminals. Weak passwords, phishing attempts, social engineering attacks and insider threats heighten the need for organizations to fortify their defenses against identity-related risks.

To combat identity-led cybersecurity exposure effectively, organizations are adopting a holistic approach that combines advanced technologies, employee training and a culture of cybersecurity awareness. Great, right?

One would think so. However, the levels of cyber debt built up by organizations are influencing the likes of staff turnover and a consumer spend downturn, which then led to a growth of identity-led cybersecurity exposure.

According to a recent report by CyberArk, almost all organizations anticipate facing such compromises this year. The factors contributing to this heightened risk include economic cutbacks, geopolitical influences, the adoption of cloud technologies and the widespread adoption of hybrid work models.

More than half of the organizations believe that identity-related compromises will occur as part of their digital transformation initiatives, including cloud adoption and the migration of legacy applications. These endeavors, while enabling greater efficiency and scalability, have inadvertently created new avenues for cyber threats to exploit weaknesses in user identities and access credentials.

One particular concern amplifying the risk is the emergence of insider threats fueled by factors such as disgruntled former employees or exploitable residual credentials. Of the organizations in the report, 68% anticipate encountering cyber issues stemming from employee churn in 2023. This trend highlights the importance of effectively managing user identities and access privileges even after individuals have left the organization.

Compounding the challenge, organizations are set to deploy 68% more SaaS (News - Alert) tools over the next 12 months compared to their current usage. While SaaS tools offer flexibility and productivity benefits, the vast number of human and machine identities granted access to sensitive data through these tools introduces a critical vulnerability. Without proper security measures, these identities can become potential gateways for malicious attacks.

“Business transformation, driven by digital and cloud initiatives, continues to result in a surge in new enterprise identities,” said Matt Cohen, CEO, CyberArk. “While attackers are constantly innovating, compromising identities remains the most effective way to circumvent cyber defenses and access sensitive data and assets. Such profound risk puts the issue of ‘who and what to trust’ at the forefront of efforts to prevent cyber debt from compounding and to build long-term cyber resilience.”

To combat the looming threats, organizations are increasingly prioritizing robust identity and access management strategies. This includes implementing zero trust, MFA (News - Alert) protocols, adopting privileged access management solutions and bolstering user behavior monitoring capabilities as well as consolidating with trusted partners. By doing so, organizations aim to minimize the risks associated with compromised identities and protect their valuable digital assets.

The remainder of 2023 is shaping up to be a key period for organizations as they strive to secure their digital ecosystems against identity-related compromise. Organizations must remain vigilant and proactive in fortifying their defenses.

Edited by Alex Passett
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