Identity and Access Management: From The Ground Up

No business wants to make headlines for having a data breach, but the rise of cyberattacks increases that likelihood. Recent cybersecurity statistics and trends reveal skyrocketing incidences of hacks and breached data. Furthermore, increased reliance on cloud services, mobile and IoT devices assist in making these threats increasingly common in the workplace.

Alarmingly, many companies have inadequate cybersecurity measures to protect their data. These practices make them extremely susceptible to data loss and malicious intent. To successfully prevent data from being compromised, lost, or ransomed, it’s paramount that businesses and their IT teams adopt cyber resiliency best practices, including the use of Modern Identity and Access Management Solutions.

What is Identity and Access Management?

“Identity and Access Management (IAM) is about visibility and control. In an increasingly digital-first business landscape, it is top of mind for IT teams to ensure that company resources and data are accessed appropriately and securely, at any time, from any place, and by customers, employees, and partners. Companies need to provide excellent digital experiences for customers – to acquire and retain them –  and for employees – to ensure they are productive and secure. Modern Identity and Access Management (IAM) can address these challenges.”  – BeyondID

Identity and Access Management (IAM) is a framework that covers the process, products, and policies that define, specify and manage all the access privileges and roles of network users and the situations in which these users are granted or denied privileges to technical resources.

The driving mission of an IAM system is to have one identity per network user. After the digital identity is created for the user through the IAM, it is monitored, modified, and maintained for the duration of the access lifecycle of a network user.

“Access” and “user” are two essential concepts in IAM. Access signifies actions that are allowed to be performed by the user such as create, change and view a file. A user can be a person – an employee, partner, contractor, or customer – or a device or an application. Users may not represent human entities at all and in fact, may represent applications or machines interacting with each other. The umbrella of IAM covers all these “users” and use cases, by verifying the identity of each.

Modern IAM: Powerful Tools for Your Enterprise

IAM technologies include, but are not limited to, provisioning software password-management tools, security-policy enforcement applications, identity repositories, and reporting and monitoring apps.

  • Workforce IAM: Workforce IAM keeps employees and contractors productive and secure while enabling intelligent, auditable management. User onboarding and offboarding can be automated. Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is an additional layer of security to ensure that access to company data and resources is authorized. Through Single Sign-On (SSO), workers have one-stop access to all the applications they need.
  • Customer identity and access management (CIAM): A CIAM is a subset of IAM and it allows authentication of users, comprehensive management, profile management and self-service, and integration with content management system (CMS) systems and databases such as customer relationship management (CRM) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP).

The Benefits

BeyondID has been working alongside hundreds of Fortune 1000 companies and other rapidly expanding firms to support their organizational initiatives through the use of IAM tools and technology. Modern Identity and Access Management solutions leverage the Zero Trust framework, protect against breaches with stronger security, and provides centralized control and visibility for your enterprise. Identity and Access Management Solutions focus on these critical organization initiatives:

  • Enhanced security: By effectively controlling access, your company can eradicate data breaches, identity theft and prevent unauthorized or illegal access to sensitive information. An IAM can also protect against ransomware, phishing hacking, and other types of digital warfare. A key part of strengthening security is Privileged Access Management, which secures and tracks accounts with elevated permissions so that they are not compromised.
  • Password Managers/Passwordless Future – Most employees need to login to multiple platforms to perform their work. To reduce login time and the security risk that comes from password reuse, IAM can manage passwords in line with company security policies. IAM is also paving the way for the future of passwordless authentication. This leverages technology such as a smart card or a sequence of factors that establish the user’s identity.  
  • Reduces IT friction & workloads: A robust solution will enable automation for tasks and streamline actions such as approvals. For instance, when security policies are updated in one place, they are changed across the organization.
  • Ensures compliance with Identity Governance and Administration (IGA): With Identity and Access Management tools and technology, companies can quickly implement security best practices and ensure compliance with industry regulations such as GDPR, SoX, and HIPAA. 
  • Improves workforce productivity. Companies can admit employees, partners, and contract workers to their networks in a way that enhances maximum efficiency of operations without jeopardizing security.
  • Delivers enhanced consumer experience: Offer enhanced authentication and an effortless customer experience without any added friction. IAM enables an advanced customer service layer that doesn’t sacrifice the security layer, which can be a real sales builder.

