The information security program implementation guide by National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) provides a broad overview of information security program components and assists information security managers in understanding how to develop and implement an information security program based on the minimum government security requirements. The Information Security Handbook: A Guide for Managers is documented in the NIST Special Publication 800-100. This article aims to summarize the information security program implementation guide as well as the minimum security requirements as described in NIST 800-53 publication.

Information security program implementation guide

About NIST Guide and Standards

Compliance with the government National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) system security requirements involves adhering to a set of NIST security standards developed by the Computer Security Division of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

The Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS 200) address minimum security standards and guidelines for federal computer systems. They are developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST 800-53) in accordance with the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) of 2002 and approved by the Secretary of Commerce. The NIST 800-100 offers an information security guide for managers to develop an information security program and comply with the system security requirements.

These standards are sometimes the golden rules companies must follow and comply with if they want to attract new contracts or retain existing ones, particularly with certain government entities and their suppliers.

The image below lists the security requirements for all federal systems as well as private systems supporting the federal government which must be addressed by the information security program.

This table lists the minimum information security controls under NIST 800-53 for developing an information security program.

Who Should Care?

Anyone in charge of system security within organizations must be aware of the security program components and minimum government system security requirements to ensure compliance. These include CIOs, CISOs and security managers at all levels.

Summary of the Information Security Program Implementation Guide (NIST 800-100)

Purpose and Applicability

The scope of the information security policies as they pertain to the NIST security compliance requirements as well as their applicability must be well defined.

Information Security Governance

According to NIST, the information security governance is defined as the process of establishing and maintaining a framework and supporting management structure and processes to provide assurance that information security strategies:

  • are aligned with and support business objectives,
  • are consistent with applicable laws and regulations through adherence to policies and internal controls, and
  • provide assignment of responsibility for managing risk.

System Development Life Cycle

The system development life cycle (SDLC) is the overall process of developing, implementing, and retiring information systems through a process from business requirements gathering, analysis, design, implementation, and maintenance to disposal. There are many different SDLC models and methodologies, but each generally consists of a series of defined steps or phases.

Awareness & Training

Companies must provide initial and periodic information protection awareness and training to all users regarding company policies and best practices.

Capital Planning and Investment Control

Increased competition for limited budgets and resources within any organization requires the allocation of available funding toward their highest-priority information security investments to provide the appropriate degree of security for the organization’s needs.

Interconnecting Systems

Interconnected system is defined as the direct connection of two or more information systems for sharing data and other information resources. Organizations choose to interconnect their information systems for a variety of reasons based on their organizational needs. For example, they may interconnect information systems to exchange data, collaborate on joint projects, or securely store data and backup files. Internet of Things (IoT) are increasingly being deployed and must be included in the interconnected system management.

Performance Measures

Organizations can develop information security metrics that measure the effectiveness of their security program, and provide data to be analyzed and used by program managers and system owners to isolate problems, justify investment requests, and target funds specifically to the areas in need of improvement.

Security Planning

Program managers, system owners, and security personnel in the organization must understand the system security planning process. The purpose of the system security plan is to provide an overview of the security requirements of the system and describe the controls in place or planned for meeting those requirements.

Contingency Planning

Contingency Planning or Availability includes a formal Business Continuity Plan (BCP) and Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) which must be documented and tested regularly to ensure business operation continuity and system or data recovery.

Risk Management

Because risk cannot be eliminated entirely, the risk management process allows information security program managers to balance the operational and economic costs of protective measures based on investment benefits, risk appetite or tolerance, and risk acceptance criteria.

Audit, Accountability, Certification & Security Assessments

In addition to internal audits, independent audits and security assessments for certification of general computer controls including information security controls relevant to company services and products may be required under certain contracts.

Security Services and Products Acquisition

In the acquisition of information security services and products, organizations are encouraged to conduct a cost-benefit analysis as part of the product-selection process which also includes the costs associated with risk mitigation.

Incident Response

Attacks on information systems and networks are inevitable and have become common occurrence for many organizations. The attacks are sophisticated, often successful, and high impact nowadays. An incident response plan must be documented to respond and resolve various information security incidents.

Configuration Management

Formal configuration policies and procedures must exist for all major systems and devices including on-prem and cloud servers, laptops, mobile devices, IoT, wireless network, VPN, email system, information security systems, and network devices.

NIST National Institute of Standards and Technology

Other NIST 800-53 Requirements

Identification & Authentication

The Personal Identity Verification (PIV) process must include a standard process for issuing and assigning IDs to all users for identification purposes. Users must be systemically forced to authenticate themselves through multi factor and adaptive authentication which includes biometric and other types of advanced authentication mechanism.

Authorization & Monitoring

User access to all systems must be authorized and monitored for proper segregation of duties and minimum access or least privilege ensuring integrity and confidentiality of data based on zero-trust model.

Enterprise Telecommunication

The network system security must be maintained through monitoring and protection with firewalls, anti-virus, anti-malware and anti-spyware software, formal patch management process with zero-day concept, server configuration management, Intrusion Protection Systems (IPS) and periodic penetration tests.

Remote Access

Access to company information systems from the outside of the company must be secured and authorized.

Removable Storage Devices & Media Protection

The use of USB and other storage devices must be secured through hardware or software.

Email Communications

Emails containing confidential information must be encrypted in accordance with acceptable encryption mechanisms.

Laptops and other Portable Devices

NIST standards require mobile devices such as laptops be encrypted.

Phone Security

The company voice system must be configured to force employees use a unique password for accessing voicemails.

Wireless Network

Wireless communication must be protected via encryption and security of wireless access points. Standard identification and authentication mechanism must also apply to wireless network and communications.

