IAM in a shifting environment

The fourth annual Identity Management Day (April 9) brought the opportunity to assess and evaluate the shifting environment plaguing Identity and Access Management (IAM).

Identity plays a pivotal role in all facets of business functions. Overseeing identity and access presents challenges in determining who should have access to what.
This process requires a contextual understanding of the roles and duties of numerous individuals within an organization, ranging from system owners and supervisors to IT, security, and compliance personnel. Managing access between all these stakeholders and decision-makers while mitigating human error, minimizing excessive permissions, and preventing inappropriate access configurations presents a formidable task.

As workforces evolve, managing access privileges becomes even more complex, raising the risk of insider threats and unauthorized access. Understanding identity management is crucial across all business activities, especially with the rise of hybrid and remote work setups.

A strong IAM strategy requires enterprises to maintain a centralized and consistent view of all devices, resources, data, and users, along with timely provisioning of access to different users. When any of these elements are insufficiently operated, both the level of cybersecurity and the quality of user experience are jeopardized.

Innovative Technologies

The cybersecurity industry is not without its countermeasures. Innovative solutions are emerging, promising a more secure future for IAM and enterprise security in general. First among them is zero trust architecture (ZTA).

Within a ZTA framework, trust is not automatically granted to any user or device. Each access attempt, regardless of its source, undergoes continual assessment based on context, user actions, and device conditions before access is permitted. This approach serves to mitigate the risks posed by compromised credentials or unauthorized devices.

On the authentication front, passkeys are a compelling alternative to the miasma of passwords in conventional systems. Passkeys are private cryptographic keys stored directly on user devices. Authentication occurs through a secure channel between the user’s device and the service provider, eliminating the need for passwords. IAM systems can facilitate the use of passkeys across multiple applications and services, allowing users to leverage a single passkey for a seamless SSO experience.

User & Entity Behavior Analytics

User & Entity Behavior Analytics (UEBA) solutions use AI and behavioral patterns (such as typing cadence, gait analysis, and signature recognition) to track end-users, devices, and even IoT devices to detect suspicious activities. It can also help determine if a threat is an outside party pretending to be an employee or an actual employee who presents a risk. IAM data on user roles and access permissions can be combined with UEBA insights on user behavior to create a more comprehensive risk profile. This allows for a more targeted approach to security measures, focusing on high-risk users and resources.

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The advent of Decentralized Identity (DID) technology can reshape online interactions. DID serves as a digital passport, allowing selective disclosure of attributes to applications without compromising the entirety of one’s identity profile. Beyond bolstering user privacy, DID significantly reduces the susceptibility to credential theft, thereby narrowing the attack surface for malicious actors.

Finally, the integration of Unified Endpoint Management (UEM) with IAM solutions creates a unified security ecosystem reinforcing the tenets of zero trust. This integration facilitates granular access controls tailored to specific devices and user roles.
Picture a scenario where a marketing professional’s access to sensitive financial data is restricted on their smartphone while retaining authorization to marketing assets on the same device. Such fine-grained control mitigates the fallout from compromised devices or stolen credentials, bolstering overall security posture.

By strategically integrating these solutions, organizations can construct a robust and adaptive IAM strategy that anticipates and thwarts the evolving tactics of cybercriminals.

Being Identity Smart

While advancements in IAM like Zero Trust and Multi-Factor Authentication are crucial, true security lies in empowering users to safeguard the digital ecosystem. IDSA’s “Being Identity Smart” challenge is not just a catchy phrase; it’s a call to action for a fundamental cultural transformation within organizations.

Security Awareness Training in this challenge emerges not as a one-time event but as an integral part of the organizational ethos. Incorporating cybersecurity education into the fabric of onboarding processes ensures that every individual within the organization is equipped with the knowledge to recognize and respond to potential threats effectively

By embracing new technologies and fostering a culture of learning and awareness, organizations transcend mere patchwork solutions, constructing an IAM strategy that is future-proof, user-centric, and adaptable to the evolving threat landscape.

Apu Pavithran is the founder and CEO of Hexnode, a Unified Endpoint Management platform that helps businesses manage their corporate endpoints from a single place.

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