Infographic – Top 3 Features of Mature IAM Programs

Infographic – Top 3 Features of Mature IAM Programs

Achieving mature identity management is an uphill battle that requires careful planning and execution. However, though the process is complex, the benefits of stronger cybersecurity, improved user experience, and better performance are too great to ignore. Therefore, an enterprise serious about pursuing identity excellence should familiarize itself with the most important features for mature IAM programs.

By building up a solid knowledge base of critical features, an enterprise prepares itself for a successful digital transformation. Better yet, such educated enterprises will know what features to look for in an appropriate managed identity partner who will enable success instead of draining resources.

Start familiarizing yourself with the three most important factors that go into mature IAM programs: integration, provisioning, and authentication.

Infographic - Top 3 Features of Mature IAM Programs
4 Multi-Factor Authentication Concerns for the Travel and Hospitality Industry

4 Multi-Factor Authentication Concerns for the Travel and Hospitality Industry

4 Multi-Factor Authentication Concerns for the Travel and Hospitality Industry

Hacking is a contest of opportunities. Security is a contest of probabilities. The stakes for both are high. Bad actors keep an eye out for flaws in a system or a human weakness to burrow into. Each data request has the potential to be a mask, a deception wherein an identity has been compromised. Even tech giants like Microsoft have experienced data breaches resulting from conventional authentication methods. In this battle of odds, IAM security relies upon perimeters built around each individual identity. Multi-factor authentication (MFA) swings those odds heavily into the favor of the defenders.

For travel agencies and hospitality services, verifying the identities of customers is critical. Without sufficient checks, tight travel plans and expensive accommodations can be snatched away. If an issue arises, your customers become acutely aware of any delays or shortcomings in your response. A customer who might have looked to your services for years to come instead spreads word of their bad experience. Conversely, a customer who enjoys a frictionless and secure digital experience are more likely to develop brand loyalty and even advocacy.

The travel and hospitality industry is not the only sector which has observed considerable benefits from adopting MFA. Industries ranging from healthcare to finance have leveraged multi-factor authentication to great effect. Banking security, confidential patient information, and even self-service password recovery are protected by multiple layers of authentication. As the feature becomes a staple of secure identity and access management, transport and guest enterprises cannot afford to lag. However, recognizing the need and addressing it are worlds apart.

Are you contemplating where to start on your own multi-factor authentication rollout? Do you know what assets need to be provisioned or evaluated? Education is your first step towards successful multi-factor authentication rollout.  Memorize these 5 critical multi-factor authentications directives and execute them. Doing so saves you time, prevents costly reworks, and avoids frustrating your end-users.

1. Your Multi-factor Authentication Server

A dedicated central repository, providing a single source of truth, forms the foundation of your MFA. Without a reliable and well-ordered server, the different facets of identity quickly become muddled. The last thing you want is for devices to be associated with the wrong credit card. Or, worse still, for personal info to be unsecured. As such, implementing a solid multi-factor authentication server (preferably backed by a solid identity governance and access platform) is key.

The MFA server is the “brain” that drives all policy decisions and functionality.  Think of it as the airline you choose to ride on your journey to the multi-factor authentication finish line. You don’t want to choose an airline that will tear apart mid-flight. Instead, you want one that provides a comfortable experience and gets you where you’re going. The solution must be flexible enough to process meaningful identity data, such as location, time of use, and password veracity. 

This “brain” should have broad out-of-the-box integrations to various common endpoints. This maximizes use of its capabilities in all facets of your identity and access management landscape. The multi-factor authentication server should be accessible to your on-premises and cloud applications, services, and servers. For example, a cloud-only check-in app may need to interface with an on-sight TSA program. A central MFA server alleviates any potential difficulties of fitting these pieces together. However, your choice must be informed by an expert IAM opinion.

2. Your Multi-factor Authentication Clients

Multi-factor authentication clients are the various devices end users interact with using the MFA server for proper authentication vetting.  A capable server supports myriad client devices and identification techniques. These devices include desktops, laptops, tablets, mobile phones, grid cards, smart cards, RFID cards, key fobs, hard tokens, soft tokens, and biometric readers. The ID techniques range from simple password checks to cutting edge biometrics.

