How to Handle Growing Complexity in Identity Management

How to Handle Growing Complexity in Identity Management

How can your enterprise handle the growing complexity of identity management? What capabilities can help businesses reduce complexity in their identity management strategies? 

Modern cybersecurity must seem overwhelming to the uninitiated and unprepared. With the cybersecurity staffing crisis deepening in uncertain times, some businesses may not possess the necessary talent. Other organizations struggle with increasingly nebulous IT environments with the advent of cloud and remote workforces. Moreover, enterprises need to manage the privileges of their users in changing workflows.  

All of which suggests complexity in identity management at the business level. However, this complexity does not need to impede cybersecurity efforts. Instead, you and your IT team can see it as a spur to identity management innovation.  

Here’s how.

How to Handle Growing Complexity in Identity Management 

Use Passive and Step-Up Multifactor Authentication

Part of the complexity in identity management stems from the panic surrounding proper password security. 

Unfortunately, passwords do not provide adequate protection in modern cybersecurity. The Dark Web offers novice hackers affordable password cracking software. Worse, employees could reveal their password or the answers to their security questions inadvertently through social media. Finally, password reuse—a common problem—can allow hackers to leap from data breach to data breach. 

The obvious solution is to enact multifactor authentication (MFA). However, many businesses fear enacting MFA due to perceived challenges. Some worry that MFA might interrupt workflows by demanding numerous factors before granting entry. 

However, multifactor authentication does not require disrupted work processes or logins. Through passive factors, you can supplement and strengthen your login portals and discourage hackers. Passive factors gather information about the login request, such as the location of the user and the time of the request, and compares it to a baseline. If it doesn’t match, then the solution prevents entry and alerts the IT security team. 

Additionally, your team can protect the most sensitive databases by enacting step-up authentication. In this model, as the sensitivity of the access request rises, so too does the severity of the authentication factors. 

In other words, complexity in IAM through multifactor authentication only becomes a necessity when needed. 

Understand Your Actual Needs

No IT security use case is identical to another. Every business faces distinct challenges based on its industry, employee size, and compliance rules. Additionally, you need to consider scaling environments, cloud and hybrid migrations, and remote workforces. Moreover, you need to consider the presence of machine identities.                

The secret to reducing growing complexity in identity management lies in recognizing your actual needs, both present and future. Many enterprises fall into the common fallacy of deploying multiple identity management solutions, selecting new ones as problems arise. However, this creates long-term integration issues and thus security vulnerabilities. 

Instead, select a single identity management solution that handles your particular use case and can help your transition to larger environments as needed. Additionally, you need to understand potential “pain points” among your users to prevent future workarounds.     

Single Sign-On

This ties into authentication, but part of the complexity of identity management stems from asking employees to repeat the login process for every single database. This ties up business processes and frustrates workers, encouraging them to create workarounds to bypass the seeming complexity. 

Single Sign-On (SSO) helps to alleviate this problem by simply asking employees for one login and giving them access to at least base work data. When paired with passive continuous authentication, you can make even SSO secure, preventing exploitation from hackers and reducing complexity. 

You can learn more in our Identity Management Buyer’s Guide. We cover the top providers and their key capabilities here. 

Ben Canner

Ben Canner is an enterprise technology writer and analyst covering Identity Management, SIEM, Endpoint Protection, and Cybersecurity writ large. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English from Clark University in Worcester, MA. He previously worked as a corporate blogger and ghost writer. You can reach him via Twitter and LinkedIn.
Ben Canner