RSA SecurID Customers Need to Boost Vigilance, Other Network Defenses

 
 
By Fahmida Y. Rashid  |  Posted 2011-03-18
 
 
 

Following RSA's announcement of a data breach, there's really nothing for SecurID customers to do but to monitor their systems in hopes of foiling an attack, if it ever comes.

RSA Security, a division of storage giant EMC, announced late March 17 it had been breached by attackers and that some information about its SecurID two-factor authentication technology has been stolen. The company declined to specify what was stolen, nor did it provide any information on how the data breach occurred.

At this point, "we're not sure what the impact is," Peter Schlampp, vice president of marketing and product management at Solera Networks, told eWEEK.

Considering the number of organizations in both the public and private sector who use RSA's SecurID tokens to implement two-factor authentication to their login processes, any potential breach of the closely guarded technology is a source of concern. However, there's not enough information available to determine whether this is actually a bad thing, or something that doesn't really have an impact, Schlampp said. While the "blueprint" for SecurID has been exposed, that's analogous to having the blueprint of an airplane exposed, he said. It doesn't mean airplanes will fall out of the sky tomorrow, according to Schlampp.

In an open letter to customers on its Website, RSA said the information would not allow attackers to launch a successful direct attack on existing SecurID customers. However, the company did acknowledge the information could be potentially used to "reduce the effectiveness" of an existing SecurID deployment as part of a broader attack.

Bobby Kuzma, president of Central Florida Technology Solutions, a security solutions provider, is not taking any chances. Calling it "professional paranoia," he's been speaking with his customers who use SecurID to increase vigilance and to ramp up security in other areas to defend against a potential attack.

"We must prepare for the worst," Kuzma said, noting that RSA did not give any information on when the breach occurred, how long the company had been sitting on the news and what exactly was taken.

He is recommending to his customers that they review all logins to ensure there's no unusual activity because that would be the first way to detect if something is happening, Kuzma said. He also said he is recommending that remote logins be temporarily restricted so that no one is actually using the token for the time being. His clients are mainly small medical, legal and financial services companies in the central Florida area between Tampa and Orlando, he said.

RSA encouraged customers to look for suspicious login activity and monitor changes in user privileges and access control. Employees should be reminded to not click on unknown links and to be careful about entering account information online, RSA said.

Companies should be enforcing the rule of "least privilege" for users and security administrators, Adam Bosninan, executive vice president of Americas and corporate development at Cyber-Ark, told eWEEK. Only the amount of privilege necessary for a given activity should be assigned, instead of providing "full, unfettered access" to the enterprise, he said.

Since RSA hasn't disclosed exactly what was compromised, Kuzma is assuming that the attackers stole a portion of, or the entire seed library RSA maintains of the millions of tokens it has deployed or the actual code that generates the seeds. This can mean replacing all tokens within the enterprise, which would likely trigger a customer backlash, he said.

It's "scary," because there aren't actual steps they can take at this point to do anything about the breach, Kuzma said.

It was important for customers to remember that SecurID is not, or should not be, the only security within the enterprise, Schlampp said. "RSA is not the CSO for their customers," he said.

Customers should be boosting their defenses in other areas and using other security layers to be aggressive in their monitoring efforts, Schlampp said.

It would be interesting to see what RSA does next in light of the breach, Schlampp said. If the attackers had stolen the source code, it is possible RSA could decide to open up the code to let other people see it, to get more "eyeballs" on the code to find vulnerabilities, Schlampp. Or RSA could keep it closed and quietly replace chunks of the code so that the attackers no longer have accurate information, he said.

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