Data has become essential for today’s enterprises. Nearly every business process can be improved with the help of data, and holding a large haystack of data can increase the value of your business. Unfortunately, the high value of data has increased the incentive for hackers and criminal syndicates to break into corporate systems. Suffering a data breach can lead to the publication of proprietary and personal information, attempts to blackmail your company, and crippling lawsuits from stakeholders.

Improving identity and access management with Advanced Threat Protection (ATP)

Thankfully, there are a wide range of solutions that can help businesses to secure valuable proprietary data. Advanced Threat Protection is one of the most common approaches to protecting high-value systems against hacking attempts and complex malware. Read on to decide whether ATP is right for your organization.

What Is Advanced Threat Protection

ATP is a data protection strategy that focuses on actively studying and monitoring the networks, servers, and access mechanisms around sensitive information. There are many complex network security devices and applications that can be installed to enhance security, but the reality is that there is no such thing as a perfectly secure system. With enough resources, hackers can break into even the most protected networks. Instead of relying on a “leave it and forget it” approach, many organizations need to actively monitor their networks for signs of malicious activity. Countermeasures can then be implemented to prevent hackers from breaking in and to make systems more secure overall.

Strategies that involve the use of ATP utilize a wide range of products, including:

  • network devices,
  • malware protection software,
  • threat dashboards,
  • email gateways, and
  • server-side software.

The channels that are used as part of an ATP strategy help to ensure early threat detection. In this way, active countermeasures can be implemented in time to prevent a serious data breach. ATP helps to develop customized active countermeasures that are designed to be effective for a unique system. Most importantly, ATP sets up systems that enable automated software to react almost instantly to a threat with the support of security specialists.

How Is ATP Related to IAM?

Identity and access management is an important part of ATP because most data breaches occur due to unauthorized access. ATP can set up systems that are designed to detect when authorized users may be engaged in risky or nefarious activities. Some systems can also be set up to recognize when a user may be accessing a system in a suspicious manner, such as by connecting from a foreign country, using a new device, or connecting with a dormant account.

Using ATP properly can help to inform IAM professionals about activities that warrant review. In highly secure environments, ATP can be configured to automatically block authorized users from accessing systems when they exhibit unusual behavior. It can also be helpful to set up monitoring systems that provide high-quality access logs. When log files are easy to understand, IAM professionals can review them manually on a regular basis to look for suspicious activity. Visit this page to learn why you should consider an IAM certification.

Overall, ATP and IAM work harmoniously together because they both focus on active countermeasures to keep systems secure. Properly implemented ATP can reduce the chances of mistakes being made during manual IAM review and monitoring processes. ATP can also help IAM managers to audit the work quality of IAM specialists and to profile the quality of system access controls implemented throughout an organization.

Why Use ATP?

Using ATP can protect your organization’s data against what research shows to be the most common sources of unauthorized access. For instance, real-time awareness can help system administrators to disrupt and stop data breaches while they are in progress. Research has demonstrated that most serious data breaches are the result of an unauthorized user having access to a system for an extended period of time. Without properly implemented ATP, unauthorized users could be able to explore and test a system for months before finally being detected. ATP can detect unauthorized access immediately so that network administrators can revoke access privileges in a matter of seconds.

Another important reason to use ATP is that it provides network administrators with the context needed to make effective decisions. When data breaches occur, network administrators are often unknowingly aware of the activities that an unauthorized user has been conducting. However, when context is poor, administrators are often unable to recognize that the activity is potentially nefarious. ATP makes log files fully understandable and provides security specialists with powerful dashboards to recognize threats and implement an effective response.

Problems Solved by ATP

ATP solves most of the security challenges that can lead to data breaches. Some of the problems that ATP solves include:

Real-time monitoring: When ATP is implemented properly, security specialists can respond to potential data breaches before unauthorized users have enough time to study a system and steal valuable data.
Actively responding to threats: ATP facilitates rapid intervention by security specialists. Detection strategies are implemented at every touchpoint, and security specialists receive actionable alerts that enable rapid response activities.
Organizing response resources: When security specialists need to respond in a matter of minutes, there is little time for organizing resources. ATP sets up systems to automatically delegate tasks and pool resources when data breaches occur.
Identifying areas for improvement: A substantial haystack of security data is usually accumulated in the process of implementing ATP. This data helps organizations to recognize the most significant opportunities to enhance security.

Leading ATP Products

The broad range of objectives that ATP seeks to solve has led to the introduction of a diverse variety of products that help organizations to achieve their security goals. Active monitoring software is available that can help to detect threats at the hardware, software, and application layers. Threat protection software is available for end users, servers, and systems used by administrators.

Threat dashboards are also key products to use when implementing advanced threat protection. Dashboards help to organize threat information in real time so that security specialists can focus on the most significant threats. When dashboards are designed properly, they can also help system administrators to better recognize security threats.

When implementing ATP, network devices and email gateways are also crucial tools for hardening a system. These products help to safeguard systems against threats that require penetrating an organization’s network. Advanced email gateways can also help to flag emails that contain malware and suspicious files. Some ATP dashboards come with built-in sandboxing software that lets security specialists test suspicious email attachments in an end user’s environment.

Choosing and Implementing an ATP Solution

There are many different ATP solutions available in today’s marketplace because organizations vary drastically in terms of the solutions that are right in their unique situation. Large enterprises need to find solutions that match the manpower of their data security organizations and the value of data that needs to be protected. Organizations that have extremely valuable data need to implement sophisticated ATP solutions that minimize the chances of a data breach occurring. On the other hand, organizations with minimal data assets can get by with more cost-effective options.

When you choose an ATP solution, it is crucial to ensure that your organization will be able to utilize it to its full potential. Sophisticated dashboards can only help your organization if you have the talent to manage these tools effectively. In some cases, you may need to hire additional security specialists to properly implement ATP. However, once your organization has fully implemented ATP, your organization can be made impervious to data breaches.

Identity and access management certifications

The following identity and access management vendor list includes IAM vendors and security companies in the technology and software space.

Many attacks take advantage of various vulnerabilities in software applications which require secure software development best practices in the SDLC such as patching to prevent and detect cyberattacks. A Secure Software Development Framework (SSDF) is a set of guidelines outlining secure as well as efficient software development techniques. In the April 2020 NIST Cybersecurity Whitepaper, an efficient SSDF is divided into the following categories:

  • Prepare the Organization (PO)
  • Protect the Software (PS)
  • Produce Well-Secured Software (PW)
  • Respond to Vulnerabilities (RV)
Secure Software Development Best Practices

Secure Software Development Best Practices

Alternatively, in their April 2018 whitepaper “Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity”, the outline includes the following steps: Identify (ID), Protect (PR), Detect (DE), Respond (RS), and Recover (RC). While the steps essentially follow the same process of finding, addressing, and recovering from vulnerabilities, some steps are consolidated to simplify the processes.

