8 Okta Security Best Practices to Implement Now

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Cyber attackers are continuously upping their game. They make it their mission to constantly search for user, system, and infrastructure vulnerabilities and gain unauthorized access to sensitive data. 

With 61% of all data breaches involving compromised credentials. An IAM breach’s consequences can vary from immediate financial losses to irreparable long-term reputational damage. Organizations must take proactive measures with specialized tools like Okta to identify and prevent IAM breaches.

Okta is a leading identity and access management provider with excellent features to safeguard your digital identities against cyber attacks. In this article, we will discuss eight security best practices to get the most out of Okta.

What is Okta Security?

Okta Security is a robust identity management service designed for businesses and developers. It offers two leading solutions: Customer Identity Cloud and Workforce Identity Cloud.

The Customer Identity Cloud is designed to secure consumer and Software as a Service (SaaS) applications across various industries, handling authentication, authorization, and secure access. On the other hand, the Workforce Identity Cloud aims to secure employees, contractors, and business partners, covering every part of the identity lifecycle.

Regardless of Okta’s reputation and capabilities, even they couldn’t stop the most recent security breach. This highlights the importance of continuously monitoring your systems and being prepared to take action if something goes wrong. It doesn’t matter how trusted a tool is; you should always be vigilant and prioritize security.

Why Do You Need an Identity Provider Like Okta Security?

Imagine your organization is a fort, holding your most valuable hidden digital treasures. In this context, identity provider Okta emerges as the watchful protector, improving the castle’s defenses against IAM threats and safeguarding sensitive data.

But the story doesn’t end there. As your organization scales, the benefits of having such an identity provider will multiply.

  • Enhanced security – Like the guardian at the castle gates, Okta centralizes access controls, authentication, and user management, ensuring that only those with the right keys gain entry to your digital assets.
  • Increased productivity – If you have users who constantly access your resource, you can use single sign-on to allow them access resources without repeatedly re-entering credentials.
  • Reduced IT workload – Okta can also act as the magician of your castle by automating various identity and access management tasks like user provisioning and freeing up IT resources.
  • Regulatory compliance – Okta helps organizations meet compliance requirements around data security, access controls, and auditing.

What Types of IAM Threats Might You Face?

IAM attacks constantly change, and attackers keep trying different methods to find weaknesses in users or systems. Here are a few common types of IAM threats and how Okta protects your organization against them:

  • Brute force attacks – Attackers try to guess user passwords through repeated login attempts. Okta prevents brute force attacks by locking accounts after several failed attempts.
  • MFA push notification fatigue – Attackers flood users with MFA push notifications, hoping they accidentally approve one. Okta lets you set policies to limit the number of MFA verification messages sent within a period.
  • Session hijacking – Attackers steal a user’s valid browser session cookie and take over their account. Okta’s device trust feature helps detect compromised sessions.
  • Phishing – Attackers try to steal credentials via spoofed login pages. Okta’s domain-bound certificates and email authentication features help block phishing attempts.

8 Okta Security Best Practices

DevOps

1. Use Okta SDKs and Libraries

Okta provides various SDKs and libraries for different programming languages and platforms. These pre-built code components and features are highly recommended when integrating Okta into your applications. In addition to smooth integrations, this approach provides several significant advantages:

  • Saves time
  • Ensure secure communication
  • Standardize the IAM implementations
  • Reduces the likelihood of coding errors

Tips for selecting the best SDKs:

  • Choose the SDK that matches your application’s programming language.
  • Regularly update the SDKs.
  • Look for security vulnerabilities in the libraries.

2. Secure API Tokens

API tokens are the keys to your digital fortress, providing access to stored digital assets. Therefore, securing API tokens is crucial to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive information and resources.

Tips to secure API tokens:

  • Store API tokens in a secure secret management solution rather than code or config files.
  • When creating tokens, grant only the minimum scopes needed for that application.
  • Set tokens to expire automatically after a shortened 30-90 days.
  • Audit and revoke tokens that are no longer needed.
  • Ensure tokens are transmitted only over secure channels like SSL/TLS.

CISOs (Chief Information Security Officer)

3. Integrate with ITDR Solutions

Identity Threat Detection and Response (ITDR) is a security solution category designed to detect, investigate, and respond to potential security threats that target an organization’s identities, credentials, and cloud entitlements. It entails detecting unusual activities, identifying compromised credentials, integrating with identity and access management (IAM) policy enforcement, and more. It’s important to note that integrating Okta with ITDR is a continuous process. While it helps to enhance an organization’s security posture, it does require regular updates and reviews to ensure it evolves with the changing threat landscape and effectively mitigates identity threats.

