Trends in access management, breach detection and privacy regulations affect IT and cybersecurity professionals across industries. Here’s what you need to know to help your business or organization stay on top of emerging threats and meet changing compliance requirements. 

New Trends in Identity and Access Management 

The identity and access management market is expected to exceed $18.9 billion by 2024. Driving this explosion is the increase in requirements for better access management at banks, financial institutions and the growing number of companies adopting BYOD policies to support remote employees. North America is projected to be the leader in providing solutions to meet these changing IAM requirements. 

Hackers are Developing Sophisticated and Subtle Attacks 

Advanced breach detection technologies are spurring hackers to get more creative with the ways they infiltrate networks and obtain unauthorized access to data. One approach with the potential to significantly increase malware distribution and the reach of other malicious practices like cryptojacking is the compromise of open-source software. Open-source programs and platforms are widely used by individuals and organizations due to the low cost of implementation and the opportunity to modify the basic code as needed. Hackers can take advantage of the communal nature of open-source options to insert small snippets of malicious code, which may go undetected when the software is distributed. 

Hackers are also getting wise to the potential applications of artificial intelligence. While businesses and organizations are taking advantage of the power of AI technology to detect anomalies in user behavior indicative of a potential breach, hackers are using the same techniques to gather information on what constitutes normal behavior so that they can mimic legitimate users and fly under the radar during attacks. AI may also make it possible to create contextualized phishing emails delivered as part of existing email threads, creating a whole new set of concerns for companies already experiencing increasing threats from spear phishing attacks. 

Subtlety characterizes another trending behavior among hackers known as a trust attack. Instead of infiltrating a network to steal large amounts of data, hackers using trust attacks may change just a few pieces of information with the intent of undermining the public’s trust in an organization like a bank or hospital. With more financial information, health records and other critical data becoming digitized, these attacks could have serious consequences for important institutions. 

Beware of Stricter Noncompliance Penalties 

Businesses have been working to meet the standards of GDPR since its implementation in 2018 with varying degrees of success. As of yet, regulators haven’t imposed the full fine of 4 percent of annual global revenue on any noncompliant company, but this may change soon. Businesses will be expected to fulfill the original purpose of the regulations by prioritizing the protection of user data and putting practices in place to ensure data privacy, and penalties for those failing to comply are likely to become more severe. 

However, because breaches are becoming more expensive, detection and response may initially take precedent for the majority of businesses. Consumers recognize the potential dangers of having their data exposed, and regulators are expected to step in more often, creating new laws and guidelines for companies to follow. This increase in regulations will require businesses of all sizes to take a proactive approach to data protection and breach prevention. 

With everything from access control to breach prevention technology changing at a rapid pace, it’s essential to keep track of what’s happening in IT and cybersecurity. The increasing sophistication of hackers requires IT professionals to take an aggressive approach to security protocols, and understanding emerging threats is crucial to maintaining data integrity in modern network environments.

Identity and access management certifications

An identity and access management (IAM) protocol is a critical component of your company’s overall approach to security, and putting one in place has an effect on your bottom line. Although initial IAM implementation requires investing time in assessments and audits, purchasing new tools and infrastructure, and reworking security policies and procedures, the identity and access management ROI and operational benefits of an IAM solution are worth the effort.

Estimating the ROI of IAM

As technology has improved in response to the increasing complexity of managing user identities and access permissions in modern business networks, the ROI of implementing an IAM policy has increased. According to Gartner, a company with 10,000 employees can realize an ROI of approximately 300 percent and save $3.5 million over three years simply by switching to automated provisioning. If changing just one aspect of how your company handles IAM can have such a big impact, imagine how much you could save by choosing the smartest tools for your protocol as a whole. 

The total cost of IAM implementation is made up of two factors: 

Direct costs, including the platform or service you choose, any physical infrastructure required, increases in IT overhead and the hiring and training of new employees.
Indirect costs and benefits, such as securing identities, better compliance, reducing IT administrative workloads, lowering breach-related expenses, minimizing risk for customers and avoiding errors.

To determine the approximate IAM ROI for your business, make a list of the relevant direct and indirect costs of the type of IAM solution you wish to implement. Compare these to your current costs to visualize where making improvements can save you money and time. Gartner estimates automated provisioning alone can reduce security administration involvement by 14,000 hours per year and free up 6,000 hours of help desk time, so it’s likely you’ll find several areas in which IAM can improve productivity and reduce total business costs. 

Your IAM Budget

Calculating ROI on identity management solutions and access tools provides a basis for your company’s security budget. IAM is just one aspect of a robust security protocol and should be treated as an important piece of the puzzle when allocating funds. 

Start with an assessment of your company’s current situation and needs, and consider: 

• The number of users 
• Effect of expected growth on the user base 
• Types of applications and data to which users require access 
• Structure of workflows 
• Efficiency of the sign-on process 

Make this list the basis of your search for an IAM solution, comparing features and costs to find the best value. While total cost is an important factor, especially for smaller businesses operating on tight budgets, cutting corners on IAM can significantly reduce its efficacy and the expected ROI. According to Henry Bagdasarian “cost savings from reduced breach risk and increased productivity must be factored in when assessing the total cost of IAM tools and platforms.”

The total cost of IAM implementation includes the initial setup and ongoing maintenance. An upfront investment in new IT infrastructure or a customized integration solution may be required, but these one-time costs should pay for themselves in the savings realized elsewhere. Ongoing expenses include administrative costs, the upkeep of the system and monthly payments for IAM tools. Factor in extra to cover the adaptations and updates you’ll need to make as your company grows and IAM technology changes. 

