Identity federation refers to a trust relationship between two entities for using authentication information from one system in order to grant access to another system without asking for authentication information multiple times.

When you sign into a website or service, you often provide credentials like your email address and password. The site uses the information to identify who you are and give you access to the features and content that are reserved for users with registered accounts. But what if you want to access a different account on a different site? That is where identity federation comes in. This article explains how identity federation works and how it can benefit businesses and improve user experience.

Identity Federation

What Is Identity Federation?

Identity federation is a way to log in to one site using credentials from another. This way, you only need to remember one set of login information and don’t have to worry about remembering multiple usernames and passwords. Instead, users can use a single credential to access all their online accounts. The most common identity providers are social media sites like Facebook and Google. There are also enterprise-level identity providers designed for use in business environments.

How Does Identity Federation Work?

Identity federation relies on something called an identity provider. An identity provider is a website or service that stores your credentials and allows you to use them to log in to other websites or services. When you click the “Login with…” button on a website, you’re typically redirected to the identity provider’s login page. Once you enter your credentials on the identity provider’s login page, you’ll be redirected back to the original site or system without having to log in again.

Identity Federation VS SSO (Single Sign-On)

It’s important to note that identity federation differs from single sign-on (SSO). With SSO, you log in to one account and access all the other linked accounts at the same entity. That is different from identity federation, where you can use your credentials from one entity to log in to another entity.

Identity federation is a decentralized approach to authentication that allows users to access multiple online services with a single set of credentials. The main advantage is that it is more scalable and easier to manage than single sign-on. The downside is that it’s less secure since there is a possibility of using compromised credentials to access accounts at multiple entities.

Single sign-on is a centralized approach requiring users to authenticate with a single provider to access multiple online services. It’s more secure since all authentication takes place in one central location; however, it’s less scalable and more difficult to manage since each service needs individual configuration.

Single sign-on is typically used in business environments where employees need to access various resources, such as email, file sharing, and customer relationship management tools. On the other hand, identity federation is more commonly used on consumer-facing websites and apps.

So which approach is right for you? It depends on your needs. If security is your top priority, then single sign-on is the way to go. But if scalability and ease of management are more important, then identity federation might be the better choice.

Identity Federation Example

One common use case illustration for identity federation is when an organization wants to provide its customers speedy access to its online services. In this case, the organization would set up an identity provider (IdP) and configure it to authenticate users using their existing account with a third-party service, such as Facebook or Google. Once authenticated, the user can access the organization’s services without creating a new account or remembering multiple credentials.

Another common identity federation example is when an organization wants to share data with another organization securely. For example, a hospital might want to give its employees access to the patient records of a healthcare provider that uses a different electronic health records (EHR) system. In this case, the hospital would set up an IdP and configure it so its employees could use their existing hospital credentials to log in to the other EHR system. That would allow the hospital to control which employees have access to the patient records and prevent unauthorized users from gaining access.

Identity Federation Benefits

Increased Security

When you use federated login, your credentials are only stored on the identity provider’s servers. That means if one of the websites or services you’re using is compromised, your credentials are not exposed.

Convenience

With federated login, you only need to remember your credentials for one account. That can be much easier than keeping track of multiple credentials for different sites and services.

Reduced Costs

Implementing a federated login system can be less expensive than setting up and maintaining a single sign-on solution. You don’t need to build and deploy a custom SSO solution.

Drawbacks of Identity Federation

Increased Dependency

When you use federated login, you rely on the identity provider to keep your credentials safe and secure. If the identity provider experiences an outage or security breach, you may not be able to log in to the websites and services that you use.

Limited Control

You’re also giving up some control over your account with federated login. For example, if you want to change your password on one of the websites or services you use, you’ll need to do it through the identity provider.

Reduced Flexibility

Federated login systems can also be less flexible than single sign-on solutions because they typically only work with a few specific types of accounts. So, if you want to use federated login with a new website or service, it may not be compatible with the existing system.

Conclusion

Identity federation can be a convenient and secure way to manage your online accounts. However, weighing the pros and cons is important before deciding if it’s the right solution for you. A federated login may be a good option if you’re looking for a convenient way to manage multiple accounts. However, if you’re concerned about security or want more control over your account, you may want to consider a different solution.

Certified Identity Management Professional (CIMP) certification

Security should always be a priority for companies and cybersecurity policy best practices must be considered in security management. To implement these practices successfully, enterprises need security policies with clear instructions regarding data use and protection, device management and enforcement.

The Purpose of a Cybersecurity Policy

A cybersecurity policy provides a central framework for company-wide security and guards against the devastating financial and reputational effects of data breaches. The average cost of a breach is expected to reach $150 million in 2020, which is often enough to put a company out of business. Those able to bounce back often lose customers due to the negative effects of breaches on public image.

Detecting breach activity early and protecting the organization against outsider and insider threats continues to be of utmost importance when developing security policies. The number of data breach cases continues to increase from a mere 662 in 2010 to more than 1,000 by 2021 in the US and the majority of such breaches result from human error. As an increasing number of devices and third-party connections become part of enterprise networks, IT departments and cybersecurity professionals must hone in on key enterprise information security policy elements.

Identify and Define Confidential Data

Proper data protection requires knowledge of all data types within an enterprise network. Common categories of information include:

• Customer and employee profiles
• Financial data
• Health records
• Vendor accounts
• Proprietary company details

There should be a core set of standards applicable to each data type, although who requires access to data and how data is used may differ according to department-specific responsibilities and nuances in workflows.

Create Network Use and Device Management Rules

Because a growing number of employees are accessing enterprise networks with personal devices, rules for network use and device management go hand in hand. Network use policies may govern:

• Permitted and forbidden actions
• The collection, use, transfer and storage of data
• Encryption and VPN requirements
• Email use
• Password management

Device security directly impacts the effectiveness of such policies. Remote access management is a vital component of information security guidelines and must incorporate specific rules regarding how employee-owned devices are allowed to interact with networks and access data. This includes specifying trusted sources for applications, keeping devices up to date and implementing a protocol for reporting lost or stolen devices.