Preparing the Organization (PO)

The first step in secure software development best practices is to prepare the organization using the system for any security risks as well as the range of functionality designed to protect them. A well-prepared organization is less likely to make critical security errors that cause harm to their clients’ sensitive data. An informed organization will also be well-trained in order to deal with any system malfunctions that may arise in a timely manner. Factors of a well-structured organization include clearly defined roles and responsibilities that dictate each developer’s specific designations, as well as ample amounts of tools and resources to make implementation easier and more secure for the development team.

Defining Security Requirements (PO1)

It is vital that software developers understand the security risks that they face before starting the development process, in order to develop around them. Software developed with all relevant security risks and legality in mind will be better suited for security and compliance, ensuring the safety of all parties involved.

Implementing Clear Roles and Responsibilities (PO2)

A clear set of roles and responsibilities makes the development process more efficient as well as more transparent. Any malfunctions in the system can be more easily traced back to the source if the members of the development team are held accountable. Accountability also enables developer roles to be updated in accordance with their work. In an organization where everyone’s roles are evaluated and updated accordingly, the team will work more efficiently and logically.

Implementing a Supporting Toolchain (PO3)

Organizations can implement automated toolchains to enable more secure and accurate security protocols for their developers. The process of automation relieves humans from needing to constantly survey and update the system. Toolchains may be implemented at any level of development (system-wide or simply localized to one project) to assist in the software security process.

Defining Criteria for Software Security Checks (PO4)

Even with automation, it is necessary to manually verify the system on occasion. The checker must know what the code should look like and how it should function, what data should be on it, and be able to identify major security risks. Any accessible data should be used to strengthen this process.

Protecting Software (PS)

During the development cycle, it is critical that all precautions are taken in order to protect the software being worked on. The threats software faces range from internal leaks of private code to attacks on networks to steal data. The code and network must be watched to ensure nothing like this can happen.

Protecting Code from Tampering (PS1)

Code must be protected from unauthorized tampering at all times. This tampering can be malicious in nature, such as a developer looking to steal or leak private software or just ignorant, such as a developer unintentionally adding code that creates a security risk. In order to prevent unauthorized tampering, hierarchical systems of authority can be implemented so that only certain levels of developer can access the entire code, or specific necessary lines. Developers may utilize version control features to review every change made the code or prevent someone from making a new version with authorization.

Providing a Mechanism for Verifying Software Integrity (PS2)

A mechanism must be implemented and made available to the public to verify a software’s legitimacy. This helps consumers ensure that the software they’re using is legitimate and hasn’t been tampered with. This verified integrity creates a level of trust between the consumer and the software, as well as the developers who made it.

Archiving and Protecting Each Software Release (PS3)

After each update or new release of a software, it is necessary to archive and store the code in a secure manner. This prevents tampering with old code as well as securing existing code to check its legitimacy. If a code repository is stored offline or safely on a third-party system, developers can crosscheck the current version against an archive to ensure the code has not been tampered with at all.

Producing Well-Secured Software (PW)

After implementing a secure archiving protocol, scanning to the code for malicious lines or tampering, and preparing a development team for the security obstacles they may face, it is crucial to ensure the software itself is produced securely.

Designing Software to Mitigate Security Risks (PW1)

In order to make the software development process more secure, each component must be checked for security requirement compliance and any additional risks. All risks posed by the software in question must be figured out and solved before finalization. The software’s design should be able to safely avoid security risks in an efficient manner by determining when the security measures can be waived or relaxed.

Reviewing Software Design to Ensure Compliance with Security Requirements (PW2)

During development, the software should be checked to make sure it complies with the organization’s safety standards as well as local regulation. Compliance under both of these categories guarantees a decrease in vulnerability. These checks must be done by an independent third party that had no hand in the software development for fairness and integrity. This prevents tampered or unsafe code from being approved and brings a fresh perspective.

Verifying Third Party Software to Ensure Compliance (PW3)

If any third-party software is being deployed–whether it be in conjunction with the developed software or as a separate mechanism entirely–it must also be checked for security and regulatory compliance. If the third-party development is in communication with the main organization, the organization must make the third party aware of all necessary security and legislative procedures before development. If the organization is acquiring existing software, they must check its compliance themselves.

Reusing Existing Secured Software (PW4)

In order to lower the cost of development, the developer organization may acquire existing software if it has been secured and checked for non-compliant code. The code may come from any source (private, open source, commissioned) but they all fall under the same security requirements. Developers may also modify code or build on it to better integrate it into their module.

Creating Source Code that Complies with Code Security (PW5)

Another practice to reduce costs during the development period is secured source code. If the source code isn’t well developed with security in mind, it negates the influence of the previous steps. When vulnerabilities are weeded out early in the development cycle, it saves resources down the line. This step requires coders to analyze their own human-readable code numerous times while scrutinizing it, testing it, and doing further research into their methods. Sometimes, it can also be helpful to have a different coder test and analyze the code for full clarity and trust.

Configuring Build Process to Improve Executable Security (PW6)

Another cost reduction factor in the development process is to verify the code’s security before testing begins. Usually, a mechanism is implemented in the build and execution process to measure software security before the testing even begins. Removing any potential security violations before the testing process saves immense amounts of time and money, as less unknown problems have to be dealt with later on.

Reviewing Code to Verify Compliance (PW7)

Before deploying software, it is vital that developers check for weaknesses that could be exploited upon release. Depending on the organization, the checking process may be automated for speed and efficiency or manually to ensure exact precision. All security checks, whether automated or not, must be performed in conjunction with the organization’s security practices as well as local regulation.

Testing Code to Verify Compliance (PW8)

After the testing process is complete, any executable code must be reviewed for vulnerabilities before deployment. The organization in charge of development must determine which type of executable code testing is right for their purposes. The tools for checking must be designed by the organization to ensure security requirements are met.

Configuring the Software to Have Security Settings Defaulted (PW9)

To ensure the highest caliber of security, the most secure settings of a software should be enabled by default. This reduces the risk of exploitation upon installation of the software by protecting the uninformed user. The default group of settings should be made known to the security administrators who can verify if the settings are appropriate for the organization or not. All parties agreeing on the most secure settings from installation not only protects the consumer upon installation, but the software and development team as well.

Responding to Vulnerabilities (RV)

The most critical step of the secure software development best practices and cycle is reduction and response to vulnerabilities found in the source code. Some vulnerabilities are inherent to how the code is built or executed, so the proper action may be to respond to it with a solution instead of removing it entirely. This response can be addressed in a security setting that is enabled by default or some other authorization mechanism that prevents an exploit from being used.

Identifying and Confirming Vulnerabilities on an Ongoing Basis (RV1)

Even after release of the software, it is necessary for the development team to regularly check for vulnerabilities. This ensures that existing exploits are found quickly and before anyone else can find them. It also allows new exploits to be discovered immediately after every version release. With the data gathered in this step, a team should be prepared to analyze the code and respond in a timely matter to any discrepancies that are found.

Assessing, Prioritizing, and Remediating Vulnerabilities (RV2)

After identification of a vulnerability, the next step in the secure software development best practices is to analyze the problem and devise a solution as quickly as possible, to deter exploits. The analysis of a vulnerability should aim to gather as much relevant data as possible to understand the issue. After sufficient evidence is collected, a remediation plan must be devised to deal with the situation. Depending on the type of vulnerability as well as the severity, the plan may include removal of the code that created the exploit, additional code being implemented to fix it, or some alternative mechanism to alleviate the pressure presented by the exploit.