Change Management

According to NIST, program and infrastructure change management procedures must be documented to ensure changes are approved, tested, reviewed and implemented in accordance with the change plan and segregated responsibilities.


System security vulnerability assessments must be performed on a continuous basis to detect new threats and control gaps. Information security program, policies and procedures must be reviewed and updated periodically. Information protection needs related to training and tools must also be assessed on a periodic basis.

Physical, Personnel & Environmental Protection

NIST security compliance requires facility access authorization and monitoring. Visitor access must be documented and monitored at all times.

Environmental and personnel protection controls must be in place and include fire detectors, fire extinguishers, water and gas leak detectors as well as well documented personnel evacuation plans in case of major incidents.

Identity and access management certifications

Rapid changes in technology and equally rapid adaptation by hackers requires adopting multi factor authentication as a top security priority for businesses. Big data keeps getting bigger, and protocols used in the past to protect data handled by your company are no longer sufficient. One compromised login can lead to a devastating breach, and the signs of malicious activity may not be evident until it’s too late.

Adopting multi factor authentication

Better authentication practices can reduce the risk of credentials being stolen and accounts being hacked. If you’re currently using passwords or any other single-factor authentication method, switching to multi-factor authentication (MFA) may be the logical next step to boost data security.

Is Adopting Multi Factor Authentication the Best Choice for Your Company?

Whether MFA is beneficial depends on the size of your business, the nature of the data you handle and the other security systems you have in place. Even small companies need to consider the potential for data compromise and implement the best possible protection. Thirty-one percent of cyberattacks are launched on business employing less than 250 people, so even if you don’t have a big budget, MFA infrastructure may be a worthwhile investment.

Your company should implement MFA if:

  • You handle, store or transmit health records, financial data or other personal information
  • Your customers interact with sensitive data in your system
  • You’re required to meet a variety of compliance standards
  • It’s been a long time since your last security upgrade
Although you also need to consider the affordability of the authentication factors necessary for successful use of MFA, it’s important to remember the high cost of data breaches and to think of any expenses associated with a security upgrade as an investment made to protect your business.

Upgrading Your Security Protocols

There may be barriers to overcome when replacing your current login methods with MFA. To know how to plan for the update, you need to select what types of factors to use. A factor is defined as:
  • Something a user knows, such as a PIN
  • Something a user has, such as a mobile device
  • Something a user is, such as a biometric marker
Employees should already be familiar with providing one or more of these factors to access information and devices in their everyday lives, so you shouldn’t encounter any problems with the basic usability of the system. However, hardware for accepting factors like biometrics can be expensive, and implementing a widespread change in security protocols takes time. The delivery method for your chosen factors may require additional software, and it’s likely you’ll need help from a third party to ensure proper setup.
Top IAM vendors

Best Practices for Implementing MFA

The first step in putting MFA into action is to find a reputable partner. The third party providing the hardware and software tools at the core of any security protocol must be trustworthy and have its own strong security measures in place. Research what’s available from companies in our vendor list.
Compare tools and features to see which vendor supports the authentication factors you want to use, and read documentation or request a demo to gain an understanding of how the process works. The vendor must also be in compliance with the appropriate regulations to maintain excellent security. This is a key consideration in the search for a provider, especially since failing to comply can result in hefty fines for your company.

Once you’ve chosen a vendor, focus on best practices for smooth MFA implementation:

  • Conduct a risk analysis to determine the areas with the greatest need
  • Start by using MFA for the highest-risk actions and applications
  • Ensure all potential access points are covered
  • Use a dynamic authentication system able to adapt and accept a variety of credentials
  • Keep the user experience in mind to ensure smooth workflows
  • Notify employees of the change, and conduct training if necessary
As part of the switch to MFA, you may wish to implement other common measures to make logging in easier while maintaining security. Single sign-on (SSO) is becoming more popular and allows employees to seamlessly perform actions and access applications without the need to provide login credentials repeatedly during a session, thus reducing bottlenecks and improving productivity.

Conduct periodic reviews of your MFA protocol as you continue to roll it out across all areas of your business. Tweaks will be necessary to improve usability, correct problems with workflow and maintain compliance.

If you determine it’s time to upgrade your authentication procedure to MFA, don’t wait to get the ball rolling. The longer your old security measures stay in place, the more time hackers have to infiltrate your system. Determine your needs, consider the necessary investment of time and money for adopting multi factor authentication and create a dynamic system for better protection of all the data your company handles.

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While there are some similarities between CIAM and employee IAM, Customer Identity and Access Management (CIAM) goes a step further to allow companies to learn about their customer habits, and offer the best user experience possible when compared to employee identity and access management.

A robust CIAM is needed to:

  1. Offer customized experience for clients based on their profile and preferences.
  2. Improve customer login and registration process by providing customers safe and easy access to their accounts.
  3. Build a scalable solution that can serve almost unlimited number of customers quickly and efficiently.
CIAM and employee IAM in customer vs. employee identity and access management

From a customer perspective, CIAM enables customers to enjoy the two most important privileges. First, it lets them experience products according to their needs. For instance, if someone loves buying electronic gadgets, the customer-oriented platform can display such gadgets on the main page. Secondly, CIAM offers an easy access and secure environment by protecting customer data from fraud and privacy violations. It does so by giving customers control over who they want to see their profile and what information they want to reveal.

Simplifying the Buyer’s Journey

CIAM simplifies the buyer journey across multiple platforms while ensuring the safety of their data as they navigate through those platforms. By unifying customer profiles, purchase history, support requests, and other information, the data is used to provide meaningful interaction across multiple devices in the ecosystem.

