Whether the goal is to reduce costs, simplify operations, or enhance customer service, outsourcing can do wonders for a company. Unfortunately, it also comes with a degree of risk. Problems with a third-party service can cause extreme damage to an organization’s reputation. This is particularly true when a data breach is involved. Read on to learn more about the cybersecurity risks of outsourcing to third parties.

Data breach dangers and cybersecurity risks of outsourcing to third Party service providers.

The Dangers of Outsourcing

When outsourcing services to another company, the primary organization will lose some control. This is the nature of outsourcing, but it becomes a problem when the third party is later found to be unreliable in some way. Even if the third-party organization is reputable, mistakes and failures can still occur.

Considering that outsourcing is so popular, it’s possible that the third party an organization is using is also outsourcing. If this is the case, it’s possible that data is not only accessible to the third party but also by other parties they outsource to. This creates an even greater degree of vulnerability.

The Wipro Case

When it comes to the dangers of data breaches, the 2019 hacking of IT outsourcing and consulting agency Wipro is a good example.

Wipro provides IT services to international organizations across six continents. These include Fortune 500 companies, government organizations, banks, and healthcare facilities. Up until March of 2019, the state of Nebraska had a contract with Wipro and was planning on using them to provide upgrades to the state’s Medicaid enrollment system. State leaders cancelled the contract and sent out a cease and desist letter after receiving word that hackers had gained access to Wipro computer systems.

During the attack, the hackers were able to install remote access tools and get into the networks of some of Wipro’s clients. Investigations later revealed that the attack was most likely carried out by a group that uses phishing tactics and gift-card fraud to go after large corporations. It’s believed that the same group may have carried out attacks in the past.

The Blackbaud Incident

Another example of outsourcing dangers is the attack on Blackbaud, which took place in February of 2020. Blackbaud is a cloud computing provider that serves a variety of nonprofit and charitable organizations, colleges, and medical institutions. Although the attack happened in February, no one at the company was aware of the problem until mid-May, when a suspicious login prompted an investigation.

The hackers were able to gain access to data stored by Blackbaud. The company insists that the cybersecurity team was able to stop the attack and secure the network before the hackers were able to access sensitive client data. However, independent investigations from some of Blackbaud’s clients, such as Middlebury College in the United States, found that although no social security or credit card information was hacked, other sensitive data may have been.

This incident caused great concern for the company’s clients. Blackbaud’s representatives refused to share details about the exact data the hackers accessed. There were hundreds of reports filed regarding the incident. Experts were not sure whether the company can guarantee that the accessed data is safe after the incident. Blackbaud had a team monitoring the dark web for signs of compromised data and did not come across anything, but the breach still tarnished the company’s reputation. A class action lawsuit was filed by the United States District Court of South Carolina.

Managing the Risks of Outsourcing

1. Negotiate the Right Contract

Organizations can do a lot to reduce the risks. Setting up contractual agreement that allows for the sharing of less data is a good start. A third party doesn’t necessarily need to access an organization’s entire database to do their job. Still, many of these vendors are often given full access to an organization’s servers and administrative processes. Taking the time to negotiate a great contract will go a long way.

2. Create a Plan for Risk Management

Cybersecurity will be an ongoing issue, so it’s important for organizations to have a plan in place. The plan must cover what data the third-party group can access, how to track that access, and what will happen if a breach does take place.

3. Outsource Wisely

Vetting third-party groups is a smart move. The vetting needs to occur before signing contracts and continue as an ongoing strategy. Carrying out independent audits of the third-party organization’s activity will help determine if their practices are safe.

4. Make Sure the Third-party Representatives Have Unique Accounts

Some organizations give their third-party vendor one single account that all representatives can access. While this might seem simple and efficient, it places the organization’s data at great risk. A shared account can make it difficult to discover the root cause of cyber security issues. Having separate accounts will also increase security by preventing former workers from accessing the account in the event they leave the company.

5. Know When to Walk Away

It takes a lot of effort to set everything up to work with a third-party group, but that doesn’t mean walking away isn’t sometimes the best option. If a third-party data breach has occurred, the management team from the primary organization will need to determine whether moving forward together is the right move.

It’s possible that the third party wasn’t responsible for the breach. It’s also likely that after a breach, an outsourcing organization will increase their cybersecurity to prevent the same thing from happening again. Switching to a different vendor won’t necessarily solve the issue. Nothing guarantees that the new organization won’t also have issues with security. Leaders will need to examine all factors before making a decision.

That said, if a breach occurred that caused damage to the reputation of the primary organization, cutting ties will likely be necessary.

Actions to Take Post Data Breach

A study by IBM found that it takes an average of 197 days for an organization to recognize that a data breach has occurred. It can take another 69 days to contain the problem and regain security. This means that a quick response from the organization’s security team is imperative. The faster an organization can contain the breach, the more likely they are to stop disastrous results and save their reputation.

For more information on cybersecurity and how to protect your organization from third-party data breaches, visit our blog for more articles.

Identity and access management certifications

Cryptocurrency wallet scams are on the rise, and hackers are targeting individuals and entire wallet providers. With the notorious Binance breach, they managed to steal two-factor authentication data, API keys and more. These are some important points to consider to minimize risks.

Consider these important points to minimize cryptocurrency wallet scam risks.

What Is a Cryptocurrency Wallet?

A cryptocurrency wallet lets people send and accept crypto payments. It is a software program that stores public and private keys, and it works with a variety of blockchains. Users need those keys to make payments or access their funds. Other users can see public keys and use them to send funds, and only the wallet owner knows the private key. There are mobile wallets, which keep data online. Also, there are hardware wallets, which store data offline.

How Does a Cryptocurrency Wallet Work?

