Recent study reports suggest that ransomware attacks are on the rise and have devastating consequences for ransomware victims who must carefully decide how to proceed when dealing with ransomware pirates.

Ransomware victims must carefully decide how to proceed when dealing with ransomware pirates.

Typically, ransomware pirates take control of devices or files stored on computers and ask for a ransom in exchange for their release. This type of digital extortion is not very different from the ransom demands made by pirates off the coast of Somalia who take control of international cargo ships and ask for a large ransom which have often been paid by businesses to release their cargo and employees, except for that ransomware pirates can execute their attacks from the comfort of their homes anywhere in the world. In case you missed it, watch the movie based on a real story called Captain Philips featuring Tom Hanks to see how these highly motivated extortionists take advantage of vulnerable people and businesses to make huge sums of money in a very short period of time.

Just like the owners of the cargo ships who pay millions of dollars in ransom fees, computer and data owners also have their own reasons for paying huge sums of money to get their files back before they are destroyed forever or released to the public. Business computers contain very important files some of which may have cost a lot of money and effort to produce or personal computers may contain password files, old pictures, personal data, and other files that we can not afford to lose forever or have them be released to others. In addition, when businesses collect the personal information of their customers, they are legally responsible for protecting them. Losing personal data of customers to ransomware pirates can have devastating consequences for businesses and their customers.

Some of the malicious computer programs developed and used by modern day computer pirates are designed to destroy files within certain number of hours unless the ransom is received by the internet pirates and the encrypted files are released. One such ransomware is called CryptoLocker which was used and discovered in 2013 to lock the files and make them unusable. The smart computer program which was distributed through fake emails appearing to have been sent by well known companies installs itself in the Documents and Settings folder when links and attachments are clicked, scans the hard drive for a variety of file types such as Microsoft Word or Adobe Photoshop documents and encrypts them. After file encryption, the program informs the user with a message that they have exactly certain number of hours to pay the ransom in order to receive a code to unlock the files before the files are destroyed or disclosed. 

In the case of CryptoLocker, a computer security company determined at the time that unless the pirates release the decryption code, there is nothing that can be done to recover the files. With the collaboration of FBI as well as UK and EU law enforcement agencies the criminals behind Cryptolocker were apprehended and their encryption keys were used to create a free service to release data hostages, however, crooks continue to build new ransomware programs with stronger encryption and expanded capability to attack files stored on various devices including smartphones.

Of course this is just one example and more sophisticated ransomware programs are developed and used because ransomware is a more valuable and convenient tool for making quick money than stealing from credit cards and bank accounts while maintaining full anonymity.

Options for Dealing with Ransomware

In case all ransomware prevention methods fail and you face ransom demands, there are only a few options that you can consider to decide how to respond. For example, you may accept the loss if the files are not important enough to warrant a ransom payment, reset the affected devices and reinstall the files from an existing backup, or pay the extortion demand.

Other options for dealing with the ransomware after the fact is to either seek expert help and apprehend the computer pirates to get the decryption key by force or buy a software to decrypt the files which does not seem to exist. The decision to pay or not to pay the ransom is a business decision based on some facts and assumptions.

Paying the Ransom

In case you face a similar problem and decide to pay the ransom, please note that the ransomware pirates only accept payments via Bitcoin or prepaid debit cards to escape apprehension. That said, paying up the ransom does not guarantee that files will be released intact and without public disclosure. 39 percent of ransomware victims paid the ransom demand in 2018 and that number rose to 45 percent in 2019. The upward trend seems to continue in 2020 as 58 percent of ransomware victims, from every industry, have paid ransom. The problem with paying the ransom is that there is no guarantee the files will be released. In fact, about half of the victims who pay the ransom never recover after paying the ransom.

Refusing to Pay the Ransom

Refusing to pay the ransom demand is a personal choice and may have some undesired consequences that ransomware victims must be aware of and consider. You might think that the computer pirates may be bluffing in some cases but how many of us are willing to gamble especially if the ransom amount is not excessive? Although many malware programs are fake, it was determined that the CryptoLocker ransomware was real and could make the files permanently unusable. You must consider what you may lose and how important they are, what may be disclosed to public, what you can recover through backups, and how quickly you can be up and running.

