Authentication firm Okta probes report of digital breach

WASHINGTON, March 22 (Reuters) – Okta Inc (OKTA.O), a widely-used authentication services provider, is investigating a report of a digital breach, the company said on Tuesday, after hackers posted screenshots showing what they claimed was its internal company environment.

A hack at Okta could have major consequences because thousands of other companies, such as FedEx (FDX.N), Moody’s (MCO.N) and T-Mobile (TMUS.O), rely on the San Francisco-based firm to manage access to their own networks and applications. The scope of the hack is unknown.

In a statement, Okta official Chris Hollis said the breach could be related to an earlier incident in January, which he said was contained. Okta had detected an attempt to compromise the account of a third party customer support engineer at the time, said Hollis.

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“We believe the screenshots shared online are connected to this January event,” he said. “Based on our investigation to date, there is no evidence of ongoing malicious activity beyond the activity detected in January”.

On its website, Okta describes itself as the “identity provider for the internet” and says it has more than 15,000 customers on its platform.

It competes with the likes of Microsoft, PingID, Duo, SecureAuth and IBM to provide identity services such as Single Sign-On and Multi-factor Authentication used to login to online applications and websites.

The screenshots were posted by a group of ransom-seeking hackers known as LAPSUS $ on their Telegram channel late on Monday. In an accompanying message, the group said its focus was “ONLY on Okta customers”.

Security experts told Reuters the screenshots appeared to be authentic.

“I definitely do believe it is credible,” said independent security researcher Bill Demirkapi, citing pictures of what appeared to be Okta’s internal tickets and its in-house chat on the Slack messaging app.

Dan Tentler, the founder of cybersecurity consultancy Phobos Group, said he too believed the breach was real and urged Okta customers to be “very vigilant right now.”

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Editing by Louise Heavens, Kirsten Donovan

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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