Although the wallet is a software program, it is digitally stored on a blockchain, which is a secure ledger of transaction records across a network. Since the software is linked to the blockchain, it allows easier transmission of transaction details. One user sends a payment using a public key for the recipient’s account. To send or access funds, an account holder must also use a private key. Completed wallet transfers are recorded on the blockchain ledger.

Why Does a Cryptocurrency Wallet Pose a Risk?

Some people mistakenly think that cryptocurrency wallets are more secure than they actually are because they are linked to a blockchain. However, the software program itself can be vulnerable to misuse. Also, a misguided sense of security may lead people to fall victim to other types of scams that trick them into sharing information with thieves.

How Is Identity Theft Committed in Cryptocurrency Scams?

Identity theft in a cryptocurrency scam can occur through phishing. Users may receive emails that look legitimate and redirect them to websites asking for personal information. If a victim fills in personal information for identity verification, the scammers can steal that information and misappropriate it. Hackers can also access any personal data stored in a wallet program.

How Is a Cryptocurrency Wallet Accessed by Unauthorized Persons?

People often access cryptocurrency wallets through phishing and malware. Since many wallet providers store private keys with user data, a hacker can see a key by accessing a user’s account.

What Types of Programs Do Crypto Thieves Use?

Remote access trojans and cryptocurrency stealing malware programs are the most common methods. They are easier to create and use than most people think, and thieves can often execute Remote Access Trojan (RAT) and Specialized Cryptocurrency-Stealing Malware (CCSM) without users’ knowledge until their crypto balances are gone.

How Is Cryptocurrency Transferred Out of a Wallet?

If a hacker manages to access a cryptocurrency wallet, a stored private key may be available. The thief can then execute a transaction to another account by using the public and private keys.

Which Cryptocurrency Is Targeted Most Often?

Bitcoin is one of the most common cryptocurrencies that thieves seek, and Bitcoin wallet scams are becoming their preferred method of stealing. Although the cryptocurrency itself is protected by iron-clad cryptography, thieves conducting Bitcoin scams have stolen millions of dollars from users in recent years because of weaknesses in private key storage systems. Ethereum is another cryptocurrency that they target.

What Are the Common Cryptocurrency Wallet Scams?

The previous sections provide an overview of phishing and hacking risks. Spoofing is another method. With spoofing, a thief uses malware to access a user’s program remotely. After that, the thief may change the public key for the user’s wallet, and someone who attempts to send money to that person may send it to the altered address if the change is overlooked.

How To Prevent Cryptocurrency Wallet Scams

There are several ways to develop a more comprehensive safety strategy for using a cryptocurrency wallet. The first and most important step is to thoroughly understand how cryptocurrency wallets work. Always use a reputable program, and follow these additional tips:

  1. Do not share private keys with anyone else.
  2. If possible, store private key information offline in a secure place or in written form.
  3. Do not reveal any crypto holdings publicly online with any personal information.
  4. Always use two-factor authentication and strong passwords.
  5. Never reply to any communication attempt that asks for personal information.
  6. Do not keep cryptocurrency in a wallet for a long time.
  7. Only access the wallet when a secure internet connection is available.
  8. Use hardware wallets if possible to store cryptocurrency.
  9. Always cross-check wallet addresses when sending funds.
  10. For extra security, spread out crypto funds across multiple online and offline wallets.
  11. Instead of using automatic updates, wait a few days to run new updates to see if there are any vulnerabilities or other issues.

Are Cryptocurrency Wallets Right for Beginners?

Not all wallets are ideal for beginners. Some wallet providers are now developing private cryptocurrencies, AI wallets and other benefits that keep beginners and all people safer. The key is to do thorough research before choosing one or more wallet providers. Also, the tips in the previous section are important to remember.

What To Do After Cryptocurrency Is Stolen

The first step is to contact the wallet program provider immediately. Some companies reimburse users when hackers steal funds. If the funds were stolen and transferred to another cryptocurrency wallet, it may be possible to recover them by filing a lawsuit against “Persons Unknown” when the thief’s identity is unknown. If law enforcement can track the funds to another wallet platform, they can often identify the owner of that wallet. If there are mixers or exchanges involved in the scam, matters can become complicated. However, for a substantial loss, it is worth retaining an attorney who is experienced in cryptocurrency scams. Victims must act quickly to maximize the chances of recovering stolen funds.

Read another article about Decentralize Finance or DeFi.

Identity and access management certifications

Cryptocurrencies have been growing in importance in recent years as acceptance grows among major financial institutions and individuals. The digital currency markets are now generally regarded as mature since they have been characterized by relatively stable prices in recent years. Most importantly, major cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin and Ethereum, have proven over time that they are technically sound. Investors who hold reputable cryptocurrencies can, thus, expect that their money will be kept safe as long as they take steps to prevent their wallet credentials from falling into the hands of nefarious actors.

Identity and access management best practices in decentralized finance DeFi

As a result, the financial community has started to create unique financial products that are based on cryptocurrencies and smart contracts. These products have properties that are not possible with ordinary centralized financial instruments. Additionally, these financial products are helping to level the playing field by making sophisticated financial instruments that are ordinarily only available to large institutions available to everyone.

What Is Decentralized Finance?

The field of decentralized finance is a rapidly growing industry that focuses on creating financial products without relying on centralized financial institutions. Ordinary financial instruments usually rely on major stock exchanges, major trading platforms, large private banks, and central banks. In contrast, decentralized finance enables financial products to be created and traded without the assistance of centralized institutions.

DeFi also introduces new concepts that do not exist in centralized financial markets. For instance, there are DeFi instruments called “flash loans” that are taken out and returned in the same transaction. These loans enable traders to borrow large amounts of money for only a couple of seconds, but these funds are available long enough to capitalize on quick market fluctuations.