Include Cybersecurity Best Practices for Employees

Problems arising from insider threats account for 43% of business data loss. Therefore, security policies must include ongoing employee education in order to be effective. Policies demonstrate how to prevent security incidents through changes in network use habits. Training clarifies the importance of cybersecurity and shows employees how strategic security protocols protect company data.

Making employees aware of their roles in protecting the company minimizes risk from careless practices and increases discernment to protect against known and emerging threats. Targeted educational efforts may be required to guide employees in identifying subtle threats, such as spear phishing.

Establish Rules for Enforcement

Putting consequences for policy violations in place highlights the critical role of enterprise cybersecurity. Employees need to understand their actions can have tangible repercussions with the potential to do significant damage to the company. Rules and regulations may be enforced by:

• Determining threat severity through individual incident evaluations
• Issuing a series of warnings based on incident type and policy violation history
• Pursing termination in the event a violation results in a breach

A responsible individual or team must be put in charge of policy reinforcement and enforcement to maintain a chain of accountability and ensure consequences are consistent across the board. It should always be possible to trace incidents back to an identifiable source and execute the proper disciplinary actions to prevent future violations.

Formulate a Disaster Recovery Plan

Cybersecurity best practices for companies involve more than breach prevention; both data recovery and business continuity are also vital. IT teams must create and implement plans for routine data backup using reliable tools and storage solutions. Any third-party backup options must be thoroughly vetted to ensure reliability and security before being incorporated into an enterprise security policy.

If disaster recovery is to be successful, it’s critical for an enterprise to determine how quickly systems must be brought back online and data must be recovered to minimize losses and provide customers with uninterrupted service. These numbers should inform the creation of detailed protocols for each department and employee during the recovery process, which reduces downtime and aids in preserving a company’s reputation.

Identity and access management certifications

Conclusion

Implementing network security best practices starts with a core security policy encompassing these key areas. Each department may require additional policies pertaining to specific needs and workflows, so the IT team must stay in communication with the rest of the company to ensure all details conform with the main policy. By formulating a concrete policy governing enterprise-wide network use, companies create strong foundations for cybersecurity and have reliable frameworks for moving forward as new security needs arise.

Proper onboarding best practices to mitigate insider threats include training to educate employees and reduce the likelihood of insider threats from day one. When quizzed, employees only provide correct answers to 78% of cybersecurity questions. This disappointing level of awareness places companies at significant risk for breaches resulting from ignorance and errors.

Dangers of Deficient Onboarding

A significant number of companies fail to provide sufficient onboarding experiences for their employees. Thirty-eight percent of IT professionals report a wait period of two to four days before employees receive the access credentials required to do their jobs. In 27% of companies, employees go without access for more than a week.

Companies face one of two problems during this time:

• Employees do little or no work, resulting in lost productivity and profits
• Well-meaning colleagues share credentials, which may allow access beyond the scope of new employees’ roles

Credential sharing is just one consequence of insufficient cybersecurity education during onboarding. Employees and contractors are responsible for 48% of all business data breaches, and a great many incidents can be attributed to user ignorance. Unless cybersecurity training is an integral part of the onboarding process, employees use the systems without the ability to understand, identify and avoid security risks. In addition to leaving networks vulnerable to hackers, employee ignorance may also lead to compliance issues, which can be costly from both a legal and financial standpoint.

Determining and Enforcing Access Needs

Improper provisioning can either prevent employees from accessing essential tools and data or provide a level of access inappropriate for a particular role. To prevent bottlenecks and minimize risk, companies need to map out the access requirements for each role and establish identity and access management (IAM) policies to protect sensitive data.

Because privileged accounts can be particularly difficult to manage, businesses with large amounts of sensitive information may require tools to support zero-trust protocols. In a zero-trust environment, user identities are validated by numerous factors beyond basic role-based provisioning. Companies lacking the agility to implement granular access policies face the challenge of manually monitoring accounts, adjusting privileges and deprovisioning departing users.

A combination of detailed IAM policies and reliable access control tools makes it possible to provide employees with first-day access, thus reducing losses associated with decreased productivity. Automating the deprovisioning process ensures proper revocation of access rights and prevents employees from accessing resources they no longer need or logging in after tenure with the company has ended.

Conducting Security Training

Cybersecurity education must be an integral part of onboarding. Handing employees a guide to company security policies and assuming they’ll read and understand all the information provides little or no protection against insider threats. New hires are already overwhelmed with forms and other paperwork; another packet is likely to be given a cursory glance before getting filed, thrown away or forgotten.

IT teams and cybersecurity experts have the expertise to craft onboarding programs with a focus on employee education and can guide executives in proper IAM protocol implementation and enforcement. Employee instruction should include:

• How to recognize and report phishing attempts
• Adhering to a clean desk policy
• Proper password storage and management
• How to report security incidents and breach attempts

Employees should also be informed of additional security measures, such as monitoring and the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning. While these tools are often necessary to prevent breaches, they can also have an impact on employee privacy and must be executed with discernment.

Implementing Strict Rules for Software Use

The pursuit of convenience presents an additional cybersecurity challenge in business environments. Delays in software implementation can leave teams struggling to be productive with a suite of siloed legacy applications. Employees, especially those in younger generations, are used to seamless experiences when interacting with technology. The resulting frustration leads chief information officers to bypass IT teams in purchasing decisions up to 90% of the time.

Because these programs aren’t made subject to company IAM policies, such aggressive use of “shadow IT” puts company data at risk. An estimated one-third of successful cyberattacks will be launched on shadow IT programs by 2020. Of companies experiencing attacks, 60% go out of business within six months. Therefore, it’s imperative for IT teams to choose and implement user-friendly access management solutions and update tools as needed to support integrations and streamlined employee experiences. Employees must be made aware of the dangers of shadow IT and instructed in proper procedures for application approval prior to use.

