What Makes Next-Generation Identity Management Essential?

What Makes Next-Generation Identity Management Essential?

What makes next-generation identity management essential? Which capabilities distinguish next-generation identity management from legacy solutions? And why should your enterprise care? 

Identity forms the core of modern enterprise cybersecurity. In fact, it may now constitute the digital perimeter keeping external threat actors at bay. Yet so many businesses continue to neglect their own identity management. According to experts, the worst data breaches stem from stolen or compromised credentials, privileged and otherwise, granting unauthorized access. 

What can next-generation identity management offer your business to prevent this?

Legacy Identity vs. Next-Generation Identity Management

For many enterprises, the root of their problems lies with their overreliance on an outdated legacy identity solution. Usually, these legacy solutions provide little more than an Active Directory and a single-factor authentication login. Usually, they can’t provide the visibility, identity governance, authentication protections, or cloud protections necessary for modern IT infrastructures.

Indeed, legacy identity simply doesn’t have the capabilities to keep up with the rapid scaling and innovative components to environments. Between expanding user bases, third party identities, IoT and mobile devices, and the cloud, legacy identity solutions can’t function optimally. 

Next-Generation Identity Management Starts with Visibility

After all, almost all of cybersecurity relies on visibility to function; you can’t protect what you can’t see. Yet as more and more users join enterprise networks, keeping track of who has what permissions proves daunting. Moreover, enterprises cling to the notion they can handle the provisioning and deprovisioning processes manually—often in a spreadsheet. 

Perhaps then it is no wonder IT teams lose track of users’ permissions or even entire identities in the environment. Indeed, many businesses even lose visibility on their privileged access accounts! These can easily blossom into security problems via insider threats or abuse by external actors exploiting unknown permissions. Poor offboarding can cause orphaned accounts to linger on enterprise networks as a security hole.    

Further, poor lifecycle management and visibility can cause business process disruptions as well as cybersecurity problems. Poor onboarding can lead to employees waiting to receive the permissions necessary to perform their jobs. In turn, poor identity governance can delay employees from working on their assigned projects or lead to access creep.   

Next-generation identity management works to increase both visibility over users’ permissions and the governance on those privileges. Such solutions can reduce friction in asserting visibility and in monitoring lifecycle management. 

Plus, with a next-generation identity governance solution, you can carefully delegate what permissions belong to what roles within your organization. Therefore, you can bring in new employees with their needed permissions already in place for their specific job title. And thus, identity governance can reduce friction in the long-term. 

Of course, with automated identity governance, you can also deal with offboarding promptly with no opportunity for exploitation. Through next-generation identity management, you can also monitor each users’ permissions; this ensures any temporary privileges end at the project’s conclusion and any job changes bring subsequent permissions changes as well. 

Multifactor Authentication for Security and Profit

Legacy identity management tends to rely on password-based single-factor authentication. Unsurprisingly, legacy antivirus solutions also tend to suffer more data breaches than other solutions. For a few reasons why: 

  • Users change their passwords far too infrequently. 
  • Often, users repeat their passwords.
  • Even original passwords can prove easily guessed or cracked thanks to social media social engineering.
  • Additionally, users sharing or writing down their passwords leaves you open to insider threats.  

Instead of relying on single-factor authentication, your enterprise needs to embrace multifactor authentication (MFA) through next-generation identity management. After all, the more factors standing between hackers and your users’ identities, the more secure the latter remains.

Additionally, hackers won’t bother with strong digital identity perimeters. More often than not, they prefer targeting weaker enterprises with less identity security. Why waste time and resources on a hard target when an equally viable easy one exists?  

Strong enterprise multifactor authentication can comprise of any number of factors, but often include:  

  • Biometric authentication.
  • SMS text messages.
  • Hard tokens.
  • Typing biometrics.
  • PUSH mobile device notification.
  • Geofencing
  • Time of access request monitoring. 

One of the unique benefits of next-generation identity management over legacy solutions is continuous authentication. Think about it: in legacy solution, you simply need to flash your credentials once before receiving access. Thus, hackers only need to get their hands on an unguarded account to gain total access. 

However, continuous authentication monitors all users’ sessions to determine if their behaviors meet baseline behavioral norms. If they don’t, your solution can request more authentication factors from the user to ensure their validity. 

On the other hand, you can also enact step-up authentication; this activates more factor requests as the sensitivity of the access requests increases. This enables a smoother user experience, coupled with the smoothness contributed by many of the non-intrusive factors. 

Identity Federation

Next-generation identity management also provides your enterprise access to identity federation. Identity federation enforces common identity security standards and protocols; it coordinates and manages user identities between different identity providers, applications, and portals across your infrastructure. Usually, federation can establish trust via digital signatures and encryption.

Federation connects different identity management systems together; in a federated system, a central home node or identity provider stores the users’ identities. Therefore, when a user needs to authenticate themselves, the database or application processes the access request through the identity provider. They already trust the identity provider, so they know whether the access request meets their authentication requirements. 

Thus in a federated identity security system, the user never directly provides credentials to anyone other than the identity provider. This helps establishes security through the same mechanisms as single sign-on.      

Next-Generation Identity Management and the Cloud 

Finally, next-generation identity management can improve your cloud security. Identity security ensures your business processes stay safe regardless of the environment. In fact, identity allows your enterprise to protect your users wherever they work—inside the network or outside of it. This allows them to move smoothly and securely while fulfilling their day to day tasks. 

Further, identity security allows for scalability to match the limitless potential of cloud environments. As you grow your business on the cloud, your identity management solution should facilitate adding more users to the network.   

You can learn more in our 2019 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