The past six months have brought major changes to cyber insurance policies. Notably, almost all brokers are now requiring multi-factor authentication (MFA) across on-prem and cloud resources. This introduces a severe challenge to small and mid-sized organizations, since standard MFA solutions cannot deliver the required coverage and deploying a PAM solution is typically beyond the scope of their operational capacity and security skillset. The Silverfort Unified Identity Protection platform is the only solution that can consolidate compliance with the full cyber insurance MFA requirements checklist, without requiring agents or proxies, making it an ideal choice for any organization that seeks to purchase or renew its cyber insurance policy.
The Cyber Insurance Landscape in 2021
While cyber insurance is of course a pivotal element in ensuring your company is able to recover from a cyber attack, an overlooked benefit is that the prerequisites required for cyber insurance compliance can help prevent attacks from occurring in the first place. As a response to the massive 245% uptick in ransomware attacks last year (causing $21 billion in losses in the US alone), cyber insurance companies are taking greater precautions by rolling out a detailed list of new requirements for cyber liability compliance. In particular, a new set of MFA guidelines is now being required by the top cyber insurance providers, using the following MFA form:
The common notion within IT and security teams is that fully complying with this checklist is more than challenging. Let’s take a closer look to understand why.
Cyber Insurance Coverage: MFA Checklist
MFA for Office 365 and other Cloud-Based Email – Easy to Find
Most cloud-based email providers, such as Office 365, offer MFA functionality, often as a native component of their product. Even when that’s not the case, adding MFA protection to SaaS or web application is a trivial task.
MFA for VPN Access – Easy to Find
For VPN connections, adding MFA is quite simple. If the VPN provider itself doesn’t have an MFA option, any LDAP or RADIUS-enabled VPN can have MFA added via a 3rd party provider.
MFA for all Remote and Internal Admin Access – Problematic
Here is where complying with the requirements becomes more complicated. While standard MFA solutions can cover some of these use cases, none can cover all of them. Let’s explore each of these sub-requirements:
MFA for AD, MFA for PowerShell, MFA for PsExec – Partial Availability Only
Industry-leading MFA solutions deliver only partial protection for remote access to on-prem directory services. While there are available MFA products for RDP access, none can cover command line tools such as PsExec, PowerShell, or WMI, creating a critical gap in both actual protection as well as complying with the cyber security insurance requirements.
MFA for all Network Backup Environments – Partial Availability Only
Dedicated backup solutions, whether in the form of virtual appliances or cloud storage, typically support MFA. However, if the backup environment is in an on-prem server it is subject to the same limitations we’ve just described – in fact, there have been various ransomware attacks lately in which these servers themselves were hit and encrypted.
MFA for Access to Network Infrastructure (routers, switches, firewall, etc.) – Partial Availability Only
In the case of routers and switches, the question is whether they can interface with RADIUS/TACACS+ – if so, adding MFA is rather simple. However, if your infrastructure doesn’t support these interfaces then it’s too bad – it might be time for an upgrade. Regarding firewalls, most modern firewalls also support the addition of MFA to the authentication process so there should be no problem here.
MFA for Active Directory-Managed Endpoints/Servers – Partial Availability Only
The problem here is similar to the one with MFA for directory services – there is no available solution that can enforce MFA on Active Directory-managed endpoints and servers. There is the single exception of RDP and local login, but no such protection exists to the command line remote access tools we’ve outlined above.
PAM Solutions are Out-of-Scope for Small to Midsized Organizations
It may be that the drive behind the new MFA checklist was to push organizations to adopt a Privileged Access Management (PAM), assuming this approach would raise their protection level and increase their resilience against cyberattacks.
However, when surveyed about reasons they don’t use PAM in their organizations, IT and cybersecurity analysts most commonly pointed out the heavy burden entailed in PAM’s cost of implementation, maintenance and ongoing operation. In other words – PAM is out of scope for small to mid-sized enterprises. So, while in theory PAM could have delivered the protection insurers seek for their insured customers, it’s not a practical cyberattack insurance solution in real life.
Silverfort: The Catch-All MFA Solution
While standard MFA solutions are able to cover some of the use cases required by cyber insurance, none can protect all of them. Since insurers themselves state ransomware as one of their top concerns, we’ll use it to demonstrate this claim – ransomware propagates in attacked networks by utilizing command line tools like PsExec, Powershell and others. No other MFA solution can cover these access interfaces.
The Silverfort Unified Identity Protection platform is the only solution that enforces MFA from the backend of identity providers rather than by agents or proxies on the individual resources. In practice this means that Silverfort can protect with MFA any user account that authenticates to an on-prem or cloud directory in the environment.
Not only does Silverfort protect internal and remote admin access in the on-prem environment (which no other solution does), but it also enables customers to consolidate all their MFA protections in a single solution, making it a natural answer to cybersecurity compliance standards.
Bottom Line: MFA Authentication Across All Your Resources Will Make You More Secure
We get it – cyber security insurance renewals are always frustrating, and especially now that providers have added so many new requirements for compliance. Between deciphering the vague wording of these prerequisites, finding solutions to protect every company asset with MFA, and getting users on board with large scale changes, it’s no small ordeal – especially in the short timeframes given by cyber liability providers.
On the other hand, these changes signal a substantial shift towards a future where enterprises are much better prepared against cyberattacks. Implementing MFA across all resources in the organization is a huge step towards a better security posture. And it doesn’t have to be painful – Silverfort makes the process of extending your current MFA solutions to cover all resources in your organization quick and straightforward. To learn more, request a demo here.
Not sure yet? Here are some more helpful resources:
- Re-evaluate Your MFA
- Agentless MFA
- Prevent Automated Propagation of Ransomware Attacks
- Lateral Movement Protection
What’s it like to go with Silverfort for your cyber insurance renewal? Hugh Christiansen of High Touch Technologies explains: