How to Protect a Transformed IT Infrastructure Through Identity Management

How to Protect a Transformed IT Infrastructure Through Identity Management

One way or another, enterprises must contend with a transformed IT infrastructure. How can Identity Management help fortify and protect this transformed IT infrastructure? 

COVID-19, and all of the precautions necessary to limit its spread, put quite a few businesses into a difficult situation. It required them to quickly respond to radical changes and demand in their IT environment, including a sudden shift to remote work (work-from-home or WFH). 

However, one could argue (as we will) that COVID-19 only accelerated an inevitable future wherein a transformed IT infrastructure is the rule rather than the exception. What does this future look like? How are infrastructures transforming, both because of COVID and because of the march of progress? Moreover, how can identity management help protect these changes in the IT environment? 

How to Protect a Transformed IT Infrastructure Through IAM

Remote Work is Here to Stay

The most visible indicator of a transformed IT infrastructure is also the most blatant symbol of a pandemic-infected world: remote work. Many enterprises found themselves struggling to expand or implement a WFH policy that facilitated safety as well as productivity and communication. 

Obviously, this proved far from easy to accomplish, but eventually, most businesses found a way to incorporate remote work into their work processes. Yet many enterprise leaders seem convinced that once the pandemic ends, everything will return “back to normal.” Unfortunately, studies indicate a majority of employees prefer working from home when possible or at least want a more generous WFH policy. 

In other words, the genie will not go back in the bottle. 

So you need to make sure that your WFH policies and processes operate within adequate cybersecurity protections. Identity management can help by ensuring all employees as well as third parties undergo full authentication. Multifactor authentication in particular can help ensure that even if you don’t see your employees directly logging in, you can be assured of their authenticity and safety even working from home. 

After all, the more factors between the access request and the access granting, the more secure your data and bottom line. 

Additionally, your business could benefit from using identity governance and administration (IGA). These solutions help regulate and monitor the permissions your users possess and help IT teams determine how those compare to what users need. Thus it prevents access creep, which becomes a much more likely problem when face-to-face communication remains limited or impossible. 

Also, IGA can help ensure that any temporary permissions given to employees operate only on a limited time to ensure employees don’t accumulate them by accident. 

Beware the Rise of the Machines

Or rather, machine identity. Thinking that your human users are the only ones with digital identities and permissions can leave your enterprise vulnerable either to direct attack or the slow decay of misconfigurations and exposures. 

These machine identities can include the IoT, applications, databases, or other programs that need to move data or analyze it. Just like employees, they too can accumulate permissions through accident or through unaware granting in the course of workflows. 

So you need an identity management solution that not only recognizes the importance of machine identities but can subject them to the same rules as human identities. Otherwise, hackers need to only compromise a simple communications app to wreak havoc. 

Who Shapes the Cloud? 

Finally, with a transformed IT infrastructure comes cloud concerns. The cloud by itself immediately changes the digital perimeter to become more porous and harder to monitor and regulate. Often, enterprises (or their employees) can simply upload whatever they wish to the cloud, which leads to permissions misconfigurations. When this happens, the chances that the information becomes exposed online rises exponentially. 

So you need to tightly control what data users can upload to the cloud, as well as who can upload to the cloud in the first place. Identity management can actually embed required permissions into certain databases, making it impossible for normal employees to copy/paste it or move it to non-monitored locations. 

Learn more in our Identity Management Buyer’s Guide

Ben Canner