Cloudflare Breach: Okta’s Ripple Effect

Abstract

In a recent revelation, Cloudflare disclosed a security breach on Thanksgiving Day, November 23, 2023. This blog delves into the timeline of events and emphasises the critical role of passwordless authentication in mitigating such breaches.

Breach Overview: Understanding the Thanksgiving Intrusion

In an orchestrated attack, threat actors exploited stolen credentials from the Okta security breach in October. Cloudflare’s internal systems, particularly the Atlassian server, became the focal point for unauthorised access and data compromise.

Compromised Credentials: The Fallout on Cloudflare’s Security

Despite the awareness of the Okta breach, Cloudflare’s failure to rotate service tokens that have very long validity and account credentials allowed threat actors to establish persistent access. This breach impacted Cloudflare’s Atlassian environment, leading to unauthorised access to sensitive documentation and a limited set of source code repositories.

Nation-State Attribution and the Real Culprit: Passwords

Cloudflare attributes the breach to a likely nation-state actor, mirroring the recent trend in cyber threats. However, one can suggest that the fundamental issue lies in the continued reliance on a vulnerable authentication method, which enables such breaches to unfold.

Highlighting the Key Issue: The Perils of Passwords

The breach underscores the inherent vulnerability of conventional password systems. Stolen Okta credentials served as the gateway for threat actors, exposing the limitations of password-centric security measures. This incident highlights the urgent need for organisations to transition towards passwordless authentication solutions & short session validity to fortify their security posture.

It’s the painful experience of passwords based login which forces admins and users to choose long term session tokens to minimise the number of logins.

PureID Solution: A Glimpse into a Secure Future

PureID offers a robust passwordless authentication solution that would have mitigated this breach. By eliminating the relevance of stolen credentials, PureID represents a paradigm shift in cybersecurity, providing a secure alternative to traditional password systems.

PureAUTH offers a simple & smooth login experience. This makes working with short term sessions and frequent login delightful.

Risk Mitigation: The Imperative of Passwordless Security

Cloudflare’s breach serves as a wake-up call for organizations to reevaluate their cybersecurity strategies. Embracing passwordless solutions, such as PureID, emerges as a proactive step to mitigate the risks associated with stolen credentials and enhance overall security.

Immediate Response: Cloudflare’s Security Reinforcement

In response to the breach, Cloudflare has initiated a comprehensive security reinforcement effort. Measures include mass credential rotation, system segmentation, forensic triage, and a meticulous review of all systems to ensure the threat actor’s access is fully revoked.

Ongoing Investigation: Collaboration for a Secure Future

Cloudflare’s ongoing collaboration with peers, law enforcement, and regulators emphasises dedication to assessing the breach’s full impact. This collaborative approach aims to implement additional preventive measures and adapt to the evolving landscape of cyber threats.

Conclusion: Advocating for Passwordless Security

The Cloudflare breach underscores the critical need to shift from traditional passwords and false passwordless systems to true passwordless authentication that can not be breached by stolen credentials. Passwordless solutions, like PureID, offer a robust defence against unauthorised access, heralding a more secure digital future for organisations.

Read Also:

Okta Breach Part 2: Unveiling the Full Scope and Impact

Introduction

In late October, Okta, reported a cybersecurity breach that initially appeared to affect less than 1% of its customers. However, recent revelations indicate a far-reaching impact, affecting 99.6% of users in the customer support system. This blog post delves into the broader implications of this

The True Scope Revealed

Contrary to initial estimates downplaying, it has now been disclosed that hackers successfully ran a report on September 28, 2023. It contained sensitive information about all Okta customer support system users. The compromised data had names, email addresses, company names, contact phone numbers, and other details, Impacting 100% of Okta Workforce Identity Cloud (WIC) and Customer Identity Solution (CIS) customers. The only exception being those in highly sensitive environments such as the government.

Financial Impact on Okta

Despite the significant dip in Okta’s stock prices when the breach was first reported in October, resulting in a temporary loss of approximately $2 billion in market capitalisation, the financial fallout seems to be hovering in the single digits. Okta’s latest quarterly financial report indicates a more than 20% increase in revenues for the quarter ending October 31, demonstrating a robust financial performance despite the security incident.

Customer Trust at Stake

The discrepancy between the initially reported 1% impact and the actual 99.6% of affected users reveals a concerning lapse in transparency. Okta customers are now grappling with the realization that threat actors may have access to their names and email addresses, exposing them to the risk of phishing and social engineering attacks. While Okta assures that there is no direct evidence of exploitation, they urge customers to remain vigilant. This stolen information could be weaponized for targeted cyber scams.

Phishing and Social Engineering Threat

With 99.6% of users having their names and email addresses exposed. These stolen data poses a heightened risk of phishing and social engineering attacks.

Okta Phishing

Cyber security experts emphasise the need for Okta customers, especially administrators, to enforce multi-factor authentication (MFA) and consider the use of phishing-resistant authentication. The potential for threat actors to exploit this information for targeted attacks underscores the importance of proactive security measures on the customer’s end.

Conclusion

In the aftermath of the Okta breach, customer trust in identity management systems faces a critical test. As emphasised by the mantra “The ‘S’ in IAM stands for Security”, the true scale of the incident challenges the reliance on auto-saved passwords, demonstrating the vulnerability of conventional systems. We urgently advocate for the adoption of passwordless authentication. For those catching up, our previous post details the Okta breach, highlighting the imperative to . #gopasswordless . This approach not only addresses current vulnerabilities but also aligns with the evolving demands of a secure digital landscape.

