Hackers Unmasked:
How They Use Your Identity Against You

Single sign-on setup and maintenance can be complex, and it is easy to make mistakes. If you make a wrong move, you may accidentally hand the master key directly to a hacker.
and data. It is like a hacker getting a hold of one master key for the vendor and for all of its clients. The consequences can be dire, especially when sensitive information or valuable assets are at stake.

Second, dependence on SSO vendors can lead to distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. In such an event, an overwhelming amount of traffic floods the victim’s environment, making it incapable of functioning properly, and thereby preventing both vendor and clients from accessing the services and data they rely on for daily operations.

If an SSO vendor’s security infrastructure is compromised or experiences downtime due to a cyberattack, the repercussions can be far-reaching. It not only jeopardizes online safety but also has the potential to disrupt productivity.

Multifactor Authentication Bypass

A part of the login process that often follows a single sign-on prompt is multifactor authentication (MFA). It is like having a deadbolt lock in addition to the master key. That way, if hackers successfully acquire your SSO credentials, they may still be thwarted at the MFA prompt. But here’s the catch—they've figured out how to bypass that deadbolt. They may do so by:

  • Stealing browser tokens
  • Intercepting your MFA prompts or codes
  • Sending you repeated MFA notifications till you accept out of annoyance
  • Pretending to be you in order to reset, and therefore access, your MFA.

Although MFA bypass is an unfortunate reality, it is still better to have MFA than not. Without MFA as your deadbolt, hackers truly only need that one set of credentials to gain access to everything. When using MFA, I recommend biometric authentication, hardware keys, app-based solutions, or push notifications with number matching over SMS-based MFA.

Human Error

Let’s face it—we're all human, and humans make mistakes. Single sign-on setup and maintenance can be complex, and it is easy to make mistakes. If you make a wrong move, you may accidentally hand the master key directly to a hacker.

In fact, one of the biggest threats to identity-based attacks is the human element. Over-privileging accounts, accidental deletion, misconfiguration, data corruption, and unintentional data exposure happen more often than you may think. More often, in fact, than ransomware attacks.

Securing data, including your SSO, in the cloud is a shared responsibility. Businesses and their cloud service providers both have roles to play. While service providers are responsible for securing the actual cloud, businesses are responsible for securing what they place in the cloud. For instance, it’s the job of businesses to configure platforms and resources and manage access. Teamwork is required for success, and we all play a part in using tools such as SSO wisely.

Key Considerations for Single Sign-On (SSO)

Single sign-on offers a convenient, one-key-fits-all digital-age security solution. This convenience, however, comes with its own set of challenges. These five identity-based threats warrant consideration when embracing the benefits of SSO:

  1. Utilization of AI in cyberattacks
  2. Inherent risk
  3. Dependence on SSO vendors’ security
  4. Multifactor authentication bypass
  5. Human error

While having a master key can be convenient, it is essential to be aware of the risks and ensure that our digital lives remain secure. Acknowledging these five identity-based threats and taking proactive security precautions accordingly can enable us to strike a balance between convenience and safety in our digital world. In doing so, we can continue to enjoy the benefits of SSO while safeguarding our digital lives from harm.


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