Predictions: The Top Identity Management Threats of 2021 (And How to Prevent Them)

Predictions: The Top Identity Management Threats of 2021 (And How to Prevent Them)

What are the top identity management threats of 2021? How can a next-generation identity management solution help mitigate or prevent them? 

2021 is only a month away, bringing with it the end of a truly challenging year. The human and psychological issues raised in the wake of COVID-19 would prove daunting by themselves. Adding on top of it, a host of cybersecurity and digital identity challenges makes a stressful year almost overwhelming. 

Unfortunately, it appears from all evidence that the pandemic might continue well into 2021. With that news, enterprises must adapt to the reality of long-term work-from-home policies and an increasingly disparate IT environment. 

By extension, this means that enterprises must adapt to the top identity management threats of 2021. We listed some of the most common before. 

The Top Identity Management Threats of 2021 (And How to Prevent Them)

1. Credential Stuffing (And Other Password Attacks)

What authentication tool causes so much grief and confusion as the humble yet ubiquitous password? Almost none, to be honest. While almost every user and business uses passwords to secure their accounts, passwords offer little if any actual protection.

Why? For starters, a significant number of users repeat their passwords, leading almost inevitably to credential stuffing attacks; hackers try frequently reused passwords or previously stolen passwords across accounts until they get a hit. With a not-insignificant percentage of users adopting “123456” as their password, credential stuffing seems almost too easy. 

Of course, credential stuffing is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to password attacks. Hackers could buy illicit password cracking software from the Dark Web or guess passwords based on publicly available social media information. Eventually, without the right authentication policies, the chances of a hack skyrocket. 

Therefore, your enterprise needs to adopt multifactor authentication (MFA). While not a perfect solution, MFA can deter inexperienced hackers and persuade more talented ones to pick easier targets. Every factor established during the login phase (even passively) creates one more challenge for hackers to overcome and makes your data that much more secure. 

2. Unfettered Access 

How much damage can a single compromised account do to your business? How is this one of the top identity management threats of 2021? 

Think of this: a user is compromised. Do you know in the first place? Can you monitor each user and note unusual activities if they occur? Offhand, do you actually know what each user can access and if they might have access to more than their assigned role? 

These questions should keep you up at night, at least somewhat. Without the means of controlling your users’ access, each account could become a nightmare on its own. Additionally, each account can become the jumping-off point for another credentials account or a means to rapidly escalate permissions until they obtain what they want. 

So you need a few tools to deal with this problem. First, you need privileged access management to provide an extra layer of protection on your most powerful accounts; other PAM capabilities such as session management can help monitor those accounts for signs of compromise. 

Also, identity governance and administration (IGA) can ensure that each user and position has a set of permissions that remain fixed; even temporary permissions only exist on a time-limit. Only the IT team can grant and revoke new privileges and permissions. 

Moreover, you need the tools necessary to enforce the Principle of Least Privilege (users only have the permissions they absolutely need for their jobs) and continuous authentication. The latter monitors user behaviors and compares them to a baseline; if they violate baseline behaviors, your security team can freeze their account and investigate. 

3. Maintaining Security On the Cloud

Work from home policies may persist even after the pandemic ends; employees might start expecting them and demanding more flexibility. This means you need to ensure your identity management tools extend even into the cloud. Of course, this may mean updating your identity management solution or perhaps selecting a new one. 

Learn more in our Identity Management Buyer’s Guide

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