Credential Theft: Protecting the SaaS Service Layer From Threats

Feb 8, 2023

Feb 8, 2023

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5 min

Credential theft is when hackers use the logins and passwords of active users to gain access to sensitive and private data. Learn about credential theft with Grip.

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Josh Mayfield
VP Product Marketing
Credential Theft: Protecting the SaaS Service Layer From Threats
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Prevent Credential Theft by Protecting the SaaS Service Layer

Most companies depend on a mix of software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications to serve their customers and achieve their business goals. However, weak SaaS credentials can pose a major risk: stolen credentials are one of the primary access points for cybercriminals. Learn more about protecting the SaaS layer and preventing credential theft.

How Does Credential Theft Happen?

Credential theft is a form of cybercrime. A hacker steals a victim’s identifying information and uses it to log into SaaS accounts. Stolen credentials give bad actors access to a wealth of a company’s applications and systems and data. Some of the methods used to steal credentials  can include:

  • Phishing
  • Brute-force attacks
  • Key-logging
  • Database theft

This type of cyber attack is focused on stealing SaaS credentials, which allows hackers to infiltrate targets and access a company’s internal data undetected.

What is Credential Abuse?

Credential abuse occurs when someone uses another individual’s username or password without authorization. This misuse isn’t limited to cyber criminals – former employees, contractors, or other individuals with SaaS access may intentionally or unintentionally use credentials improperly.

Credential Theft Hacker Techniques

There are several ways that hackers can access an employee’s credentials. These include:

  • Credential Phishing: This type of attack uses social engineering. Typically, a hacker will send an email that looks legitimate, directing an employee to click a link and enter their login information.
  • Brute force attacks: This is a hacking method that uses trial and error to try and guess a user’s credentials. 
  • Key-logging: By installing malware on a target’s computer, an attacker can track a user’s keystrokes to capture username and password information.
  • Database theft: This method typically breaches a third-party database hosted on a SaaS application to obtain a group of credentials.

Credential Theft Bypasses Company Defenses

Think of credentials like house keys – once a criminal has them, they can enter undetected. Credential theft allows hackers to bypass standard security defenses so they can infiltrate a company’s SaaS service layer.

At any given time, a company may be using dozens – even hundreds – of SaaS applications. Each application is a cloud-based third-party service. The complete suite of adopted SaaS services comprises the SaaS layer. Each SaaS application has different use cases and security protections. Because teams can often adopt SaaS without centralized approval, IT leadership may be unaware of every SaaS program in use or if they are set up with secure credentials. As a result, if the credentials for any of these unsanctioned SaaS applications were compromised, the incident is not remediated by the company’s team. 

Most SaaS accounts can be set up with just an email address and a password. Without centralized oversight, employees might use weak passwords, repeat passwords, or share logins across a team. This creates a point of entry for hackers – one that is easier to breach than an internal network. Once a cybercriminal has a user’s credentials, they can infiltrate any data that has been uploaded to or shared with a SaaS service.

The Business Impact of Credential Theft

Credential theft puts your business at risk in more ways than one. Stolen credentials can lead to data breaches that:

  • Interrupt business operations
  • Release private customer data
  • Expose intellectual property (IP)
  • Violate consumer privacy regulations

Companies may need to deal with fees or fines as a result of breaches, as well.

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How to Prevent Credential Theft Attacks

Businesses need a multi-pronged approach to safeguard credentials. Best practices for credential theft prevention include:

  • Require strong credentials: Set policies to eliminate weak passwords and prevent credential reuse, and use identity and access management (IAM) to control access.
  • Employee education: Train team members to appropriately recognize and report credential phishing attempts.
  • Use authentication processes: Multi-factor authentication and single sign-on help reduce successful attacks.

Using Grip Access for SaaS Credential Security

You need a stronger solution than an enterprise password manager or similar tool to protect your data and IP. Grip Access is a next-generation security solution designed to simplify SaaS governance and control. By creating an effective layer of security for SaaS, companies can continue with a business-led IT strategy without worrying that they are vulnerable to attacks.

Preventing Credential Theft Requires Robust SaaS Security 

Don’t fall victim to credential phishing – choose a comprehensive SaaS security solution. Grip Access and SSCP provide a complete picture of your SaaS usage and give you the tools you need to govern each app effectively. If you’re ready to learn more, schedule your complimentary SaaS security risk assessment or request a demo today.

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