Your IAM Roadmap 

A blueprint for IAM implementation is essential if you want to maximize ROI. Beginning with an assessment of your current IT and security architecture and an understanding of future needs in light of your business vision, you can lay out a roadmap for IAM success. 

With this plan in front of you, it becomes easier to see the steps required and to make adjustments to your budget calculations. Gaps in the strategy become clear, and you can change your approach accordingly to prevent delays in the implementation process. 

To create your IAM roadmap: 

• Perform an audit of your security protocols and solutions 
• Assess the current network structure, identifying critical components 
• Determine where legacy systems need to be updated or retired 
• Map user lifecycles 
• Map critical workflows 
• Determine the minimum number of privileged accounts required 
• Consider the best way to handle access, such as role-based or risk-based controls 
• Look for a streamlined sign-on approach 
• Identify compliance requirements

Use this information to move forward with a cost-effective IAM implementation plan. Delegate tasks to employees appropriately, hire third-party professionals as needed and track progress so that you stay within budget and meet the desired deadline. 

Preparing your business for the costs and logistics of implementing a strong IAM policy allows you to maximize both the benefits and the ROI. With the customizable, scalable tools available from a variety of providers, you can build a personalized solution tailored to your company’s current circumstances and be ready to address future access needs.

Identity and access management certifications

With the annual costs of damage associated with cybercrime expected to reach $6 trillion by 2021, businesses need to focus on improving network security measures and controlling user access. Identity and access management (IAM) is a critical component of a successful protocol and requires the implementation of best practices to maintain the integrity of user and device identities. 

Apply these 5 identity and access management best practices and robust protocols to maintain system security and the integrity of user and device identities.

Centralize Your Approach

Visibility is a big challenge for growing businesses. As more users join a network, more devices become active and new tools are added to support diverse workflows, it becomes difficult to get a handle on who has access to what resources and at what privilege levels. Centralizing both identity management and sign-on procedures achieves the dual goals of greater visibility and smoother user experiences. 

Because identities must be defined when a user is onboarded into a network and managed throughout the user’s lifecycle, businesses must select a reliable centralized option with strong security. Active Directory is a common choice for managing all network identities in one place, but the possibility of using blockchain technology to create, verify and store unchanging identities in a protected neutral environment may become a reality in the near future. 

Pinpoint and Eliminate High-Risk Systems

Despite the wide availability of cloud-based frameworks and applications, many businesses are still clinging to legacy systems for which support has long since ceased. Unpatched systems can become sources of data leaks and make sensitive information readily available to hackers. 

Companies relying on these systems out of habit or in an attempt to avoid the hassle of upgrading need to take a step back and assess which needs these legacy tools are addressing and how they’re being used in workflows so that suitable replacements can be found. It may be possible to safely continue using systems for which support is still available, but seeking a fresh solution is still preferable because legacy tools often lack the options required for seamless integration into modern systems with diverse access requirements. 

Find the Best Software Solution

Every business needs an IAM solution tailored to the specialized needs of its industry in general and its onsite systems in particular. Threats, risk levels and compliance regulations differ according to the unique combination of devices, user access requirements and tools needed to integrate applications with incompatible authentication protocols. The retention of legacy systems adds another element of complexity with its own related concerns. 

Streamlining workflows and optimizing productivity without sacrificing security are top priorities in an IAM platform, along with scalability to accept the introduction of new systems, applications and devices. IT professionals require an administrative dashboard with analytics tools, straightforward reporting and a high level of visibility to ensure all endpoints can be monitored continuously. 

Crack Down on Orphaned Accounts

Active user accounts contain all the information related to a user’s identity and his or her movement within a network, including access privileges. When a user is promoted to another position or leaves the company, these accounts should be removed. However, with the increasing burden on IT professionals and the lack of visibility in most business networks, this often doesn’t happen. Improper deprovisioning of users leads to an accumulation of accounts with no associated users. 

Known as orphaned accounts, these sets of credentials and provisions are easy targets for hackers inside and outside the network. Logging into an orphaned account makes it possible to launch phishing attacks using apparently legitimate email addresses, make unauthorized changes to the system and steal sensitive data. Fifty-five percent of enterprises fail to revoke the permissions for privileged accounts, which creates an even greater security threat due to the higher levels of access allowed by these accounts. 

Implement Zero-Trust Security

In the complex environment of modern business networks, the best approach is to assume no one is trustworthy until proven otherwise. This “zero trust” model relies on continuous authentication methods in which user behaviors are monitored and risk levels assessed throughout the duration of each session. By taking a dynamic and sophisticated approach, zero trust equips a system to detect aberrant behaviors indicative of a breach. Instead of taking the average 197 days to discover an intrusion into a system, businesses can identify potential threats and launch a proactive response the moment behavioral discrepancies arise. This prevents hackers from gaining free reign once inside a system and can avert the serious consequences associated with extensive breaches. 

Developing a new IAM protocol or strengthening existing security measures is a necessity in an era where 230,000 new malware samples appear every day and ransomware attacks on businesses occur as frequently as one every 14 seconds. Routine security and access audits and regular system assessments reveal areas where security is lacking, and businesses must be ready to incorporate new solutions and build robust protocols based on IAM best practices.

Identity and access management certifications