Enhanced Customer Experience

A typical journey starts when the customer offers an email address or provides basic information such as their name and address. CIAM integrates this information with the buying history and preference to offer a streamlined and personalized solution for shopping, promotions, and memberships.

Improved Security

As the customer footprint increases, CIAM automatically triggers consumer data protection methods to ensure the safety of private data. This is done using methods such as MFA, multi-factor authentication as well as contextual factors. For instance, customers often use the same password for dozens of websites. Under the circumstance, the system will authenticate the customer identity using MFA by verifying a code sent to the customer’s mobile phone. Similarly, it may ask for verification if it suspects variations in location and device.

CIAM can also integrate multiple channels with a single login solution. This is useful for companies that use multiple web applications, portals, and platforms. In this instance, CIAM creates a single point-of-entry for all applications so that users can use only one authenticating method to access services.

Additional Benefits

CIAM offers a variety of other benefits as well. These include quick migration of users to an updated portal without disrupting their experience. In addition, any changes to the application are automatically reflected across the entire ecosystem. Using CIAM, developers can also apply additional security measures to comply with existing regulations across different business sectors.

Difference Between CIAM and Employee IAM

System developers often use the terms CIAM and IAM interchangeably. However, IAM is quite different from CIAM because IAM is a general term mainly used for identity management and access control within an organization. It is understood that IAM is not concerned with brand loyalty and customer retention.

Here are the key differences between the two:

  • CIAM offers a customer-oriented solution, whereas, IAM is mainly used to serve internal and other parties.
  • CIAM is a flexible system that can handle thousands of customers at any given time without any noticeable change in performance.
  • A customer can have multiple identities in a CIAM model. Think of Gmail, where you can build multiple email accounts. On the other hand, IAM is configured around a single user identity, which ensures that every employee is accounted for.
  • CIAM allows each customer to create a profile and self-register on the portal.
  • Customer Identity and Access Management integrate multiple portals and devices to offer streamlined access across all channels. For security reasons, IAM is designed as a closed-system where access is granted based on user privileges.
  • Customer data recorded by CIAM is used for a variety of marketing and promotional purposes. It can be used to offer a better customer experience, make important business decisions, and comply with local regulations. Employee data in IAM is usually reserved for authentication and identification purposes.

Evolution of Modern CIAM

The Internet has changed the dynamics of privacy forever. In a virtual world, brands must connect with their customers wholeheartedly giving them the confidence to do business without physical constraints. The modern CIAM does just that by providing flexibility without compromising personal data.

These systems are already integrating stronger security measures such as facial recognition, biometrics, and retinal scan that combined with 2FA offer tamper-proof security. At the backend, the IT team can manage security checkups, protocols, and guard against ever-increasing viruses and hackers.

Successful CIAM integration encourages users to share their data in the hope of getting a better user experience. In fact, CIAM solutions put people in charge as they dictate how their data is used, which eventually anonymizes personal data, so it’s useless to data thieves.

Certified Identity and Access Manager (CIAM)

This article covers 5 metaverse security risks as professionals across various industries are hailing the metaverse as the next step forward in the digital age. Although metaverse technologies will revolutionize the way that people socialize and conduct business, these new online spaces present many challenges. As these technologies progress, people become especially concerned with emerging metaverse security threats. While the metaverse becomes a commonplace and consumers may not be able to avoid it, they will want to stay safe in the new digital world. Let’s dive into the overview of the metaverse and its cybersecurity implications to be better prepared as the metaverse becomes more important in everyday life.

Top 5 Metaverse Security Risks

What is the Metaverse?

When someone speaks about the metaverse, they’re referring to a collection of three-dimensional digital worlds. These digital realms exist in virtual reality and are built and maintained with blockchain technologies. The metaverse isn’t a single place. However, as exemplified by Facebook changing its name to Meta, tech giants are racing to build the biggest and most popular metaverse spaces for online commerce, augmented reality, gaming, social interaction, and several other exciting applications. Moreover, many metaverse platforms are integrating crypto technologies and NFTs to give users the ability to generate value and make secure transactions.

How the Metaverse Will Affect Your Life

The metaverse is still a new concept, but experts expect it to grow rapidly. Users spent more than $500 million on virtual properties in the metaverse in 2021, and this number is likely to double in 2022. Some projections estimate that the metaverse will have a market size of over $1.5 trillion by 2029.

Although you may not be interested in online real estate or cryptocurrencies, you will probably still spend some time in the metaverse as it gains momentum. More and more organizations are holding meetings and events in the metaverse, and major social media companies are starting to explore metaverse functionalities. Some people have even held weddings in the metaverse. In the future, you may have to attend meetings on metaverse platforms as a part of your job, and it will be harder to keep your distance from these technologies as more individuals and organizations adopt them.

Top 5 Metaverse Security Risks

As one of the most interesting digital technologies of the 2020s, the metaverse has captured the interest of millions of people around the world. Because of this, you are likely to interact with the metaverse in some capacity at work or in your personal life. Like any digital space, the metaverse presents some major cybersecurity risks, so it’s a good idea to pay close attention to the five following vulnerabilities as this technology continues to expand.

Fraudulent Platforms

The metaverse isn’t a centralized place; there are many different metaverses to choose from. As more organizations develop their own metaverse platforms, the average user will have a harder time determining the legitimacy of different digital spaces. Thus, scammers will spend more time advertising fake metaverses and digital products to swindle people out of their money, passwords, and personal information.

