Machine Identities: A Critical Component in a Software Supply Chain Attack

Machine Identities: A Critical Component in a Software Supply Chain Attack

Software as a Service (SaaS) has rapidly become an indispensable part of the modern business landscape. It offers a wide variety of benefits, including cost savings, scalability, and flexibility. However, SaaS also presents several security risks that organizations need to be aware of.

One emerging significant threat to SaaS is the use of “Shadow Applications,” and the associated machine identities and credentials. Shadow Applications are unsanctioned applications that can contain vulnerabilities or backdoors, providing unauthorized access to sensitive information and data. Attackers can exploit these weaknesses by compromising the credentials and privileges involved in application-to-application interconnectivity.

Many common third-party applications require elevated system privileges to operate effectively. Organizations often accept these defaults without further investigation. However, this can introduce additional accessibility vectors into the environment, which in turn can increase the risk of data loss and create avoidable data silos. The use of unsanctioned applications may also result in the inability to integrate with other applications used by the organization, leading to inefficient workflows. Yikes!

To mitigate these risks, organizations should establish clear policies for technology use, and enforce those policies consistently. Engaging with business users and performing application reviews can help achieve this. It is also important to educate employees on the risks associated with unsanctioned application usage, and provide them with approved alternatives. IT departments should regularly monitor their IT estate for unauthorized applications and take prompt action to remove them.

One forcing driver behind machine identity compromise lies with Open Authorization (OAuth) tokens. For the uninformed, OAuth is an open standard that issues tokens to users for easy systems access. However, attackers who steal OAuth tokens may be able to access data and perform actions with the permissions of the compromised targets, which can lead to privilege escalation and further compromise the environment. Organizations need to ensure that OAuth tokens are issued and managed securely, employing strong security controls and policies to protect sensitive data and prevent lateral movement from one business-critical application to another.

The standard OAuth authentication flow for a shadowapplication gaining unauthorized access to scopes and corresponding resourcesfrom the target application.

In addition to cybersecurity risks, the use of unsanctioned applications can also lead to regulatory compliance issues. Organizations must adhere to various regulations and compliance requirements, and the use of Shadow Applications can result in fines or legal action from governing bodies. Therefore, it is essential to regularly review and update policies and procedures to ensure that they comply with regulatory frameworks.

Business-critical SaaS applications require rigorous assessments, given the sensitive data that is accessed, shared, and manipulated within this environment. Both human and machine identities require strong security controls and policies to protect sensitive data effectively. Organizations must ensure that they have adequate security measures in place, including multi-factor authentication, access controls, and encryption, to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive information.

In conclusion, SaaS has transformed the way organizations do business, but it also presents a significant threat to security if the appropriate controls are lacking. Organizations must take proactive steps to mitigate these risks by establishing clear policies, educating employees, and regularly monitoring their IT estate for unauthorized applications. They must also ensure that they have robust security controls and policies in place to protect sensitive data effectively. By taking these steps, organizations can reap the benefits of SaaS while minimizing security risks to their business. 

If you’re interested in learning more about defending against SaaS supply chain attacks, download our latest white paper. We provide an overview of SaaS supply chain risks, with pragmatic recommendations and guidance to mitigate attacks. 

Share this post
Get updates to your inbox
Our latest tips, insights, and news
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Follow DoControl on social media
DoControl - SaaS data access control - Linkedin logoDoControl - SaaS data access control - Twitter logo
Related Posts