Why it’s Important for Your Company

Remember, every single device, user, and session connected to the network must have an identity that is tied to appropriate access to remain secure. Moreover, by refusing access to any machine or process that fails identity authentication, an Identity and Access Management System keeps cyber intruders out, while still allowing your firm to continue operating in a “business as usual” manner without interruption.

Only the proper strategy and actionable plan can protect your company, customers, and assets against cyber intrusions in this increasingly mobile and dynamic world.

Unauthorized access that leads to data breaches of customer information and account credentials can hurt your business in many different ways. It can also hurt consumers, and the FBI says that every consumer should expect that all of their personally identifiable information has been stolen and is being shared on the dark web.

For those reasons and more, an IAM is needed to neutralize any threats that arise both outside and inside your company’s security perimeter. Here are some other reasons that an IAM is needed in 2021 and beyond:

  • Cybercriminals will continue to target onsite and remote workers
  • Cloud breaches increase as remote workforces continue to expand
  • The cybersecurity skills gap continues to remain an issue
  • With 5G increasing the bandwidth to linked devices, IoT devices are more vulnerable to cyberattacks

IT Paradigm Shift

Information Technology management has been experiencing a paradigm shift accelerated by the need to support remote workers and customers. What used to be the walled castle approach – in which gaining trusted access to a network requires only a valid username/password – no longer applies. People will continue to work from home or return to the office in fewer numbers, and as a result, this changes the effectiveness of the office-based perimeter. 

The sophistication and complexity of cyberattacks have increased in recent years, threatening the security of digital assets. But even so, cyberattacks don’t have to be particularly sophisticated to infiltrate your network.

There were days when valid user credentials and a network firewall could keep cybercriminals out. But that was always dependent on users of a network being centralized in one physical location or connecting to VPN. Now, such network-based security measures are no longer adequate. Apps have moved to cloud services, and now users can utilize them to access data anytime, anywhere, and on a wide array of devices.

To better understand the move toward establishing digital identity in this new environment, think about what IT departments used to be like just a decade ago. For the most part, IT departments were their own fiefdom and any related request could only be handled through their department. IT teams enjoyed much greater ownership over levels of system access. Everything from data centers, client equipment, IT hardware, and user workstations were supplied by the company.

The increasing prevalence of bringing your own technology (BYOT) has had a fundamental impact on IT. Bringing devices to work or using them at home was unheard of or discouraged not long ago. Unlike today, outside contractors rarely ever used the company networks. Now it happens frequently.

Today, digital transformation affects and continues to transform every aspect of a business’ enterprise. Also, departments in various lines of businesses are developing apps for their own operations, which means IT has less control. The fact that departments can purchase and use cloud applications on their own leads to the rise of shadow IT, and the actual department has no visibility or control.

How IT Teams Can Respond

IT teams now have to contend with scores of people working from home on insecure home networks, using multiple devices – often from all over the world. That number is likely to remain significant, especially as large companies such as Salesforce are planning to offer various work-at-home options in the future. As a result, network security will need to continue to extend beyond the office. 

Addressing these challenges lies outside the scope of yesterday’s tools and technology. The new necessity is that every session, device, and user connected to your network must have a secure, authorized identity to keep cybercriminals away from company resources and data. IAM allows business processes to carry on uninterrupted while keeping unauthorized users out. Among other critical functions, an IAM is capable of dynamically managing authentication and authorization.

The modern technology stack for IAM can allow companies to effectively address the needs of both workforce and customers. On the workforce side, IT teams can implement measures to strengthen cybersecurity and effectively manage identity, such as IGA, PAM, and Password Managers. SaaS Management and SaaS Analytics are key since any department with a credit card can subscribe to an application, cutting the IT team out of the loop.  

On the Customer Side, it is vital to protect against fraud and bots. Identity Proofing, which uses documents or knowledge-based proofs to verify the identity of a user, helps to reduce the risk of fraudulent activity and ensure legal compliance.  CIAM helps companies to ensure they gain customer consent and follow applicable privacy regulations. CIAM is also useful in tracking customer behavior and engagement.

Identity is the future and the new perimeter of the business enterprise, and the solution to modernize is within IT Business Administrator’s grasp. Modern Identity and Access Management Solutions partners can help with implementation, which can be challenging due to a lack of internal resources or knowledge.