Analyze Vulnerabilities to Identify Their Root Causes (RV3)

After a plan has been set in place to deal with vulnerabilities that have been identified, a software plan must also be put in place to ensure a similar occurrence won’t happen in the future. First, the root causes of the issue must be identified to understand the nature of the issue. If the problem occurs in other ways throughout the code, the rest of the code must be checked to ensure another vulnerability doesn’t exist. The secure software development best practices in the SDLC (Software Development Life Cycle) process may also be updated to prevent any similar future occurrences.

Certified Identity Management Professional (CIMP) certification
Get Certified in Identity Management

In our evolving and interconnected digital economy, distributed digital identity and decentralized identifier are changing the way identities are managed. Distributed Digital Identity (DDI) helps facilitate the verification and authentication of an identity and management of personal information on the blockchain.

The idea behind DDI is very simple, yet very powerful: it removes the need to rely on an external third party for managing your digital identity and eliminates the need for centralized control. Users can create their own digital identity using decentralized identifiers (DIDs), which are stored on a blockchain. They can then use their digital tokens to identify themselves, prove ownership of assets, and selectively share personal data with others for a predetermined period of time with automated smart contracts.

Decentralized Identifier (DID)

DIDs are unique, highly available, and verifiable digital identifiers which can represent any subject such as a person or organization and are part of the core component of a decentralized pubic key infrastructure (DPKI). There are many ways to authenticate an identity some of which may be more private than others such as zero knowledge authentication. One of the most secure and popular options is using a digital token which has unique strings in the realm of distributed digital identity and decentralized identifier. These digital tokens can be used for identification purposes as well as access, transactions, and activity tracking.


With DID, users are able to use their digital tokens as identification tokens for their identities on the blockchain. Users could create distributed IDs that contain all of their personal information (such as name, gender, email address, etc.) and prove their identity with no third-party involvement. In other words, there’s no need for a central authority like a bank or credit card company to create or manage user identities. One of the most popular platforms for DIDs is EOS which lets users on the Ethereum network easily create and manage their own digital tokens. Using this technology, people can easily make transactions and provide proof of identity or ownership of assets, like cars or houses.

Creating a Distributed Digital Identity

In order to manage your digital identity on a blockchain, you’ll need to set up a digital wallet with “smart contract” functionality for your identity. A smart contract is a piece of software program that runs on the network that can be used to create a specific agreement between two parties. After the set up, you can access and manage your digital identity using your own digital identity wallet.

Creating a digital identity on blockchain is simple and requires no expensive tools or software. Here’s how:


Create a wallet – Download a digital wallet application and create an account. A wallet is a digital space where you can store your personal data, assets, and key information. One of the open-source tools used for storing your identity and managing accounts on the Ethereum blockchain is MyCrypto. The wallet has a built-in browser that allows you to easily sign in with any device, as well as provide additional security features like private keys and fingerprint scanning for extra protection.

Create your identity on the blockchain – You’ll need to choose which type of personal data you want to add and enter it into the wallet so that your identity can be stored securely on the blockchain.

Use your new identity – Once your identity has been setup on the platform, you can use it in any way you please. This means that if someone wants to validate your identity, access your information, transact with you, or pay you using bitcoin or another cryptocurrency from an online wallet, they can send it directly to your account without having to worry about being hacked or stolen data.

Digital Identity Authentication

To authenticate using a digital identity, you have to have a private key that matches your public key. Your wallet is your personal information hub. It contains your public address and keystore file. This is where you store your identity on the blockchain. Your private key encrypts personal information. This ensures that no 3rd party or central authority can access it or cause identity theft and unauthorized transactions. When persons try to identify themselves using your public key, the verification process will compare that with the private key. If they’re identical, then they’ll be authenticated! This process ensures that the holder of the private key is the only one who can access the digital ID, which in turn guarantees its authenticity.

When someone requests your credentials for authentication, you can decide whether or not you want to share your info with them. If you choose not to share, the person requesting it will not be able to interact with your account in any way – but if you share your authenticating credentials, they will be granted permission to interact with your account on a limited basis (i.e., view) or on an unlimited basis (i.e., edit).

Limited (view) offers permissions to authorized parties to view your information. This way, you’re ensuring that no unauthorized parties can access your personal information.
Unlimited(edit) is when someone can edit or delete your personal information/files as long as they are able to access your decentralized account.

What is Decentralized Identity verification?

Decentralized ID verification allows others to verify an identity while keeping personal information private with a blockchain-based digital ledger. The digital identity or token is verified by others on the blockchain network, so that everyone can trust that you are the rightful owner of your account, identity, or any other important information.

What is identity proofing?

Identity proofing is a process that allows you to prove your identity on the blockchain. Your identity will be stored in a secure data structure called a public ledger. You’ll be able to share your identity publicly without worrying about disclosing sensitive information. Once you create a DDI token on the blockchain, you can verify your identity and showcase proof of your identity and ownership of digital assets. These include photos, receipts, documents and other things that are stored in the digital universe. You can also control access to private information such as who can view it and for how long.

Distributed Digital Identity Applications

In our expanding decentralized world, DDIs is applied for:

Payments – Payments are a big part of our digital economy and DDI is a way for consumers and businesses to take advantage of blockchain technology to facilitate payments in a private, secure, and fast manner.
Identity management – Digital identities can be used to seamlessly manage online presence. Users can manage their own identities without giving away privacy, and businesses can manage access and monitor activity on a platform without accessing personal information.
Business transactions and contracts – If you need to prove that you own a business or a certain asset (such as a car), you can do so by proving your identity and ownership of the asset on the blockchain through DDI.
Data storage and transfer management – You can use DDI to ensure that your information stays safe, private, and secure.
Digital asset exchange – You can use DDI to trade products directly on the blockchain without having to go through any third-party intermediaries such as payment gateways or exchanges that control credit card details or other sensitive data.

Distributed Digital Identity Benefits

Some of the benefits of DDIs to an Individual or an organization include:

Data privacy – One of the primary benefits of using DDI is that your personal data is secure, private, and can’t be accessed by anyone else. If others want to access your data, they will have to get your permission for access. This means that if you’re on vacation or away from your computer, you wouldn’t have to worry about someone hacking into your computer/phone and accessing your personal information. With DDI, everyone has a copy of the same information stored on the blockchain. This means that no one can go into your wallet and steal anything valuable, because everyone’s account is tied together and it takes too much work for anyone to try and hack all of them.
Security and confidentiality – In an age where identity theft is an increasingly common occurrence, we must be aware of the risks that come with centralized identity management. DDI prevents this risk and ensures safety and security by providing a way to create your own unique digital identity that is discrete from your real-world identity. It also helps you avoid the free “fake” digital IDs available on the market today. These are made up of stolen data and can’t be verified.
Scalability – Using DDIs, a business doesn’t have to handle data storage and distribution. Instead, the blockchain automatically stores records of who created them, when they were created, and their ownership. This allows for a high degree of scalability.
Blockchain interoperability – Blockchain technology is becoming more and more popular as a way to secure transactions. The Ethereum blockchain, for example, allows users to create “Turing-Complete” decentralized applications that can be used on other blockchains. This interoperability of the various blockchains makes it easy to integrate with companies and services that use blockchain technology.
Cost savings and reduced overhead costs – Small businesses don’t need to maintain a corporate database for the company employees thus can save money on personnel and administrative costs. In some cases, the need for credit checks and potential background verification for employees may also disappear.