DeFi instruments are also ideal for international trades since there are fewer regulatory hurdles to participation. Traders can buy financial products without needing to go through a difficult process to obtain an account and have trades approved. Instead, trades can be placed using a rule-based program that enables traders to fully capitalize on opportunities that they discover.

How Decentralized Finance Will Disrupt Current Financial Systems

DeFi is projected to significantly disrupt the existing financial system in the years ahead. Although the financial system has been more amenable to adaptation in recent years than it was in the recent past, it has lagged behind in new technologies and shifts that have occurred in the marketplace. DeFi will fill the gaps in the existing financial system, and it will begin to gain prominence as value is added.

Currently, the DeFi industry is divided between decentralized applications that are popular among retail traders and applications that are designed for major financial institutions. Since DeFi is growing very rapidly, most major financial institutions are at least beginning to investigate how to make use of it to improve their operations.

Over time, major institutions will realize the most significant advantages from DeFi because it relies strictly on a rule-based approach to finance. Institutional investors essentially specialize in developing trading strategies that are legal within the framework of existing rules. However, their plans are often thwarted by arbitrary human operators who can sometimes refuse to disburse gains when a trading strategy was not foreseen. Expensive lawsuits that entail substantial uncertainty often then become necessary. With DeFi, smart traders face no exposure to risks of having their gains frozen since gains are disbursed automatically by programmatic algorithms.

Identity, Access, and Fraud Risks in Decentralized Finance

Unfortunately, not all actors who trade DeFi instruments have good intentions. As with what happened in the cryptocurrency markets in the early days, experts project that hackers will prey on the new adopters of DiFi.

The most substantial decentralized finance fraud risks will be in the area of identity and access management. Identity and access management in decentralized finance will help to protect against the wide range of scams that are projected to become prevalent.

Nefarius actors will attempt to use malware and phishing attacks to obtain wallet credentials for the purpose of stealing DeFi instruments. The usual host of IAM-related scams will also become prevalent in the industry, such as scams involving infiltrating an organization’s computer network, using insiders to obtain access credentials, and using fake forms to harvest account information. It is inevitable that these scams will become widespread, so people involved in DeFi at all levels need to follow established IAM best practices to stay protected.

Blockchain-Based Risk Reduction Strategies

Thankfully, effective blockchain-based risk reduction strategies have already been discovered, and researchers are improving these strategies on a daily basis. Most cryptocurrency thefts are done through identity and access frauds, so safeguarding access credentials is the most efficacious way of reducing risk. Risk reduction strategies often center around ensuring that electronic systems used to access cryptocurrencies are truly secure against the wide range of threats that exist.

Protecting wallet credentials is another major facet of risk reduction. Simply saving wallet credentials on a secure computer is not usually enough to keep a system safe. Instead, crypto wallets often need to be physically stored in an offline vault. Balances in “hot” wallets that are used in day-to-day operations should be kept to a minimum, and they should only be accessed with secure software.

There should also be many confirmations to ensure that a request to send funds is legitimate. If any irregularities are noticed, a program should block the transfer of funds. Human operators can then intervene to manually approve or deny the questionable transaction.

Why IAM Matters in Decentralized Finance

IAM is of central importance in DeFi because it makes large-scale transactions possible and helps to mitigate risk. No informed investor would put their money into financial instruments that entail a substantial risk of theft. However, since IAM methodologies have been developed to safeguard cryptocurrencies, DeFi is becoming a feasible reality.

In practice, IAM is being used by exchanges that offer DeFi products and by institutional investors who trade these instruments. However, even individual investors need to take significant steps to protect their wallet credentials.

Sophisticated adversaries know that “safe” computer systems do not exist. If an investor holds millions of dollars worth of DeFi instruments, they could be actively targeted by sophisticated teams of hackers. When large amounts of money are on the line, these hackers have been known in many cases to spend months or even years studying the computers and networks of a victim to discover vulnerabilities. Thankfully, effective implementation of DeFi identity and access management can thwart these attempts to make DeFi a feasible vehicle for large investments.

How IAM Improves Security in Decentralized Finance

IAM is the key to securely using any DeFi product. Large organizations need to rely on IAM best practices to protect their wallet credentials. In many cases, organizations also need to hire IAM professionals to make sure that access systems are secure at every level.

Individual traders can also benefit from enhanced security by using platforms that have been certified to use IAM best practices. Of course, traders also need to take steps to protect their account information. However, proper implementation of IAM will detect and intelligently respond to unusual login attempts to prevent funds from being fraudulently withdrawn.

The bottom line is that IAM is the essence of what makes DeFi secure. All types of investors need to rely on IAM best practices. As long as IAM is utilized in the right way, DeFi can be a profitable investment vehicle with a low risk of loss.

Identity and access management certifications

Data Loss Prevention encompasses various approaches, processes, and tools to protect sensitive data from unauthorized changes, destruction, sharing, theft, and loss.

Data loss prevention best practices

What data falls within the DLP scope?

Any data can be flagged by an organization to be within the scope of the DLP program, however, generally speaking, sensitive data includes financial information, credit card numbers, social security numbers, health information and other personally identifiable information (PII).

Is DLP required by laws and regulations?

Various government bodies have produced a significant number of unprecedented data protection laws and regulations. These laws cover areas such as personal data privacy, implementation of data protection controls, and various data breach requirements and data leak notification.

