CrowdStrike Extends Identity Security Capabilities to Stop Attacks in the Cloud

Recent CSRB report detailing the Microsoft breach in Summer 2023 highlights the threat of cloud identity attacks

Two recent Microsoft breaches underscore the growing problem of cloud identity attacks and why it’s critical to stop them. 

While Microsoft Active Directory (AD) remains a prime target for attackers, cloud identity stores such as Microsoft Entra ID are also a target of opportunity. The reason is simple: Threat actors increasingly seek to mimic legitimate users in the target system. They can just as easily abuse identities from cloud identity providers as they can in on-premises AD environments.

Identity providers and Zero Trust network access solutions offer some capabilities to prevent cloud identity attacks — however, they often lack visibility across the identity landscape spanning on-premises and cloud identity providers, creating gaps that adversaries can exploit.

This blog shares how the failure to secure cloud identities can result in a breach and how recently released innovations in CrowdStrike Falcon® Identity Protection can stop identity attacks in the cloud.

Get a free CrowdStrike Identity Security Risk Review to get instant visibility into your current Microsoft Entra ID, Active Directory and Okta environments.

CSRB Report Shows the Importance of Identity Security

The Summer 2023 Microsoft breach deconstructed by the U.S. Cyber Safety Review Board (CSRB) in a recent landmark report of the incident shows why identity threat detection and response is critical. 

Last May, a nation-state adversary compromised the Microsoft Exchange Online mailboxes of 22 organizations and over 500 individuals around the world. The threat actor accessed the accounts using authentication tokens signed by a key that Microsoft had created in 2016. “A single key’s reach can be enormous, and in this case the stolen key had extraordinary power,” said the CSRB. When combined with another flaw in Microsoft’s authentication system, the key allowed the adversary to gain full access to essentially any Exchange Online account anywhere in the world.

The CSRB found “this intrusion was preventable and should never have occurred” and offered several recommendations to ensure an intrusion of this magnitude doesn’t happen again. Two stood out:

  1. Cloud service providers should implement modern control mechanisms and baseline practices, informed by a rigorous threat model, across their digital identity and credential systems to substantially reduce the risk of system-level compromise.
  2. Cloud service providers should implement emerging digital identity standards to secure cloud services against prevailing threat vectors. Relevant standards bodies should refine, update, and incorporate these standards to address digital identity risks commonly exploited in the modern threat landscape.

While these CSRB recommendations are targeted toward cloud service providers (CSPs), given the Cloud Shared Responsibility Model, customers can’t rely solely on CSPs to stop breaches. Organizations need to lock down identities by layering in proactive identity protections across their hybrid identity environments. 

More recently, COZY BEAR, a Russia state-nexus adversary, conducted high-profile attacks on Microsoft’s corporate systems. This Microsoft breach involved common identity techniques like password spraying and credential scanning, and compromised corporate email accounts, including those of Microsoft’s senior leadership team.

What these two Microsoft identity breaches show is that adversaries are weaponizing identities. If you don’t have modern identity security, your organization may be at risk of a breach. 

New Identity Protections to Stop Breaches in the Cloud

CrowdStrike offers the industry’s only unified platform for identity threat protection and endpoint security, powered by rich threat intelligence and adversary tradecraft. Recent enhancements to CrowdStrike Falcon® Identity Protection help customers better protect against modern identity attacks in the cloud.

While individual IAM and identity-as-a-service (IDaaS) systems provide user authentication, they lack the visibility into hybrid lateral movement and intelligence about adversary tradecraft to detect identity attacks across cloud and on-premises environments. Falcon Identity Protection not only has direct visibility into AD through the lightweight Falcon sensor, it also has pre-configured IDaaS connectors that give customers direct visibility into identity activity across cloud identity providers such as Entra ID and Okta. 

By correlating context from the authentication event, Falcon Identity Protection can detect if a user’s web-authenticated session is maliciously hijacked or other malicious web-based activity has occurred. The solution also provides workflows to take direct action, such as disabling an account, revoking a session and refreshing tokens, and updating the access policy in Entra ID to stop the attack. 

IAM and IDaaS systems are not only blind to cloud identity attacks, but due to their siloed nature they also lack the ability to deliver response actions to stop the adversary in a different cloud identity provider. As an IAM vendor-agnostic solution, Falcon Identity Protection spans multiple cloud identity providers to comprehensively stop adversaries.  

Customers can now defend against sophisticated identity-based threats with CrowdStrike Falcon® Adversary OverWatch’s new identity threat hunting capability. This 24/7 managed service, powered by AI and human expertise, utilizes telemetry from Falcon Identity Protection to disrupt adversaries across endpoint, identity and cloud. 

Take a Free Identity Security Risk Review 

Curious about your identity security posture? CrowdStrike’s complimentary Identity Security Risk Review provides a 1:1 session with a CrowdStrike identity threat expert to help you evaluate your hybrid identity security posture and uncover any potential risks. 

The risk review can be completed quickly and gives you:

  • Instant visibility into the identity security posture across your hybrid identity environment
  • Deep insights into possible attack paths that adversaries can exploit, and expert advice on how to address them
  • An understanding of how to protect your organization from modern identity-based attacks like ransomware, account takeover, hybrid lateral movement and Pass-the-Hash. 

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