Unpacking Okta’s Recent Security Breach

Introduction

In today’s interconnected world, data breaches have become unfortunately common. One recent incident that has drawn the cybersecurity community’s attention involves Okta, a prominent identity and access management (IAM) provider. This blog post delves into the specifics of the Okta breach, its impact, and the lessons we can learn.

The Initial Okta Breach

The story starts with a breach of Okta’s case management system, reported in late October. Threat actors gained unauthorised access to sensitive files of 134 Okta customers, less than 1% of the customer base. Some stolen files were HTTP Archive (HAR) files with session tokens, usable in session hijacking attacks.

Targets: BeyondTrust, Cloudflare, and 1Password

BeyondTrust, Cloudflare, and 1Password confirmed their systems were targeted due to this breach. They emphasised no loss of customer data during these incidents, highlighting their robust security measures.

Okta’s Response and Investigation

David Bradbury, Okta’s Chief Security Officer, revealed the breach’s origin. An employee logged into their personal Google account on an Okta-managed laptop, inadvertently saving service account credentials. The hackers exploited this service account, gaining permissions to view and update support cases. The breach occurred from September 28 to October 17, 2023.

Investigation Challenges

Okta’s security team initially focused on unauthorized access to support cases. Identifying suspicious downloads took 14 days. Unique log event types and IDs complicated the detection process.

On October 13, BeyondTrust provided a suspicious IP address, leading to the identification of the compromised account’s activities.

Implications and Ongoing Concerns

The breach raises numerous cybersecurity concerns. Callie Guenther, Senior Manager of Cyber Threat Research at Critical Start, highlighted the potential for secondary attacks arising from exposed data. Such incidents erode trust in service providers, especially for security-focused companies like Okta.

John Bambenek, Principal Threat Hunter at Netenrich, pointed out that recurring security events raise questions about Okta’s reliability in sensitive roles like identity and authentication.

Conclusion: The Vital Role of Passwordless Authentication

The Okta breach underscores the importance of robust cybersecurity practices. Organisations must remain vigilant, conducting continuous security assessments and proactively implementing measures against evolving threats.

A single compromised password can jeopardize an entire institution. Therefore, we strongly advocate for passwordless authentication. By eliminating passwords, organizations can fortify their defenses, enhancing security and reducing the risk of future incidents. Passwordless authentication is a safer and more effective approach to protecting digital identities in today’s evolving landscape. #gopasswordless

Password Managers are the Hot Targets 

Lastpass reported a security breach a month ago, which is the 8th security incident in the last 11 years. This incident was followed by a recent disclosure by a Google researcher. Many popular password managers like Dashlane, Bitwarden, and Safari can be phished.

There are many lessons that we all need to learn from these recurring incidents. This post is to uncover few points that we have seen have not been discussed by the info-sec community and the industry.

The Catch-22 – Phish or no Phish?

LastPass warned its users of an increased likelihood of Phishing attacks, Credential Stuffing, or other brute force attacks against online accounts associated with their LastPass vault.

Password Managers getting phished is an alarming situation

This statement goes against what all the password managers like LastPass claims – “use of password manager protects users from phishing attacks“.

In recent times there have been more incidents where password managers have been proved vulnerable to phishing attacks. You can find more details in this article Popular password managers auto-filled credentials on untrusted websites 

The Impact

In their blog post, Lastpass reported that customer’s personal information like email, phone number, billing address, IP address have been compromised. That is not all, what LastPass has not talked about is the additional information they collect from their users using their mobile app. 

The screenshots below show the permissions that Lastpass app takes on a user’s phone.

Permission take by LastPass app on an Android device

These permissions enable the application provider like LastPass (other password managers take similar types of permission on user’s device) to collect more information about the user than probably needed. 

User Information collected by LastPass app

In case of a breach, like what happened with LastPass, the severity of the incident and privacy impatc will be more if any additional information collected from the user’s phone is also leaked.

The Passwords

Furthermore, LastPass has reported that customer’s vault containing clear text data, such as website url, and encrypted data of username and password were also obtained by the threat actors. 

Lastpass emphasised on the use of master key, and how a threat actor can not decrypt the password vault even if they have the encrypted data, as the master key, which is a master password set by the user and is not stored on lastpass network. 

While 1Password, a rival firm of Lastpass, claims through their blog that passwords of LastPass can be cracked in $100. They also talk about their superior method of  using secret key and Password Authenticated Key Agreement systems, which makes 1Password’s systems next to impossible to crack. 

With the device specific keys mentioned by 1Password, we feel syncing of the passwords across multiple devices becomes a risky affair. Since passwords need to be decrypted on another device and it needs the user chosen master password as well as the secret key from the earlier device. This problem cannot be solved without exposing the secret key or the user’s passwords (encrypted just with the user chosen master password), in transit. 

Conclusion

After a series of events involving Password Management products, enterprise must seriously think about how safe their user’s data and passwords really are. 

Not to forget, server doesn’t care if the password is coming from a password vault or from an adversary, the server will authenticate as long as it can match the string. So no matter, how and where you store passwords, as long as there as passwords, Enterprises are always at risk.

For a better security, Enterprise must plan to remove passwords from their applications, servers and #GoPasswordless