What are Third-Party Credentials? How to Securely Manage Them?


In the field of information technology, credentials serve as identification. Popular cloud computing service provider Amazon Web Services has a security protocol that uses a credentialing system. Users can receive temporary session credentials using a specific digital procedure that includes an access key ID, a secret access key, and a security token.

To create a comprehensive and reliable network security infrastructure across the internet and networks, security experts utilize credentials in addition to other technologies like firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and network-based antivirus software. The complexity of credentialing technologies increases along with security and authentication initiatives.

There are other sources of damaging exposed credentials than your main systems. Privilege logins used by third-party programs that your company uses also need to be secured.

Administrative logins with complete control are used for cloud platforms, software as a service (SaaS), and local third-party programs like ERP systems. These accounts, which should be kept private to as few people as possible and protected by strict password regulations, enable the administrators of your applications to carry out management activities.

Credential Stuffing

Attempting to enter into a different, unrelated account using credentials stolen from a data breach on one service is known as "credential stuffing," a sort of cyberattack. Based on the presumption that users will repeat usernames and passwords across several services, this kind of attack is conducted. Automation and scale are the two main uses of bots. In order to prevent credential stuffing −

  • Limit and keep an eye on admin password usage.

  • Avoid reusing credentials.

  • Put multi-factor authentication into practice.

  • Use a strong, unsaved password with a password manager.

  • Use encryption and strong hashing.

  • Keep an eye on lsass.exe, NTLM, and access control lists.

How to Leak Third-Party Credentials?

First, corporations occasionally have documents that simply list all of their applications together with credentials in a text document or spreadsheet, despite the fact that this is against all best practices and even the most fundamental security. These records are like a gold mine for hackers without encryption. These records should never have been made in the first place, despite what might seem clear. Any of the several secure techniques for password storage is preferable to a notepad document named passwords.txt. Your personal credentials being made public is much more likely and has the same negative effects as a major application company's data leak.

Second, code that has been modified for certain organizations frequently contains plain text application credentials. Again, this goes against best practices because it is frequently left viewable inside the code itself rather than being encrypted and/or stored elsewhere. When many systems must communicate with one another and need access to one another, this is typical for integration or automation purposes. According to the principle of least privilege, these integrations should make use of custom accounts with just the permissions necessary to do their tasks. Administrative application credentials should not be utilized for this reason and are a short-cut that, should those credentials be made public, might seriously threaten the application and its data.

How to Manage Third-Party Credentials Securely?

Let's see how you can manage third-party credentials in a secure way −

Your Team: Secure Your Third-Party Login Information

Plain-text administrative credentials are easily discoverable in hundreds of vulnerable internet-facing services; avoiding the use of "password.txt" sounds embarrassingly apparent. Only administrators should have access to your administrative credentials. For applicationlevel access, make use of less privileged credentials. If you need to programmatically use third-party credentials, store them securely in a product that is made for the purpose. I've had positive experiences with both Secret Server and Vault.

Your Vendors: Audit Your Third-Party Vendors with Security Questionnaires

Most businesses can comprehend the concept of securing their third-party credentials. But the significance of inspecting your third-party vendors using security questionnaires is frequently overlooked.

Why? Here is one instance. Two-factor authentication (2FA), which adds an additional layer of protection between an attacker and their target even if the credentials are compromised, is a crucial control to prevent the malicious use of third-party credentials. However, if half of your vendor applications don't even enable 2FA in the first place, it serves little purpose to have a password security checklist that specifies 2FA on administrative credentials. You must completely comprehend the security posture of your third-party vendors if you're serious about measuring, monitoring, and lowering that risk. You also need to keep them responsive to your requirements.

Updated on: 05-Aug-2022

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