How to Protect Your Digital Identity

To protect your decentralized identifier you can practice the following digital identity security tips.

  • Avoid public Wi-Fi
  • Avoid unprotected webpages
  • Update your software regularly
  • Review permissions

Conclusion

The adoption of distributed or decentralized digital identity is something that is inevitable while the industry works out issues such as blockchain interoperability. Everyone wants to self-manage their own identity details without compromising privacy or security. This means that in a self-sovereign identity scheme, identity owners can authenticate themselves without disclosing personal data, share private information at will and selectively with anyone for a predetermined period of time, prove ownership of assets, and use their portable identity across many devices and platforms. Also, businesses may benefit from lower risk of data breach as they do not maintain a centralized database of employee and customer identities while ensuring stronger authentication, system security, activity tracking, and transparency. Distributed digital identity and decentralized identifier are the future of identity and access management.

An identity management system is an invaluable tool for organizations. To maintain data security, key characteristics of identity and access management solutions must be considered and access must be governed using flexible and granular control methods. The process is too intricate to handle manually, so enterprises need to seek solutions with features designed to address today’s multifaceted access requirements.

key characteristics of identity and access management system tools and solutions

Equipped for Emerging Security Trends

Trends in cybersecurity and IAM are always evolving. From the slow demise of passwords to the increasing implementation of zero-trust security, current trends can be seen as predictors of more changes to come. As new devices appear on the market and users begin to access systems in new and different ways, enterprises will require adaptable, responsive IAM solutions.

Therefore, flexibility is key when choosing identity management software. Solutions must not only be equipped for the business needs of today but also be able to handle future enterprise access requirements. This includes IAM coverage for evolving user access behaviors and technology with the sensitivity to identify and protect against new threats.

Compatibility and Integration

Introducing any new software into an enterprise system creates the potential for conflicts between platforms. IAM solutions must be tested to ensure compatibility and prevent potential problems arising from inefficient access management. If conflicts do occur, a different solution may be required. Alternatively, there may be a need to upgrade existing systems to support newer IAM technology and remove the security loopholes often found in legacy systems.

Relevance is another important consideration. Identity and access management solutions must do more than support a specific type of login method or send security alerts to the IT department. A truly agile platform will perform multiple roles within a company’s larger security framework to address all aspects of a robust IAM strategy while facilitating a positive user experience.

Mobile-Ready Access Control

Enterprises are still coming to grips with the number of user-owned devices accessing their networks. These devices represent significant security concerns, especially in the hands of employees without a strong grasp of security best practices. While employee education remains an important aspect of every cybersecurity strategy, identity management solutions can mitigate threats by allowing for detailed behavioral and contextual access control.

The “anywhere, anytime” nature of mobile device use necessitates the creation of secure access parameters. Enterprises require the ability to define appropriate access based on:

• Device type
• Day and time
• Location

Putting limitations in place minimizes the risk of unauthorized access and simplifies the detection of unusual access behaviors.

Numerous Identity Verification Options

Every identity verification method has drawbacks, some of which are still being discovered. Identity management solutions address this problem by offering flexible login options that incorporate multiple methods of identity verification.

Multi-factor authentication is the most common approach for access control and may combine factors such as:

• Passwords
• Biometrics
• One-time passwords
• Email links
• Authenticator applications

In networks handling a great deal of sensitive data or where privileged access is necessary for specific roles, additional verification should be required for high-risk access requests.

Comprehensive Analytics

Analytics are integral to many enterprise systems, including identity management. Identity analytics reveal how users access and interact with networks, which provides essential information for clarifying roles and honing access policies. Any vulnerabilities and potential threats that come to light can be fixed immediately.

Where breach activity is concerned, analytics reveal direct correlations between user identities and security incidents. Enterprises can use this information to improve security frameworks and address problems arising from employee ignorance and malicious insider threats. Because prevention is less costly than doing damage control after a breach, applying analytics in this way can be a significant cost-saving measure.

Analytics also play an important role in compliance. Data collected by the system enables more detailed security and access audits, so enterprises are better able to identify areas of noncompliance and implement solutions to avoid fines and penalties.

Fast Incident Alerts and Responses

Breach activity can go undetected for months in networks without appropriate IAM solutions. Putting tools in place to detect and prevent the escalation of suspicious behavior protects enterprises from the crippling consequences of breaches. The moment potential breach activity is detected, identity management software should automatically respond with an appropriate interim defense while an alert is sent to the security team.

Artificial intelligence improves the sensitivity of breach detection within IAM frameworks. This allows for flexible access control, custom alerts and greater detail when defining roles. AI systems trained using robust data sets are better able to detect unusual access behaviors and deploy protective measures without raising unnecessary red flags.

Identity management software is an essential component of modern enterprise security frameworks. When businesses consider key characteristics of identity and access management solutions and deploy the right IAM tools and services, IT teams are able to monitor and respond to suspicious behavior more effectively, thus reducing the risk of breach activity and maintaining the integrity of both networks and the critical data they handle.

Identity and access management certifications

There is often confusion about the relationship between access control matrix and capability list or access control list when in fact these can be captured in a single image for clarity and simplicity purposes. You can think of access control matrix as a security access table which combines ACL and user capability list to define who can access what and to which degree. In the ACM, columns define objects and assigned privileges or ACL, rows list users or subjects, and relationships between rows and columns define user capabilities or UCL.

This image defines the concepts of ACL, objects, subjects, access control matrix and capability list.

Access Control Matrix


Access control matrix is a security model that protects digital resources or “objects” from unauthorized access. It can be thought of as an array of cells with each column and row for users “subject” and object. An entry in a given cell demonstrates a specific subject’s access mode on the corresponding object. Every column represents an object’s access list, while a row is equivalent to a subject’s access profile.

Access Control List (ACL)


ACL is a table that notifies the computer system of a user’s access rights to a given system file or file directory. Every object is assigned a security attribute to establish its access control list. The ACL has a specific entry for every system user with the related access privileges. These privileges touch on the ability to write and read a file or files, and if it is a program of an executable file, it defines the user access to those rights. Some operating systems that use ACLs include Digital’s OpenVMS, Microsoft Windows NT/2000, UNIX, and Novell’s NetWare.

Access Control Matrix vs ACL


The primary difference between the access control matrix and ACL is that the latter defines a set of privileges attached to an object. In contrast, the control matrix outlines the subject’s access permissions on an object. Information security is pivotal within a computerized real-time system. As such, a system implements various measures to achieve just that. The primary criterion is user authentication, which requires the user to furnish the system with personal details. For instance, a system may request the user to insert his username and password to access a file. After authentication, the system will move to authorization, granting rights to the authenticated users. They both permit users to delegate rights for third parties to access resources, information, or systems.