Here are a few tips to follow when integrating Okta with ITDR:

  • Conduct a thorough analysis to understand the gaps in your current ITDR strategy and see if the ITDR vendor has good coverage for Okta related threats and behavioral analysis.
  • Ensure you understand your organization’s compliance requirements and see how Okta’s features can help meet those requirements.
  • Before full-scale implementation, conduct pilot testing to understand any potential issues and fix them.
  • Conduct simulation exercises to help users understand how to respond to alerts and notifications generated through the Okta-ITDR integration.
  • Set up real-time monitoring of identity threats leveraging Okta’s analytics and reporting features. Ensure the ITDR solution integrates, streamlines, and prioritizes Okta’s threat insights according to your business’s threat models.
  • Leverage Okta’s API capabilities to integrate it with other systems in the organization’s IT ecosystem.
  • Implement Single Sign-On (SSO) functionalities to streamline access management and enhance security.

4. Develop an IAM Strategy

When organizations scale, they face issues managing user identities and access across multiple systems. But, if you have a well-defined IAM strategy, you can easily tackle such situations. A typical IAM strategy consists of objectives, identity inventory, IAM solution selection, access control policies, and more. With Rezonate’s IAM intuitive and collaborative IAM solution, you can gain real-time visibility over accounts, assets, and identity levels. It automatically uncovers and removes risky permissions. Rezonate integrates with Okta, so you’ll be up and running within 15 minutes with just one-click, fast deployment. 

Tips to follow when developing an IAM strategy:

  • Clearly define the objectives and goals.
  • Create workflows for user onboarding, offboarding, and role changes.
  • Take stock of all user identities within your organization.
  • Choose a robust IAM solution.
  • Use RBAC to assign and manage permissions based on user roles.

SecOps

5. Automate Account Lifecycles

Automating account lifecycles involves creating processes to manage user accounts from creation to deactivation or removal automatically. This simplifies tasks related to onboarding, offboarding, and role changes.

For example, when a new employee joins a company, automation will create an account, assign role-specific permissions, and provide access to the necessary resources. This ensures employees can access the tools and resources they need from day one.

Tips to automate account lifecycles:

  • Set up policies to provision and de-provision accounts immediately when employees join and leave.
  • Set alerts to detect if users gain additional application access or privileged roles over time to curb privilege creep.
  • Ensure automation is integrated with identity management, HR, and other relevant tools.

6. Regularly Audit Access and Privileges

Regular access and privilege audits help organizations ensure users have appropriate access levels to perform assigned tasks. In addition, they help to identify security gaps, reduce the risk of unauthorized access, and ensure compliance with policies and regulatory requirements.

Tips to follow when performing audits:

  • Establish a routine audit schedule.
  • Maintain precise records of user accounts, their roles, and their permissions.
  • Identify and pay special attention to high-privileged accounts like administrators.
  • Revoke access and privileges that are no longer needed.
  • Implement RBAC.

IAM Engineers

7. Leverage Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a security measure that requires two or more verification methods to grant access to a system. MFA combines something you know (password) with something you have (mobile device) or something you are (fingerprint or face recognition).

For example, consider a scenario where an employee’s password gets somehow leaked. If you enabled MFA, the hacker couldn’t access the account because they didn’t have the second authentication factor.

Here are a few tips to follow when enabling MFA:

  • Enable MFA for all users.
  • Select robust authentication methods such as one-time passwords (OTP), biometrics, or hardware tokens.
  • Consider adaptive authentication, which assesses risk factors and adjusts the level of MFA required.
  • Ensure there are backup authentication methods in case users lose their primary MFA device.

8. Configure Strong Password Policies

Password policies are rules and requirements defined to strengthen the passwords users create. These policies typically include password complexity, length, and expiration time guidelines. Even without specialized tools, a strong password protects against brute-force attacks.

Here are a few tips to consider when defining a password policy:

  • Require passwords to include a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.
  • Require a minimum length for passwords.
  • Enforces regular password changes every 90 days.
  • Prevent using common passwords like ‘abcd1234’.
  • Set rules to lock user accounts temporarily after a certain number of failed login attempts.

How to Protect Your Okta Environment from Threats

Okta is one of the leading identity providers around the globe. However, as organizations move their resources towards the cloud, we can see a significant increase in threats to cloud identities and access management. This highlights the importance of using specialized tools like Rezonate to detect and mitigate risks before they become critical.

Rezonate is a modern identity and access management tool that integrates with Okta to help detect risks and threats across your Okta infrastructure. Moreover, it brings continuous risk monitoring, least privilege, real-time threat detection, and automated remediation to supercharge your IAM solution.

Book a free demo of Rezonate today and witness firsthand how it can revolutionize your organization’s access security.

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“Rezonate combines identity threat detection and posture management to reduce exposure time and optimize our response to suspicious activities. The robust remediation workflows and the UI, make the platform an important asset in our line of defense.”

Paul Groisman

Sr. Director Cyber Security, Fubo

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