Data security involves preventing malicious attacks on organizations’ critical data and unauthorized access whether intentional or accidental to prevent data loss. The loss of information is not only a severe problem for the organizations but also for consumers and other third parties. To protect all parties, the government requires every organization to implement tools and processes to prevent data loss. DLP is a requirement by various laws and regulations that companies must adhere to with a set of rules and restrictions that must be followed by the employees.

What is the role of DLP in compliance?

Most people believe that their personal information is not safe and governments often publish rules and regulations to force and guide companies to protect consumer sensitive data. These laws are, sometimes overlapping, however they provide guidance on how sensitive data should be handled. Data loss prevention programs help organizations reduce their regulatory compliance risks, protect customer data, and prevent data breaches that can lead to lawsuits and fines.

What are the benefits of a DLP program?

Data loss prevention is paramount to any organization that collects, stores, and processes personal information. Data volume has undergone tremendous growth, dramatically increasing chances of data loss risk such as accidental disclosure and theft. The reality is data breach cases are hitting unprepared organizations very hard. Here are two main reasons why your organization should have data loss prevention strategies in place.

Personal information protection and regulatory compliance

If your organization’s operations involve collecting, processing, and storing personally identifiable identifiable with financial or health information, the law require you to comply with some regulations. Such regulations require you to protect your customer’s sensitive data and maintain the privacy of their private information.

Business and intellectual property data

If you are like most companies, you probably have critical business data and intellectual property and secrets that would put your company in a competitive disadvantage if the data is leaked or stolen. Therefore, your organization needs to consider the inclusion of your business data in the DLP scope in close consultation with a certified data protection expert to classify intellectual property in structured and unstructured forms.

According to Henry Bagdasarian, “taking a layered and comprehensive approach to data protection will help categorize and prioritize data, improve data security, and speed up the DLP program implementation while reducing the initial cost and hurdles.”

How can companies implement DLP?

The DLP implementation team may consider the following:

Setting data priority
This is the initial phase in the implementation of DLP. Start by figuring out the essential data in the organization. For instance, you can prioritize by PII followed by business data such as design documents and intellectual property.

Categorize data
Use classification tags to classify your data since it helps to track its usage in the DLP system.

Identify the data at risk
Data that is shared with clients and partners may pose a greater risk than data which never moves out of a secured area such as the cloud. Data moving in and out of endpoints are also cause for concern.

Consider data protection controls
This is an essential step, and you have to develop various layered controls aimed at reducing data risk. Always monitor the data of your organization to have an insight regarding threats, risks, and data protection gaps.

Deploy tools
An effective DLP program can not exist without an effective tool. Automate DLP processes as much as possible and leverage the reporting capabilities of the DLP system for maximum benefits.

What are the DLP best practices that companies must be aware of?

While cyber crime tactics evolves, cybersecurity technology has made tremendous advancements to counter cyber threats specially in the area of artificial intelligence. The following are leading practices that will work wonders in securing your organization’s data:

Respect customer privacy – According to Henry Bagdasarian:

“protecting customer information should not just be about regulatory compliance but rather a business objective to protect the business brand, earn customer loyalty and respect, avoid penalties and lawsuits, keep the focus on the business rather than deal with the aftermath of a data breach, maintain highest level of productivity, be socially responsible, and improve corporate citizenship.”

Lock down data access – If you collect and keep sensitive data, you need to take extra caution to guard it against cyber fraudsters. Besides getting stolen, there are a few accidents that can happen unintentionally and put sensitive data at risk. Therefore, it is prudent to have proper access management controls in place that only allow authorized people to access data.

Consider multifactor authentication – If you haven’t yet implemented multi-factor authentication at your organization, you might be at risk. There are various cybercrime tactics that will bypass a password in minutes. Invest in a tool to deploy multi-factor authentication in your organization.

Have data visibility – A comprehensive DLP software can go a long way in tracking and monitoring your data on networks, endpoints, and cloud. This will provide more significant insights into how individual users interact with your organization’s data.

Document and report – To be transparent and avoid conflicts with other groups like Legal and compliance, Henry Bagdasarian recommends documenting all data protection activities and periodically reporting on the state of DLP to all stakeholders for planning purposes, budgeting, sharing lessons learned, improving, and finally seeking consensus on what needs to be protected and how.

Define responsibilities – Every individual in the organization involved in the DLP program must have clear roles and responsibilities to ensure the success of the DLP program.

Identify data to protect – You must take time to understand all types of data in the organization and classify them in order to create your data protection plan.

Publish policies – Develop, publish, and communicate data protection policies and guidelines to collectively help the organization achieve its data protection objectives.

Measure and refine – In order to select the most appropriate and effective data loss prevention measures, select and use an evaluation framework. This is essential in making informed decisions about the criteria to be used for data loss prevention.

Keep it simple – To keep your DLP plan simple, apply a layered approach where you first identify the most critical data and apply targeted DLP controls for efficient and effective data protection.

Educate Employees – Educate your employees about the data protection threats, consequences of data loss, and their responsibilities for protection data in accordance with the established policies. Train employees on various approaches to how they can mitigate data risks and data loss. The training should consider your internal data protection policies and procedures.

Monitor – An effective DLP program includes monitoring of data related activities. Monitor data access, changes, and transfer.

Final thoughts on DLP implementation

  1. Before implementing a DLP solution, you need to identify critical data and how that data flows in and out of the environment, and from one system to another.
  2. Engage IT and business experts to review the data protection strategy to ensure they are viable and supported.
  3. Consider how the implementation will affect organizations’ culture.
  4. Select a tool by considering its capabilities and limitations for your needs.
  5. Consider the risks associated with third party service providers who have access to your data.

Can systems and automation help with DLP?

Data loss prevention systems can help detect data breach instances and prevent data leak or transfer trough monitoring and blocking sensitive data while in transit, in use, and at rest.