User Capability List


A capability list is a key, token, or ticket that grants the processor approval to access an object within the computer system. The user is evaluated against a capability list before gaining access to a specific object. In addition, a capability list is wholly transferable regardless of its administrator. Such an arrangement eradicates the need for system authentication. Unlike capability lists, ACLs allow users to stop worrying about authentication. Users cannot ignore authentication with a capability list because it is core to the protection mechanism.

ACL vs Capability List


We have to use a real-life scenario to understand the difference between the two lists, and in this case, a bank analogy. John wishes to store all his valuable items in a safe box maintained by a bank. In some cases, he would want one or two of his trustworthy relatives to access the box to make withdraws and deposits. The bank can regulate access to John’s box in two ways: maintain a list of persons John has authorized to access the safe box to or issue John one or multiple access keys to the box.

i)ACL Approach


• Bank’s role: the financial institution must have a list of account holders, verify users, and define privileges. The entity needs to maintain the list’s integrity and authenticate access.
• Adding new users: a user must pay a visit to the bank’s branch to add more users
• Delegation: the approved third parties cannot delegate their access rights to other parties.
• Removing users: when the holder perceives the approved third-party as untrustworthy or not needed, they can delete their names from the list.

ii)Capability Approach


• Bank’s role: the bank is not involved
• Access rights: the holder defines access rights
• Add new users: the holder can assign a key to new users
• Delegation: third-party can extend their privileges to others
• Revoke: holder can recall his key from the thirty-party, but it may be challenging to establish whether they made a copy.

Access Control Matrix and Capability List


A capability list is not appropriate for systems where actions are centered on users. It will result in duplications and complicate the management of rights. Because access matrix does not explicitly define the scale of the protection mechanism, it is often used to model static access privileges in a given access control system. It does not represent the rules of changing rights within a system, and hence partially describes the system’s security policy. Access control and capability-based policies are subsets of a protection mechanism, while an access control matrix can model their static privileges.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the concepts of ACL, objects, subjects, access control matrix and capability list can be defined holistically as indicated in the table diagram. One last item to keep in mind when creating an access control matrix and capability list is the consideration of segregation of duties and least privilege to make sure there are no access conflicts or access creep.

Identity and access management certifications


There are many reasons why employees need cybersecurity training in an expanding threat landscape which includes new technologies. When it comes to cybersecurity, many businesses find themselves several steps behind hackers. IT teams are among the first in the line of defense against attacks, making it crucial for them to understand current trends, emerging threats, and potential vulnerabilities. Cybersecurity training prepares your IT staff to face the growing challenges associated with network management and data protection. That said, IT staff are not the only individuals who need cybersecurity training to protect their organizations. Many other “non-IT staff” who happen to be “super users” with highly privileged access are constantly under attacks by hackers who are drooling over passwords and system access to commit their fraud scheme through phishing attacks and other social engineering methods.

WHY EMPLOYEES NEED CYBERSECURITY TRAINING

Rapidly Changing Threat Landscape

Hackers are getting smarter and more elusive, but they don’t need to be well-versed in cybercrime to do serious damage to business networks. Thanks to community activity on the dark web, any enterprising amateur can buy malware and deploy it with little or no modification across the complex collection of devices many modern companies are using. Remote work, the increased adoption of cloud services and a growing reliance on AI and machine learning is creating networks that reach far beyond the walls of corporate offices, and it only takes a single infected device to cause widespread havoc.

Hackers can also utilize dark web services, termed “crime-as-a-service,” to test attack codes and get help modifying their creations to fly under the radar. Such malware is still being deployed using well-known methods like phishing, but other types of threats are becoming more common. From “swarm” attacks relying on self-learning technology to an increase in cryptojacking and cryptomining, your IT team needs to become familiar with hackers’ new tricks.

More Vulnerabilities, Fewer Patches 

The Threat Landscape Report from Fortinet revealed 96 percent of firms have experienced at least one severe exploit, and the number of zero-day attacks appears to be on the rise. Zero-day vulnerabilities are newly discovered issues for which software companies haven’t yet had time to release patches, and these are of particular interest to hackers. 

With nearly 104,000 vulnerabilities identified in the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) index, your business likely hasn’t patched every possible area of weakness across your network. When you add in the problem of zero-day attacks, just about every organization has some form of vulnerability about which it should be concerned. You need a savvy IT team with the skills to detect potential breach activity and launch the appropriate countermeasures. 

Numerous Threats from Insider Errors

Human error is responsible for the majority of breaches, which is why insider threats are such a big concern for any business. Simply educating employees about phishing scams could prevent the majority of attacks, but as hackers begin to use AI technology to create increasingly realistic spoof emails, your staff needs more than basic security training. 

Bringing cybersecurity education beyond the IT team ensures your employees know what hackers are up to and enables them to work with the IT department to detect and report potential threats. When employees recognize scam emails and other unusual behavior on the network, they can report it to IT staff right away, minimizing the chances of a full-blown attack. 

Identity and Access Management Challenges

Handling user identities and controlling access requires your IT team to:

• Assess and address other potential vulnerabilities 
• Create appropriate protocols to manage complex workflows 
• Ensure proper provisioning and deprovisioning 
• Manage privileged access
• Purge orphaned accounts 

Tools are available to automate several of these processes, but since IT administrators are among those with privileged access, they need to understand the risks associated with accounts granting high-level entrance into the network. 

Compliance Isn’t Enough

While compliance is important to avoid penalties and provide peace of mind for your customers regarding how their data is handled, it’s far from adequate when it comes to protecting your network. Your IT team needs to know more than how to meet compliance standards if they’re to be equipped to handle emerging threats.

Did you know most compliance standards are already two or more years out of date before they’re issued? By the time widespread adoption of these “new” regulations is achieved, hackers have developed additional threats not covered by the guidelines. Plus, hackers are well aware of how compliance standards work and can use them to map out attack plans based on the vulnerabilities a “compliance-only” policy is likely to create. Therefore, it’s essential to go beyond compliance and create security protocols your IT team can follow to stop hackers in their tracks regardless of whether a particular type of attack has been addressed by regulators. 

Identity and access management certifications

Ongoing cybersecurity training keeps your IT team on top of emerging threats and minimizes the risk of your company falling victim to a breach. By providing additional training for the rest of the staff, you empower every employee to work with confidence and contribute to protecting the data and applications on which your daily operations rely. The benefits of cybersecurity education outweigh the costs of breach remediation, making training one of the smartest investments for businesses.

According to the US Department of Defense, these 5 steps to improve cybersecurity can be used by any company, specially if they need to comply with government regulations and achieve compliance certification. Cyber security is a crucial part of any organization that manages critical systems and sensitive information. In order to avoid data breaches and maintain adequate levels of security across all critical systems and data, organizations must apply best security practices, standards and protocols in their system management. Cyber threats could lead to many undesired consequences including the loss of data, revenue, and brand trust.