CAMS - Certified Access Management Specialist
Apply for CAMS access management certification

Starting employees off with a solid understanding of security procedures and enforcing strong IAM policies supports accountability and minimizes breach threats. IT teams must work with executives, HR and other key players within businesses to design and implement frictionless IAM using data and feedback from real-world use cases. Additional monitoring services and routine vulnerability assessments provide support to create robust, reliable cybersecurity protocols.

Many industry professionals are challenged when trying to explain various authorization and authentication standards such as OAuth, OpenID Connect, and SAML to their counterparts or management. This is not to say that they don’t understand the concepts or how they are used but these protocols are so closely related and similar that they may confuse anyone learning about or attempting to promote authorization and authentication standards within their organizations.

Data leaks, security breaches, and other security failures are some of the reasons why improving online security with authorization and authentication standards cannot be emphasized enough. In this article, we look at the following security protocols and describe each standard, its purpose, and how it differs from the other standards:

• OAuth
• OpenID Connect
• SAML

OAuth Authorization Standard

OAuth is an open-standard authorization protocol that allows a user to share information from an existing system with a new system without having to share the same information repeatedly with new systems.

An example of OAuth in use is when you allow or authorize an application to access another application to access your contact information or profile data. This authorization is enabled when the user allows the Identity Provider to share a token with the new application which remains active until it is revoked.

Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) originally published OAuth (Open Authorization) as RFC 5849 in April 2010. Since then, OAuth has undergone one major update, which was in October 2012. In this update, OAuth was published as RFC 6749; leading to the creation of OAuth 2.0.

The purpose of OAuth is to provide the Client with secure delegated access to server resources on behalf of the resource owner. OAuth has four key concepts, which are:

• Client: An application that makes protected resource requests on behalf of a resource owner.
• Resource server: Hosts the protected resources.
• Authorization server: Issues access tokens to the Client.
• Resource owner: Grants access to the protected resource.

One major difference between these standards is that OpenID Connect and OAuth are more like specifications while SAML seems like a ready-to-work tool. OAuth specification, however, appears to be lower on details compared to OpenID Connect specification.

OpenID Connect Authentication Standard

OpenID Connect is a layer on top of OAuth, which is an authentication protocol that allows users to log into websites and apps using their existing credentials from another site. OpenID Connect adds an extra layer of security by encrypting the connection between the user and the site or app. This makes it more difficult for hackers to intercept the login information and gain access to the user’s account. In addition, OpenID Connect also allows users to log in without having to remember a separate username and password for each site or app. This makes it more convenient for users to use their existing credentials from another site to log in. Overall, OpenID Connect provides a high level of security, making it a great choice for website and app developers looking to protect their users’ information.

Openid.net describes OpenID Connect as a simple layer based on the OAuth 2.0 protocol. This standard lets Clients verify the End-User’s identity based on the authentication that Authorization Server carries out. It also obtains basic profile information about the End-User. And it does that in a REST-like, interoperable manner.

Created in 2014, OpenID Connect is the youngest protocol of the three we have today. It was created to make complicated things doable and ensure that simple ones remain simple. OpenID Connect (OIDC) works by adding the OpenID scope value to the OAuth Authorization Request. Ideally, there are two paramount building blocks of the OpenID flow.

• Rps (Relying Parties): OAuth 2.0 Clients that use OIDC
• Ops (OpenID Providers): OAuth 2.0 Authentication Servers that implement OIDC

The difference between OIDC and other standards is mainly seen in the purpose of these three standards. That being said, SAML is for exchanging both authorization and authentication information between interested parties. OAuth, on the other hand, only focuses on authorization, whereas, OpenID Connect adds a layer of authentication over existing OAuth specifications. By so doing, OpenID Connect effectively provides both authorization and authentication possibilities.

SAML Authorization and Authentication Standards

Security Assertion Markup Language, or simply SAML, is an open standard where authorization and authentication information is exchanged between a service provider and an identity provider. OASIS Security Services Technical Committee is behind the creation of this standard. The committee created it in 2002; making it the oldest protocol there is today.

Since its creation, SAML has undergone two updates. The first update was in 2003, and it was a minor one. It saw SAML updated to version 1.1. The second update was in 2005 when SAML was updated to version 2.0. That being said, SAML has four key concepts that underwent major changes between versions 1.0 and 2.0.

These concepts include:

• Protocols: Show how some elements of SAML are packaged within the SAML requests and response elements.
• Profiles: Comprehensively describe how protocols, bindings, and assertions work together to support a defined use case.
• Bindings: A SAML protocol that maps onto standard messaging formats.
• Security Assertions: Facts that service providers use to come up with access-control decisions.

According to most software engineers, SAML appears to be the most complex standard to use and implement. That is because it uses an old-school approach for configuration, where you rely on XML files for writing. This is different from OAuth and OpenID where JWT and HTTP are used.

Verdict: What is the Best Standard?

OAuth is a great option for someone relying heavily on the authorization. OpenID Connect, on the other hand, is suitable for authentication heavy integrations. Finally, SAML comes in handy when you are already using it, as mixing things might lead to more confusion.

Identity and access management certifications

Self driving car security risksThe autonomous vehicle is often hailed as the transportation of the future and warrants an assessment of the self driving car security risks. With tech giants from Apple to Google to Tesla throwing their considerable weight behind the venture, the future may come sooner than expected. Self-driving vehicles offer the promise of enhanced safety and improved convenience – not to mention the undeniably cool novelty of it all – but they also come with a darker side. Since they’re essentially internet cars, these high-tech autos are potentially vulnerable to a whole host of security issues. To get to the bottom of these security risks, and to find out what automakers are doing about them, let’s take a closer look at how the next generation of autonomous vehicles is preparing to hit the road.

