Identity Access Management: Ensuring Employee Authenticity
The days of all your employees accessing company resources from a hard-wired desktop connection in a single corporate office are long over, much to the consternation of your cybersecurity team. More often than not, your IT experts are tasked with managing employees who are working from home or on the road. They must ensure that every individual who attempts to access your organization’s data is who they say they are. That makes identity access management protocols more critical than ever before.
What Is IAM?What Exactly Is IAM?
IAM or identity access management is essentially a framework of technology designed to ensure that the person logging into your system is who they claim to be. Working with this collection of technology and processes, your IT team can establish a secure process that identifies the users attempting to access your information, approves their credentials, and then grants them access to only the resources that are necessary for them to do their jobs. In essence, they are creating a unique digital fingerprint for each user based on their username and email, passwords, and administrative permissions.
Although most employees understand the need for security intellectually, their primary pain point in the past is that it was too complicated to use multiple passwords, several times a day, every day. Technology now allows your team of IT experts to effectively team identity access management with a single sign-on (SSO) to multiple platforms using multi-factor authentication (MFA) to keep everything safe. When effectively combined, this trio allows employees to access all the resources they need quickly and easily without compromising security. Here are a few key reasons why IAM should be a part of your process.
Why You Should Use Identity Access Management Tools
A Better User Experience
When is the last time you logged on to a new site and had a suggested password pop up that was 30 characters of gibberish? Perhaps you did the “right” thing and diligently copied it in a secure location and went with it. All too often, individuals default to an easy-to-recall standard password that is, unfortunately, all too easy to hack. It’s simple human nature because the frustration of managing multiple usernames and passwords becomes overwhelming.
Identity Access Management tools gives your IT team the ability to create a single login process for your employees that doesn’t sacrifice security by using single sign-on (SSO) products. SSO allows employees to log in and access all the resources they need with a single set of secure credentials. This unified approach to user access means that employees waste far less time trying to recall passwords for individual applications. It also frees your IT team from continually having to reset forgotten
More Control Over Access
Not all information is the same, and not everyone needs to access all your data. Controlling public and employee access to sensitive information in a hyper-connected world can be time-consuming and complex. One advantage of IAM is that it allows your IT team to grant or restrict access to specific company resources based on an individual’s role.
Initially establishing IAM might seem daunting, since your IT professionals will need to establish individual permission levels for every employee on each application and software platform. However, there are ways to make this much easier on your IT solutions team, such as IAM tools that utilize Security Assertion Markup Languages (SAML) 2.0. SAML is an open standard that allows your team to share security information about identity, authentication, and authorization across multiple systems. This allows your team to use SSO with deeper security levels because they can authenticate users for each application based on their privileges. Access can be granted to employees based on criteria your IT team deems critical, whether that’s based on their role, internal department, geographic location, or even work schedule.
Better Control Over Copies
The best security measures go out the door if an employee with access mistakenly shares confidential or sensitive information. In today’s hyper-connected business world, it’s virtually impossible to function without sharing data and files within your organization. Inter- or inner-departmental collaboration is necessary, yet as employees share documents and data for feedback, it can be challenging to control access to these shared files.
Identity access management gives your executives and IT team greater control over which information can be shared. How? It allows you to prevent protected data from being printed or copied, and you can prevent tagged files from being emailed to external accounts. While you can never manage everything, having greater control over your data helps minimize the risk of it ending up where you don’t want it.
Better IT Management
Your IT department should be focused on what they do best, which is probably not running reports – it’s managing your network. Since IAM and SSO make it easy to identify users and their devices, your IT department can identify suspicious activity in real-time and immediately restrict access, thus preventing potentially dangerous scenarios from occurring.
On the back end, there are IAM solutions that allow your team to quickly pull detailed reports on things they track – including users, applications, and logins – to better determine how information is being accessed. That allows your IT technicians to focus on their jobs instead of pulling reports.
BYOD Policies and Beyond
Photo by Milena Trifonova
The days of employees logging into desktop workstations might not be completely behind us, but they are in the rearview mirror. Even employees who work in the office from a desk often utilize laptops, mobile devices, and cell phones to access company information. Often, those devices use varying platforms and operating systems. That’s compounded with remote employees who likely don’t have any company-issued hardware but who operate in the realm of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies.
When your IT professionals utilize a combination of IAM, MFA, and SSO, employees will be able to tap into company resources from anywhere on any device while maintaining organizational security. Since it’s easy and efficient, employees can work from literally anywhere with internet access without causing your IT department undue stress to connect and secure them.
Much of what your IT staff has to regularly deal with could be considered routine tasks. When employees are forced to create multiple passwords (one for each application), they forget them or get wiped out when the latest browser version or the newest operating system upgrade is installed. Because of that, IT departments have to spend time resetting passwords or helping users access accounts. The initial motivation for many companies to utilize SSO was to cut down on the amount of time internal IT staff had to spend on these routine tasks, which in theory would reduce costs by allowing IT technicians to spend their time more productively.
Identity access management has the potential to further reduce wasted funds. Cloud-based IAM applications reduce spending on costly infrastructure. Soft costs also benefit, since employees should be more productive as they waste less time managing juggling credentials. There’s usually a morale boost as well since employees are less frazzled, and your internal IT professionals spend less time helping fellow employees log in and more time doing what is best for your business – and what they genuinely enjoy.
Identity access management is far more than an IT strategy. It’s a solution that can streamline organizational access, encourage meaningful collaboration, and safeguard data confidentiality. Does your internal IT team need assistance determining which configuration is right for you, or implementing the one they have found? Reach out to us. We’ll help you ensure that you have the right combination of Identity Access Management tools to enhance your business and boost your bottom line.