Five Steps to Improve Cybersecurity

Five Steps to Improve Security

Project Spectrum which provides educational content to help organizations stay abreast of Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) requirements and meet certification challenges has published five steps to improve cybersecurity for the Defense Industrial Base (DIB) community and others who may similarly benefit from these cybersecurity tips.

Educate Users


Recognizing cyber threats is the initial step in preventing cyber-attacks from successfully harming your organization. Organizations must educate their users about the importance of setting strong passwords, recognizing malicious links, and installing the latest security patches. There are many online resources to help organizations create user awareness and training programs including the Project Spectrum website which is part of the United States Office of the Under Secretary of Defense. They have put together online resources that companies can use to educate their users. Another source is the identity and access management blog maintained by Identity Management Institute.

Implement Access Controls


Companies should implement and maintain an access control policy to limit access to the organization’s critical assets. One of the mistakes that organizations often make is to allow sharing of user IDs for accessing systems and data. This error eliminates access tracking and accountability. When unique login credentials are issued, organizations can easily track who specifically has accessed certain resources and when. This targeted monitoring and tracking with unique IDs assigned to specific users would be impossible when user IDs are shared.


After giving everyone a unique system login, it’s critical to limit what they’re able to access and do. People should only be able to access necessary parts of a system and perform certain transactions. Otherwise, not only the excessive access can be abused or accidently lead to unauthorized transactions, in case their credentials are compromised, all authorized access associated with the user can be detrimental when they fall in the wrong hands. A compromised login by insiders and outsiders are equally dangerous in our interconnected world. Limiting what people can access and do will minimize the potential threats to your organization.

Managing the identity and access of users can be a daunting task. This is why having a dedicated team of certified identity and access management professionals as well as automated IAM systems and streamlined processes can eliminated most of the risks and make the entire process more efficient and effective.

Also, periodically reviewing access list to identify and remove dormant and orphan accounts is very important to reduce the risks of unauthorized access which can not be attributed to any particular person. For temps and contractors who are engaged for a limited time, temporary accounts which automatically expire is a great option to eliminate the need to track and remove accounts as these accounts are automatically disabled upon expiration which can be re-activated at any time and reused in future projects.

Authenticate Users


Implementing multi-factor authentication in layered security scheme which goes beyond just a simple password entry is a great step to improve cybersecurity. The simplest method commonly used is 2-factor authentication whereby users must enter their password as well as a one-time code they access through SMS text message or an authenticator app.  

Monitor Physical Space


In addition to logically securing computer devices, facilities and physical devices must be controlled to ensure adequate security. Following the recent work from home directive of many companies, organizations lost control of physical security of devices that are used to access their digital assets. Prior to the pandemic, accessing digital resources was primarily possible from business-owned devices as well as inside the organization and network, and visitors had to be escorted with ID badges to access facilities and hardware, however, this changed as most users are using personal devices to remotely access digital assets without going through a VPN and dedicated communication channel.

With the gradual and selective return of staff to the offices and to control physical security, installing an access control system and a video monitoring system may prove to be efficient for remotely managing physical security. The same concept can be applied to authenticate users who are accessing systems remotely with personal devices. A recorded event can also be helpful in incident investigation cases.  

Update Security Precautions


Many experts including Berkeley Information Security Office recommend updating all your security programs periodically. Hackers learn how to exploit known flaws in previous versions of software. Normally, developers patch exploits as they’re found, however, automating security software updates would help prevent attacks using known vulnerabilities.

While automated software update is not fully reliable, checking for updates manually should minimize any chances of missing out on new security patches and updates including your firewalls to protect outgoing connections just as much as the incoming ones to prevent communication hijacking.

Upgrading Your Cyber Security


Cyber security is an essential part of any organization. Without it, you’d be susceptible to various threats and attacks. Cyber attacks could cause you to lose revenue, customers, and productive time. You could also end up with a large amount of compromised customer information leading to lawsuits, fines, and penalties. Therefore, it’s important to follow these five steps to improve cybersecurity. They’re based on recommendations made by industry experts and government bodies. As long as you follow these 5 simple steps, you should be able to reduce your cybersecurity risks by a great margin. Always re-assess your cybersecurity posture to make sure you don’t leave any security gap unaddressed as a single security gap can leave your entire organization vulnerable and tied up with investigations and unproductive tasks.

Identity and access management certifications

This article covers the CMMC compliance and certification requirements for assessing the cybersecurity maturity level of affected companies which provide services to the US government. CMMC (Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification) is a process created by the Department of Defense (DoD) in 2018 based on the NIST Cybersecurity Framework. It is designed to provide a common language for organizations to describe their current cybersecurity posture and identify opportunities for improvement. The CMMC process is also the foundation for managing cybersecurity risk in federal agencies, as required by the Federal Information Security Modernization Act of 2014 (FISMA), not to be confused with the Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002 (FISMA).

The Cybersecurity Framework developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) provides a common language for organizations to describe their current cybersecurity posture better and identify opportunities for improvement. The framework is also the foundation for managing cybersecurity risk in federal agencies, as required by the Federal Information Security Modernization Act of 2014 (FISMA).

Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC)

CMMC Purpose

The DoD created CMMC in response to increased concern over the cyber vulnerabilities of Defense Industrial Base (DIB) companies. The DIB is a critical part of the U.S. economy and supply chain, as it provides products and services to the DoD that are essential to national security. The DoD is concerned that the cyber vulnerabilities of DIB companies could have a negative impact on the defense and national security of the United States.

CMMC and FedRAMP Certification

While FedRAMP (The Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program) offers a standardized government-wide approach for assessing security assessment, and continuous monitoring for cloud based services overseen by Joint Authorization Board (JAB), CMMC offers a process for assessing cybersecurity maturity that can be used by any organization that provides services to the US DoD, regardless of whether or not they are using the cloud.

CMMC Rollout Schedule

The DoD released version 1.0 of the CMMC process on October 11, 2018 because NIST 800-171 which had been required since January 2018 was receiving low rating. Federal agencies are required to use CMMC when assessing the cybersecurity risk of contractors and subcontractors, starting with contracts awarded on or after January 1, 2020. CMMC 2.0 builds upon the initial CMMC cybersecurity framework to enhance DIB security against evolving threats.  More on CMMC 2.0 update here. Upon CMMC 2.0 implementation, required CMMC level for contractors as well as sub-contractors will be specified in the solicitations and in Requests for Information. Click here for details.

The DoD will release updated versions of the CMMC framework through 2023. Future planned updates include:

1) Expansion of assessment guidance beyond contractor and subcontractor assessments;
2) Updates to existing requirements;
3) Addition of new requirements based on cybersecurity maturity improvement areas, as well as feedback from industry, agencies, and other stakeholders; and
4) Continued alignment with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework.

Who Must Comply with CMMC?

Organizations that contract with the Department of Defense (DoD) are required to be compliant with CMMC. The DoD has stated that it will certify only those organizations that can demonstrate a “sufficient” level of cybersecurity maturity. It is unclear what criteria the DoD will use to determine whether or not an organization has a “sufficient” level of cybersecurity maturity. However, the DoD has stated that it plans to release additional information about CMMC compliance soon.

