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It’s time to get serious about identity and access management

Published: February 17th, 2020 By: Glenn Weir

Softlanding

The appearance of billions of new endpoint devices has brought with it billions of new potential security problems. This has made manual identity and access management (IAM) both an impractical and risky proposition.

In the digital era, when 81 per cent of data breaches are caused by weak, compromised and reused passwords, and 80 per cent of breaches involve privileged credentials, improved security is essential.

IAM, which involves verifying that a user is who they claim to be and determining what information they’re allowed to access, is foundational to a company’s security. By automating their IAM, organizations will improve their security, improve efficiency, and lower their costs.

How IAM works
IAM policies define how users are identified, what roles they have been assigned, and the appropriate levels of protection and access for sensitive data, systems, and locations.

IAM is intended to give employees only the access they need to do their work — convenience without a negative impact on a company’s security. A successful IAM process gives the necessary controls and tools to capture and record user login information, manage the database of user identities, and coordinate the assignment and removal of access privileges. With this, your IT system will have the ability to automatically detect threats and cyber risks.

Automating IAM
In the past, standard identity management systems included: a directory containing all data the system used to define users; the tools used to add, update, and delete this data; a system to oversee user access; and an audit and reporting function used to verify system activity. Regulating user access involved multiple methods of authentication, including digital certificates, passwords, tokens, and smart cards. These options are no longer sufficient.

The most effective identity management systems are now automated, employing such technologies as AI, machine learning, and biometrics.

Automating identity and access rights management provides a number of key benefits to an organization, including:

  • High productivity – IAM automates the management of all your user identities and access permissions across your internal systems, employee devices, and cloud technologies. IAM offers end users a single sign-on, which makes cumbersome and repetitive tasks such as signing in multiple times to various applications and tools every day a thing of the past. Automation saves time and supports operational efficiencies.
  • Tighter security – IAM systems enforce best practices in credential management, and so dramatically lower the chances that users will use weak passwords. Automation reduces the chance of human error.
  • Advanced tracking – Modern IAM solutions employ AI, machine learning, and risk-based authentication to identify and block anomalous activity.
  • Simpler auditing and reporting – Consolidating user identities and passwords with SSO makes it easier for IT to audit where and how users’ credentials are used.

Getting the complete security picture
As technology and the methods employed by hackers continue to evolve, companies must remain vigilant about the state of their security and authentication tools if they are to remain in a favourable position to protect themselves and deliver an excellent user experience.

An effective platform monitors network activity and quickly identifies anomalous behaviours to identify a potential security breach before it happens. This platform will also deliver a full audit trail for any investigations that might take place in the future. While most IAM platforms will offer an even wider set of features, these two features alone will be enough to foil most data breach attempts.

Clarity with a security workshop
Softlanding, a Microsoft Gold Partner, offers a Security Assessment Workshop that helps businesses get a clear view of the strengths and weaknesses of their practices and procedures. This workshop assessment takes a holistic approach to the protection of their Microsoft 365 environment— uncovering and prioritizing technical and non-technical security gaps within the organization.

Learn more about Softlanding’s Security Workshop

Sign up for an upcoming workshop on security & compliance workshop in your area