Preventing Ransomware Attacks

While there is no prevention method with 100% effectiveness, there are certain steps that can be taken to avoid becoming a ransomware victim. Most importantly, all businesses and computer users must be educated about the existence of fake emails and malicious attachments as well as how to detect, report and eliminate the threats posed by dangerous emails and messages to prevent such incidents because as mentioned your options are pretty limited after the fact. Businesses will also benefit by having a computer hostage crisis policy to make quick decisions when facing clock ticking ransom crisis.

The best way to keep ransomware off your computers and online hostage takers at bay, it is a good practice to deploy anti-virus and keep the software updated. Being careful about what you click and install as well as backing up data on a separate hard drive or in the cloud could be a life saver when dealing with ransomware pirates.

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Ransomware is one of the fastest-growing malware threats, and it targets all types of users from the corporate network to the home users. According to statistics, an average of over 4,000 ransomware attacks occur daily which is a 400% increase in 2019 when compared to the average of 1,000 malware attacks back in 2015.

Ransomware Attack Prevention and Response Solutions

Cybercrime related damages are also expected to hit the $6 trillion mark by 2021. Ransomware targets government networks, businesses, and home users and can lead to permanent or temporary loss of proprietary or sensitive information, high financial losses incurred during system restoration, disruption of regular operations, and also harm to the reputation of an organization.

What is a ransomware attack, and how do cybercriminals execute them?

Ransomware refers to a form of crypto-malware often used by hackers for cyber extortion. This malware holds the files or computers of the victims’ hostage through encryption while demanding ransom in exchange for releasing the devices or decrypting the files. Generally, ransomware spreads through phishing attacks that contain infected program, malicious email attachments or links to compromised websites.

Once the files are encrypted, the computer becomes locked, and the system becomes infected, the user cannot use the required features of their device. When users first try to use an infected device, a pop-up window will appear, notifying users that they must pay a ransom to reclaim the machine and associated data. Ransomware attacks have currently evolved to target organizations and businesses, encrypting files or an entire network of computers and bringing normal operations in a business to a halt until the ransom is paid.

Tips for ransomware protection

Ransomware has currently become a lucrative technique for cybercriminals, and no business or organization is immune to this malware threat. Ransomware is incredibly insidious, and while malware usually travels through phishing emails, it also takes advantage of vulnerabilities and backdoors in a business. Here are some ransomware protection controls you can implement to avoid falling victim and being locked out of your data files.

1. Educate employees

Educating your staff is the first line of defense against malware attacks. Since ransomware is mainly introduced through email links and attachments, arming your staff with the necessary knowledge they need to practice secure browsing, and email habits can prevent a lot of malware attacks.

Teach your workers on how to identify phishing attacks and the best practices like not clicking pop-up windows, not checking link URLs, and not opening links or attachments in emails, especially from unknown senders. Training should not be a single session but an ongoing practice to ensure that your staff maintains secure habits and keeps up with the new threats.

2. Control access to essential data

Identity and access management or IAM allows businesses to control access to critical information. Companies utilize technologies and tools to monitor user activities, change the role of a user, generate reports on activities, and create and enforce business policies.

Compromised credentials might develop an entry point into your business network and its data. Therefore, you should carry out a security assessment regularly to identify the rights every user should have, and eradicate the risk by including an additional layer of protection utilizing IAM systems to implement consistent user policies and roles throughout your organization. Enforcing Identity and access management in ransomware attacks can easily protect your company assets against the growing threats of hacking, phishing, and malware attacks.

3. Backup your systems

To ensure the security of your business’s critical information, you should back up your systems both offsite and locally. Backing up your systems will keep your data safe in a place where cybercriminals are less likely to access, but it’ll also make it pretty easy to wipe out your old files and repair using backup data in the event of an attack. For instance, you can utilize a cloud-based solution to protect your business systems. Backing up your information in the cloud will keep it safe from ransomware infection and add a layer of protection.