 

The State of the Self Driving Vehicle

Fully autonomous cars may not be quite ready for primetime yet, but they’re getting closer to reality than ever before. More than 60 cities around the globe have driverless car testing programs either ongoing or in preparation, and nearly three dozen others have launched efforts exploring vehicle automation. A staggering $60 billion value will be attributed to autonomous or driverless car market by 2026. Major equity firms have already invested $12 billion in 2021 which is up 50% from 2020. There are over 1400 self driving cars in the US which are being tested by 80 companies, 64 of which are registered in California. Virtually every modern automaker has dedicated resources to driver automation. While only about 130,000 vehicles per year are currently being sold with partial automation, more than 96 million will be sold by 2040 – representing 95 percent of all vehicles sold.

As it currently stands, the undisputed leaders in self-driving vehicles are Tesla, Waymo, Apple and General Motors. Tesla has already made inroads with its semi-autonomous electric vehicles, and CEO Elon Musk remains resolute in his goal to take a cross-country trip with no human driver inputs. If successful, this full automation technology is expected to be pushed out to consumers shortly thereafter. Waymo, the self-driving car project started by Google, can boast more than five million real-world miles driven by its stable of autonomous vehicles, along with pilot initiatives for autonomous ridesharing programs and other ventures. Apple has rapidly expanded to become one of the largest permit-holders for self-driving vehicle tests, while GM’s self-driving Cruise AV is waiting on approval to become the first self-driving commercial vehicle to do away with manual driver controls entirely. If approved, GM will put a fleet of 2,500 such vehicles into use as so-called “robo-taxis” in the next few years.

CMSC Metaverse security certificationIn June 2022, the Chinese technology company Baidu used its metaverse app to introduce Robo-01 self driving car which is expected to hit the market in 2023 starting at $30,000 minimum.

Self Driving Car Security

With self-driving capabilities becoming closer and closer to reality for private vehicles and public transit alike, it’s natural to wonder about the safety and security of these new technologies. Indeed, a recent report compiled by the FBI highlighted a number of security concerns associated with self-driving vehicles, concluding that equipping a vehicle with autonomous technologies could make it “more of a potential lethal weapon than it is today.” Terrorism is one concern, as terrorists could potentially pack a vehicle with explosives and turn it into a driverless bomb on wheels, controlling it from a safe, remote location.

Of greater concern for the average driver or passenger, however, is the risk of bad actors hacking into and seizing control of a car’s driving controls and other essential systems. This access could potentially be used to deliberately cause accidents or to drive a vehicle to a chop-shop or other unsavory destination, putting an all-new, technologically savvy spin on car theft. It could also enable criminals to lock passengers inside their vehicles, driving them somewhere against their will or holding them hostage for ransom money. Further complicating matters is the fact that, because self-driving technology is still in its early stages, the full scope of autonomous car security risks is not yet understood.

A Real-World Threat

This may all sound like much ado about nothing, but these concerns are more than just hypothetical. White-hat hackers have been demonstrating security flaws in connected vehicles for years, illustrating how easy it is to seize control over a variety of systems by exploiting even non-automated cars. The problems are only exacerbated with internet cars, where many – or all – of a vehicle’s systems are controlled by computers and therefore open to attack. Even Tesla’s advanced Autopilot system can be tricked fairly easily. A Chinese security firm recently showed how easy it is to spoof the car’s sensor systems, causing them to sense phantom objects or fail to detect real ones.

Grappling With Self Driving Car Security Risks

While hackers represent a clear and present threat to autonomous car security, they’ve also proven to be valuable allies. Automakers have been employing ethical hackers in recent years to test their control systems and expose vulnerabilities, allowing them to identify and patch security flaws before these systems hit the road. DEF CON, the world’s largest annual hacker convention, regularly hosts a feature called Car Hacking Village, wherein hackers from around the world compete to hack into a variety of vehicle technologies in an effort to improve cybersecurity efforts in the automotive industry.

The United States government, too, has moved to begin grappling with the reality of self-driving vehicles. A bipartisan SELF DRIVE Act laid out the basic groundwork for autonomous vehicle regulations in 2017, including provisions to support greater testing and innovation, simplify safety standards and mandate that carmakers put in place plans to protect against and respond to cybersecurity threats, secure their vehicle technologies and protect users’ personal data. Additional rule changes are likely to be needed in the coming years, but self driving car security has clearly become a priority for lawmakers and regulators.

Do Consumers Trust Self-Driving Cars?

The technology to enable fully autonomous self-driving vehicles is almost ready to hit the market, but is there a market for these cars in the first place? Resistance to autonomous technology has certainly been on the decrease – recent surveys have shown the number of people who would be afraid to ride in a self-driving car has fallen by 15 percent in just the last year – but many consumers are still not ready to put their trust in autonomous vehicles. Another survey revealed that 67 percent of Americans were concerned about potential cybersecurity threats.

It’s worth noting, however, that some of the resistance to self-driving cars may simply be due to a lack of familiarity on the part of consumers. About 65 percent of Americans know little or nothing about the development of autonomous vehicles, and those who are most informed also tend to show the fewest concerns and reservations. Recent trends suggest that consumers will become steadily more accepting of driverless vehicles as they become more familiar and widespread.

There’s little question that driverless vehicles will be the transportation of the future, but when that future will arrive remains an open question. There are plenty of serious security concerns to be addressed before self-driving cars can be widely adopted, and consumers remain rightfully skeptical of automakers’ ability to protect their vehicles from unauthorized access. Still, with the ever-evolving march of technology – and the assistance of unlikely hacker allies – it likely won’t be long before safer, smarter, more secure self-driving vehicles fill roads across the nation.

IAM certification

In an expanding digital world where demand for system access is on the rise, modern authentication methods are necessary to improve upon basic authentication to ensure security. With so many sensitive and confidential data stored and shared electronically, it’s more important than ever to ensure data is safe from prying eyes and hackers. One way to do this is by using modern authentication methods. Here is the basic rundown of modern authentication methods.