Inconsistent Industry Standards

Because the concept of the metaverse is so new, regulators haven’t been able to keep up, and there are few industry-wide standards to keep these digital spaces safe. Aside from the online spaces themselves, hackers are targeting virtual reality headsets and other hardware products to spy on users and steal their information. It may take a long time for web developers, hardware manufacturers, tech companies, regulatory agencies, and governments across the world to develop, implement, and enforce universal standards to optimize metaverse security.

Phishing Scams

Traditionally, scammers have conducted phishing attacks by impersonating important people and organizations on the phone, via email, or on social media. Now, phishers are starting to copy metaverse avatars and send fraudulent messages to victims on metaverse platforms. Phishers may try to impersonate your boss or someone from your bank in these new digital spaces. Thus, no matter where you are online, you need to make sure to vet a person’s messages and verify their identity before sharing any information.

Data Protection

Tech companies don’t have the greatest track record when it comes to protecting their users’ data. For example, in 2019, 533 million users’ phone numbers and email addresses were compromised in a data breach. If these companies have let hackers access your data before, then there’s no guarantee that they won’t do it again. For this reason, you should be careful about how much information you share with metaverse companies.

Identity Verification

It’s not easy for the wrong person to sneak into a meeting at a company’s office. They would have to bypass the front desk, make it through several doors and common areas, and attend the meeting without being noticed. Online spaces aren’t always as difficult to infiltrate. For example, despite numerous security measures, many hackers have forced their way into private Zoom meetings since the platform has taken off. Such intrusions have also occurred in the metaverse, so metaverse companies will have to implement strong identification verification protocols to keep uninvited guests out of private spaces.

Staying Safe in Any Digital Space

The metaverse will allow individuals and organizations to interact in several unprecedented ways. However, it’s extremely important to keep these top 5 metaverse security risks in mind when navigating these emerging digital spaces. Identity theft, phishing attacks, and other online scams have become more and more commonplace since the dawn of the internet, and the metaverse presents a world of new opportunities for hackers and fraudsters. Therefore, you need to be very careful about your activity in the metaverse to protect your hard-earned money and valuable information.

Metaverse Security Center

Ever since the Red Flags Rule was passed in 2008, organizations across various industries have had to take concrete steps to prevent identity theft. A major requirement for workplace identity theft prevention and regulatory compliance is employee training. Identity Management Institute has designed a Red Flags Rule video course to help businesses provide identity theft prevention training to their employees and teach them how to be compliant with every aspect of the Red Flags Rule.

Creating employee training courses to teach complex topics in a simple and concise language is not easy which is why developing an in-house training program can take a lot of time and cost a lot of money. To help your organization meet employee training needs, check out this overview of the Red Flags Rule video course to see how you can save time and money while remaining compliant with federal regulations.

Red Flags Rule video course for employee identity theft prevention training and compliance

How Common Is Identity Theft?

According to a recent FTC report, there are over 1.4 million identity theft complaints. Because many cases of identity theft happen within the financial sector, people are more skeptical of sharing their sensitive information than ever before. Therefore, it is paramount for any company’s employees to be able to effectively identify signs of fraud and identity theft in order to protect their customers’ funds and information.

Benefits of Red Flags Rule Video Course

Better Reputation

Instances of identity theft within your organization can seriously affect its public image. Nobody wants to do business with a company that puts its clients’ sensitive information at risk. Your organization likely has many competitors, so most customers can easily find the same services somewhere else. Identity theft training will make your employees more effective at noticing and stopping identity theft before it can cause too much harm. Consequently, your customers will feel safer, and your organization will have a better public image.

Bolstered Capabilities

You value your clients and don’t want to put their financial health or yours at risk. However, without adequate Red Flags Rule training, your organization’s personnel won’t be able to recognize identity theft before it’s too late. Therefore, if you want your company to detect and prevent identity theft while remaining legally compliant and protecting customers, consider training your employees in identity theft detection and prevention.

Reduced Fraud Costs

Identity theft related fraud can cost organizations billions. Consider the fact that 47% of people experience financial identity theft and related fraud losses are over $712 billion which is an increase of 42% year over year. The rise in identity theft cases can be attributed to unemployment, recession, higher interest rates, rising prices, and reduced purchasing power.


The government doesn’t tolerate organizations that don’t follow federal regulations. If your company doesn’t have an identity theft training program in place, then it may face stiff fines and other serious penalties. Moreover, the public would likely become aware of any punitive actions for noncompliance, and this could potentially drive many customers away.

Peace of Mind

It’s a lot easier to prevent identity theft than it is to fix an issue after it has already spiraled out of control. Managers and executives won’t have to worry as much about dealing with the fallout of identity theft. In turn, they will have higher morale and will be able to perform their duties more efficiently.

What Does the Red Flags Rule Video Course Entail?

Identity Management Institute’s Red Flags Rule video training is an affordable and concise yet comprehensive course which outlines the processes of identity theft detection, fraud prevention, and compliance with the Red Flags Rule. The identity theft prevention video course explains the five categories of identity theft in the workplace, and presents 26 of the biggest red flags of identity theft. To help viewers understand these concepts in practice, the video presents an example of identity theft, describes the circumstances of the incident, and explains how it could have been avoided. Click here to preview the video.

Pricing and Enrollment

Our Red Flags Rule employee training course includes the video, quiz, and certificate of completion for compliance evidence. Prices start at $39 per person. However, with generous group rates, larger organizations can see discounts of up to 35%, making this vital training course affordable for businesses of any size.

Individuals can click below and enroll online. For group registration and discount, contact Identity Management Institute.