How Can Companies Become CMMC Compliant?

The DoD has not released a list of approved security assessment providers or methodologies for CMMC compliance. However, companies should expect to use the same processes and procedures used for other NIST-based cybersecurity frameworks such as Cybersecurity Framework (CSF) and Risk Management Framework (RMF).

Companies can prepare for CMMC certification by performing a self-assessment against the security objectives. Additionally, companies should ensure that their cybersecurity policies and procedures are in line with CMMC requirements and that they have the necessary tools and personnel to support continuous monitoring and incident response.

High Level CMMC Compliance and Certification Requirements

The following are the high-level steps that organizations should take to meet the CMMC compliance and certification requirements:

1) Understand the CMMC requirements;

2) Perform a self-assessment against the security objectives;

3) Develop policies and procedures that are in line with CMMC requirements;

4) Implement the necessary tools and personnel to support continuous monitoring and incident response;

5) Develop a cybersecurity maturity model that includes all of the necessary controls, procedures, and policies needed to demonstrate compliance with CMMC requirements;

6) Use the developed cybersecurity maturity model during risk assessments for contracts that are expected to be used by or produced for the DoD; and

7) Request approval from an authorized representative of the DoD to perform contractor or subcontractor risk assessments.

Protecting Unclassified Information (NIST 800-171)

The CMMC process references NIST 800-53, which government agencies use to assess the cybersecurity risk of contractors and subcontractors. The updates made in 2018 reference controls included in CMMC NIST 800-171 will help ensure that all organizations using CMMC are also compliant with NIST 800-171.

NIST 800-53 can be used in conjunction with CMMC to meet these requirements, but organizations may also use other standards such as ISO 27001 or the ISM.

CDP data protection certification

The Certified in Data Protection (CDP)® professional training is designed based on NIST and ISO security standards to uniformly protect systems and data, and includes generally accepted privacy principles when personal data is involved. Learn more about CDP certification.

CMMC Compliance and Certification Requirements Levels

The CMMC compliance levels are listed below:

Level 1 – Foundational

This level is designed for organizations that have a limited understanding of cybersecurity and do not have a formal cybersecurity program in place.To achieve this level, organizations must meet the following requirements:

a) Implement risk management processes and procedures;

b) Establish and implement security objectives;

c) Protect information systems and data;

d) Detect, prevent, and respond to security incidents;
and

e) Monitor the effectiveness of implemented countermeasures.

Level 2 – Advanced

This level is designed for organizations that have a more mature cybersecurity program and have implemented some of the controls listed in NIST 800-53. To achieve this level, organizations must meet the following requirements:

a) Implement risk management processes and procedures;
b) Establish and implement security objectives;

c) Protect information systems and data;

d) Detect, prevent, and respond to security incidents;

e) Monitor the effectiveness of implemented countermeasures;
and

f) Implement some controls from NIST 800-53.

Level 3 – Expert

This level is designed for organizations that have a comprehensive cybersecurity program and have implemented all of the controls listed in NIST 800-53. To achieve this level, organizations must meet the following requirements:

a) Implement risk management processes and procedures;

b) Establish and implement security objectives;

c) Protect information systems and data;

d) Detect, prevent, and respond to security incidents;

e) Monitor the effectiveness of implemented countermeasures;

f) Implement all controls from NIST 800-53;
and

g) Conduct periodic assessments to ensure that the implemented cybersecurity maturity model is adequate.

Which CMMC Level Companies Must Pursue?

Level 1 is suitable for organizations that do not have a formal cybersecurity program or any controls implemented. This level can be achieved by using CMMC in conjunction with other standards such as ISO 27001 or the ISM or using a NIST 800-53 based assessment.

Level 2 is suitable for organizations with a more mature cybersecurity program that understand their weaknesses and have developed some controls to help mitigate risk.


Level 3 is suitable for organizations with a formal cybersecurity program and all controls implemented. This level should only be pursued if all of the requirements from Levels 1 and 2 have been met.

CMMC certification process can help organizations prove their commitment to cybersecurity and improve their overall security posture.

CMMC Compliance Oversight

The Defense Authorization Act of 2013 required that DoD establish a track for cybersecurity certification and accreditation to ensure the security and resiliency of DoD systems. The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) oversees CMMC compliance, maintains the Cybersecurity Capability Maturity Model, and accredits certifiers/auditors.

To ensure that DoD vendors are CMMC compliant, DISA has developed a process for vendors to submit their products and services for assessment. This process includes submitting documentation and undergoing an on-site evaluation. Vendors who complete this process successfully are then listed on the CMMC Product and Services List.

DoD offers any organization the opportunity to become a CMMC accredited certifier. The accreditation body is independent of DoD and is responsible for assessing the competence of certifiers. Certifiers must meet specific requirements to be accredited, including holding an existing certification in a relevant area and having at least five years of relevant experience.

Who Can Be An Accredited Certifier?

Accreditation is voluntary, and there are several accreditation bodies that the DoD has approved. Accredited certifiers must meet specific requirements to be accredited, including holding an existing certification in a relevant area and having at least five years of relevant experience.


The CMMC accreditation process and body is independent of DoD and is responsible for assessing the competence of certifiers. Certifiers must meet specific requirements to be accredited, including holding an existing certification in a relevant area and having at least five years of relevant experience.

CMMC Accreditation Process

An organization must meet specific criteria to be accredited. The accreditation body is independent of DoD and is responsible for assessing the competence of certifiers. Certifiers must meet particular requirements to be accredited, including holding an existing certification in a relevant area and having at least five years of relevant experience.

The accreditation process can be lengthy, and the government does not guarantee that all organizations who apply will be accredited. However, the method provides a framework for ensuring that products and services meet the required cybersecurity standards.

Fake Accredited Certification Vendors

The government has put in place a process for vendors to submit their products and services for assessment to ensure that they meet the required CMMC standards. To become accredited, certifiers must submit a detailed CMMC plan that includes information about the management team, relevant products and services offered, how products and services will be assessed, the organization’s processes, procedures for signing off assessments, appropriate documentation, and training plans.


After submitting the plan, the certifier must undergo an on-site assessment. The accreditation body is independent of DoD and is responsible for assessing the competence of certifiers. Certifiers must meet specific requirements to be accredited, including holding an existing certification in a relevant area and having at least five years of relevant experience.

The government continues to monitor the market to detect fake certification vendors and has already sent cease and desist letters to some vendors.  

CMMC Accredited Vendors List

There is a list of accredited certifiers on the accreditation body’s website. The process provides a framework for ensuring that products and services meet the required cybersecurity standards. However, the government does not guarantee that all organizations who apply will be accredited.

CMMC Compliance and Certification Requirements Checklist

While there is no one-size-fits-all checklist for becoming CMMC compliant, companies can take several steps to ensure they follow best practices.

First, companies should establish a governance board with authority to make decisions about cybersecurity policy across the organization. The Governance Board should include senior management and individuals with expertise in cybersecurity, risk management, and compliance.