Modern Authentication Methods

What Is Modern Authentication?

Modern authentication is a method of authenticating users that relies on multiple factors to verify the identity of a user. These factors can include something that the user knows, such as a password or PIN, something that the user has, such as a security token or smartphone, or something that the user is, such as a fingerprint or iris scan. Modern authentication security is enhanced when multiple authentication factors are used compared to traditional methods that rely on a single factor, such as a password.

In addition, modern authentication can be more convenient for users since they can use their fingerprint or iris scan to log in rather than remembering a long password. As a result, modern authentication is becoming increasingly popular for businesses and individuals.

How Modern Authentication Compares to Basic Authentication

There are two schools of thought regarding authentication: the old-fashioned way of using a username and password and the newer, more modern authentication approach of using biometrics and multi-factor authentication. Let’s look at both methods to see how they compare.

Username and password-based authentication has been around for a long time, and it is still more widely used. However, it also has its drawbacks. One of the biggest problems is that passwords can be guessed or stolen, making them less secure than other modern methods. Additionally, users often have to remember multiple passwords for different accounts, which can be difficult to manage or even make security less effective as users will end up using the same password for accessing multiple accounts.

On the other hand, modern authentication is more secure since biometric authentication uses physical characteristics like fingerprints or iris scans that are unique to each individual. This makes it much harder for someone to access an account fraudulently. Additionally, biometrics can be used with other authentication methods in a multi-factor authentication scheme, such as passwords or PIN codes, to add an extra layer of security.

However, biometrics can be expensive and require special hardware, making them less widely used than passwords.

Overall, there are pros and cons to both modern and basic authentication methods. Username and password authentication is cost effective and widely used, but less secure, while biometrics are more secure and expensive, thus less widely used. The best approach for any situation will depend on the importance of security, cost, and convenience.

Modern Authentication and Multi-Factor Authentication

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is an authentication method that requires more than one factor to verify the identity of a user. The most common type of MFA is two-factor authentication (TFA), which uses something the user knows (such as a password) and something the user has (such as a smartphone) to verify the identity of the user.

Modern authentication methods can leverage MFA, but they do not require it. MFA is typically used when security is of the utmost importance, such as when accessing sensitive data or financial accounts, and, when one of the authentication factors is considered weak such as password. However, MFA can also be more convenient for users than traditional authentication methods since they only need to remember a single password or PIN.

How Modern Authentication Methods Works

Modern authentication relies on multiple as well as strong factors such as biometrics to authenticate users with  a combination of the following factors:

• Something the user knows: It could be a password, PIN, or pattern.
• Something the user has: It could be a security token, smartphone, or keycard.
• Something the user is: It could be a fingerprint, iris scan, or voiceprint.

Once the user’s identity has been verified, the system will grant access to the requested resource.

How Advanced Authentication Improves Cybersecurity

As the world becomes increasingly digital and embrace strong cybersecurity measures, hackers continue to target vulnerable security and access entry points. While authentication methods have evolved to meet security challenge, so have hackers’ techniques to bypass them. As a result, it is essential for organizations to continually update their authentication systems to ensure that they are as secure as possible.


One example of an organization that has done this is Microsoft which has moved away from basic to modern authentication method on Exchange Online to improve security.

By moving to more modern authentication methods, Microsoft has made it much more difficult for attackers to gain access to its systems. This will help protect the company’s data and ensure that its customers can trust their information safeguard measures. As more companies adopt similar authentication measures, it will become increasingly difficult for attackers to compromise accounts and steal information.

Conclusion

Modern authentication methods have come a long way in recent years. By combining the best of traditional and newer approaches, we can now enjoy much more comprehensive and effective security for our digital assets. However, no single solution is perfect, and staying abreast of the latest threats and vulnerabilities is always important. As the saying goes, “the only thing that’s constant is change,” and this is certainly true regarding cybersecurity. So keep learning, stay alert, and be prepared to adjust your authentication strategy as needed to keep your data safe and secure.

Identity and access management certifications

Identity and Access Management (IAM) strategies are designed to protect systems from malicious activities, but new technologies are allowing hackers to launch more sophisticated attacks. Many businesses fail to detect and address weaknesses in their systems in time to prevent breaches from occurring, and this failure is leaving the door wide open for devastating attacks.

Hackers love poor identity and access management strategies

IAM Strategies: The Good and the Bad 

Continued reliance on outdated IAM methods is one of the biggest problems with system security. Over 80 percent of breaches are the result of weak, default or stolen passwords, which is hardly surprising when you consider over 60 percent of people use the same password for multiple websites or services. In a business setting, reusing passwords across platforms makes it easy for hackers to gain access to any application and the data it handles. 

The problem gets worse if routine security audits aren’t carried out and enforcement of proper provisioning and deprovisioning is poor. As employees’ responsibilities change, they require new privileges and often aren’t restricted from accessing the data and applications required for their previous positions. Known as “privilege creep“, this process leaves security loopholes through which hackers can infiltrate large portions of the network with a single set of stolen credentials. 

Companies seeking to strengthen their approach to IAM are investing in more advanced authentication protocols, such as multi-factor authentication (MFA), one-time passwords, federated identities, and single sign-on (SSO). Many of these changes are being implemented using centralized cloud-based IAM tools designed to automate and simplify the IAM process. 

Recent Incidents Highlight Hackers’ Prowess

Although some businesses are getting savvy with new security strategies, many techniques still fall short. Part of the difficulty lies in a lack of resources. Only 3 percent of organizations have the technology to defend against modern attacks, and only 10 percent have employees with the proper skill sets. These dismal numbers make it clear how 74 percent of the U.S. companies hacked in 2017 were ignorant of the breaches at the time they occurred. 

