Multi-factor authentication (MFA) has become a common security and compliance measure for many enterprises. MFA adds an extra layer of security by requiring users to provide more than one form of authentication, such as a one-time code sent to their mobile device or email. However, even with MFA in place, there are still vulnerabilities that can be exploited by attackers. In this article, we will discuss some of the common MFA vulnerabilities that you should be aware of.
- Phishing Attacks: Phishing attacks are one of the most common MFA vulnerabilities. Attackers will try to trick users into exposing their credentials by sending them fraudulent login pages or phishing emails. These pages or emails will look like legitimate ones, and when users enter their credentials, attackers can steal their usernames and passwords as well as browser-based session authentication tokens that can give attackers direct access to critical networks and systems. In order to stop these kind of attacks, security teams should investigate solutions that can prevent man-in-the-middle attacks by establishing an unbreakable connection between the the user and the IDP.
- Social Engineering: Social engineering is another MFA vulnerability that attackers can use to trick users into providing their credentials. Attackers can impersonate a trusted entity, such as a bank or an IT department, and ask users to provide their MFA credentials to solve a problem. Users should always verify the identity of the person asking for their credentials and never give out their credentials over the phone or email. In addition, security teams can implement ephemeral credentials that are short-lived to reduce exposure should someone fall victim to a social engineering attack as well as capabilities that prevent credentials from being leveraged on another machine.
- MFA Hammering: Also known as MFA brute-force attacks, MFA Hammering is a type of cyber-attack that targets multi-factor authentication (MFA) systems. In a brute-force attack, an attacker attempts to guess the correct MFA code or token repeatedly until they succeed in gaining access to the targeted account. MFA hammering can also leverage stolen passwords to authenticate into a web application and leverage MFA workflows to send an authentication signal, often via push notification to a mobile device, to a valid user to trick them into validating the log in.
- SIM Swapping: SIM swapping is a technique that attackers use to take over a victim’s phone number. Once they have the phone number, they can receive the one-time code required for MFA and gain access to the victim’s account. To avoid SIM swapping attacks, users should contact their phone carrier and ask them to add extra security measures, such as a PIN or a password, to their account. Security teams can defeat this type of attack by deploying MFA solutions that anchor identities to trusted devices, leveraging attestation to ensure the identity and device are not compromised, and by eliminating SMS or push notifications as an MFA authentication method to phones.
- Insecure MFA Implementation: Insecure MFA implementation is a vulnerability that can be exploited by attackers to bypass MFA. If the MFA implementation is not secure, attackers can use various techniques to bypass it, such as intercepting the one-time code or using a fake login page. To avoid insecure MFA implementation, users should use MFA solutions that are recommended by security experts and always keep their software and firmware up to date. Security teams should
MFA has been deployed to prevent common types of credential-abased cyberattacks and is an important security measure that can protect accounts from unauthorized access. However, it is essential to be aware of the vulnerabilities that can be exploited by attackers and take steps to harden your security processes to eliminate credential-based attacks. Leveraging a cybersecurity mesh framework can eliminate the risk associated with traditional MFA that can be defeated by attackers.
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