Modern IAM is the New Perimeter

Identity is the new perimeter for corporate users, data, and applications. If each server, IoT device, user, client machine, and business procedure in your organization carries their own unique identity, these identities transform into the new perimeter for you, while also preventing outsiders from accessing your data and systems.

Forbes recently pointed out how IT teams are facing the new perimeter and cybersecurity challenges. Professionals must “assign, track, and manage the life cycles of certificates for every device and serve as a reliable and secure solution across industries. As an answer, Modern Identity and Management solutions are encompassing and powerful, and they are just what the doctor ordered for the initiation of robust cybersecurity systems today. 

Modern IAM Provides Stronger Security

A Modern IAM can allow your organization to strongly control access to your most sensitive and proprietary information. Compromised credentials might allow an entry point into your business network and its data. We recommend carrying out scheduled cybersecurity assessments with IAM tools to identify and verify the roles and access every user should possess.

This affords the appropriate levels of security, and you can also utilize the IAM systems to implement roles in your firm and standardize user policies, making them consistent. On the defensive side, IAM technology guards corporate assets against increasing threats of malware, ransomware attacks, phishing, and other hacking attempts.

2020: A Banner Year for Data Breaches

2020 was a year of change in the digital space. Risk-Based Security reported it was a banner year for data breaches, saying that 2020 was the worst year for it on record. Their research also uncovered the alarming fact that the number of exposed records increased to 36 billion last year. Two breaches in Q3 alone exposed over one billion records a piece and that four breaches during that time exposed over 100 million records.

Chris Hallenbeck, the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) for the Americas at Tanium, discussed the rise of cyberattacks, social engineering, and the rise of data breaches saying,

“Longer term, the frequency and sophistication of these attacks is a good reminder that prevention is only half the battle. You need to have visibility and detection capabilities across all of your operations, and especially in the case of ransomware, a way to rapidly shut down or quarantine infected devices. When it comes to ransomware, being able to push “the big red button” quickly can make all the difference.”

Workforce: Cybersecurity Culture

Educating employees and other workforce members to cultivate a culture of cybersecurity is just as crucial as even the most robust types of IT oversight. Social engineering, along with its rising sophistication, teaches us that In fact, and as Chris Hallenbeck mentioned, having the best system in the world is only half the battle and businesses should take a proactive approach in encouraging their personnel to embrace the concept that they are caretakers for corporate information and play a vital role in keeping it secure.

Editor’s note: multi-factor authentication should be used to safeguard critical enterprise systems and the accounts that access them. Zero Trust initiatives will play a much bigger role for protecting key systems and data, both of which are in BeyondID’s Identity and Access Management Solutions.

Workforce: Cybersecurity 101

Note that no matter how robust IAM systems are, they can be compromised by thoughtless employee actions. That’s why communicating cybersecurity best practices is as important as ever.

In 2021, ransomware attacks against organizations are projected to occur every 11 seconds. Since these attacks are primarily introduced through unsafe email links and attachments, arming your employees with the training they need to practice secure email habits and browsing goes a long way toward preventing most malware attacks.

Employee education should target how to identify phishing attacks and best practices like not opening attachments or links in emails – especially if they don’t know the sender. Training shouldn’t be a single session but an ongoing practice of communication instead. Doing so will ensure that your personnel maintain secure habits and stays abreast of new threats.

Case Study: Remote Education

Remote education is subject to cybercrime, just as the business world is. The lesson of the past year, in response to the widespread closure of campuses and suspension of in-person teaching, is that security starts at home.

Organizations must ensure those connecting to their resources – be they students, teachers, remote workers, or partners – have a secured means to access the resources and applications they need. IT administrators must implement modern Identity and Access Management and enforce measures such as Privileged Account Management (PAM) and Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). Stakeholders involved in remote education have demonstrated that securing the perimeter, despite its inherent challenges, is certainly possible.

BeyondID: Bringing it All Together

Implementing Identity and Access Management provides a means of identifying and granting user access across an entire enterprise and provides centralized and automated functionality and security. Modernizing identity strategically protects your business from cyber intrusions, continuously enforces corporate policies, and more.

To find out more about how your company can harness the powerful technologies and tools of our Identity and Access Management solutions and integrate them with your systems, please contact us.

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