Phishing and malware remain some of the most common tools used by hackers and contributed to the 60 percent increase in business email compromise. Hackers are employing automation and social networking to make their tactics more believable, and no business is immune to attack. 

One of the most notable and unsettling breaches targeted journalists and activists working in the Middle East and involved a technique used to undermine the apparently reliability of two-factor authentication. Hackers used fake Google and Yahoo security alerts to trick users into clicking a link to reset their passwords and subsequently phished both the passwords and the associated “secret” codes. Through automation, they were able to compromise the accounts of over 1,000 people, proving a second form of authentication doesn’t always guarantee security. 

Modernizing Your Approach 

Your business must perform two types of audits to determine the state of your IAM strategy and what steps must be taken to improve protection for your systems: 

• Security audit – Reveals weak points in security protocols 
IAM audit – Highlights instances of privilege creep, and uncovers outdated or dormant accounts 

Conducting these audits on a regular basis prevents problems with access control and helps your IT department stay on top of crucial security updates. To maintain security between audits, implement a tool to track and monitor user activity. Modern tracking applications incorporate machine learning (ML) technology to distinguish normal behavior patterns from malicious aberrations, thereby providing smarter solutions for access control. 

Integrating tracking tools with a centralized IAM solution makes it easier to manage changing access needs and ensure permissions are granted and revoked as needed. Your IAM platform should include tools for onboarding, offboarding and automating provisioning to maintain the minimum amount of access necessary for each employee. As you add applications to your suite of business tools, make sure they’re designed to integrate with what you already have in place so that you can make use of stronger security options, such as federated identities and SSO. 

Regardless of how advanced your IAM strategies are, ongoing employee education remains a critical part of security maintenance. A single weak or compromised password can facilitate system intrusions, and a lack of knowledge regarding phishing and malware scams leaves systems open to hackers. Train your employees in the proper management of credentials, and take steps to ensure everyone understands how to recognize an email scam or spoofed website. Protecting your network in the midst of rapidly changing security requirements means remaining diligent and adaptable. By modernizing your approach to IAM, you make your business network more flexible and able to handle new threats.

Commit to routine auditing, ongoing education and continued security improvements to maintain strong and reliable IAM policies capable of thwarting hackers before they infiltrate your systems. Identity Management Institute offers various training programs.

Identity and access management certifications

IoT SecurityAs the number of connected devices in homes, offices, public institutions and industrial frameworks increases, so does the need for better Internet of Things security. Each new IoT device and network introduces more points of vulnerability, and it’s time for cybersecurity experts to update their skills to meet and counter the latest threats.

Everything in industry and business today rests on data. Business-to-Consumer (B2C) companies want more information about their customers, and Business-to-Business (B2B) companies are always looking for ways to streamline operations. Business owners in general are interested in boosting productivity while slashing costs, and IoT devices can address all these concerns.

With millennials transitioning into becoming heads of households, the technology with which they grew up is becoming a fixture of daily life. Tech companies and retailers are responding with a variety of new IoT devices to meet the increasing demand for perpetual connectivity, instant gratification and personalized experiences.

Devices with the ability to monitor activities and carry out routines in response to behavior patterns are also becoming more common. These include smart refrigerators and trash cans designed to track which products are used most often and deliver reminders when stock runs low, and appliances with the ability to sense when maintenance is required.

Estimates regarding the number of connected devices expected to be in use in the near future vary widely and are in constant flux, but all predictions are staggering. It’s estimated that the number of active IoT devices will surpass 25.4 billion in 2030. By 2025, there will be 152,200 IoT devices connecting to the internet per minute. And, IoT solutions have the potential to generate $4-11 trillion in economic value by 2025.

Every point at which a device connects to a network is vulnerable to attacks from hackers. Because so many IoT devices are in operation and many have the ability to transition between networks as users move, IoT technology is particularly susceptible to new security threats. The diversity of the technology alone is enough to provide hackers multiple points of entry into networks. This means a single weak point in a connected IoT landscape can compromise the safety of all devices connected to and information transmitted over the network.

Hackers may infiltrate networks using direct physical attacks on hardware, by compromising software or by targeting the networks themselves.

In the coming years, IT professionals must be prepared to stay up to date on the latest threats, obtain the proper certifications to meet new security challenges and partner with other experts in the field to build the strongest, most comprehensive network of protection possible.

The full Internet of Things security white paper is available to IMI members. Learn about IMI certifications.

IAM certification

There are many bot attack security risks that computer users and security professionals must consider for staying safe. A bot or a zombie is a computer that has been infected with a malware by a hacker who can control the device remotely to launch attacks against other computers. When bots work together as a group in coordinated cyberattacks, the infected network of computers is called botnet.

Bot attack and botnet security risks

Botnet Attack Process

A botnet attack involves the execution of a malicious software which may be installed by luring users with a spam that includes a link to a trojan horse or, take advantage of an existing vulnerability to gain system access and install the software. There are 3 basic stages of creating and launching botnet attacks:

Find Exploitable Systems

At this initial stage, attackers look for valuable systems that they can access and infect them with their malicious software also called malware. In their search for vulnerable systems, attackers look for system users that can unwittingly help them access the system or simply look for website or system that has inherent system security weaknesses that will allow the attacker to exploit and access the system.

Infect-and-Spread

After attackers find a target, they must install the malware in order to control the device. To accomplish this goal, attackers may lure the users into helping them with the malware download and installation or just access the system without user involvement to install the malware thorough backdoor access or exploitation of system access vulnerabilities.

Spams and phishing methods are often used to convince users to take certain actions such as downloading a program or clicking on a link that executes a malicious program. These can be in the form of phishing emails or links to malicious websites.

Activate-and-Attack

Once the attacker has control of a large zombie network of botnet, they can configure and use them to launch attacks against websites and other business systems. A botnet may include many compromised cell phones, IoT devices or computers that can be used to perform many malicious activities including flooding targets with traffic to launch a distributed denial-of-service attack.