Mobile phones are becoming a very popular option for multi-factor authentication. Smartphones are not only ubiquitous but also support many of the identification techniques that normally require deployment of additional hardware. This is especially true for one-time password (OTP) & biometric options.  Be sure to confirm support for all the client devices that are most common during your rollout. This minimizes your challenges with leveraging your MFA server before you make your selection. After all, it would be a shame for clients to try to check in your front desk only to find that your system does not support Android. Do not neglect your customer identity and access management solution.

Also, make sure to select the right identification techniques based on your user populations and factor in the deployment time and cost. Authentication methods such as password-complexity requirements are simple to implement but can cause friction. More complicated yet effective methods, such as biometrics and single sign-on (SSO), are more difficult to implement on your own. Your best option, but most challenging to institute, is an adaptive multi-factor authentication platform. Adaptive MFA scales authentication requirements in response to carefully tuned criteria. However, that kind of platform is both difficult to design and implement. In such cases, a managed identity service provider may be needed for an effective implementation.

3. VPN and SSO Integration

Remote access is typically the first use case out-of-the-gate for MFA integration. Most companies already have a VPN (virtual private network) gateway in place. Your choice of VPN is your “stake in the ground” decision for making your MFA server decision. Ideally you would pick your MFA server first to maximize your capabilities. You should also consider implementing a cloud infrastructure and entitlements managements (CIEM) platform. Due to the remote nature of your server, it is only responsible to set up a security perimeter for it.

You may be fortunate enough to be at an inflection point. This is where your current technology is due for an upgrade or replacement. As such, it makes sense to re-prioritize your VPN selection based on your MFA selection. Going with a capable MFA server yields the benefit of a wide range of out-of-the-box integrations with popular VPN platforms. VPN service providers such as Nord, Express, and Palo Alto are easy to set up. However, secure integration with your full identity fabric requires some tinkering to maximize your results. Additionally, you should couple your MFA to a proper SSO. So long as special care is taken to ensure that your SSO does not compromise the security of your MFA, it can work wonders for user experience.

Consider a hypothetical (yet common) situation wherein an airline traveler needs to quickly retrieve their ticket information. Having to sign in first on the airport’s website, then onto their airline’s profile, and yet again for individual passengers creates friction. It is frustrating and potentially slow enough to make them miss their flight. Single sign-on (SSO) remediates this issue. The combination of adaptive MFA and SSO is the baseline of modern cybersecurity. Each contributes to security while also easing friction for users and synergizes well with PIM. However, this marriage requires a crucial link: a privileged access management (PAM) solution. Without a suitable PAM overseeing your identity fabric, your platform lacks the comprehensive analytics necessary for reactive identity authentication.

4. Application Access Management Integration

Identities are not the only facet of your enterprise which play a part in your multi-factor authentication solution. Application access management integration is a crucial integration point for MFA.  Having an access management solution in place is a best practice for managing access to applications, especially web applications. Application-focused access management do not only serve to link disparate applications into a single platform. They also aid in the onboarding of new applications, ensuring that security standards are maintained, and processes do not conflict with each other.

Integrating your MFA solution with an access management solution provides an efficient mechanism for providing MFA capabilities at the individual application level. Since access management solutions form the authentication and authorization backbone for internal and external applications, this essentially extends your MFA capability to internal and external users in an efficient manner. Access management is of such profound importance that there is something to be said for prioritizing it even over a multi-factor authentication rollout.

Because access management forms the ground-level of IAM, it makes sense to establish it first and then add on MFA afterwards. Of course, this assumes that your enterprise does not already have an active access management system. However, if that is the case, it carries its own set of challenges. Your existing system must first be checked for security gaps and then for potential vulnerabilities that could arise from MFA integration. An IAM audit should be performed to assess the full scope and needs of your identity platform.