Additionally, DLP tools and software are used to filter data streams and manage data stored in the cloud. This ensures that data in motion, at rest, and in use is secure.

This software classifies essential, confidential, and regulated data within the organization’s predefined policy pack. DLP software helps classify data and gives insight into the organization’s various violations and set of policies.

After classifying the violations, the software seeks to remediate through alerts, including remedial actions and encryption.

DLP products

Some of the DLP systems and vendors in the market include:

  1. Code42
  2. Symantec
  3. Digital Guardian
  4. Checkpoint
  5. Fidelis
  6. Proofpoint email DLP
  7. Trend Micro Integrated DLP
Certified in Data Protection
Apply for data protection certification – online study guide and exam

The field of identity and access management is opening a diverse range of career opportunities for ambitious workers. IAM practitioners are responsible for planning, designing, implementing, and maintaining data access systems that are used by modern businesses. The goal of IAM is to minimize the risk of data loss and data breaches as a result of unauthorized access. IAM practitioners have a high level of responsibility, and they are compensated well for their expertise.

Technical Identity and Access Management Practitioner Job Duties

Common IAM Job Titles

Employers use various terms for IAM practitioner roles within their organizations. In some cases, employers will use job titles interchangeably.

Smaller companies will often have broad job descriptions because they may have their IAM practitioners wear many hats to help out with code development, data management, or IT infrastructure. Larger companies will often have very specific job descriptions for people involved in IAM. Large corporations are the main employers of IAM practitioners, so it is important to understand how these companies usually define various job titles within an IAM organization.

IAM Architect

Companies hire IAM architects to plan how their access systems will function. Implementing secure access solutions often requires extensive research and a long-term process of continuous improvement. IAM architects develop theoretical plans for how access systems can function.

In practice, IAM architects will usually work directly with developers to provide and receive feedback. By assigning one or more employees to an architect role within an IAM organization, companies aim to improve their efficiency and to guarantee that resources will be dedicated to research-based continuous improvement.

IAM Engineer

IAM engineers work with IAM architects to develop and implement access systems that have been planned. Engineers usually work as part of an engineering team to speed up progress. Most importantly, working as a team allows multiple specialists to discover potential flaws in an application’s design.

Although IAM engineers are trained to develop their own applications, almost all of their time in the real world is spent implementing existing IAM software packages. Many software packages are designed to be used by general IT specialists, but companies want IAM engineers to manage installations to verify that configurations are done properly. After all, the cost of a data breach can literally put established companies into bankruptcy. However, there are also cases when IAM engineers are expected to modify an existing program or develop their own code.

IAM Specialist

IAM specialists have more general roles within an IAM organization. Specialists are more common in smaller businesses that do not have enough staff to divide up IAM functions. However, larger businesses also use specialists to assist their team with the full range of IAM-related responsibilities.

In some organizations, IAM specialists help to assist highly skilled engineers and architects. These organizations will have specialists help out with help desk tickets and simple implementations while more senior staff will work on more complex projects. Additionally, some companies label all IAM professionals as specialists. The role of IAM specialist can, therefore, be a wildcard, so you have to look carefully at an employer’s job description to understand what will be expected of you when you apply for a specialist position.

Getting the Right Education

To become an IAM practitioner, you will need to have the specialized skills necessary to develop and maintain world-class access systems. Unless you have a strong technical background, you will need to start by obtaining an education in IAM related domains. The skills you learn in your education program will be used to enable you to complete a wide range of tasks while on the job. Below is a list of IAM critical risk domains from the Certified Identity Management Professional (CIMP) certification program.

Identity and access management certifications

Threat Management

IAM professionals are tasked with keeping data and network infrastructures secure. As an IAM practitioner, you will be responsible for implementing systems that are designed to keep out hackers and malware. You may also have to take active measures to protect data systems.

Project Management

Large projects require the coordination of substantial resources from a wide range of stakeholders. Therefore, project management is an important element in many IAM jobs because you will need to coordinate with many different specialists to keep everyone on the same page.

Projects also often have tight deadlines that can be challenging for practitioners. You will, therefore, need to learn effective project management skills so that you can plan and implement major changes within a short period of time.

Product Selection and Implementation

When companies buy new systems, they will almost always get input from their IAM department. In many cases, you will need the ability to test a new product to verify that it is secure and that it meets your company’s objectives. Many of these software packages are completely customized for your organization, so you often will not be able to get answers from online sources. Therefore, you will need to learn the technical skills necessary to assess the quality of software packages that your employer will use.

Your employer may also give you the authority to purchase software on your own. Consequently, you will need to understand how to report and justify your purchases to managers who are often restricted by tight budgets. In the process of purchasing software, you will also often need to negotiate with providers directly to ensure that certain features are included with your purchase and to reduce prices.

Software Security

Employers will expect you to have a strong understanding of the latest software-based security measures. To obtain this knowledge, you will need a combination of a modern education in cybersecurity and practical experience with world-class employers.

Cloud Security

Corporate systems are increasingly moving to the cloud, so you will need to understand how to work in this environment securely. You should gain experience using major cloud computing services, such as AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud. Many university programs give graduates exposure to cloud computing services, but you will usually need to take supplementary platform specific courses on your own. In an effort to increase adoption, all reputable cloud computing services offer free courses on their websites.

IAM Architecture, Protocols and Standards

Modern platforms have significantly reduced the amount of customization work that IAM practitioners have to do, but you will still need to customize software on a regular basis. Therefore, you will need to understand the latest security protocols and standards. You will also need to understand how to implement complex IAM architectures in a large corporate environment.