Red Flags Rule video Training course

There are many factors suggesting why you need an IAM team in order to address identity and access management challenges head on. The recent increase in cloud computing activities and distributed systems, integration of remote technologies, and growth of online workers has greatly alleviated identity threat levels across the corporate world. The lack of adequate identity and access management controls has greatly contributed to system compromise, data breaches, and identity theft. It is reported that 91% of organizations have faced some kind of data breach and 61% of all breaches involve unauthorized use and theft of credentials according to the Verizon 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report.  
Due to these challenges, companies are aggressively transforming their IT capabilities to tackle identity and access management either through an independent IAM team working with other departments or as a part of the larger IT team.  
In fact, the shift has already started in earnest. For instance, the 2020 IAM Report by Coresecurity suggests that 83% of companies have at least one member of the staff dedicated to Identity and Access Management. However, this does not mean that all is good because only 45% of these organizations say that they are, at best, only somewhat effective dealing with identity and access matters.

Reasons why companies need an identity and access management team

Identity Theft and Access Management 

IAM is a framework of policies and technologies to provide the right people access to the authorized systems and data without compromising security.  
IAM integrates three core elements in its design: identification, authentication, and authorization. Whenever users access a system, they identify themselves by using a designated username and password. In return, the system authenticates their credentials and grants them access according to their access privilege level. 
In a traditional sense, implementing such a system seems uncomplicated and easy to implement. However, cloud technology and remote work environment make things much more complicated as user identities often extend to other stakeholders involving contract workers, partners, customers, and vendors. Most of these users also use various types of devices to access the system. Their ability to change passwords, set up multi-factor authentication, and use open-source tools are all part of the game, which makes today’s systems more vulnerable than before. 

Role of IAM Within IT 

Not long ago, most companies had one single IT department that dealt with technology issues. Now, companies have started recruiting specialists to deal with specific tasks. Lots of organizations have IAM teams that exclusively look after identifying and authenticating users, and authorizing access to critical information. 
Unlike the IT department which has a wider responsibility, the sole purpose of the IAM team is to ensure that everyone in the organization can easily access information based on their role and business needs without compromising security while keeping unauthorized users out. Workers overseeing IAM tasks are specifically trained in identity lifecycle management and process improvement
Small teams in smaller organizations often report to the Chief Information Officer (CIO). However, this trend is changing as IAM teams are usually headed by the Chief Security Officer or Director of IAM. Based on the business model, some companies use a hybrid structure where CISO is in charge of the overall operations. 

Role of the IAM Director 

As identity has become the new security parameter and paramount for safeguarding business systems and data, companies want to hire people who are trained to deal with IAM issues. They realize that the role of the CIO is diverse and outward-focused, which can often lead to unwanted outcomes.  

A position such as IAM Director is more suited for organizations where an increasing number of dispersed users access a large number of distributed systems. IAM specialists are familiar with internal control requirements, compliance risk management, and cybercrime prevention strategies associated with identity and access management. Hiring an IAM director makes a lot of sense for growing companies because the role can build and manage a robust IAM Team. IAM Directors can eventually build meaningful relationships with other departments to streamline the role that IAM plays in the overall business structure and provide training, consulting and guidance. 

How a Separate IAM Team Benefits Companies 

Almost 90% of companies think that IAM is an extremely important component of their risk management initiatives and efforts. It means that there is an urgent need to implement access management strategies that keep users happy, improve operational capabilities, and minimize data breach associated with identity and access. Here is how a designated IAM team can help: 

  • Improve user experience resulting in enhanced employee and customer satisfaction. 
  • Streamline IAM workflow and processes to increase productivity. 
  • Improve security management to welcome other stakeholders in the system. 
  • Reduce IT help desk calls saving time and money. 
  • Improve communication and remain compliant with regulations. 


Let there be no doubt that data breaches and hacking activities attributed to identity and user access are increasing every year. Data breach statistics indicate that data breach occurs every 68 seconds, but it takes organizations 206 days to identify a breach. Moreover, the average cost of a data breach is $3.92 Million. If these stats are any indication, an independent IAM team is probably the only solution that can help organizations navigate the risk environment. 

Identity and access management certifications

Insider threats to system and data security are among the highest cybersecurity risks that organizations must manage especially the privileged account holders. Results from major data breach cases indicate that 65 to 70 percent of all security incidents arise from insider threats to system and data security. Many of company insiders whether they are employees, consultants, or partners who have access to critical systems and data can potentially harm a company by changing systems or data, disrupting operations, and stealing information including business or personal information of employees and customers for a variety of reasons.

Insider threats to system and data security are among the highest cybersecurity risks.

Why Insiders Commit Criminal Acts

The reasons why some insiders may resort to criminal acts can be attributed to fraud drivers which include:

  • capability or opportunity (access),
  • rational or justification (disgruntled or self-deserving), and
  • motive or incentive (revenge or financial gain).

These drivers are what allow insiders who lack integrity to steal from their employers and commit fraud or other malicious acts.

Many employees who steal data often right before they leave the company believe that they are entitled to the documents or whatever they are stealing because they have spent years working for the company, or they were responsible for the major product launches and innovations, or believe that they have not been compensated enough. These criminal acts are committed despite many safeguards that companies have put in place such as signed confidentiality agreements and other legal protection measures. The legal safeguards will not help companies to fully recover their losses following a data breach from an employee who most likely has financially driven motivation. Some losses from a data breach can be in the millions financially speaking and a few companies never recover from a reputational damage.

What Companies Should Do

Some of the measures that will help companies counter insider threats to system and data security include:

  • have a zero trust mindset,
  • apply proper access controls,
  • follow the principle of least privilege,
  • grant access with just-in-time provisioning, and
  • implement strong management of privileged accounts.