Acing Your Multi-Factor Authentication Rollout

Taking these 5 considerations into account when you are looking at your MFA solution will lead to a much less bumpy road for your end users. IT admins can rest easier, knowing that the identities under their stewardship are that much more secure. Meanwhile, customers enjoy fewer pain points and less friction in their experience with their travel and hospitality service providers.

The result will be a consistent MFA end user experience for your users across the enterprise and a sound technical approach to solving the most common MFA use cases.

Mature Identity and Access Management Programs: Top 3 Features

Mature Identity and Access Management Programs: Top 3 Features

When navigating a treacherous landscape, your priority is to get the lay of the land and chart out a safe path. In the realm of identity and access management, the best way to make this survey is to get an IAM maturity benchmark assessment from Simeio. Doing so drives your enterprise towards a mature identity and access management program. The enterprises handling your data must leverage IAM products to achieve important and significant gains in security, efficiency, and compliance enforcement.

Some companies have tried to establish mature identity and access management programs only to fail in their attempts to effect real change. Tactics which lead one company safely out of the forest send another off the cliff.  What are the characteristics of a truly mature IAM program which meaningfully improves their risk posture? Learn our three top aspects of a mature (and thus secure) IAM.

#1 – Mature Identity and Access Management Programs Rely on User Identity Integration

Pieces of a user’s identity can exist across many different systems in an enterprise. HR and IT systems like an active directory serve as repositories for these data fragments. Then there are physical access systems like badges and ancillary mediums like the phone system. Finally, there are the various business applications that become critical for a user to perform their role. With the average person using 9 applications on mobile and 4-5 work applications on personal computers, potential attack surfaces can easily swell.

Before long, keeping up with all these disparate systems and keeping user attributes current becomes unmanageable and insecure. The longer an enterprise waits to start combatting identity sprawl, the riskier and more costly it becomes. Most organizations recognize the problem and the need for a consolidated view of a user’s identity. However, enacting the necessary changes is dauting. It seems simple enough, but the digital transformation takes planning, time, and solid methodology.

Moving an organization down the road to consolidated user identity integration relies upon several factors. All provisioning and tracking processes must become centralized, providing a single source of truth for identity policy enforcement. Next, a full identity audit must be performed, removing redundant identity attributes from across the enterprise and purging orphaned accounts. Finally, these policies must be automated, thus synchronizing changes to identities across their various endpoints. This prevents unsafe gaps in the overall identity fabric and enables better audit readiness.

#2 – Automated Account Provisioning for Ease and Security

Once the enterprise institutes a reliable identity management platform, the business of efficiently and safely managing identities begins in earnest. Creating an account on an appropriate system with the correct permissions is a straightforward task. However, if a company continues to grow, it eventually exceeds a certain critical mass. At this stage the enterprise reaches a tipping point. At this stage, manual provisioning becomes untenable and an IAM management solution becomes necessary. Otherwise, the provisioning process becomes sluggish or out of control.

Without proper management, requests for new accounts, changes to existing accounts, and repeated requests to remove accounts for terminated employees begin to pile up. The resulting backlog delays new workers from starting. In turn, this hampers productivity and creates cybersecurity vulnerabilities where the accounts of terminated employees remain active for far too long.  Centralizing and standardizing the process helps immensely, but this is taken to the next level by the addition of automation.

Augmentation through automation speeds up the process while enforcing identity standards, access entitlements, and provisioning policies. Automatic account removal of terminated employees is also a significant cybersecurity gain, removing the risk posed by orphaned accounts. All accounts on key systems tie back to a central and validated user account. This eliminates unknown and orphaned user IDs from across the enterprise. This layer of automation helps strengthen security while improving user experience: the essence of a mature identity and access management system. Additionally, the automated aspect greatly eases auditing events. This is especially true when audit-related data is specified and collected continually.

