99% of compromised user accounts come from password reuse, CSO heavy hitters reveal

Data breaches are fast becoming a common occurrence as companies try and figure out the best way to protect their information from the ever changing threats driven by cloud and mobile, but Dropbox’s Head of Trust and Security, Patrick Heim, says that companies are getting distracted by a long tail of potential risks 00and not focusing enough on getting the basics right.

CSO Panel
CSO Panel

Speaking in a recent panel at Okta’s annual event in Las Vegas, which included CSOs from heavy hitters like Slack and AppDynamics, Heim revealed to audiences that 99% of compromised user accounts come from password reuse.

“Dropbox has half a billion people around the planet that store their stuff with us so we have a lot of data around what causes people harm and what it tells us is that the number one issue has to do with people just using the same password across multiple sites and then that leading to compromised accounts,” he says.

CSO Panel
CSO Panel

Heim adds that threat actors are highly sophisticated in terms of experimenting, analysing, testing those passwords across multiple sites and can expose this behaviour very easily.

“Everytime I talk to a customer, I tell them to turn on SSO and if you can’t afford SSO then just flip the switch on each of those apps to turn on some form of two factor authentication. If you’re not doing that, then you are gambling your business with very poor odds.”

Heim says that while password reuse effectively puts the risk into the realm of user accountability, the onus is still on the technology provider to be innovative and creative in protecting people’s accounts. He illustrated this point by sharing some of the user password protection systems that Dropbox has developed.

“We do password abuse monitoring whenever somebody logs in with a stolen password and even though it’s clear that they have the right password, we have other indicators that we can pull from that session such as an IP address, various headers and other anomalies. We have an 85% success rate of blocking a stolen password so we attempt to mitigate and compensate for users making mistakes.”

“The other thing that we do is look proactively for threat intelligence, so when you see password dumps out in the wild we load those into the system and as you login we actually do a cross-check and if it is matching a password that’s been disclosed earlier, we stop it right there and force a password reset cycle.”

According to Heim, Dropbox was one of the first companies to have three different types of two factor authentication but he admitted that only less than 1 percent of users actually know that these options even exist.

“The average internet user isn’t aware of the options and I think that’s the biggest limiting factor - the lack of knowledge in their accountability and the lack of awareness of good practice.”

Rapid7’s CSO, Josh Feinblum, echoed Heim’s sentiment about the challenges in educating users on good practice and the importance in using two factor authentication.

“It’s shocking how much of an impact two-factor authentication has at decreasing both the cost of an attack and the likelihood that somebody is going to come under the crosshairs because their credentials were stolen,” he said.

However, Feinblum believes that educating the public is a “lost cause” and posed the question on whether or not we should start requiring vendors that store customer information to enforce two-factor authentication on its users.

“Grandma is probably not really going to care if she has to look at a text message once a month, but she is never going to turn that on unless she’s required to.”

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags threat actorsdropboxCSO OnlineCSOmobileCSO rantHeimthreatscyber securitydata breachespassword securitythreat reportsCloudAppDynamics

More about AppDynamicsCSODropboxOktaRapid7

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Krishan Sharma

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Will your data protection strategy be enough when disaster strikes?

    Speakers: - Paul O’Connor, Engagement leader - Performance Audit Group, Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) - Nigel Phair, Managing Director, Centre for Internet Safety - Joshua Stenhouse, Technical Evangelist, Zerto - Anthony Caruana, CSO MC & Moderator

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place