When pursuing professional certifications, it is important to understand the difference between vendor-neutral and vendor-specific certifications. Identity Management Institute offers the leading vendor-neutral certifications in identity and access management which we will cover in this article.

As business applications continue to move out of closed networks into the cloud and decentralized platforms, and devices become smarter, interconnected, and loaded with data, identity and access management (IAM) certifications have gained popularity in recent years. The cybersecurity landscape continues to evolve with blockchain and IoT adoption across many industries bringing identity and access management to center stage. IAM Certifications by Identity Management Institute allow identity practitioners and identity risk management professionals to set themselves apart in the marketplace.

Difference between vendor neutral and vendor specific certifications

It is obvious to most hiring managers that education alone and certifications do not replace on-the-job training, especially in a technical field such as cyber security and identity management careers, however, experts agree that educated and knowledgeable staff learn faster on the job and can be much more productive sooner.

A survey of professionals across the globe found that after completing a professional certification, as much as 76 percent reported a salary increase of up to 13% or a promotion. And when compared with professionals who are not certified, the certified professionals reported easier and faster hiring as well as higher levels of confidence and satisfaction at work.

Identity and Access Management Certification Options

When it comes to professional IAM certifications, many members of the Identity Management Institute (IMI) ask themselves which IAM certification they must pursue for career growth and learning. Another important question that they pose themselves is what are the differences and benefits of vendor-neutral versus vendor-specific certification?

To answer the first question, IMI created an IAM certification chart to illustrate various identity and access management professional career options offered by Identity Management Institute. Take a look at the chart below and click the image to learn more about each certification.

identity and access management certifications and career path

Vendor-Neutral and Vendor-Specific Certifications

The main difference between vendor-neutral and vendor-specific certifications is that vendor-specific training and certification offer insight into the product features. The skills learned can only be applied to that specific product for the most part. A vendor-specific certification establishes credibility and expertise for the use of the product whereas the vendor-neutral certification offers broader options and high-level knowledge of the IAM best practices and frameworks that can be applied to all IAM-related jobs and products.

For new entrants to the IAM field whether you are a new graduate or someone with related cybersecurity experience who wants to switch to an IAM-specific job, getting a vendor-neutral certification is always a great first step to get into the door and then reinforcing that credential with a product specific certification to display specialty. Once a job is secured, you can learn about the tools that your company is using or planning to procure so you can target the product that you plan to become an expert in. Otherwise, what is the point of spending time and money to learn a product that your company is not using. Also, if you earn a product certification and fail to work on that product for a while, you will forget all that you have learned.

In conclusion, both vendor-neutral and vendor-specific certifications are valuable depending on your employment status, needs, and interest. If you are new to the IAM job market and don’t know which products you will be working with, it is better to pursue a vendor-neutral certification. On the other hand, if you are targeting a particular product vendor for employment or if your company uses a particular product, then it is better to pursue product-specific training first. Regardless of when you pursue a product certification, having a vendor-neutral IAM certification is extremely beneficial because the credential and knowledge earned during the certification process can be applied to all industries and products.

IAM professionals are encouraged to assess their options carefully when it comes to vendor-specific certification as there are many competing IAM products with changing market demand which determines job opportunities.

Identity and access management certifications

While Multi-factor authentication (MFA) offers an important layered security mechanism to prevent unauthorized access and protect sensitive information, hackers use various techniques to bypass MFA.

MFA can be an effective way to secure systems and prevent unauthorized access, but it is not foolproof. Hackers have developed various techniques to bypass MFA and gain unauthorized access to systems and networks which we address in this article.

Techniques to Bypass MFA

How Hackers Bypass MFA

One of the common techniques that hackers use to bypass MFA is phishing which involves sending fake texts and emails that appear to be from a legitimate source, such as a bank or a company. These messages often contain links that, when clicked, redirect the user to a fake login page where they are prompted to enter their login credentials. If the user falls for the trick and enters their login information, the hacker can access accounts using the information.

Another method that hackers use to bypass MFA is social engineering which involves manipulating people into revealing private information or taking actions that they would not normally take. For example, a hacker might call a customer service representative and pretend to be a legitimate user, requesting that they reset their password or provide access to their account. If the representative falls for the trick and provides the hacker with the necessary information for access, the hacker can use it to bypass MFA and gain unauthorized access to the system or network.