#3 – Intelligent Authentication for a Mature Identity and Access Management Program

As organizations grow and add more people, systems, and applications secure password management becomes a challenge. Compromised credentials are the primary attack vector for cybercriminals, and mismanaged password systems make your enterprise more likely to fall victim to such an attack. While features like self-service password recovery are a step in the right direction, they are not credential management’s end. If your enterprise wishes for better security, it must look to passwordless methods.

The best passwordless defenses against compromise are multi-factor authentication and single sign-on. With the previously established systems of a centralized identity governance apparatus in place, producing workable multi-factor authentication (MFA) and single sign-on (SSO) becomes much simpler.

Leveraging the multiple endpoints already associated with your identity platform allows you to link mobile devices, email addresses, and biometrics to a user’s identity. Not only does this expedite password recovery options (if you choose to pair a password with MFA) but it greatly improves security by limiting the potential damage done by a compromised credential.

Striving for a Mature Identity and Access Management Program

You may already be aware of the shortcomings in your current identity fabric. However, without a clear and complete picture, your implementations will come up short. That is why an identity assessment must be the first step you take on your road to digital transformation. The best form this assessment can take is an IAM maturity benchmark.

Maturity-driven benchmarking ensures a mature identity and access management program. By measuring your enterprise against clinically proven levers, you’ll get a pristine view of your current needs. Furthermore, you receive crucial advisement on how to proceed with your improvements.

Contact a Simeio Identity Advisor and learn how to start moving towards a mature, secure, and audit-ready identity fabric now.

Insider Threats Challenge Identity Security

Insider Threats Challenge Identity Security

Environments we believe that we control can turn against us. In such situations, this reversal magnifies the danger. Sadly, this chilling fact enters the realm of the all-to-real in the case of insider threats. An insider threat occurs when a bad actor is a member the very organization they seek to compromise. At digitally connected enterprises, insider threats are especially dangerous, breaking down identity security and threatening the whole of an identity fabric.

Insider Security Risks are more Prevalent and Potentially More Damaging than External Threats

According to a Forrester study, insiders cause 58% of sensitive security incidents. The most-often cited incidents were lost devices, inadvertent misuse of sensitive information and intentional theft of data by employees. The impact of data breaches and downtime, whether caused by insider malice or negligence, can cripple an organization, exposing it to lost revenue, significant brand damage and increasingly onerous regulatory fines and penalties. The current average annual cost of an insider threat is $11.5 million.

Several factors contribute to a growing trend of dissatisfaction in workers. This creates a climate where the risk of employees wanting to lash out is proportionally higher than it once was. In the digital age, all it takes is one bad apple to cause far-reaching problems. Information Week reports that as many as 75% of all insider threat-driven breaches result from the actions of disgruntled employees. Identity security cannot endure long if the identities are in the possession of individuals who actively want to hurt the company.

But what about the other 25%? Unfortunately, an insider threat doesn’t need to be willing or even aware to threaten identity security. An insider, negligent or ignorant about identity hygiene, has no upward limit to the damage they might do. Employee negligence and even customer negligence have been blamed for some egregious cybersecurity breaches. Ultimately, so long as your enterprise lacks a managed identity security solution, insider threats remain a serious cyber threat.

“Blind Spots” cause Identity Security Audits to Fail

In a multi-industry concern such as cybersecurity, governing bodies brook no excuses about insider threats. Organizations who fail to protect their users will also fail critical audits in short order. Cybersecurity regulations including GDPR, HIPAA, and PCI DSS all mandate tracking and remediation capabilities. For example, one of the biggest identity challenges for companies (and a major cause of failed audits) is a lack of visibility onto administrator accounts for Windows platforms.

Failed audits can be particularly damaging in today’s environment, in which regulations related to data loss and data protection are becoming more rigorous around the world. When disparate silos or on local servers manage identities and entitlements rather than central repositories, it becomes much easier for insider threats to jeopardize identity security. Ultimately, only by remediating the blind spots in your identity infrastructure can you satisfy your compliance requirements. Companies that conduct business globally must comply with a wide range of rules and regulations to satisfy audit requirements.

