RSA Will Replace SecurID Tokens in Response to Lockheed Martin Attack

After defense contractor Lockheed Martin was compromised using the stolen SecurID data, RSA Security chairman Art Coviello offered to replace tokens for "virtually all customers."

RSA Security has offered to replace the SecurID tokens used by enterprises and government agencies to secure their networks after attackers attempted to hack a defense contractor's network in May.

Intruders managed to breach defense contractor Lockheed Martin's network in May when it bypassed RSA Security's SecurID technology, RSA Security Chairman Art Coviello acknowledged in a letter to customers on June 6. While Lockheed was hacked, no information was compromised, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Cyber-attackers initially compromised RSA Security with a phishing email exploiting a zero-day Adobe vulnerability, Coviello disclosed in March. The company declined to specify exactly what had been stolen but acknowledged it was "information relating to the SecurID technology."

"RSA clearly knew what was breached to begin with and what the implications were and they didn't do anything about it," Bobby Kuzma, president of Central Florida Technology Solutions, a security solutions provider, told eWEEK.

RSA should have replaced the tokens immediately, not waited until after three major defense contractors were attacked, Kuzma said. The company had a duty to its clients to disclose "any material defects in the solution," according to Kuzma.

Shortly after the Lockheed Martin breach, there were reports that two other defense contractors, L-3 Communications and Northrop Grumman, were attacked around the same time, as well.

The SecurID two-factor authentication technology relies on a pseudo-random number that is generated every 30 to 60 seconds. Users have to enter their own username, self-selected password and the code displayed on the token. The authentication server knows what number was generated. Attackers also now know how to figure out what number is being generated, and it is easy to steal usernames and passwords using phishing or keyloggers, Kuzma said.

Jittery customers had wondered whether the March attack on RSA Secyruty meant SecurID was no longer secure, and many of them were already discussing replacing the tokens or switching to a different authentication system, according to Kuzma, a CISPP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional).

"We've had four customers call us to implement alternate solutions this morning," Kuzma said. The customers included financial services, medical firms and a firm that worked with the Department of Defense.

Kuzma is planning to move customers to Cryptocard, a "smaller niche competitor" to RSA with a similar technology that give customers more control over how the authentication codes are generated.

Despite writing in the letter that the replacement program would be for "for customers with concentrated user bases typically focused on protecting intellectual property and corporate networks," Coviello told The Wall Street Journal the company was ready to replace the tokens for "virtually every customer we have." There are an estimated 40 million SecurID tokens currently in use.

Replacing those SecurID tokens can potentially cost an estimated $1.30 per token, Avivah Litan, a distinguished analyst at Gartner, told eWEEK. The costs include direct costs of the token as well as indirect costs such as overhead, support and shipping. If RSA winds up replacing all of them, the replacement cost would rise to approximately $52 million.

In the letter, Coviello stated RSA would "work with all customers to assess their unique risk profiles and user populations and help them understand which options may be most effective and least disruptive to their business and their users."

Lockheed plans to replace all of its SecurID tokens, according to the Journal.

RSA Security remains "highly confident in the RSA SecureID product," but Coviello acknowledged in the letter that the recent Lockheed Martin attack and general concerns over hacking, "may reduce some customers' overall risk tolerance."

The attack on Lockheed is the only one that RSA Security has confirmed thus far as having used the stolen SecurID information. While L-3 executives have said the attackers used cloned SecurID tokens, RSA Security is still investigating those incidents.

RSA believes that only defense industry customers are vulnerable to attackers. "The fact that the only confirmed use to date of the extracted RSA product information involved a major U.S. defense contractor only reinforces our view on the motive of this attacker," wrote Coviello.

The company hasn't publicly disclosed the cost of the security breach. For its most recent financial quarter, ended March 31, RSA group's gross margins dropped from 67.6 percent to 54.1 percent, year-over-year, parent company EMC said, blaming the drop on the attack.