No, Okta, senior management, not an errant employee, caused you to get hacked

Enlarge (credit: Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Identity and authentication management provider Okta on Friday published an autopsy report on a recent breach that gave hackers administrative access to the Okta accounts of some of its customers. While the postmortem emphasizes the transgressions of an employee logging into a personal Google account on a work device, the biggest contributing factor was something the company understated: a badly configured service account.

In a post, Okta chief security officer David Bradbury said that the most likely way the threat actor behind the attack gained access to parts of his company’s customer support system was by first compromising an employee’s personal device or personal Google account and, from there, obtaining the username and password for a special form of account, known as a service account, used for connecting to the support segment of the Okta network. Once the threat actor had access, they could obtain administrative credentials for entering the Okta accounts belonging to 1Password, BeyondTrust, Cloudflare, and other Okta customers.

Passing the buck

“During our investigation into suspicious use of this account, Okta Security identified that an employee had signed-in to their personal Google profile on the Chrome browser of their Okta-managed laptop,” Bradbury wrote. “The username and password of the service account had been saved into the employee’s personal Google account. The most likely avenue for exposure of this credential is the compromise of the employee’s personal Google account or personal device.”

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