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MFA Bypass

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) bypass attacks are used by cybercriminals to avoid or circumvent MFA tools in order to gain access to user accounts.

What is MFA bypass?

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) bypass attacks are used by cybercriminals to avoid or circumvent MFA tools in order to gain access to user accounts. These techniques enable unauthorized access to valuable data and systems, despite the presence of safeguards like one-time passwords, digital tokens, or biometric authentication. Also referred to as single sign-on (SSO) impersonation, these attacks exploit the trust placed in SSO platforms such as Okta, LastPass, and OneLogin, thus granting unauthorized entry to multiple interconnected services.

How do MFA bypass attacks work?

MFA bypass is an example of a highly evasive and adaptive threat that operates by exploiting vulnerabilities in the authentication process to gain unauthorized access to sensitive data and systems. Here’s a general overview of how these attacks can work:

  1. Target identification: Cybercriminals identify a target or organization that uses MFA as an additional security layer to protect their resources.
  2. Reconnaissance: Attackers gather information about the target, such as the MFA mechanisms in use, the target’s digital footprint, and potential entry points.
  3. Social engineering: One common approach is to trick the target into revealing their MFA credentials or bypass codes through social engineering techniques. This could involve phishing emails, phone calls, or fake login pages that appear legitimate but are designed to capture MFA-related information.
  4. Credential harvesting: If social engineering is successful, the attackers collect the victim’s MFA credentials, such as usernames, passwords, one-time passwords, or other authentication factors.
  5. Exploiting vulnerabilities: Attackers may exploit vulnerabilities within the MFA implementation or the authentication process itself. This can involve exploiting weaknesses in the MFA system’s configuration, software vulnerabilities, or flaws in the user interface.
  6. Intercepting communication: In some cases, attackers intercept communication between the target and the MFA service. This can be done through techniques like attacker-in-the-middle attacks, where the attacker inserts themselves between the target and the MFA service to capture authentication data.
  7. Device compromise: If the attacker gains control over the target’s device, they can potentially bypass MFA altogether. This can be achieved through malware, keyloggers, or other methods that allow them to capture the victim’s MFA credentials or manipulate the authentication process.
  8. Single Sign-On (SSO) exploitation: MFA bypass attacks can also target SSO systems that provide access to multiple services. By compromising the SSO provider, attackers can gain unauthorized access to various interconnected services without needing to bypass MFA for each individual service.

It’s important to note that MFA bypass attacks can involve a combination of these techniques and can vary in sophistication.

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What makes enterprises susceptible?

Several factors can make an individual or an organization more susceptible to an MFA bypass attacks. These include:

  • The increase in remote work/hybrid users that relies on web browsers and personal unmanaged devices for authentication purposes
  • Weak or compromised passwords
  • The increase in phishing and social engineering used to trick an individual in an attempt to disclose their MFA information or authentication codes
  • Insecure MFA implementations including improper configurations or software bugs
  • If the device used for MFA authentication is compromised itself
  • Lack of user awareness training
  • Exploiting the actual SSO systems that provide access to multiple services

How do I stop MFA bypass attacks?

To successfully defend against MFA bypass and evasive phishing attacks, enterprises must focus their security efforts on preventative solutions like Browser Security solutions that provide visibility into browser-specific behaviors that detection-based solutions would otherwise miss. They need to be able to identify and block evasive attacks in real-time and security teams need to apply dynamic policy enforcement inside the browser. Just as threat actors adjust their tactics in real-time, enterprises need to be able to apply adaptive security controls that can enforce security defenses directly within the web browser. This is how to stop undetectable threats before they impact devices or users and expose sensitive data.

Building upon its existing Isolation capabilities, Menlo, a leading provider of Browser Security solutions, developed an industry-first set of threat prevention capabilities designed to prevent evasive threats and zero-hour phishing attacks using AI analysis and computer vision. These new capabilities help determine in real-time whether a web page is malicious – dynamically blocking access in real time or rendering the page in read-only mode.