As such, organizations must prove that users who have access to certain servers and applications are authorized. They must also be able to deliver an auditable trail of what each user has done within the server. These requirements mean organizational policies need to apply the Principle of Least Privilege (PoLP). Under PoLP, users only have those privileges needed to do their jobs. If they need to have their privilege elevated for some reason, that is an explicit action requiring both manual controls and automatic record-keeping. This, in turn, makes frivolous privileges less of a threat.

Organizational Complexity Poses a Growing Challenge to Identity Security

Long ago, in the forgotten age of Steve Ballmer refusing to sell Microsoft 1.0 to Nebraska, managing employee identity used to be relatively easy. A user sat a desktop with a single machine connected to an enterprise application through a single wire. This made the tracking of company identities and their usage much simpler and safer. However, as the capabilities of technology have advanced, so too has their complexity. Users are now mobile and using a wide range of devices, some of which may be unsanctioned or undocumented personal devices. This greatly expands potential attack surfaces and opens up new breach vectors. Furthermore, mobility is only one aspect of the heightened complexity.

IT infrastructures are increasingly diverse and heterogeneous. Multiple silos defined by departments, applications, operating systems, or other characteristics set them apart from one another. The proliferation of virtualization and cloud services adds additional layers of complexity to the IT environment. Some of these cloud platforms even require their own cloud identity solution. Without a solution to unify user identities, organizations face the prospect of identity sprawl. The risks of sprawl include data loss, data breaches, application downtime, failed audits, and an inability to identify and rectify internal security problems before they escalate.

Savvy IT and security managers are recognizing that the most cost-efficient and effective way to address these challenges is to incorporate a solution that provides insiders with a unified identity across all platforms. By linking access privileges and activities to specific individuals, the IT organization minimizes security risks while gaining the visibility required to achieve compliance. This paradigm of Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) is rapidly becoming the baseline for intelligent identity security policy.

Combating Insider Threats through Intelligent IAM

So, with this rich tapestry of ways that insiders can ruin your day, how do you keep yourself safe? The first step is to understand the gaps in your current identity security solution. This involves conducting an evaluation, either internally or through an MSP, to understand where focus is needed. Once an identity benchmark has been established, you can proceed to implementing improvements. A digital transformation, revamping your identity solutions from the ground up, needs a solid foundation of well-informed analysis.

Next, your identity experts must patch up the systemic holes in your identity fabric. However, the new systems must be implemented to combat future threats as well. PAM security and IGA solutions are the most important of these for any enterprise. The addition of adaptive MFA, SSO, and active monitoring are key to strong identity security, remediating blind spots and reigning in complexity. These systems do not just keep an eye on all your enterprise identities while answering the 6 vital identity security questions. They also enhance your users’ experiences, reducing friction and giving them fewer reasons to become frustrated with you.

Insider threats are just one vector for devastating IAM breaches. While the prospect of investing in an identity overhaul might seem daunting, it is important to consider the potential costs of neglecting this aspect of your cybersecurity. With the average data breach costing $4.5 MN and noncompliance potentially racking up hundreds of millions in fines, the cost of inaction is much higher. Don’t leave your enterprise vulnerable to catastrophic data breaches; bolster your identity before you find yourself under attack from within.

Talk to an identity advisor and start your digital transformation today.

Infographic – Application Recertification Checklist

Infographic – Application Recertification Checklist

Application recertification within an updated identity platform can be one of the most arduous and costly stages of the application onboarding process. Fortunately, by adhering to a systemized checklist, the procedure becomes much easier.

Standardizing the recertification processes of collecting and normalizing application entitlement data establishes accurate and repeatable processes for recertification. Additionally, the checklist enables effective campaign compliance monitoring. This ensures that no unexpected efficiency or security gaps are created during the recertification process.

The new bridging solution significantly streamlines implementation efforts. By the time your organization is ready to implement an enterprise governance solution, most of the administrative work is complete. Read on to discover the step-by-step instructions on reliably re-certifying your applications.

Check out our Application Recertification checklist for better application onboarding