4. Implement strong password security

To keep your data safe, you need to use a password management approach that includes best password security practices and an enterprise password manager. According to a research study by Instant Checkmate, three out of four people utilize the same password for several sites while one-third use extremely weak passwords. To ensure information security, utilize multiple strong passwords, particularly for sensitive information.

5. Run regular scheduled security scans

If you are not running weekly scans on your mobile devices and computers, then all the security software applications installed on your systems may not be effective. These scans act as the second layer of protection in your security software. They usually detect threats that a real-time checker might not be able to capture.

6. Apply OS and software updates

Effective vulnerability management and regular software and hardware systems patching is among the easiest ransomware response practices you can use to avoid cyber-attacks. Malware normally takes advantage of bugs and security loopholes in software applications or operating systems. Therefore, to succeed in ransomware prevention, it is vital to install the latest patches and updates on all mobile devices and computers.

Should you pay ransom to get your data back?

When your data files are encrypted, or your devices are locked, you might become tempted to pay the cybercriminals the ransom to get your information back. According to Coveware, the average ransomware demand amounts increased to a whopping $84,116 in the last quarter of the year 2019. Coveware states that the highest ransom payment reported was 780,000 dollars for a big company. Paying ransom is a bad idea because only 47% of companies or individuals who pay the requested ransom get their data back, according to a recent Symantec ransomware report.

Every time an individual or organization pays the ransom, cybercriminals gain more confidence and are more likely to keep hurting businesses and organizations. Although, you can not be sure that they’ll free your data or computer after paying, they might still utilize your information and ruin your business reputation in the long run even if they release your data files.

Identity and access management certifications

Conclusion

Any organization, from local governments, financial institutions, and healthcare providers, down to medium and small businesses, is struggling with the increasing risk of ransomware attacks. Therefore, businesses must remain vigilant in this era of malware attacks and data breaches. Knowing the different ransomware attack methods and the proper steps to assist in preventing, detecting, and recovering from them can reduce the overall impact on your organization. Hopefully, the tips discussed in this article will help you keep the information assets of your organization safe and halt a ransomware attack right in its tracks before it succeeds.

The complexity of modern business networks raises some troubling issues for managing user identities and access. Many networks that were once accessible only by internal users are now based in the cloud and open to third-party collaboration with vendors, suppliers and partners.

Understanding and using hyperledger Fabric and Indy in blockchain identity management

Implementing access controls is a daunting and complex task in an environment where identities are widely disseminated and may include a combination of individuals, devices and applications. In the recent past, frameworks built on blockchain technology have appeared as potential solutions to the challenges of deploying IAM strategies and handling credential authorization in these environments and are now coming to the forefront as viable options for large organizations.

The Hyperledger project is one such solution. It offers several promising features for enterprise-level businesses in need of powerful IAM tools with granular user access and data privacy controls.

What is Hyperledger?

Hyperledger is an open-source blockchain project from the Linux Foundation that promotes development of blockchain technology and frameworks to solve various problems across industries. The community surrounding the project includes companies, software developers and academic institutions and is open for more members to join as it expands.

Hyperledger projects include three categories: distributed ledgers, libraries and tools. Distributed ledgers are of the most use to businesses seeking to harness the power of blockchain technology. In this category, Hyperledger offers six solutions:

• Besu
• Burrow
• Fabric
• Indy
• Iroha
• Sawtooth

For addressing data security and IAM issues at the enterprise level, Fabric and Indy provide the most relevant platforms and tools.

According to the Hyperledger website, Fabric allows for straightforward plug-and-play distributed ledger creation and delivers enterprise-grade technology to support the privacy of both identities and data. Blockchains using Hyperledger Fabric are permissioned, which creates an inherently higher level of security than permissionless blockchains can offer. Indy is specifically for enabling secure decentralized management for identities based on blockchain and other distributed ledgers.

Hyperledger is not a company in and of itself, nor does it support any kind of cryptocurrency. Its goal is mainly to focus on technology in a community setting for the creation of new frameworks that allow users to make the most of blockchain technology.

How does Hyperledger work for identity management?