Second, companies should develop and implement a company-wide cybersecurity program that complies with CMMC standards. The plan should lay out multiple layers of defense, including safeguards at the hardware and software level, policies and procedures for data handling and transmission, and employee training.

Third, companies should regularly test their cybersecurity measures to ensure that they are effective in preventing breaches.


Fourth, companies should maintain detailed documentation of their cybersecurity program and processes and employee training records.

Finally, companies should ensure that their vendor management policies are in line with CMMC requirements.

The Role of “Identity and Access Management” in CMMC Compliance

Identity and Access Management (IAM) is a critical control in CMMC and is used to protect information systems and data. IAM helps ensure that only authorized users can access sensitive information, which can help reduce the risk of a data breach. Organizations must implement an IAM program that addresses authentication, authorization, and accounting to achieve certification at any level.

IAM is also a crucial part of NIST 800-53, which is the control framework used to assess the cybersecurity maturity of an organization. NIST 800-53 requires organizations to implement identity and access management controls such as authentication, authorization, and accounting. Implementing these controls can help organizations meet the requirements for certification at all levels.

Conclusion

In summary, government audits are necessary in improving cybersecurity throughout the economy. The Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program is an integral part of this effort. However, the program is not without its limitations. Companies that want to meet CMMC compliance and certification requirements should engage in comprehensive self-assessment before beginning the certification process. Additional information can be found here.

Certified in Data Protection

Know Your Customer procedures and checklist are necessary to help businesses validate the identities of their customers, be aware of the sources of their funds, keep track of their transactions, and report suspicious activities in a fast, effective, and wasteless manner. The main idea behind the KYC process is to properly manage customer lifecycle including identification during customer onboarding and take the appropriate actions to prevent money laundering, terrorism financing, and related crimes. A documented Know Your Customer procedures and checklist will reduce business risk and exposure to regulatory fines imposed by financial crime enforcement agencies against companies that fail to implement KYC policies and Customer Identification Program (CIP). Documented KYC procedures are mandatory for a vast number of financial businesses dealing with mass transactions, especially banks.

Know Your Customer (KYC) procedures and checklist

Know Your Customer Requirements and Compliance


Know Your Customer (KYC) is a process of identifying and verifying the identity of clients who open accounts with financial institutions. The goal of KYC is to prevent the illegal use of the financial system for money laundering or terrorist financing purposes.
The KYC requirements are set by regulations in most countries, notably by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) which is an intergovernmental global body that develops and promotes policies to protect the global financial system against money laundering, terrorist financing, and other related threats.


To support Know Your Customers (KYC) compliance, businesses must provide their customers with specific information about their business and what they do, to get client agreement for how they will use their personal information, and how they will protect client data.

Who Should Comply with KYC Requirements?


In general, all companies that have clients engaged in financial transactions are subject to KYC compliance. However, not all of them need to ensure KYC compliance in the same way or detail. Banking, insurance, lending, and similar financial institutions will be obliged under law to apply more detailed compliance procedures than other types of financial or non-financial services providers.
KYC compliance criteria may be different by:


• The location of your company (headquarter)
• The market you serve (B2C or B2B)

Why is KYC Compliance Important?


It is critically important to comply with KYC regulations and requirements because a failure of doing so may result in heavy fines or, even worse; closure of your company. You might also end up being responsible for supporting money laundering or terrorist financing crimes if you neglect proper risk management. Compliance with the KYC procedures will protect your business from facing non-compliance charges from government regulators.

KYC Non-Compliance Fines and Penalties

Non-compliance with KYC is subject to fines and penalties based on specific violation criteria and the country in which your business operates. In general, it will be around $5000–$10,000 for each document not properly checked plus additional fines if money laundering or terrorism financing is involved which can be categorized as financial crime and lead to jail time.

The Identity Theft Factor

Every year, identity theft is becoming more prevalent and sophisticated. An identity theft victim spends countless number of hours trying to resolve issues that arise after an identity has been stolen. And businesses spend wasteful hours to investigate identity theft cases and attempt to collect stolen funds and reduce their allowance for identity theft losses.
TransUnion estimates that over half of unauthorized activity occurs in the first 30 days after a breach, while financial institutions are still attempting to verify whether or not identity theft was involved.

No matter how big or small your company may be, you must have proper KYC procedures in place for checking customers’ identities and backgrounds to remain compliant with regulations while your business continues to grow and build trust with clients.

Know Your Customer Procedures

There are generally two steps in KYC compliance:

  1. Collecting and verifying your customer’s identification information.
  2. Monitoring transactions to detect and report suspicious activities.

The following is an example of KYC procedures that may guide you when developing KYC processes for your business according to your company’s needs.

  • All customers (new and existing) must be identified with full name, address, date of birth, occupation, nationality, etc.
  • Name matching using various directories available with alternative methods like telephone calls or e-mails to validate identity.
  • Corporate customers’ organizational charts and backgrounds can be used to identify senior management, owners, or shareholders.
  • For the companies involved in high-risk activities such as casinos, front companies, financial institutions, etc., additional due diligence may be required.
  • All documents must be collected and checked by qualified staff.
  • A proper procedure should exist for updating and maintaining KYC records (checklists and forms).
  • Regular training sessions should be held to inform all employees about any changes in procedures and legislation surrounding KYC compliance.
  • A privacy awareness program should be implemented to show how company data is handled to protect customer privacy as required by various laws such as GDPR.

Know Your Customer Checklist

The following list may be used to create a checklist as part of a comprehensive know your customer program:

  • Identify your customers and types of identification information they need to provide.
  • Determine techniques and systems to help verify client identity including official identification documents and databases.
  • Know where your customer comes from, review the risk associated with this place/region before opening an account, and assess the regional legal requirements. For instance, some countries prohibit using services provided by international companies (i.e., VPN). In such cases, you can’t accept any new customers coming from these channels unless they use an address located out of that region.
  • Track your business relationships and continuously assess the risks associated with new customer onboarding and existing customer tracking.
  • Know the purpose of your customer activities and their source of funds to exclude them from being involved in money laundering or other criminal activities.
  • Keep a record for customer onboarding, tracking, and reporting. Keep a history of all events to ensure everything is documented correctly and protected legally. It may be required later as evidence against potential claims by law enforcement agencies or other parties.
  • Identify the red flags for suspicious activities and determine follow up steps when a customer meets the criteria, so your staff know how to proceed (i.e., asking for additional supporting documentation).
  • Implement a KYC policy and procedures, make sure the employees know how to implement this policy and follow the necessary steps to avoid mistakes.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Know Your Customer (KYC) is not just about compliance with customer identity verification and documentation. Regulatory compliance may be the main reason behind an effective Know Your Customer procedures and checklist, however, preventing identity theft, reducing criminal activities, and minimizing the risk of terrorism are secondary objectives for businesses. Once specific KYC procedures and checklist are developed for your business needs, employees must be trained to learn how to properly follow the policies and procedures that you have established for them in order to enforce the KYC rules and avoid violations of company policies which can lead to potential legal problems in the future from law enforcement agencies.

Identity and access management certifications