Bot Attack Security Risks

Botnet attacks can place a computer, data, or network at a serious security risk. Botnets are particularly dangerous because they can be used to launch attacks from many computers at once. Businesses and individuals must understand bot attack security risks and know how to protect themselves. Below are some of the risks associated with bot attacks:

Data Theft

Bot attacks can be used to steal sensitive data from businesses. This data can include customer information, financial data, and trade secrets. When sensitive data is stolen, it can be used to commit fraud or sold on the black market. This can lead to severe financial losses for businesses.

File Corruption

Botnets can spread malware to computers that are not protected by ant-malware software to delete or corrupt files.

Financial Losses

Bot attacks can be used to commit financial fraud and steal money from businesses. Ecommerce businesses are at a higher risk of bot attacks. This is because attackers often target commercial websites.

Legal Problems

Bot attacks can lead to legal problems for businesses. The business may be liable for damages if personal data is stolen. This can include fines, class-action lawsuits, and damage to the business’s reputation. Legal problems caused by bot attacks can be costly and lead to business shutdown.

Remediation Cost

Remediation costs are associated with fixing the problems caused by bot attacks and preventing future attacks. These costs include hiring IT staff to fix system issues, upgrading security systems, and paying fines. Lost time spent on fixing the damage could have been spent on productive activities that could generate revenue for the business.

Denial of Service Attacks

Botnets can be used to launch distributed denial of service attacks. DoS attack is when a website or business system is flooded with traffic from the botnet computers, causing severe overload to crash and render systems unavailable.

Spyware

This is a software that can track the activities of people using the infected computer. A business can be affected if its employees’ computers are infected with spyware which can lead to a loss of productivity and sensitive information being leaked. Key loggers which a type of spyware can be used to steal IDs and passwords to gain access to a person’s accounts and execute transactions.

Botnet Security Solutions

One of the best ways to protect a system against bot attack security risks is to educate users about spams and phishing attacks and how to detect these threats.

Another solution is to update the security systems with up-to-date patches to avoid unauthorized access which cannot occur if the system is well protected and has the least amount of security vulnerabilities.

Finally, having a botnet attack detection and prevention system can help businesses monitor system for such attacks in real time while leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning to continue improving the detection process.

Identity Management Institute on LinkedIn

We must be aware of metaverse security and privacy threats as our lives become further integrated into the metaverse and take safety precautions just as we would in the physical world. Furthermore, from a development perspective, privacy invasions and security breaches threaten further expansion and implementation of the metaverse. Knowing these metaverse security and privacy issues helps keep both end users and developers secure in this new frontier.

Metaverse security and privacy threats and issues

Metaverse Security and Privacy Threats and Issues

Common metaverse security and privacy threats are categorized below as follows: identity, data, privacy, network, economy, governance, and physical/social effects.

Identity-related threats

  1. Identity theft
    When a user’s identity is stolen, their digital assets, avatars, social relationships, and digital life can be leaked in a more destructive fashion than we see in traditional identity theft. Hackers can seize personal information through phishing e-mails, hacked devices, and customer data to then commit fraud within the metaverse itself with the user’s own avatar.
  2. Impersonation attack
    This tactic occurs when the attacker pretends to be an authorized user so they may gain entry to the metaverse’s services. Attackers may impersonate endpoints to insert rogue devices into Bluetooth pairings. Hackers can also invade helmets and other wearable devices and use them as entry points to impersonate the user and their credentials.
  3. Identity linkability in Ternary Worlds
    Ternary (three) worlds represent the physical, digital, and human worlds. All three are integrated into the metaverse, allowing an attacker to track users and determine their positions in the real world. Hackers may also track users through compromised headsets and other wearable devices.
  4. Trusted and Interoperable Authentication
    Fast and safe cross-platform and cross-domain authentication built on platforms such as Blockchain is crucial defense against identity-related threats.

Data-related threats

Data collected or created by users, IoT devices, or avatars is at risk for exploits including availability, confidentiality, false data injection, integrity, and UGC ownership/provenance tracing.

  1. Data Tampering Attack
    Integrity features monitor any modification during data communication across the ternary worlds and sub-metaverses. Attackers can forge, modify, remove and replace that data to interfere with physical entities, users, and their avatars. These attackers can remain undetected by falsifying log files or message-digest results.
  2. False Data Injection Attack
    False data injection involves the injection of falsified information such as messages and instructions to mislead metaverse systems. For example, attackers can generate biased AI models by injecting adversary training samples (centralized) or poisoned gradients (decentralized) during training.
  3. Threats to Data Quality of UGC and Physical Input
    User generated content (UGC) utility such as data quality can be compromised by users generating low quality content to save costs. They can share unaligned non-IID data during the content recommendation model’s training process. Uncalibrated wearable sensors can also create inaccurate data to mislead digital twin creation.
  4. Threats to UGC Ownership and Provenance
    The metaverse is an open and autonomous space with no centralized authority. Therefore, it is difficult to trace ownership and provenance of UGCs produced by many avatars across all sub-metaverses and turn them into protected assets.

Privacy Threats

A user’s location, habit, lifestyle, and more can be offended during the data service’s lifecycle. This includes data perception, transmission, processing, governance, or storage.

