Okta CEO Todd McKinnon has shared more details about a recent security breach. The hacking group Lapsus$ targeted the company with an attack in January, though the incident did not come to light until March 22, when the hackers posted screenshots that were obtained during that January event.
Speaking to Bloomberg Television, McKinnon accepted responsibility for the security lapse, and acknowledged that Okta should have been more forthcoming with its clients and with the public. The company looked into the incident in January, but that initial investigation did not reveal the full scope of the problem. In that regard, McKinnon stated that Okta did not realize how much information Lapsus$ had obtained until the screenshots were released.
Unfortunately, Okta is still not able to provide a full accounting of the problem, though it does seem that the event was at least partially contained. According to McKinnon, as many as 366 of the company’s 15,000+ clients may have been affected, and the companies that were hit should only need to take minimal follow-up action to re-secure their operations. In that regard, McKinnon indicated that the event should not have much technical impact on end users.
McKinnon went on to explain how Lapsus$ was able to execute its attack. He said that the breach occurred at a third-party call center, where roughly 40 employees were tasked with providing help desk support for Okta customers. The hackers used unnamed software to break into the call center, then took screenshots of computers while agents were working with those Okta clients. Okta is no longer working with that contact center, though McKinnon stressed that Okta is ultimately to blame for any security failures.
“I want to be really clear that we’re responsible,” McKinnon said. “So third-party this and third-party that. It’s our responsibility to make sure this stuff doesn’t happen.”
Okta is planning to release a report to its clients that will shed more light on the incident. The Sitel Group runs the call center that was attacked, and claims that it has closed its security gap after hiring an outside cybersecurity firm. Lapsus$ has also claimed credit for high-profile hacks of Samsung and NVIDIA.