Hackers can also use malware to bypass MFA. Malware is malevolent software that is programmed to disrupt or damage computer systems. There are several types of malwares that can be used to bypass MFA, including keyloggers and screen scrapers. Keyloggers are programs that record every keystroke made on a computer, including login credentials and passwords. Screen scrapers are programs that capture images of the computer screen, allowing hackers to see what the user is doing and potentially capture login credentials and other sensitive information.

Another method that hackers use to bypass MFA is known as brute force attacks. This involves using a program to automatically try different combinations of login credentials until the correct one is found. This can be effective if the user has a weak or easily guessable password. To prevent brute force attacks, it is important to use strong, unique passwords and enable two-factor authentication (2FA) or other MFA methods that require the user to provide additional pieces of evidence to verify their identity.

Another technique that hackers use to bypass MFA is known as session hijacking. This involves intercepting the communication between a user and a system or network and taking over the session. For example, a hacker might intercept the communication between a user and a website and use it to gain access to accounts. To prevent session hijacking, it is important to use secure connections and regularly update the software and security measures on your systems and devices.

Another way that hackers can bypass MFA is by intercepting the authentication code that is sent to the user’s phone or email. This can be done through a man-in-the-middle attack, in which the hacker intercepts the communication between the user and the server that authenticates the use. To prevent this type of attack, it is important to use a secure connection (e.g. HTTPS) when accessing accounts that require MFA.

Hackers can also bypass MFA by using stolen login credentials. If a hacker has obtained a victim’s login credentials through a phishing attack or by purchasing them on the dark web, they can use these credentials to access the victim’s account, even if MFA is enabled. To prevent this type of attack, it is important to use strong, unique passwords for each account and to enable two-factor authentication when available.

Another method that hackers use to bypass MFA is by exploiting vulnerabilities in the authentication system. For example, if a hacker discovers a vulnerability in the software that is used to generate the authentication code, they may be able to generate their own authentication codes and use them to access the victim’s account. To prevent this type of attack, it is important to update all software and use a reputable and secure authentication system.

Finally, hackers may also be able to bypass MFA by physically stealing the user’s phone or security token. If the hacker has access to the device that is used to receive the authentication code, they may be able to access the victim’s account, even if MFA is enabled. To prevent this type of attack, it is important to keep the device in a secure location and to use a security software that can remotely wipe the device if it is lost or stolen.


While MFA can be an effective way to secure systems and prevent unauthorized access, it is not foolproof. Hackers have developed various techniques to bypass MFA and access systems. To protect against these attacks, it is important to use strong, unique passwords, enable 2FA or other MFA methods, and regularly update the software and security measures on your systems and devices. Join our LinkedIn CISO group to participate in security discussions.

Identity and access management certifications

By incorporating and using Artificial Intelligence in cybersecurity products, the industry is aiming for faster and more accurate decisions making regarding threats and data breach incidents. Through AI software, security solutions companies and their product users aim to identify and detect abnormal behavior before it causes damage. AI will reshape the future of cybersecurity and improve as we progress toward the future.

How AI Identifies Anomalies in Cybersecurity 

AI is a term that some industry experts interchange with the term “machine learning.” In any case, it involves using sophisticated algorithms that mimic the human ability to learn by analyzing large amounts of data. In reference to cybersecurity, it can learn how to detect and predict hidden patterns of threats and vulnerabilities to prevent security breaches.

With email, for example, highly successful phishing attacks exploit a human vulnerability to breach security defenses. AI can boost security by vetting the sources of emails for potential threats. A security product can check the identity of the sender against a list of banned and trusted sources before it blocks or accepts the message. The program may leverage AI to inspect the address, embedded attachments or website links, and message characteristics for possible risks.

In addition, security programs look for malicious software using known signatures. With AI tools, they can identify malware using similar characteristics rather than just the signatures that are known. Along with preventing security breaches, this learning ability allows the programs to detect new malware types.

Algorithms are increasingly accurate at spotting suspicious traits in emails and software. However, security solutions companies aim to improve detection beyond that. They want to implement AI at every layer of defense, including cloud apps, end-user devices and websites. 

The goal for artificial intelligence in identity and access management will be to learn about users and track their activities to discover and report anomalies automatically. For instance, it will trigger a warning if someone logged into a website from somewhere in the United States in the morning and then again from somewhere in China just a few hours later. 

Different AI Defenses in Cybersecurity 

Security companies and departments use two main defensive approaches. In both cases, AI will detect an anomaly and alert the IT or security staff to investigate further.

The first approach is AI software that analyzes raw network activity for unusual connectivity such as an unknown IP address. It’s fairly basic but effective. 