IoT and API Security

In future years, the internet of things is expected to grow significantly in importance. Therefore, you will need to keep up with the latest advancements in the IoT field. You will also need to understand how to use and secure APIs since these functions are widely used in access management.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

AI and ML have had a relatively limited impact on the field of IAM, but practitioners can expect that these technologies will begin to disrupt how access systems are managed. You should keep up with new AI and ML advancements that are relevant to IAM.

Compliance Assurance

Most employers will expect you to work with their compliance team to minimize risks and comply with legislation. You should possess at least a basic understanding of the major laws and requirements that are relevant to IAM, such as:

  • Know Your Customer,
  • GDPR,
  • HIPAA,
  • Sarbanes-Oxley Act,
  • Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, and
  • Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

Emerging Trends

The field of IAM changes very rapidly. You should regularly update your knowledge by taking online courses and by diving deep to understand new systems that are used in your workplace. For example, blockchain, DeFi, and decentralized applications may impact how data is accessed, stored and shared in the future.

Identity and access management certifications

Identity and access management is a growing field that focuses on controlling access to data and systems throughout an enterprise. Although data is extremely valuable for organizations, it can also be very harmful if it falls into the wrong hands. Many data breaches occur because of unauthorized access that ultimately stems from mistakes that are made internally within a company. Therefore, IAM professionals focus on ensuring that data systems are made available only to individuals who need to have access.

IAM Jobs

The IAM field is growing rapidly, so there are a broad range of jobs that people who specialize in IAM can obtain after completing their education. Companies often define identity and access management roles in different ways, but people with IAM backgrounds are still generally preferred for these positions.

Additionally, some jobs require training in additional areas that go beyond IAM. Many professionals in the IAM space have substantial backgrounds in technology, so you may be able to get one of these jobs if you have additional training. Some of the most common jobs for IAM specialists are explained below.

Identity and Access Management Engineer

Identity and access management engineers are responsible for the technical aspects of implementing IAM best practices. In large organizations, IAM engineers often work under an individual who is designated as the organization’s IAM manager. IAM engineers usually fall under the data management organization in a large corporate environment. Smaller organizations, on the other hand, may hire IAM engineers to manage a wide range of access tasks, including system development, implementation, and configuration, IT administration, access provisioning, de-provisioning, and monitoring, registering new users, and other related tasks.

Requirements: IAM engineers should have a strong understanding of a wide range of programming languages, including C, C++, and Java. Most importantly, IAM engineers must be highly trained and experienced in role-based access control protocols. It can also be helpful for job seekers to have a strong general background in IT administration.
Median salary: $51,881

Data Solutions Specialist

Data solutions specialists assist organizations by supporting their decision-making with data solutions. In practice, data solutions specialists often help with KPIs, dashboards, analytics, and data-based processes. Some data solutions specialists are also responsible for reducing risk derived from unauthorized access.

Requirements: You should at least have a bachelor’s degree in computer science to qualify for the best data solutions jobs. Many employers are looking for candidates with at least three years of experience. Data solutions specialists have to work with a wide range of stakeholders, so job candidates should have strong interpersonal skills and leadership experience.
Median salary: $42,616

IT Security Administrator

IT security administrators are responsible for installing and managing the security solutions that an organization uses. Data management is only one part of an IT security administrator’s work since practitioners are responsible for securing data as it moves throughout a network and is used on end-user nodes. Other responsibilities include preventing the unauthorized deletion of data and troubleshooting problems that arise.

Requirements: You should ideally have a bachelor’s degree, but some employers are willing to consider people who have an associate’s degree and sufficient real-world experience. Many applicants have advanced training certificates, so you should work to accumulate plenty of additional credentials to remain competitive in the IT marketplace. Most importantly, you should have a strong overall understanding of computers, networks, and data systems.
Median salary: $71,321

Information Security Operations Manager

Information security operations managers are tasked with overseeing IAM staff members within an organization. A major part of an information security operations manager’s work involves managing the individual employees who work under them. However, the job is challenging because these managers are ultimately responsible for more security operations than they could possibly manage on their own. Delegation and effective organization are, thus, crucial tools that information security operations managers must know how to rely on.

Requirements: Having a bachelor’s degree is a minimum requirement. Some employers who hire for senior-level roles prefer a candidate with a master’s degree. Your educational background should be in both IAM and management.
Median salary: $83,332

Solutions Architect

Solutions architects are tasked with developing an application that is used by an organization. Since solutions architects are responsible for all aspects of developing an application, they need to have a strong background in application development, negotiation, management, and system security. IAM professionals are highly sought by employers looking to hire solutions architects because of their background in information security. If you are an IAM professional with a background in application development, solutions architect jobs can provide enormous opportunities for career development.

Requirements: Candidates should have a good balance of business and technical skills. You are likely to work directly with your company’s senior management team, so you should have strong interpersonal skills to explain technical matters in layman’s terms.
Median salary: $110,663

How Can New College Graduates Enter the IAM Job Market?

The best way to become an IAM professional is to major in a field that is relevant to IAM. However, many employers are only concerned about whether a potential candidate has an undergraduate degree. Therefore, you can transition to IAM by either going back to school to get a second degree in IAM or by obtaining relevant certifications on your own. To decide between getting a second degree or obtaining certifications, consider how closely your major and resume are related to IAM.

Ideal Majors for Entering the IAM Field?

In an ideal world, you should try to attend a university that offers undergraduate or graduate degrees in identity and access management. Otherwise, you should consider majoring in related fields, such as information technology, software engineering, or cybersecurity.

