Things Now Have Identities

In the ever-changing IoT landscape, things now have identities. With the number of connected IoT devices set to reach 75 billion by 2025, having a strong identity and access management (IAM) policy is more important than ever. IoT technology is now an integral part of the business world and may represent as much as 6 percent of the global economy in the near future. Such rapid expansion in the network of devices connected to the systems within your business requires a new approach to access and security.

Identity and Access Management in an IoT World

What once involved keeping track of one identity per user within a network has evolved into a complex web of monitoring and managing the interactions occurring between users and devices both onsite and in remote locations. Further complications can arise from transient access, in which devices connect to the network only part of the time and may or may not be running in privacy mode when they do. Each device is associated with its user’s unique identity, but the device itself is able to communicate with other devices, and perform actions such as access and transfer data.

This pivotal shift comes at a time when companies are still trying to get a handle on IoT technology and implement identity management protocols capable of handling the unique combination of corporate, employee-owned and remote devices connecting to their networks every day. Each new device creates additional points of vulnerability, and the more complex the web of connectivity, the more robust the related security measures need to be.

Whereas IAM used to require only associating a user with a device, it now must also bridge the gap between devices and networks or systems. This necessitates a fresh approach to identity management to prevent a situation in which device use gets out of control and creates security gaps your current protocols can’t handle.

Say Hello to the Identity of Things

A new concept known as the identity of things (IDoT) has arisen to describe the relationship between IAM and IoT. As the nature of connectivity changes, IDoT offers solutions for handling new types of digital interactions by proposing unique identities for the devices themselves. This essential evolution of IAM makes it possible for your company to handle not only the employee lifecycle but also the lifecycle of every device requiring access to your network.

To properly control access for both users and devices, a modern IAM protocol must take into account the kinds of data each device will access, handle or store as it interacts with other devices and programs in a network. Each device needs to be integrated into the network to facilitate seamless communication regardless of device type, manufacturer or operating system. Requiring device registration and creating specific protocols for transient devices helps to prevent unauthorized data access and makes it possible to monitor for unusual behaviors across the network. When sensitive or proprietary data is involved, you also need to consider what data manufacturers collect when monitoring device performance and put in place to protect against accidental access to confidential information.

The Future of the Internet of Identities

The expanding network of connected “things” with their own identities is creating a new landscape for IAM in which users control devices with collections of attributes and the ability to carry out multiple functions within a network. Dubbed the internet of identities (IoI), this matrix of connectivity presents fresh security challenges requiring:

  • Employee training and background checks to ensure device security;
  • Detailed protocols dictating when and how data can be accessed by specific devices;
  • Privacy and security rules to govern inter-device communications and connections;
  • Updated security protocols and standards;
  • Use of behavioral analytics to detect unauthorized access attempts; and
  • Centralized IAM and security procedures to prevent bottlenecks and preserve open communications.

With these changes, identity management will increasingly focus on securing the relationships between connected devices to allow businesses the freedom to take advantage of IoT technology without falling victim to the vulnerabilities inherent in such a system.

As IoT connectivity continues to evolve, businesses without a robust approach to IAM and device security will become more vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Prevention is the best approach, which requires getting a handle on the current state of device use within your company and preparing for a steady increase in the use of IoT technology over time.

Getting ready for changes in IDoT and IoI today will make it easier to comply with new protocols and standards as they’re developed and released. IoT is set to have a $3.9 trillion impact globally by 2025, so implementing smart identity management strategies now has the potential for big payoffs in the future. An updated security policy and a solid training plan for employees prepares your company to step into the future of IAM with the lowest possible level of risk.

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