Hyperledger enables identity and user management across enterprise networks. Access control lists introduce more granular permissions to improve privacy and reduce breach risk.

The Fabric framework from IBM serves as the basis for modular blockchain-based solutions. Multiple permission levels may be set for different enterprises, business partners and individuals using the blockchain, making it possible to shield data from unauthorized parties while maintaining flexibility and open communication where necessary.

The Indy framework enables decentralized identity management. As a solution seeking to support self-sovereign identity, Indy allows members to maintain ownership and control of identifying data. Identity owners determine who sees what information in connection with transactions, which guards against the possibility of identity theft. Decentralization increases protection by eliminating the need for a central identity database.

Together, Fabric and Indy allow enterprises to create permissioned blockchains in which enterprises issue user credentials and set qualification requirements. Users retain control over what verifiers see, and verifiers determine which trust model to use to determine if the given credentials are acceptable as proof of identity. Zero-knowledge proof increases confidentiality by allowing authentication while concealing actual identifying information.

Managing user identities and access permissions with Hyperledger makes it possible for enterprises to maintain user confidentiality when different groups require access to the same permissioned network. This addresses some of the most serious concerns in IAM, including network compromise from internal threats or third-party security vulnerabilities.

What are the benefits and drawbacks of using Hyperledger?

Hyperledger frameworks provide benefits for identity management, as well as a cohesive experience for both internal and external users.

Efficiency
Relying on the blockchain for identity management, user authentication and access authorization can increase productivity significantly. Between 30% and 40% of customer service calls relate to login issues in some way. Having one identity that grants access to all necessary applications and data minimizes confusion and frustration. This allows business processes to go on uninterrupted while relieving the customer service and IT departments of a significant burden.

Interoperability
Self-sovereign identities travel with their owners, so identifying information stored in the blockchain can be used across applications, platforms and administrative domains. Such interoperability enables data transfer between enterprises and third-party collaborators or partners. Being able to obtain authorization and access using a single identity instead of multiple separate sets of credentials reduces silos and makes network access more flexible.

Privacy
To address the issues of data security and privacy associated with third-party access, Hyperledger offers channels and private transactions. Channels allow two or more members of the blockchain to conduct transactions confidentially, such as in the case of price negotiation to close key deals.

When additional privacy is required, especially in cases involving highly sensitive data subject to strict compliance regulations, two blockchain members can use a private transaction. Provisions within Hyperledger make it difficult for other parties to determine the identities of the individuals involved and also prevents unauthorized individuals from seeing what data was transferred.

Complications
Like the blockchain itself, Hyperledger is still a relatively new player in IAM and cybersecurity. Enterprises may be wary of making a shift, especially those just starting to adopt cloud platforms or still relying on legacy systems.

Hyperledger’s relative complexity also creates a barrier to adoption for enterprise IT teams with little knowledge of distributed ledger technologies. If the people handling IAM don’t recognize the benefits of blockchain for identity management, they’re unlikely to be interested in the idea of adopting a new framework.

Where can businesses get help implementing a Hyperledger framework?

Enterprises interested in using Hyperledger technology can do so with help from certified service providers. The Hyperledger certification program “is a pre-qualified tier of vetted service providers who have deep experience helping enterprises successfully adopt Hyperledger,” so businesses can be assured each partner has the knowledge and skill necessary to deploy effective Hyperledger solutions.

Partners in the program have been trained to implement distributed ledger technologies, and they work alongside enterprises to support ongoing success. This requires cooperation from IT teams, IAM specialists, cybersecurity professionals and any other employees overseeing network operations.

Hyperledger adoption may also necessitate additional employee education and training to ensure all users understand how blockchain identity management works. Those tasked with supervising network security must also be trained to utilize the full potential of Hyperledger frameworks.

Before committing to a switch to Hyperledger, enterprise IT and cybersecurity teams should audit current security and IAM solutions to determine if their companies would benefit from blockchain-based identity management. The more complex the network, the more likely a distributed ledger is to be a good approach to take when developing strategic, granular IAM protocols.