Getting an IAM Job

To increase your chances of getting an IAM job, you should consider taking several steps to stand out in the job market. Some of the actions you can take include:

Optimize your resume: If you plan to canvass employers with your resume to get a job, it is crucial that your resume is perfect. After spending more than 10,000 hours getting the skills necessary to perform as an IAM professional, putting in another 100 hours to perfect your resume makes sense.
Get an internship: Nothing shows you are serious about becoming an IAM professional more than taking on an internship in the field. Keep in mind that IAM is in a period of very rapid growth, so people who complete an IAM internship program are usually snapped up by employers very quickly. Additionally, the company that hires you for an IAM internship will hire you most of the time.
Become active on LinkedIn: In today’s job market, LinkedIn is a crucial tool for highly specialized professionals. Since demand is very high for IAM professionals, it is not uncommon for new graduates with IAM majors to get calls or messages from employers asking for an interview. When employers reach out to you, job offers usually come with much higher salaries and an elevated level of respect from senior management.
Network with IAM professionals: One of the fastest ways to get top jobs in IAM is to get to know professionals who are currently active in the field. Attend IAM industry events, join local cybersecurity groups, and attend cybersecurity or data-related open houses hosted by companies. More importantly, join Identity Management Institute (IMI) to get certified in IAM, follow IMI on LinkedIn, and join various LinkedIn groups.

Future Prospects for IAM Professionals

Demand for data systems is growing very rapidly. AWS, for instance, grew 34 percent in 2019. Rapid growth is projected to continue for well over a decade, and this growth will continue to cause demand for IAM professionals to greatly outstrip available supply.

Transitioning from Similar Backgrounds to IAM

If you are in another field and want to transition to a career in IAM, there are many options available. Some employers offer fast-track programs to move proven tech-related employees into IAM roles as quickly as possible. As with new graduates, you can also consider getting a second major or obtaining a certificate.

What Salary Can IAM Professionals Expect?

Overall, IAM analysts make an average of $79,870 per year. However, IAM jobs vary widely in terms of the scope of responsibility that is expected from practitioners. Some IAM-related jobs also require specialized skills that go beyond IAM itself, such as management, cybersecurity, or other specialized technical skills.

Jobs that require more specialization from candidates usually pay dramatically more than ordinary IAM jobs. However, some jobs can also pay on the lower end of the pay scale. Therefore, you should do your research before entering the job market to ensure that you seek out jobs that maximize your earning potential.

Highest-Paying Countries for IAM Professionals

Digitalization has introduced a global job market where professionals are increasingly able to work across international borders. In general, major tech nations, such as the U.S., Western Europe, GCC states, and highly developed Asian countries, have jobs that pay higher salaries. On the other hand, nations with limited development offer much lower salaries for IAM professionals.

IAM Salary Trends

IAM salaries have grown modestly in recent years as the tech field experienced explosive growth. These high salaries are projected to be maintained for decades as businesses continue to rely on advanced data systems to improve their efficiency.

How Important Is an IAM Certification?

Getting an IAM certification is very important if you do not have formal education in IAM or would like to improve your standing in a competitive job market. Overall, almost any professional can benefit from obtaining an IAM certification as it will demonstrate one’s commitment to the industry and increasing knowledge. Identity Management Institute offers the leading IAM certifications for every job in the identity and access management field.

The Future of IAM

The field of IAM is projected to continue offering high-paying careers for professionals in the long term. A wide range of IAM jobs will continue to be available in the future, including data solutions specialists, IAM engineering roles, and solutions architect positions. Therefore, majoring in IAM can provide you with the opportunity to earn a high salary while enjoying additional opportunities in the future to achieve career advancement.

Getting a job in identity and access management is both rewarding and challenging, but candidates who know what interview questions to prepare for have a much higher chance of successfully obtaining employment. After all, employers interview an average of five people per hire. To actually get a job, you will need to demonstrate your technical and interpersonal skills in a live interview.

Identity and Access Management Job Interview Questions

If you are new to the identity and access management field, preparing for an interview may seem like a daunting task. You will need to be prepared to handle difficult questions and objections without breaking down. However, understanding some of the main questions that employers tend to ask ahead of time will give you an enormous advantage. You will, therefore, be able to exude the confidence that ultimately makes an employer confident in hiring you.

Common IAM Job Titles

Before getting into common identity and access management job interview questions, it is first important to understand some of the main types of IAM job titles and requirements.

IAM Director

IAM directors have the most senior level of responsibility in a company’s management organization. When an organization is large enough to need an IAM director, there are usually a large number of users and their access need to be managed to protect systems and data. It is not uncommon for IAM directors to be responsible for managing the access of over 10,000 users. As a result, IAM directors need both technical knowledge and high-level executive management skills.

High-Level Duties: IAM directors are responsible for working directly with C-level executives, managing the strategic direction of a company’s IAM organization, and recruiting and vetting competent talent.
Education required: An undergraduate degree is almost always required for IAM directors. Holding an MBA will significantly increase your odds of getting a job. You should also have a strong technical background and possess several years of experience in IAM.
Who can apply: Candidates with a background in both executive-level management and IAM can be considered for this role.
Certification: IAM directors may consider pursuing the Certified Identity Governance Expert (CIGE) and/or Certified Identity and Access Manager (CIAM) designations.

IAM Manager

IAM managers have a role that is similar to IAM directors. Managers usually have several team members who they are directly responsible for overseeing. Consequently, IAM managers need a strong technical background to understand the projects that their employees are responsible for. Companies also usually make managers responsible for making decisions about how access-related security practices are implemented.

High-Level Duties: Major duties include directly managing employees and making complex decisions with serious implications for an organization.
Education required: An undergraduate degree is required for most jobs. Candidates with a strong background in management are preferred.
Who can apply: Candidates with a background in both management and IAM can apply.
Certification: IAM managers may consider pursuing the Certified Identity and Access Manager (CIAM) and/or Certified Identity Management Professional (CIMP) designations.