  1. Pervasive Data Collection
    Facial expressions, eye/hand movement, speech, biometric features, and brain wave patterns are all profiled in a user’s avatar creation. Motion sensors and four built-in cameras in the Oculus headset, for example, can track our environment and can be exploited by attackers.
  2. Privacy Leakage in Data Transmission
    Sensitive user data collected by XR data such as headsets are transferred through wired and wireless communication. Although this sensitive data is encrypted, attackers can still access the raw data through eavesdropping through different channels. Differential attacks and advanced inference attacks are used to track a user’s location.
  3. Privacy Leakage in Data Processing
    The aggregation and processing of data from users and their environments is necessary for avatar creation and rendering and this data can be leaked. Private data belonging to different users may violate regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Attackers can also infer a user’s privacy and preferences from published processing results (avatars).
  4. Privacy Leakage in Cloud/Edge Storage
    Storage of sensitive information from users in cloud servers or edge devices raise privacy disclosure issues. Hackers can determine users’ privacy information by frequent queries by differential attacks, or compromise cloud storage as a whole through DDoS attacks.
  5. Unauthorized Data Access
    Different service providers across the sub-metaverses need to access real time user activity in order to deliver seamless personalized services such as avatar creation. Malicious service providers can illegally elevate their data access rights using buffer overflow and tampering access across control lists.
  6. Misuse of User/Avatar Data
    During the data-service lifecycle, user data can be intentionally revealed by hackers or unintentionally revealed by service providers to assist user profiling and precision marketing activities.
  7. Threats to Digital Footprints
    Digital footprints consist of preferences, habits, and activities of avatars that can reflect the end user in the real world. Attackers can use these footprints to exploit real world users. Users can also be stalked without their knowledge thanks to the wide third-person view typically used in the metaverse, and their user preferences can later be used in social engineering attacks.
  8. Threats to Accountability
    Since XR devices gather much more data than traditional smart devices, the metaverse must be accountable for meeting privacy compliance. However, the audit process of the compliance of privacy regulations (such as the GDPR) is inefficient under the centralized service offering architecture. They also cannot ensure transparency of regulation compliance during the data management life-cycle.

Network-Related Threats

Traditional threats still exist in the metaverse, as it is still utilizing the current internet and and existing wireless technologies. The most common threats include SPoF, DDoS, and Sybil attacks.

  1. SPoF
    Centralized architecture like the cloud-based system used in metaverse creation is convenient and cost saving. However, it can be vulnerable to Single Point of Failure (SPoF) by damage to physical root servers or DDoS attacks. It also makes free exchange of tokens or virtual currency difficult across different worlds.
  2. DDoS
    Hackers can exploit IoT botnets made up of many IoT devices to conduct distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. By overwhelming the centralized server with massive amounts of traffic, they can cause service unavailability and network outages.
  3. Sybil Attacks
    Sybil adversaries manipulate many stolen identities to gain disproportionately large influence on metaverse services such as reputation and voting-based services. These attacks compromise system effectiveness.

Economy-related Threats

Service trust, digital asset ownership, and economic fairness in the metaverse is at risk for various risks outlined below.

  1. Service Trust Issues in Virtual Object Trading
    Inherent fraud risks such as repudiation and refusal to pay during virtual object trading can result in inherent distrust within the metaverse marketplace. Through the creation of digital objects through digital twin, the metaverse must guarantee the authenticity and trustworthiness of the deployed digital copies.
  2. Threats to Digital Asset Ownership
    Lack of central authority in addition to complex circulation and ownership forms make the generation, pricing, trusted trading, and ownership traceability of digital assets in the trading economy difficult. This includes both collective ownership and shared ownership.
  3. Threats to Economic Fairness in Creator Economy
    Well-designed incentives promote efficiency and fairness in resource sharing and digital asset trading in the creator economy. Three factors put this fairness at risk:
    a. Strategic users/avatars can manipulate the digital market to break the supply and demand status to make enormous profits.
    b. Free-riding users/avatars unfairly gain revenue and utilize metaverse services without contributing anything themselves, subsequently risking the sustainability of the creator economy.
    c. Collusive users/avatars may collude with each other or a service provider to manipulate the market and make a profit.

Threats to Physical World and Human Society

The metaverse is an extension of the cyber-physical-social system (CPSS), where physical systems, human society, and cyber systems are interconnected. Therefore, metaverse security and privacy threats in the digital world cross over into personal safety, physical infrastructure, and human society.

  1. Threats to Personal Safety
    Hackers can attack wearable devices and indoor sensors such as cameras to observe the routine and physical position of users to orchestrate robberies. They can also display frightening content to the end user which may cause physical harm.
  2. Threats to Infrastructure Safety
    Hackers can sniff software or system vulnerabilities and then exploit compromised devices as entry points to invade national infrastructures such as the power grid or high-speed rail through Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) attacks.
  3. Social Effects
    User addiction, rumor prevention, biased outcomes, and simulated facts are all inherent threats in this emerging technology. Similar to the Matrix films, the metaverse is controlled by AI algorithms where the code is the ultimate law. Subsequently, ethical issues such as racial and gender bias may occur.

Governance-Related Threats

Just like social norms in the real world, content creation, data processing, and the virtual economy should reflect digital norms and regulations. However, the following metaverse security and privacy threats can threaten system efficiency and security.

  1. Misbehaving Regulators
    Rogue regulators can cause system paralysis, and their supervisors must also be observed. Dynamic punishment/reward mechanisms should be utilized to punish these regulators and reward their law-abiding counterparts. Punishment and reward standards should be maintained by a majority of avatars in a decentralized and democratic manner to maintain sustainability.
  2. Threats to Collaborative Governance
    Collaborative governance under a hierarchical or flat mode is best for large-scale metaverse maintenance in order to avoid the concentration of regulation rights. Rogue regulators can still undermine this system by, for example, partitioning a specific regulator from the network using wormhole attacks.
  3. Threats to Digital Forensics
    Digital forensics is defined as the virtual reconstruction of cyber crimes by identifying, extracting, fusing, and analyzing evidence from both the real and virtual worlds. However, the dynamics and interoperability issues across worlds makes efficient forensic investigation difficult. Additionally, the real and digital world can be frequently blurred such as through emerging innovations such as deepfake technology.

Metaverse Security Certification

If you are interested to learn more about metaverse security and privacy issues, consider joining the Metaverse Security Center community at Identity Management Institute and apply to become a Certified Metaverse Security Consultant (CMSC)™.

CMSC