Zero Trust

In a “zero trust” model, insiders and outsiders are treated as posing equal levels of risk. Instead of relying only on role permissions, companies monitor user behaviors and allow access based on perceived risks. Information contained within systems is segmented and as a user moves within the system, his or her behaviors generate a risk score. If the score is too high, the additional access requires re-authentication using multiple identifying factors. 

Access Controls

Requiring multi-factor authentication or applying a much stronger authentication mechanism than just passwords to access systems is a great starting point in improving access controls. Other controls include continuous access monitoring and adjustments to align the level of security with company’s risk appetite. 

Principle of Least Privilege

The principle of least privilege applies to Authorization of the identity and access management model which is a process that grants a user access to view, modify, share, or delete data in the designated systems. The principle of least privilege states that users must have the minimum access necessary to perform their job duties.

Just-In Time Provisioning

Just-in-time provisioning refers to a concept that a user must only have access when such access is needed to perform certain tasks. It implies that a user should never retain an access level that the user does not need. This concept is even more important when granted access is elevated and privileged which allows a user to make changes to critical system code, functionality, and data. Highly technical staff may even be able to commit fraud and clear their tracks with the highly elevated access which may give them access to activity logs.

Privileged Account Management

Privileged accounts are accounts with elevated access permission that allow the account owners to access the most restricted areas of the system and execute highly privileged tasks. Just like typical user accounts, privileged accounts also require authentication such as a password to access systems and perform tasks. Privileged accounts such as administrative accounts are often used by IT professionals to manage software, hardware, and databases.

The problem with admin and service accounts is that they are often shared, used across many systems, and may have weak or default passwords which make them great targets for corrupt insiders and hackers because they are easy to steal, used widely across organizations, and offer highly elevated access permissions. In addition, the passwords of these accounts are often not changed frequently which adds to the security risk given that they are shared and may have weak passwords. Some insiders who are aware of these accounts may take advantage and commit criminal acts. Another danger is that since these accounts are shared, tracking and apprehending the wrongdoer will not be possible. Privileged Account Management is a highly important process to manage these critical accounts and protect the company systems and data from unauthorized access.

Identity and access management certifications


Insiders may have their own unique reasons to commit an illegal act with their highly sensitive access or the account privileges of other employees and coworkers. The reasons for their criminal acts may include revenge, financial gain, and entitlement because they have been laid-off or fired, or they disagree with management, or they did not receive a salary raise or annual bonus they expected.

When corrupt insiders have the motive and necessary access, they can easily execute their plans. Without direct access to systems or knowledge of other employee credentials, they may not be able to execute their plans as quickly as they wish. Although companies may detect criminal acts, it is often too late, and damage is already done.

The best approach to manage insider threats to system and data security is for companies to incorporate as many concepts and best practices described in this article into their overall cybersecurity strategy.

“Why should I get certified?” is a question that some professionals ask themselves and others raising doubts about the benefits of professional certification in their career field as it requires time and financial commitment. They doubt that certification offers any benefits specially if they are highly confident about their skills and abilities. While certification is mandatory in some industries, it is not required in others, yet certification can be an extremely valuable tool to excel in a chosen career field for many reasons.

Why should I get certified? Benefits of professional certification.

Let’s go over some of the benefits of professional certification and why you should get certified:

Gain Credibility

If you are a recent graduate or early in your career, certification offers a stamp of approval from a recognized organization which adds external validation to your credibility and offers proof that you have the necessary knowledge in a given field. And if you are a consultant, certification helps you gain the trust of your customers and attract new business opportunities.

Career Change

Certification helps with career change and transition when you don’t have a degree or sufficient experience in the new career field. If you decide at some point in your career that you need a change because you are bored or need more money, professional certification is a quick way to learn something new and make a career change as it supplements your education and prior work experience.

Competitive Edge

According to Henry Bagdasarian, Founder and President of Identity Management Institute, certification offers a competitive edge when multiple candidates with equal levels of education, experience, and soft skills compete for the same job as it improves marketability. According to a survey, most HR professionals prefer hiring candidates who are certified because it helps with quick screening based on independent validation of the candidate’s skills and knowledge.

New Specialized Skills

Certification is a way to specialize in a sub domain of your main career field in which you have gained your education and professional experience. Let’s say an area within your profession is growing faster than the rest of the profession and you want to take advantage of the rising opportunity, certification can quickly make you an expert in the specialized field while you increase your knowledge about evolving trends in the niche area.

Promotion and Transfer

When employees desire promotion or internal transfer to another department within their companies, the new role may be somewhat different and require special skills. A professional certification can help an employee’s dreams come true by demonstrating commitment and knowledge.

More Money

According to market research studies, certified professionals earn as much as 18% more money than their counterparts. While earning and maintaining certification requires time and financial commitment, the return on investment may justify the expense.

Personal satisfaction and sense of community – Finally, when you get certified, you can be proud and confident that you are a subject matter expert in your field of work with an industry recognized certification to back you up while you belong to a community and interact with likeminded professionals.

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Identity and access management certifications

Identity and access management benefits are many and include but are not limited to the verification of user and device identities and management of their access to enterprise resources. Typically, best practices in identity and access management streamline operations for quick onboarding and access, timely offboarding, and providing the necessary access to applications and online services with as much automation as possible.

Other identity and access management benefits also include identity tracking for gathering business intelligence, auditing, and improving information security by leveraging tools and processes such as an identity data repository system with a central identity database or distributed identity management with blockchain technology, artificial intelligence, and machine learning.