Identity and access management certifications

As enterprise-level IAM needs continue to evolve, solutions like Hyperledger may become necessities rather than novelties. The complex, flexible and customizable nature of blockchain frameworks provides an alternative to more vulnerable IAM solutions. Companies seeking to remove silos between administrative domains, empower employees to work more efficiently and minimize the risk of third-party data transactions can look to Hyperledger for the tools to support their efforts.

Although identity and access management has traditionally revolved around people, we must prepare to manage Identity of Things as we start to deal with Internet of Things within our business environments and increasingly in our personal lives in a complex universe consisting of various entities such as smart devices, machines, programs, robots, and other “things” which are interconnected to share information and perform tasks.

One of the IoT management challenges as security and identity management professionals is whether our current Internet of Things processes and technologies are able to manage the growing risks of Identity of Things or IDoT.

As we embrace the Internet of Things (IoT) which refers to all Internet enabled devices including smart cars, drones, and household appliances which communicate with each other and share data, we have to define a universally acceptable framework for identity and relationship management to identify and connect entities, approve their rights to transact, and address the growing risks around Identity of Things or IDoT.

One of the challenges that we face as security and identity management professionals is whether our current processes and technologies are able to manage the growing risks of IDoT or we need to update our existing solutions or deploy completely new solutions.

In a self-managed, smart, and connected world, the most important risk will be around the relationship of IoT which will force us to look beyond identity and access management to include the level of relationships that exist among identities, and their authorization for sharing data and making transactions. As you may guess, smart cars and devices will in a not so distant future make transactions on behalf of their owners which must be controlled to manage risks including transaction repudiation. For example, self driving and smart cars will be enabled to make purchases without their owners being present. How would businesses validate the authenticity of the transaction and successfully fight repudiation?

The Identity of Things Management

Managing the Identity of Things (IDoT) involves assigning unique identifiers to devices and objects (Things) as well as authorization to communicate, share data, and transact in pre-approved relationships.

As we allow “Things” to find each other, communicate, and complete transactions, security and entity relationship management which includes identity, access, and right management, will be crucial. In a universe with a growing number of smart and automated entities or identities beyond humans such as devices or programs, the rules of engagement are different as owners of smart devices will be on the hook for transactions completed by devices, and, critical tasks such as data collection and sharing will be automated which will make continuous monitoring even more critical beyond what we have in place today as part of our routine identity and access management processes.

Technology advancement and data proliferation in an automated and connected world such as sensors that collect and share data, self-managed cameras, windows that share data on outside and inside temperatures to control the heating and cooling systems, home appliances, self-driving and self-managed cars, and other networked devices are making the management of Identity of Things (IDoT) very challenging. According to Henry Bagdasarian, “data privacy and security concerns with IoT identities and data will continue to be of utmost concerns, especially, the definition of identity theft will be expanded to include device identity takeover by another device”. Furthermore, identity and ownership validation along with access controls will be critical for defense in the court of law.

Identity and access management certifications

As an industry, we have begun to identify the IoT identity management risks and the identity management experts are working hard to introduce solutions whether technical or otherwise to address the risks. Obviously, effective identity management and governance will be key to making sure that IoT entities are able to communicate with one another, perform approved tasks, and demonstrate ownership for accountability purposes.

Customer-facing platforms and applications introduce unique security challenges to business environments. Because control over customers’ actions is limited, businesses need tools and processes to manage risks associated with having thousands or even millions of users interacting with their systems. At the same time, the customer experience must remain seamless across touchpoints.

7 basic tenets of customer identity and access management CIAM

Customer identity and access management addresses the difficulties involved in managing customer access, data and privacy while delivering a positive experience. These seven core CIAM principles serve as guides for businesses seeking the best network security solutions.

Customer Experience: The Foundation of CIAM

CIAM is where data security intersects with the user experience. While internal IAM focuses more on streamlining employee access to improve efficiency in internal systems, CIAM aims to reduce friction so that every interaction customers have with the business is positive. Most consumers will abandon a business after a single negative experience, so ease of use and assurance of security are paramount for successful business outcomes.

