December 9, 2016

RSA to Replace SecurID Tokens – But Not For Everyone

Back in March, RSA revealed that its systems had come under a “very sophisticated cyber attack” and that as a results “certain information” related to its SecurID product was taken. Then last week Lockheed Martin, the US defense contractor and manufacturer of a variety of military products including the Trident missile and F-16, disclosed that its IT systems had come under “a significant and tenacious attack.” What connects these two events? Lockheed Martin uses SecurID.

In the post about the Lockheed Martin attack I wrote that “RSA need to be more public about how they are dealing with the theft of the information relating to SecurID. If this attack is a direct result of that theft, then no user of SecurID is safe. Have RSA been replacing the SecurID tokens and changing the keys and seeds?”

RSA have finally spoken up and have confirmed that the information taken from RSA in March was used during the attack on Lockheed Martin. As a result RSA will expand its “security remediation program to reinforce customers’ trust in SecurID tokens” and it will offer to replace SecurID tokens.

But – and the fact that there is a but is a very bad  for of RSA – only for “customers with concentrated user bases typically focused on protecting intellectual property and corporate networks.”

I have read that phrase “customers with concentrated user bases typically focused on protecting intellectual property and corporate networks” a dozen times and to be honest I have no idea what it means practically. It is probably a polite way of saying, “if you are a big customer we will give you new SecurID tokens, if you aren’t, forget it.”

The result is that Lockheed Martin will get new SecurID tokens as will any other defense contractor or big corporate. The rest of its customers get nothing, but then RSA don’t think you have anything worth stealing.

Lockheed Martin Thwarts IT Breach

Lockheed Martin, the US defense contractor and manufacturer of a variety of military products including the Trident missile and F-16, has acknowledged that its IT systems came under “a significant and tenacious attack” last week, but that due to the fast work of its security team it was able to protect all systems and data.

According to the press release, “as a result of the swift and deliberate actions taken to protect the network and increase IT security, our systems remain secure; no customer, program or employee personal data has been compromised.”

However what the Lockheed Martin press release fails to mention is that the company uses SecureID tokens from RSA to provide two-factor authentication for remote VPN access to their corporate networks.

Two months ago RSA revealed in an open letter to its customers that its servers where compromised by an extremely sophisticated cyber attack and as a result “certain” information was extracted from RSA’s systems.

That “certain” information turns out to be information about RSA’s SecurID two-factor authentication products, which has now been used to reduce the effectiveness of a SecurID.

Analysis
Lockheed Martin are to be congratulated on their speed and efficiency in dealing with this attack. However this attack marks a significant turning point in the nature and makeup of cyber attacks. First, RSA need to be more public about how they are dealing with the theft of the information relating to SecureID. If this attack is a direct result of that theft, then no user of SecurID is safe. Have RSA been replacing the SecurID tokens and changing the keys and seeds? Second, the nature of this attack, in that is was planned and premeditated, starting with an attack on RSA and then an attack on Lockheed Martin is a significant and disturbing event.