The second approach requires deep training to identify suspicious behavior over a range of actions. Known as behavioral user analytics, it’s used to defend against slowly moving threats that use legitimate but compromised network credentials. It’s implemented at the asset, entity or user level as surveillance. 

Improving Threat Detection to Save Time and Money 

Cybersecurity products are beneficial for more than just detecting potential threats. Without this technology, humans wouldn’t be able to achieve the same level of protection against cybercriminals. AI also increases the speed of security products and reduces costs. In fact, some reports suggest that organizations waste more than $1 million on inspecting erroneous and inaccurate alerts. 

Data indicates that the average breach takes more than 260 days to discover, so shortening this time is critical. Implementing AI in cybersecurity prevents analysts from wasting time researching false alerts and dead ends. It will also reduce the risk of malicious activity going unnoticed while they investigate false positives. 

With a proper machine learning program, AI can use human-like instincts to single out strange activities for further analysis by humans. Some products allow organizations to compare threats across multiple locations and provide an overall picture of network activity. Since it speeds up the process of correctly identifying threats, it reduces how much damage cybercriminals will cause during their attacks as well.

Leading Market Contributors and Projected Growth 

There are several major players in the cybersecurity products market with AI capability. Cisco Systems and Palo Alto Networks are industry leaders and are competing with new companies by acquiring startups and developing new tools from scratch. Palo Alto Networks, for instance, purchased behavioral analytics firm LightCyber in March 2017 “to enhance our ability to prevent attacks across the attack lifecycle, especially at the internal reconnaissance and lateral movement.”

Even Google uses AI in its advertising business and internet search. With its Chronicle cybersecurity business, Google taps into advanced predictive security using its cloud platform for computing power and speed. After all, Google already collects and analyzes large amounts of data. 

Furthermore, there are several others in the cybersecurity market. Blackberry Cylance is targeting the detection of malware on devices that access organization networks, which is the endpoint market. CrowdStrike is a cloud platform that aggregates and analyzes billions of endpoint events every day.

According to an IBM article, 64% of respondents have implemented AI for security capabilities and 29% are evaluating implementation. Also, experts forecast that more analytics and cybersecurity companies will work together to improve and provide AI products.

The Double-Edged Sword 

While using artificial intelligence in cyber security will greatly benefit organizations and the public, attackers already use the technology too. In May 2017, cybercriminals launched the WannaCry ransomware attack. The cryptoworm targeted Windows computers by encrypting data and locking out the users until they made Bitcoin ransom payments. Among the victims were banks and hospitals across the globe. Using the same vulnerability, the NotPetya ransomware attack occurred in June 2017 and mainly targeted Ukrainians. 

Experts warn that hackers could use the same advancements in AI to launch new attacks. At the Black Hat cybersecurity conference, IBM detailed how cybercriminals could use AI-enabled malware, which they can design to evade detection. 

In the end, the AI software will continue to improve and learn using various sets of data. The industry as a whole needs to consider all possibilities for its use and avoid biases in order to produce effective and secure products.

Identity and access management certifications

The evolution of data protection and privacy has been ongoing for many decades. Early efforts to protect personal information focused on individual rights and government limitations. The development of computer technology and the internet in the late 20th and early 21st centuries led to a greater need for data protection and privacy, as more and more personal information became stored and shared digitally. The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in 2018 is an example of modern legislation that aims to protect personal information and give individuals more control over their data.

In addition to legislation, many companies have also implemented their own data protection and privacy policies to ensure the security and responsible use of personal information.

Why Data Protection is More Important Today

Data protection is more important now than ever before because the amount of personal data at risk has increased, the potential consequences of a data breach are greater, technology has made it easier for personal data to be shared and accessed, governments are implementing more regulations, and there is a greater awareness of the importance of data protection.

  • Increased Data Collection: With the rise of technology, companies are now able to collect and store vast amounts of personal data, which can be used for various purposes. This means that the amount of personal data at risk is greater than ever before.
  • Greater Consequences: With more personal data being collected, the potential consequences of a data breach are also greater. A data breach can result in financial losses, reputational damage, and even legal repercussions for the organization, and individuals can lose control over their personal information, exposing them to fraud and identity theft.
  • More Connected World: The internet and other digital technologies have made it easier for people to connect and share information, but this also means that personal data can be shared and accessed more easily, increasing the risk of breaches.
  • Increased Regulation: Governments around the world have begun to recognize the importance of data protection and are implementing regulations such as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to protect personal data. Non-compliant organizations can face significant fines and penalties.
  • Greater awareness: With the increasing number of data breaches, individuals and organizations are more aware of the risks associated with the mishandling of personal data, making it more important to have robust data protection policies in place.

