The content of this post is solely the responsibility of the author. AT&T does not adopt or endorse any of the views, positions, or information provided by the author in this article.
Identity and access management has emerged as an essential security element for organizations. A study reveals that 80% of global IT decision-makers have already adopted or are planning to adopt an IAM solution in the upcoming years.
IAM refers to business policies, processes, and technologies to control unauthorized data and digital systems access. Two IAM approaches are widely known, one for the cloud and the other for on-premises. The cloud based IAM practices are fast-growing because the demand for cloud adoption has increased over time.
With the right IAM solutions and techniques, IT managers and businesses control users' access to sensitive business data within their networks. In addition, these solutions help protect organizations from cyber-attacks; they become more efficient, reduce IT operational costs, and improve user experience.
Six best IAM practices that organizations must not neglect
The IAM framework means using the right solution to implement user authentication and privileges policies. In addition, with IAM, companies demonstrate that any data is not misused, and they comply with government regulations.
For all these characteristics, businesses are increasingly adopting IAM solutions, and their demand will undoubtedly be high in the upcoming time. It's also estimated that the IAM market will grow to $15.3 billion by 2025.
The organization needs to use the right IAM tools and practices to reap the most benefits from the IAM solution. The six best IAM practices that every business should incorporate into its security strategy are as follows:
Adopt passwordless authentication
Many data breaches occur because of weak or stolen credentials. Threat actors can use advanced tools and tactics to steal and break passwords.
Organizations need a secure identity management system to prevent bad actors from breaking in and stealing credentials that can result in breaches such as the Lapsus$ attack or the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack. Organizations eliminate password issues by choosing passwordless authentication to protect vital business data and ensure that only authentic people access it.
Passwordless authentication enables users to authenticate their identity without entering a password. There are various benefits for organizations to become passwordless- it enhances the overall efficiency, saves time and productivity, and provides greater ease of access. But, most importantly, passwordless authentication allows IAM leaders and users to access the cloud environment safely and securely.
Implement a Zero-Trust approach
The zero-trust approach is not new but has gained popularity as the threat landscape is evolving. Organizations cannot have a robust IAM policy without a function zero-trust architecture. The average cost of a data breach is $4.24 million, but the zero-trust model helps reduce the cost of a data breach by $1.76 million. Moreover, Gartner also predicts that the ZTNA solutions will grow to $1.674 billion in 2025.
Zero-trust means continuously verifying authorized users as they move into the network and giving them the lowest privileges while accessing crucial documents and files. Zero trust within the cloud creates access measures to protect sensitive data and applications from unwarranted access.
The zero-trust architecture ensures that IAM policies are followed whenever the user accesses the organization's network and protects the cloud data. Successful zero-trust implementation for the cloud must begin with passive application observation. Companies must first monitor and determine the relationship between the apps and then enforce rules. In addition, enterprises consider using other technologies like MFA, endpoint protection, micro-segmentation, and visibility and analytics to execute zero-trust systems.
IAM is designed to control users and protect their data, which can be achieved by meeting standard compliance requirements. Businesses often have regulatory requirements connected to the data they store either in the data warehouse or cloud data warehouse. They must report on their data access and use processes while complying with specific laws and regulations.
They must face hefty fines, lawsuits, and penalties if they fail. For example, Twitter agreed to pay $150 million to settle allegations of its data privacy practices when the US alleged Twitter for collecting users' contact information to show targeted ads.
Organizations that haven't yet must strictly follow compliance regulations, including GDPR, SOX, HIPAA, and PCI-DSS, to ensure that data is not misused. Besides this, businesses must audit each user role and assign them to the appropriate data owner, to keep a check and balance on the following compliance. In this way, companies can ensure compliance regulations and surveillance of data access.
Use appropriate DevOps tools
A data breach occurs because of human error or when application flaws occur. Businesses also forget to maintain a record of unstructured or dark data, including files and documents downloaded and used for different purposes, credit cards, and social security numbers. Cyber-criminals take complete advantage of such vulnerabilities and data that can eventually result in a data breach.
Such events not only cause significant financial loss to the business but also result in loss of customers and brand reputation. DevOps teams and tools greatly help enterprises prevent data breaches and ensure no one can access sensitive data. By using various DevOps tools, businesses keep track of the unstructured data from the initial stage and boost the overall security level.
Deploy artificial intelligence
Cybercriminals have become more advanced and sophisticated than before. They are using new approaches and tactics to access the organizational network. Because of their progressive nature, even the security teams sometimes fail to recognize them. Hence, organizations have adopted Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning technologies to implement IAM and reduce the threat vector effectively.
AI ensures improved security and maintains business integrity. Using AI technology like Robotic Process Automation (RPA) deeply monitors and reveals the abnormalities in user behavior. Though an organization produces trillions of primarily unstructured data, the ML system scans all the data efficiently and prevents data leaks and breaches. Moreover, the AI system constantly monitors all behavior and ensures that verifying workers' access to network resources is continuous.
If, by any chance, threat actors gain access to the network by any backdoor, the AI system sends a quick alert to the IT department so they can take appropriate measures. Also, the system denies the access request and ensures the complete safety of the business data.
Centralize the organization's systems
Another best practice businesses can adopt to improve IAM is centralizing all network systems. It is an effective approach that provides more visibility and allows the security teams to detect and respond to cyber threats by letting all the users sign into a single authentication provider, which then propagates identity access across the apps and resources within the organization.
Moreover, with the centralized management system, it is easier to enforce policies like using secure passwords or multi-factor authentication to access the resources.
Additional best practices
Apart from the practices mentioned above, listed below are some common IAM practices businesses should not ignore. These includes:
- Ensure new applications from all sources are securely developed and onboarded. For this purpose, deploy API access control (authentication and authorization of APIs) as it is a crucial part of API security.
- Authentication is vital for IAM; hence, use multi-factor authentication tools to authenticate the identity.
- Remove unnecessary users from the network to reduce the risks of unauthorized access.
- Regularly review and audit the IAM policies to ensure they are granted the least privilege.
- When an IAM account is not used, immediately de-provisioned it. This prevents any hackers from stealing and misusing those credentials.
Making a business compliant with identity and access management requires an in-depth understanding of who can access the sensitive data and which data is necessary for the workers. Staying informed and updated about the latest technological trends and IAM practices will further help improve the IAM infrastructure.