Friction occurs for customers when:

• The login process is too complex or difficult
• Favorite login methods are unavailable
• Trust signals aren’t visible on pages where personal information is collected

To remove these barriers and reduce the risk of abandoned cards, negative reviews and lost revenue, businesses must provide easy, straightforward login options based on customer preferences. Letting customers use the login methods they prefer, such as SSO and social login, eliminates the necessity of creating new accounts and using separate identities for different services. Customers can log in with one click or tap using profiles they already have to streamline account access across applications.

Data Privacy: A Continuing Challenge for Businesses

The IAM protocols used to manage internal systems protect data during collection, storage and transfer to prevent hackers from stealing sensitive information and hijacking accounts. CIAM handles these concerns while providing customers with more control over what data is collected and how it’s used.

Regulations regarding control of personal data and the responsibility of businesses to manage and secure the data customers allow them to collect arose as the world became increasingly more reliant on digital platforms. Although GDPR is most notable for shaking up the business world and forcing companies to rethink permissions associated with data collection, numerous other regulations exist to govern data collection and use across industries.

CIAM supports compliance with these regulations by providing details about:

• What data businesses collect and store
• Why and how data is used
• Regular data security, storage and use updates

Customers retain the freedom to deny or revoke data access and manage collected data where and when they want. Businesses seeking to create in-depth customer profiles may need to break the data collection process down and ask for permission in stages to help customers feel more comfortable about what and how much they share.

Security: Protecting the Business and the Customer

Hackers can infiltrate business networks to steal or compromise customer data during collection and transfer, and information stored in databases without proper security is also fair game. However, customers who provide consent for businesses to collect and use their information expect those businesses to keep it safe at all times.

Meeting these expectations requires strong security in both customer-facing and internal environments. Hackers can exploit loopholes or weaknesses in any area of the system, so it’s up to businesses to develop and implement appropriate security protocols for every type of access.

Following IAM best practices for employee accounts protects internal data and networks. On the CIAM side, risk can be reduced by utilizing SMS or email codes for multi-factor authentication and implementing behavioral monitoring. The benefits are twofold: Account hijacking becomes more difficult, and customers feel more secure when interacting with the business.

Flexibility: Growing Without Compromising Security

The nature of the relationship between businesses and customers is changing, particularly in the area of access. Customers are logging into business systems in more ways than ever before – from computers, phones, wearables and smart devices – and they expect a personalized experience every time.

Businesses need to be ready to not only deliver such an experience but also protect consumer data no matter what device is used during an interaction. This requires a flexible CIAM system equipped for multiple login types. Adaptive authentication makes this possible by using data about each customer’s device type, location and behavior to determine risk levels and select the best authentication procedure. If a new device or unusual behavior is detected, the system will prompt for additional credentials to verify the customer’s identity. This allows customers the freedom to log in as they desire without compromising business system security.

Integrations: Expanding CIAM Functionality

To provide the biggest benefits for both security and customer experience, a CIAM solution should integrate with:

• E-commerce tools
• Payment systems
• Sales and marketing tools
• Customer relationship management platforms
• Security tools

This brings customer data together to break down silos between applications, systems and departments and equips teams to utilize the data to improve security, marketing campaigns and customer service. Every business application through which customer data can be collected should have a corresponding CIAM integration to ensure no data is overlooked.

Customer Database: Creating Comprehensive Identity Profiles

Personal information, device use and behaviors make up the detailed customer profiles driving modern business success. From a marketing perspective, this data serves to improve sales through targeted campaigns. The same data is also invaluable for improving security.

Using CIAM tools creates a cohesive web of information across business systems. By linking logins to CRM, e-commerce tools, payments and other business applications, security and analytics become one inclusive whole. The more businesses know about how their customers behave, the easier it is to detect anomalies indicative of a breach. Understanding how customers interact with business systems also highlights areas where stronger security is required to protect data from loss or theft.

While collecting more data does necessitate additional consent, customers may be more inclined to grant permission if data collection is directly tied to account security. CIAM solutions should include comprehensive analytics tools to make the best use of customers’ information and deliver the secure experience they desire.

