ReliaQuest Annual Cyber Threat Report 2024 exposed credentials

The Escalating Threat of Exposed Credentials

The menace posed by exposed credentials has surged alarmingly in recent years. In 2023 alone, over 6 billion new compromised credentials surfaced on both clear and dark web forums, escalating the cumulative total to a staggering 36 billion.

This spike underscores the heightened vulnerability of organizations and individuals to cyber-attacks, reinforcing the critical need for robust security measures such as Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), regular audits, and enhanced password management.

The ReliaQuest Annual Cyber-Threat Report: 2024 delves into the key challenges and strategic responses to the pervasive threat of credential exposure.

Growing Menace of Credential Exposure

Credential exposure poses a profound threat, serving as a gateway for attackers to infiltrate systems and perpetrate credential stuffing attacks, phishing, and more severe exploits. The data reveals a worrying trend where compromised credentials are not just incidental finds but are often the primary target of cybercriminals. These credentials can be exploited to gain unauthorized access, manipulate data, or install malicious software, thereby compromising the security posture of organizations drastically.

ReliaQuest has found that criminals are increasingly automating how they abuse these stolen credentials. For instance threat actors are using tools to search the internet for details that would help create more convincing spearphishing emails or they might use penetration-testing tools to automate the identification of externally facing vulnerabilities.

Strategies to Combat Credential Exposure

Addressing this threat requires a multifaceted approach. Here are key strategies based on insights from the ReliaQuest report:

  • Implementation of Robust Password Policies and MFA

    Organizations must enforce strong password policies and regular password changes to mitigate the risks associated with stolen credentials. Implementing MFA adds an additional layer of security, making it more challenging for attackers to gain access even if they possess compromised credentials.

  • Regular Audits and Real-Time Monitoring

    Conducting regular audits of user accounts and implementing real-time monitoring to detect unauthorized access attempts can significantly reduce the impact of credential exposures. Organizations should focus on enhancing their incident response capabilities to shorten the MTTR, particularly with regard to leveraging AI and automation. ReliaQuest found that customers opting to use a base level of both saw a reduction in MTTR to 58 minutes (a 98.8% decrease from 2022). Even more incredibly, this can be reduced to as little as 7 minutes or less for those organizations which fully leverage AI and automation.

  • Education and Training

    Educating employees about the risks associated with credential exposure and training them to identify phishing attempts and other common tactics used by attackers can reduce the likelihood of credentials being compromised.

  • The Role of AI and Automation in Threat Detection

    The incorporation of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation into cybersecurity is revolutionizing how threats are detected and responded to. The ReliaQuest report indicates a notable increase in the use of AI-driven security solutions that can predict, detect, and respond to cyber threats in real time. These technologies not only enhance the effectiveness of security measures but also significantly reduce the workload on human security teams by automating routine tasks.

Navigating the Future of Cybersecurity

As the landscape of cyber threats evolves, so too must the strategies employed to combat them. The exponential rise in exposed credentials demands an equally robust response from organizations to protect their assets and maintain trust. Leveraging advanced technologies like AI and automation, coupled with traditional security measures and training, will be pivotal in staying ahead of cybercriminals.

While the threat posed by exposed credentials continues to grow, the advancements in cybersecurity offer hope. By adopting comprehensive security strategies that include technological innovation and proactive defense mechanisms, organizations can shield themselves more effectively against ever-evolving cyber threats.

Scroll to Top