IAM Architect

IAM architects design and plan systems that will be used to control access in an organization. Architects essentially work as researchers who design solutions that will achieve an organization’s objectives. Some managers assign one project to each IAM architect, but many of today’s architects work together in a team.

High-Level Duties: This role mostly centers around researching and designing access solutions.
Education required: Almost all IAM architect roles require at least an associate’s degree, but candidates with bachelor’s degrees are preferred.
Who can apply: People with strong technical and interpersonal skills can apply.
Certification: IAM architects may consider pursuing the Certified Identity Management Professional (CIMP) and/or Certified Access Management Specialist (CAMS) designations.

IAM Engineer

IAM engineers work hand-in-hand with IAM architects to develop new IAM and access systems. Unlike architects, IAM engineers are tasked with actually developing and implementing an access system.

High-Level Duties: IAM engineers focus on coding new applications, working with IAM architects, and managing complex data systems.
Education required: A bachelor’s degree is usually required since most employers only want to hire a licensed engineer.
Who can apply: People with a very strong background in the technical aspects of IAM can apply.
Certification: IAM engineers may consider pursuing the Certified Identity Management Professional (CIMP) and/or Certified Identity and Security Technologist (CIST) designations.

Common Job Interview Questions

Now that you know what role you will be applying for, you can start to consider some of the questions that your potential employer is likely to ask in an interview. Make sure that you study the identity and access management job interview questions in the following section so that you will be prepared for your interview.

Describe your experience in identity and access management.

Employers will usually begin interviews by simply asking you to provide a concise overview of your career experience. Your interviewer usually asks such a question out of genuine curiosity, but keep in mind that this question is also used to look for signs of dishonestly in your resume. Employers would want to know if your experience matches the IAM job requirements; assessing risks, managing a program, developing or implementing a system, project management, etc.

What resources did you use to train for your role?

The best employees take the initiative to learn on their own. Employers will want to know about online courses that you have taken and other training that you have done on your own. Pursuing professional IAM certifications from Identity Management Institute is a great way to demonstrate your commitment to the IAM industry and career.

If I was not a tech person, how would you explain the importance of controlling system access?

Most roles require a person who can explain technical matters to people who do not have a strong tech background. Consequently, you can expect an employer to ask a question that attempts to gauge your ability to explain the bottom line. Employers also often ask this question to assess your interpersonal skills since even your team members might not always understand the specifics of your tasks.

How do you manage difficult deadlines?

Deadlines are crucial in IAM. If you are applying for a management position, employers will want to assess how effectively you can manage challenging deadlines.

Describe a relevant project that you have been part of.

If you are new to IAM, some employers will only be interested in whether you have some practical experience. After all, there are very few viable candidates available to fill most IAM jobs. Before doing an interview, you should create a list of projects that you have completed. You could even consider putting your work online so that you can show your potential employer if you are asked to verify your experience.

What words have your coworkers used to describe you?

People who care about other people in the workplace are usually sensitive to how their former coworkers have described them. If you are immediately able to articulate what your coworkers think about you, the odds of you being an effective team player are much higher.

What actions do you take on a regular basis to keep your skills current?

When employers directly ask what you do to stay abreast of technological advancement, they are usually a company that is rapidly adapting to change. As a result, you should try to position yourself as an innovator for the remainder of the interview if you are asked this question.

Questions for Cloud-Related Roles

Describe when you would use AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud.

This is one of the most difficult identity management job interview questions. If you are knowledgeable in cloud platforms, you should be able to clearly articulate cases when each major provider’s services are appropriate. Smart employers, therefore, will usually try to immediately put you on the spot to test the depth of your knowledge. Although this question is difficult, the good news is that it can be easily prepared for by conducting a bit of preliminary research.

Explain what differentiates Amazon EC2 from Amazon S3.

Employers who are interested in working with a particular cloud provider’s services will often dig deeper to assess the strength of your knowledge in working with a particular platform. Amazon’s services have the highest market share, so you should make sure that you are completely familiar with its services before walking into your interview. However, you can prepare for similar questions by simply studying and experimenting with each of the services of the main cloud providers.

Other IAM Job Interview Questions

Below are 20 additional identity and access management job interview questions to help you prepare for your next IAM job interview. Some of these may not apply to the role your are applying for, therefore, it is important to consider the ones that are closely aligned with your next IAM job.

  1. Do you have experience with identity directory services such as Active Directory? Please expand.
  2. Do you have cloud identity and access management experience? Which cloud platforms do you have experience with?
  3. Do you manage customer identity in addition to employee and other internal identities?
  4. Do you have experience implementing IAM solutions and products such as SSO and multi-factor authentication?
  5. What is the role of regulations and regulatory compliance in IAM? Please expand.
  6. Do you have experience managing third party service providers?
  7. Have you been involved in vendor or system selection process?
  8. Have you performed access re-certification? What tools do you use or what is your strategy?
  9. Do you engage with other departments such as Legal and compliance? How do you manage the internal relationships?
  10. Have you supported internal and external audits?
  11. Have you been engaged in request for proposal projects?
  12. Have you supported client requests for information? What is the most efficient method to support RFI?
  13. What IAM technology are you familiar and have experience with?
  14. Do you have experience with IAM product design, architecture, and configuration?
  15. Have you developed IAM policies and procedures? Please expand.
  16. What are some of the major IAM threats and risks that organizations face? Please list a few.
  17. How can you leverage automation and AI in your IAM job?
  18. What is the most challenging aspect of an IAM specialist or manager? (depending on the job)
  19. What do your consider to be your technical strength?
  20. What do you like most in an IAM job?
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