As we progress through digital transformation, the landscape has also evolved to prioritize online interactions across all industries, from banking and healthcare to retail. This shift, accelerated by the pandemic and technological advancements like adoption of generative AI, has led to an environment where robust security measures play a vital role.

The Rising Threat of Data Breaches

The 2023 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report found that 83% of breaches involved external actors, and 49% of breaches leveraged stolen credentials. Additionally, the Identity Theft Resource Center reported a 78% increase in data breaches in 2023 compared to the previous year, with many incidents linked to compromised credentials. These statistics underscore the urgent need for robust authentication methods to protect sensitive information and data and maintain trust in digital interactions, particularly in preventing multi-factor authentication breaches.

Case Study: A Recent Significant Data Breach

A recent report of a significant data breach investigated by an incident response security firm has highlighted the increasing frequency and sophistication of identity-based attacks. This demonstrates the urgent need for strict security measures and protocols. Without adequate defenses, organizations remain vulnerable to these pervasive threats.

The investigation revealed that an unknown group exploited stolen credentials to access the affected company’s customer databases. The attackers used legitimate credentials obtained from info-stealer malware infections dating back as far as 2020, allowing them to breach customer environments and extract confidential data. The lack of multi-factor authentication (MFA) was a critical factor in these breaches; none of the affected accounts had MFA enabled, making it easier for the attackers to gain access. Additionally, even in this years-old breach, the credentials had not been updated or rotated. Finally, the compromised accounts did not have network allow lists in place, which are an administrator-defined register of entities approved for authorized access to digital resources such as networks and data, a critical component of an effective identity and access management (IAM) platform.

Evolving Threats and MFA Bypass Techniques

While MFA can improve security, attackers have also evolved to successfully carry out MFA bypass attacks such as SIM swap and MFA flooding. Organizations need enhanced authentication that can protect against account takeover attacks like phishing and MFA bypass.

Techniques such as passwordless MFA, which includes biometric authentication, certificate-based authentication (CBA), FIDO2, passkeys, and adaptive risk-based authentication (RBA), offer both security and user convenience. Biometrics-based verification provides high assurance identity verification, reducing the chances of identity fraud and deepfake threats. RBA uses contextual information to adjust authentication requirements dynamically, adding an extra layer of security against multi-factor authentication breaches.

For instance, consider a scenario where AI-driven biometric verification is in place. Even if an attacker steals login credentials, they would be unable to bypass biometric verification, effectively blocking unauthorized access. Similarly, adaptive risk-based authentication can detect unusual login behavior and prompt for additional verification or block access, preventing potential breaches.

Many data breaches occur because stolen credentials are used without additional verification layers. Implementing passwordless MFA using certificate-based authentication and facial biometrics makes stolen credentials useless to attackers. They would require a digital certificate on their device with Bluetooth proximity or biometric confirmation to authenticate themselves. This significantly reduces the risk of data breaches due to identity-based attacks.

The Importance of Robust IAM Solutions

Investing in a robust IAM solution is essential for organizations to protect their digital assets, facilitate compliance with regulatory requirements, and maintain customer trust. By integrating advanced authentication methods and enforcing strict security policies, organizations can defend against modern cyber threats, including those involving multi-factor authentication breaches, and ensure a secure digital experience for all users.

In conclusion, as we continue to embrace the digital-first era, the importance of robust identity and access management cannot be overstated. Entrust’s Workforce Identity and Access Management solution addresses these needs by enabling phishing-resistant passwordless MFA, AI-driven biometric authentication, certificate-based authentication, and risk-based adaptive authentication.

Is MFA enough? Read this blog post to discover the answer to that question.