How Company Data Protection Policies Differ from Regulations

Company data protection policies and regulations have different goals and levels of enforceability.

Company data protection policies are typically developed by individual organizations to govern the collection, storage, and use of personal data within the company. These policies may be developed to comply with applicable laws and regulations, but they are not legally binding. They can be used to set internal standards for data handling and to communicate a company’s commitment to data protection and privacy to customers, employees, and other stakeholders.

Regulations, on the other hand, are legally binding rules and standards that are put in place by governments to protect personal data. Regulations set specific requirements for data handling, including requirements for data security, data retention, and data breach notification. These regulations also provide individuals with specific rights related to their personal data, such as the right to access and delete their data.

In summary, company data protection policies are internal guidelines and standards that a company sets for itself, while regulations are laws put in place by governments. Company policies are not legally binding but can be used against the company during security and privacy audits.

How Technology Affects Data Protection

Technology has had a significant impact on data protection. The rapid advancement of technology in recent decades has led to an explosion of data being collected, stored, and shared digitally. This has created new challenges for protecting personal information, as data can now be easily accessed, shared, and used in ways that were not previously possible.

On one hand, technology has made it easier for companies and organizations to collect and analyze large amounts of data, which can be used to improve services and make more informed decisions. However, this also increases the risk of data breaches and the unauthorized access or misuse of personal information.

On the other hand, technology has also made it possible to develop new tools and strategies for protecting personal data. For example, encryption technology can be used to protect data in transit and at rest, and authentication and access controls can be used to restrict access to sensitive information. Additionally, companies can use machine learning and AI to detect and respond to data breaches in real-time.

The Future of Data Protection Professionals

The future for data protection professionals is likely to be challenging but also filled with opportunities as the need for data protection and privacy continues to grow.

  • Increased Regulations: Governments around the world are likely to continue to implement new regulations to protect personal data. As a result, data protection professionals will need to stay up-to-date on the latest regulations and ensure that their organization is in compliance.
  • Greater focus on Cybersecurity: With the increasing number of data breaches and cyber-attacks, organizations will need to focus on improving their cybersecurity to protect personal data. Data protection professionals will be responsible for developing and implementing security controls to protect data from unauthorized access and theft.
  • Advancements in Technology: As technology continues to evolve, data protection professionals will need to stay informed about new technologies and how they can be used to protect personal data. For example, the use of blockchain and AI in data protection will become increasingly important in the future.
  • Greater awareness: With the growing number of data breaches, individuals and organizations will become more aware of the risks associated with mishandling personal data, making it more important to have robust data protection policies in place. As a result, data protection professionals will be in high demand.
  • New roles: The increasing focus on data protection and privacy will likely lead to the creation of new roles, such as privacy engineers, data governance specialists, and data protection officers, that will require specialized skills and knowledge.

How Will Data Protection be Affected by Blockchain and the Metaverse

Blockchain and the metaverse have the potential to affect data protection in several ways.

  • Blockchain and data protection: Blockchain technology is a decentralized and distributed ledger system that can be used to store and share data securely. This makes it a promising technology for data protection, as it can help to ensure that personal data is not tampered with and is only accessible to authorized parties.
  • Metaverse and data protection: As the metaverse becomes more prevalent, it is likely that personal data will be collected, stored, and shared within virtual worlds. Metaverse will create new security challenges for data protection, as personal data in the metaverse may be subject to different laws and regulations, and it may be more difficult to control access to personal data in a virtual environment.
  • Self-sovereign identity: Blockchain-based self-sovereign identity systems allow individuals to have extra control over their personal information. This can help protect personal data and give individuals control over how their personal information is used, accessed, and shared.
  • Decentralized data storage: With blockchain, data storage can be decentralized, meaning that data is stored across multiple nodes, rather than in a central location. This can make data more difficult to access, and it can also make it more difficult to compromise data.
  • Smart contract: Smart contracts are automated contracts with the terms of the agreement coded in the smart contract program. These smart contracts can be used to automate the collection, storage, and sharing of personal data. This can help to ensure that personal data is handled in a transparent and secure way.

Blockchain and the metaverse have the potential to affect data protection by providing new tools for secure data storage and sharing and giving individuals more control over their personal data. However, it’s also important to note that new technology also brings new security and privacy challenges and it’s important to ensure that these technologies are used in a way that respects individuals’ rights to privacy and data protection. The Metaverse Security Center offers additional details about the security implications of the blockchain and metaverse.

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