Identity and Access Management Benefits

Identity and Access Management Benefits

As companies become more aware of the identity and access management benefits to meet various business objectives such as compliance, or cybercrime and threat management, they implement an effective IAM program and technology, and employ skilled certified identity management experts from Identity Management Institute to bring IAM to the forefront of their business for managing a variety of risks. If implemented correctly, an identity and access management program will provide the following benefits:

Increased Productivity

Organization and automation of shared identity and access management processes across the enterprise will improve identity and access lifecycle management. Automated provisioning of user access upon hiring during the on-boarding process or internal transfer and role changes will improve processing time and reduce errors which will improve productivity.  Overall, effective IAM services will improve user experience, access management to enterprise resources, and security of systems with little to no intervention by the IT staff.

User Satisfaction

IAM processes will eliminate confusion over the steps needed to request, grant and manage system access which will increase user satisfaction. Concerted efforts to increase awareness of IAM services and best practices will result in a more knowledgeable user base and more realistic expectations of IAM systems.

An effective identity and access management program should reduce complexity of the processes for end users, application owners, and system administrators. The IAM program should eliminate paper-based and manual processes as much as possible. Automation will allow end users to review their accounts and control basic requests through self-service such as password resets. IAM services will allow users to select a unique pass code of their choice and will reduce the burden of remembering credentials that can be used across the enterprise through single sign-on which synchronizes pass code across multiple systems.  If implemented correctly, identity and access management should be simple and intuitive to an end user.

Reduced Costs

IAM services can also reduce operating costs.  Federated identity services eliminate the need for local identities for external users, thus simplifying application administration. An improved IAM program which leverages a cloud-based service, automation, and organized database can reduce the cost of the IAM related services.

Improved security

Identity and access management is a critical part of an organization’s information security. It helps protect sensitive data and information from the ever-evolving security threats. IAM solutions help enable proactive security risk identification and mitigation, allowing the organization to identify policy violations or remove inappropriate access privileges without having to waste time and effort searching across multiple distributed systems. IAM will allow the organization to confirm that proper security measures are in place to meet audit and regulatory requirements.

The ability to quickly provision and de-provision access to resources, in addition to enhanced identity assurance through features such as multifactor authentication, will improve security posture. Additionally, the organization’s ability to use IAM business intelligence and identity analytics will allow for improved risk management and strategic decision making.

Information Sharing

An identity and access management program can facilitate collaboration and information sharing among business units and applications. Information sharing may enable additional functionality with shared calendars, common data usage, and integrated contact lists.

An IAM program will enhance user access management and enable federated access to external systems. Through the use of authentication standards set forth by the organization, the IAM program will allow information sharing about user identity to grant access to resources. Finally, IAM can provide the organization with a competitive advantage over competitors that cannot offer the same level of ease and expediency, enticing customers, employees and related parties to collaborate with the organization.

Technology Improvement

Identity and access management benefits also include an increase in system integration and efficiency of application development, deployment, and management by eliminating the need for duplication and exposure of vulnerable systems and data.

Identity and access management certifications

While nations still wage physical wars, people and organizations are more likely to become casualties of rising global cyberattack threats and digital warfare. Unlike declared physical conflicts, the battle lines of cyber wars aren’t always clear. Individuals or companies can be targets of cyberattacks if they have intelligence data that’s valuable to attackers. With the help of sophisticated cybersecurity tools, organizations can determine the true operations and motives of cybercriminals, but many times people are left wondering about the details of a cyberattack that isn’t strictly financially motivated. One thing is clear, some industries are targeted more than others. We will discuss targeted industries for cyberattacks and some key best practices that’ll keep your organization protected against the next big cyber threat.

Rising Global Cyberattack Threats - Targets and Solutions

As technology becomes more sophisticated, industries collect more data, and nations wage wars, cyberattacks have begun to hit businesses daily. While cyberattacks may be state sponsored, often, the goal is ransom and according to Cisco, 53 percent of cyberattacks led to damages over $500,000.

Cybercrime can include everything from embezzlement and theft to data destruction and service interruption. During the recent pandemic crisis, attacks rose 600 percent, forcing nearly every industry to adapt to rapidly-evolving environments. As a result, every company can benefit from being proactive and improving identity and access management.

Consequences of Cyberattacks

Cyberattacks impact organizations in several ways, including anything from minor operations disruptions to significant financial losses. Regardless of the type of attack, every consequence includes some monetary or temporal cost; the incident can impact your business weeks or even months after the fact.

Business can suffer in five main areas:

  • Financial losses
  • Loss of productivity
  • Legal liability
  • Damage to reputation
  • Business continuity difficulties

Top Targeted Industries

Although all industries are vulnerable to cyberattacks, some are bigger targets due to the nature of their housed data. The most at-risk businesses are those closely involved in everyday lives.

Types of organizations most vulnerable to cybercrime include:

  • Banks and financial institutions: Contain bank account information, personal customer data, and credit card information.
  • Healthcare institutions: Repositories for patient records, including billing information and social security numbers, clinical research data, and health records, including insurance claims.
  • Corporations: Inclusive product concepts, marketing strategy data, intellectual property information, contract deals, client pitches, and client and employee databases.
  • Higher education: Academic research, enrollment data, financial records, and other personally identifiable information, including addresses and names.

Federal Agencies and Defense

The federal government and its military have always been the keepers of important state secrets that are paramount to national security. Within the last two decades, there has been a push to digitize records and move critical operations to computerized platforms. This makes government agencies tempting targets for cyber criminals of all types. There are bad actors who want to steal data to sell to the highest bidder. Other nations also employ hackers to breach computer systems in order to spy or to cause disruptions.

