What are OAuth Tokens, and why are they important to Secure?

What are OAuth Tokens? 

OAuth (Open Authorization) Tokens are Non-Human Identities that work as a secure authentication mechanism. They delegate access to third parties or external apps without exposing your environment’s sensitive credentials. 

Organizations that rely on third-party applications and service integrations in their environments commonly use OAuth tokens. There are different kinds of OAuth Tokens, such as Access Tokens, Refresh Tokens, and ID Tokens. They can also come in various structures and formats, increasing the complexity of managing them. 

An OAuth token is issued upon request from the vendor’s side to a third party or external app asking for access. The OAuth token specifies the scope of access allowed and grants the permissions to interact with the resources or services within the vendor’s environment.

However, granting these external apps access to your environment via tokens can pose significant security risks. 

Why is it Important to Secure Your OAuth Tokens? 

While OAuth tokens provide a secure way to grant third-party applications access to your environment, they can still pose significant risks. Tokens can be stolen, corrupted, predicted, replayed, and even brute-forced. 

Lack of token management or inventorying can lead to significant security vulnerabilities, giving attackers easy targets. These vulnerabilities can be utilized even against well-secured enterprises (like the recent Midnight Blizzard OAuth attack against Microsoft), resulting in full access to your environment. 

You can read about our deep dive on how attackers exploit OAuth tokens here.  

How Can You Secure Your OAuth Tokens?

Therefore, enterprises must monitor and manage OAuth tokens to verify that access is granted only to trusted applications and that the tokens are regularly rotated or reissued. 

OAuth tokens should be revoked when no longer needed, expired, or at any given time if an anomaly is detected.

These practices and having an effective security policy will mitigate the risks and secure your system, governing any tokens accessing it.

Astrix was made to securely manage risks associated with non-human identities, such as OAuth tokens, without impeding your system’s needs and performance. See how it works here

By understanding OAuth tokens and how they work and implementing secure management practices, you can safely continue to allow their usage without compromising your environment. 

Further Reading:

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