Scalability: Leveling Up to Support Business Growth

A CIAM platform should be designed to scale along with other systems to meet changing business needs. Regardless of how rapidly a business expands, the customer experience should remain the same. To ensure this, CIAM tools must be able to accommodate growing customer bases and seamlessly integrate new technologies and applications as required.

Cloud-based SaaS solutions provide businesses with flexible CIAM platforms, which can be linked to existing business systems to provide the functionality necessary to both maintain security and support a positive customer experience. SaaS platforms are built to handle growth without experiencing unexpected downtime, so customers enjoy uninterrupted service even during periods of rapid expansion.

Identity and access management certifications

With CIAM tools in place, businesses can provide better customer service while minimizing data breach risks. A growing customer base brings more potential vulnerabilities, so CIAM must always be adapting and scaling to meet new needs and cover emerging security gaps. Finding the right features and following best practices for security and customer experience creates a solid CIAM framework from which both businesses and their customers can benefit.

The identity and access management purpose is to support the overall cybersecurity objectives of an organization. As such, identity and access management objectives are to ensure confidentiality, integrity, and availability of systems and data.

Identity and access management purpose and objectives to support cybersecurity and ensure confidentiality, integrity, and availability of system and data.

Identity and Access Management (IAM) is a broad term which enables organizations to identify, authenticate, and authorize users to access critical resources. In this context, a user may be a person, system, IoT device, or robot. While organizations manage user access on a continuous basis in order to avoid a window of opportunity for unauthorized access when someone leaves the organization or changes role, they focus on various IAM controls such as the principle of least privilege, segregation of duties, and privileged account management to achieve the identity and access management objectives.

Identity and Access Management Objectives

The main identity and access management objectives are to ensure that legitimate parties have the right access to the right resources at the right time while keeping unauthorized parties out of systems. Various parties which may include employees, contractors, vendors, customers, and even devices need access to systems and thus require the establishment of their identities and assigned access rights during the on-boarding process.

According to leading research studies, over 90% of all cyber attacks are successfully executed with information stolen from employees who unwittingly give away their system ID and access credentials to hackers during phishing attacks. Often, parties which have been granted system access become identity theft targets of hackers who need their access privileges to gain access to systems.

“Fooling authorized users and stealing their access information is the most cost effective and efficient way for hackers to gain access to systems” according to Henry Bagdasarian, Founder of Identity Management Institute. “Regardless of business investments in high tech security systems, sophisticated information security measures can be bypassed if existing users can be fooled by hackers to steal their access information which is why the populations targeted by hackers for their access must be constantly educated” continues Mr. Bagdasarian.

While, identity and access management objectives ensure the removal of access as soon as employment is terminated or changed, and monitoring of activities to detect hacking attempts or unauthorized activities to protect systems and data, IAM objectives also go beyond cyber intrusion prevention such as fraud detection, regulatory compliance, and ensuring operating efficiency in the entire identity lifecycle management.

From a fraud prevention standpoint, IAM can help minimize fraud losses due to crimes committed by corrupt insiders who abuse their access privileges to commit fraud and cover their tracks to avoid or delay detection. IAM practices can automate system monitoring based on predetermined criteria to detect fraudulent transactions.

Identity and access management objectives can also ensure organizations comply with various regulatory requirements for customer identification, suspicious activity detection and reporting in money laundering cases, and identity theft prevention.

In summary, organizations must employ qualified IAM professionals to implement the necessary processes and technology. Next, they must educate employees and any party with highly privileged access to avoid becoming victims of identity theft scams. Employees must frequently be reminded about cyber security risks and consequences of violating security policies to the organization and themselves including employment termination. Employees should also understand the risks of taking devices containing confidential data out of the secure workspace which can be stolen from cars and homes, disposing of devices and data improperly, and, sending confidential files and messages through unsecured channels or to the wrong recipients.

Identity Management Institute (IMI) maintains a free identity management blog with many articles covering various topics to educate everyone about proper identity and access management practices. IMI also offers training and registered certifications in identity and access management to its novice and experienced professional members.

Identity and access management certifications