Cybersecurity experts believe that U.S. government systems were infiltrated through an infected Solarwinds IT update in March 2020. Solarwinds is a tool that monitors network traffic, but the malicious code was used to access a number of accounts that exposed large amounts of communication data to cybercriminals.

Here are the agencies that were impacted.

– Department of Energy
– National Nuclear Security Administration
– Department of State
– Department of Treasury
– Department of Homeland Security

The incident is still under investigation as cybersecurity specialists reverse-engineer the attack to find out the exact extent of the damage. The federal government has access to the most sophisticated cybersecurity solutions on the market. However, consultants warn that this type of software supply chain attack is hard to combat. They recommend that IT security monitors scheduled updates. If an unscheduled update is requested, IT security needs to flag it as a potential threat. Also, government cybersecurity specialists likely shored up Identity and Access Management (IAM) protocols to limit the people who are authorized to do unscheduled updates to vendor products. Remaining vigilant is key.

Energy and Utilities

Today’s society runs on fuel, which makes oil and gas companies prime targets for cyber thieves. On 29 April 2021, Colonial Pipeline shut down its entire gasoline pipeline system because of a cyberattack. The bad actor left a ransom note asking for payments in cryptocurrency.

Cybersecurity experts believe that the breach was caused by leaked account credentials that were used to access the company’s computer system remotely using a virtual private network. Investigators aren’t sure how hackers got the credentials, but there is evidence that the username and password were available on the dark web. They said that the credentials weren’t in use at the time of the attack but that they could still be used to gain network access.

Colonial Pipeline resumed operations on 12 May 2021 after the East Coast experienced long lines at gas stations and higher fuel prices at the pump. IT security professionals at Colonial Pipeline have likely boosted their IAM solutions in response to the incident. IAM platforms give IT professionals a way to automatically shut off inactive accounts to mitigate the risk of unauthorized network access.


Technological advancements have revolutionized the retail sector. Consumers can now shop for products at any time of the day or night. They can buy products that are sold halfway around the world or just right around the corner. Social media also makes it possible for retailers to communicate their brands’ best features to a highly targeted audience. However, the same technologies that enable all of this growth are the same ones that leave retailers vulnerable to cyberattack.

Besides the enormous amounts of personally identifiable information that retailers collect from customers, many retail stores have another cache of high-value targets that attracts cybercriminals. If you haven’t guessed, it’s the products themselves. Luxury brands lose approximately $500 billion dollars to the global counterfeit and pirated goods industry. These fakes diminish the value of high-end brands, and they can cause harm to consumers when counterfeit personal care products are made with toxic ingredients. Luxury brands mitigate the risk of theft and counterfeiting by using QR coded packaging on their goods. However, some cybercriminals have learned how to hack QR codes. These unique cybersecurity problems require unique cybersecurity solutions.

Examples of Recent Cyberattacks

  • Banking: Two days after Ukraine’s government warned of plans for incoming cyberattacks, government websites and banks were targeted during the escalating conflict with Russia. In response, the country declared a 30-day state of emergency. According to the United States, this attack on Ukraine represented the beginning of the invasion.
  • Healthcare: In Massachusetts, Trinity Home Care experienced a breach on February 1 and discovered it the next day. The institution launched an investigation and reported that the hackers hadn’t stolen any billing data or medical records. However, this type of attack still happens all the time.
  • Corporations: A top Toyota supplier was recently affected by a ransomware attack by a group called Pandora. The group had threatened to disclose 1.4 terabytes of trade secrets, parts diagrams, and invoices on the dark web.
  • Education: GEMS Education, located in Dubai, also experienced a disruption in recent days. Although the extent of the scope is still under investigation, schools remained open with minimal issues.

Securing Identity and Access Management (IAM)

According to IBM, it takes an average of 197 days to discover a breach and another 69 days to contain it. Companies that contain a breach in less than a month saved more than $1 million compared to others. Simply put, responding slowly to a data breach exacerbates the problem, leading to loss of customer trust and productivity.

Identity and Access Management Steps to Take

IT managers must develop strong IAM policies to protect their agencies and bolster security without undermining productivity.

1. Audit who has access to what data

It’s virtually impossible to do this task manually, but automated monitoring gives you a good perspective on who is using what applications to access various types of data. Analyzing this information can also provide insight into those who were inadvertently granted access to data beyond their purview, including employees who no longer work for the agency.

2. Set role-specific templates and a policy of least privilege

In anticipation of users getting promoted to different teams with new responsibilities, IT managers can incorporate a least-privilege policy that they can adjust on a case-by-case basis. For example, is it necessary for a particular employee to keep access to a specific app? Does that employee need access to every server or just the few that he’s responsible for maintaining?

Setting up role-specific templates can facilitate a least-privilege policy. For example, a CIO could have widespread access to a company’s full range of tools, but a senior manager might have significantly more restrictions. When a user’s role changes, so too must their access to the appropriate data type.

3. Keep an eye on shadow IT

Applications are also a cause for concern; it’s a good idea to disallow any apps with risks and closely monitor those deemed safe. Likewise, an IT manager could authorize an app that once seemed questionable but is considered harmless after an investigation. Regardless, it is impossible to secure the data you can’t see, so shining a light on applications in use can provide a greater understanding of the situation.


Cyberattacks are without the bloody realities of physical wars, but they can still cause a lot of damage. Making your employees and other stakeholders aware of the latest cyber threats to your industry is an important first step to securing your organization’s computer system and valuable data. Adopting proactive IAM solutions and other cybersecurity tools that help to automatically detect, isolate, and analyze threats is the perfect complement to a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy.

Identity and access management certifications