Is there an optimal identity management approach for businesses?
Identity management serves as the cornerstone of all business-level cybersecurity in the modern age. In fact, some experts expressly call it the new digital perimeter. Authentication, both at the login stage and continuously over workflows, protects against a greater number of attacks than antivirus software.
However, identity management is not a set-it-and-forget-it tool. It requires careful deliberation and deployment, with an eye to your business processes and workforce. In other words, just having cybersecurity is not enough. Instead, you need to find an optimal identity management approach for your enterprise.
How to Build an Optimal Identity Management Approach
1. Know What You Need
This may seem condescending, but this speaks to a consistent problem in IT decision-making. Sometimes, when facing a security challenge, a decision-maker simply selects a solution. Yet they don’t ask critical questions, such as:
- How does this identity management solution fit with our other cybersecurity solutions?
- Does it fit with our other technologies (ERM, Backup and Disaster Recovery, Cloud, etc.)?
- Will it scale with our infrastructure? Does it fit within our five-and-ten-year-growth-plans?
- Can it solve other potential challenges, now and in the future, with authentication, privileged users, governance, etc.?
- How will it integrate with our workflows and processes? If those must change, how will we inform and instruct our workforce to adjust to the shift?
So don’t just grab a solution and deploy it. You need to understand what capabilities you need now and in the future for optimal identity management. You can and should speak to your security team and gain a sense of your workflows to understand what you need.
Additionally, you may need the capabilities best provided by more specialized branches of identity management. Privileged Access Management offers extra layers of protection for your superusers as well as benefits for your regular users with multifactor authentication, session monitoring and reporting, and password vaulting. Meanwhile, Identity Governance helps enforce role management and ensure enterprises follow compliance mandates through reporting capabilities. Finally, biometric authentication works to deploy stronger authentication factors through hardware and software (i.e. behavioral biometrics).
2. Emphasize Continuous Authentication
Much is made of authentication at the login stage. Indeed, enterprises are just starting to embrace the power of two-factor and multifactor authentication instead of relying on password-only verification. Of course, every factor between the access request and the access itself, the more hackers end up deterred or defeated.
However, authentication shouldn’t and can’t end in the login stage. Unfortunately, even the most sophisticated and secure multifactor authentication protocol can fall to a suitably prepared and determined hacker. Without continuous authentication, a hacker could still pose as one of your users until they make their moves and devastate your workflows.
What does continuous authentication entail? A good example involves typing behavior biometrics. Each user has their own typing behaviors at work. This might involve the number of spelling mistakes they make, how they correct that mistake, how quickly they type, how they scroll through pages, etc. A hacker might replicate their credentials, but they can’t mimic their behaviors. So if a “user” starts typing in a strange way, an investigation, and thus faster incident response, is merited.
3. Embrace Single Sign-On
A major impediment to optimal identity management involves asking employees to repeat the login process for every single database. This ties up business processes and frustrates workers, encouraging them to create workarounds—a serious security risk.
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.
You can learn more in our Identity Management Buyer’s Guide.
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