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Identity and Access Management – Concept, Functions and Challenges

Identity and Access Management is an important part of today’s evolving world. It is the process of managing who has access to what information over time. Activity of IAM involves creation of identities for user and system. Secure user access plays a key role in the exchange of data and information. In addition, electronic data is becoming ever more valuable for most companies. Access protection must therefore meet increasingly strict requirements – an issue that is often solved by introducing strong authentication. Identity and the Access are two very important concept of the IAM which are needed to be managed by the company. Companies are now relying more on the automated tool which can manage all these things. But then it creates the risk. Because tools are not intelligent enough to take the decisions, so we can add the intelligence by using the various data mining algorithm. This can keep the data over time and then build the models. This article covers the key challenges associated with  Identity and Access Management

1. IAM as a critical foundation for realizing the business benefits

Currently, companies are more and more concerned in complex value chains also they necessary to both integrate and offer a range of information systems. As a result of this, the lines among service providers and users and among competitors are blurring. Companies therefore need to implement efficient and flexible business processes focused on the electronic exchange of data and information. Such processes require reliable identity and access management solutions. IAM is the process which manages who has access to what information over time. Activity of IAM involves creation of identities for user and system. Identity and Access Management IAM has recently emerged as a critical foundation for realizing the business benefits in terms of cost savings, management control, operational efficiency, and, most importantly, business growth for ecommerce. Enterprises need to manage access to information and applications scattered across internal and external application systems. Moreover, they must provide this access for a growing number of identities, both inside and outside the organization, without compromising security or exposing sensitive information.

IAM comprises of people, processes and products to manage identities and access to resources of an enterprise. An identity access management (IAM) system is a framework for business processes that facilitates the management of electronic identities. Poorly controlled IAM processes may lead to regulatory non-compliance, because if the organization is audited, management will not be able to prove that company data is not at risk for being misused.

Additionally, the enterprise shall have to ensure the correctness of data in order for the IAM Framework to function properly. IAM components can be classified into four major categories: authentication, authorization, user management and central user repository (Enterprise Directory). The ultimate goal of IAM Framework is to provide the right people with the right access at the right time.

2. Key Concept of IAM

Secure user access plays a key role in the exchange of data and information. In addition, electronic data is becoming ever more valuable for most companies. Access protection must therefore meet increasingly strict requirements – an issue that is often solved by introducing strong authentication. Modern IAM solutions allow administering users and their access rights flexibly and effectively, enabling multiple ways of cooperation. Also, IAM is a prerequisite for the use of cloud services, as such services may involve outsourcing of data, which in turn means that data handling and access has to be clearly defined and monitored.

  • Identity The element or combination of element that uniquely describes a person or machines is called Identity. It can be what you know such as password or other personal information what you have or any combination of these.
  • Access The information representing the rights that identity was granted. This information the access rights can be granted to allow users to perform transactional functions at various levels. Some examples of transactional functions are copy, transfer, add, change, delete, review, approve and cancel.
  • Entitlements The collection of access rights to perform transactional functions is called entitlements. The term entitlements are used occasionally with access rights. Identity and access management is the, who, what, where, when, and why of information technology. It encompasses many technologies and security practices, including secure single sign-on (SSO), user provisioning/de provisioning, authentication, and authorization.

Over the past several years, the Fortune 2000 and governments worldwide have come to rely on a sound IAM platform as the foundation for their GRC strategies. As more organizations decentralize with branch and home offices, remote employees, and the consumerization of IT, the need for strong security and GRC practices is greater than ever

3. Function of Identity Management

The identity management system stores information on all aspects of the identity management infrastructure. Using this information, it provides authorization, authentication, user registration and enrolment, password management, auditing, user self-service, central administration, and delegated administration.

Stores information The identity management system stores information about the following resources: applications (e.g. business applications, Web applications, desktop applications), databases (e.g. Oracle, DB2, MS SQL Server), devices (e.g. mobile phones, pagers, card keys), facilities (e.g. warehouses, office buildings, conference rooms), groups (e.g. departments, workgroups), operating systems (e.g. Windows, Unix, MVS), people (e.g. employees, contractors, customers), policy (e.g. security policy, access control policy), and roles (e.g. titles, responsibilities, job functions).

• Authentication and authorization

The identity management system authenticates and authorizes both internal and external users. When a user initiates a request for access to a resource, the identity management first authenticates the user by asking for credentials, which may be in the form of a username and password, digital certificate, smart card, or biometric data. After the user successfully authenticates, the identity management system authorizes the appropriate amount of access based on the user’s identity and attributes. The access control component will manage subsequent authentication and authorization requests for the user, which will reduce the number of passwords the user will have to remember and reduce the number of times a user will have to perform a logon function. This is referred to as “single sign-on”.

• External user registration and enrolment The identity management system allows external users to register accounts with the identity management system and also to enrol for access privileges to a particular resource. If the user cannot authenticate with the identity management system the user will be provided the opportunity to register an account. Once an account is created and the user successfully authenticates, the user must enrol for access privileges to requested resources. The enrolment process may be automated based on set policies or the owner of the resource may manually approve the enrolment. Only after the user has successfully registered with the identity management system and enrolled for access will access to that resource be granted.

• Internal user enrolment The identity management system allows internal users to enroll for access privileges. Unlike external users, internal users will not be given the option to register because internal users already have an identity within the identity management system. The enrolment process for internal users is identical to that of external users.

 • Auditing The identity management system facilitates auditing of user and privilege information. The identity management system can be queried to verify the level of user privilege. The identity management system provides data from authoritative sources, providing auditors with accurate information about users and their privileges.

 • Central administration The identity management system allows administrators to centrally manage multiple identities. Administrators can centrally manage both the content within the identity management system and the structural architecture of the identity management system.

4. Challenges in IAM

Today’s enterprise IT departments face the increasingly complex challenge of providing granular access to information resources, using contextual information about users and requests, while successfully restricting unauthorized access to sensitive corporate data.

Distributed applications

With the growth of cloud-based and Software as a Service (SaaS) applications, users now have the power to log in to critical business apps like Salesforce, Office365, Concur, and more anytime, from any place, using any device. However, with the increase of distributed applications comes an increase in the complexity of managing user identities for those applications. Without a seamless way to access these applications, users struggle with password management while IT is faced with rising support costs from frustrated users. Solution is a holistic IAM solution can help administrators consolidate, control, and simplify access privileges, whether the critical applications are hosted in traditional data centers, private clouds, public clouds, or a hybrid combination of all these spaces.

  • Productive provisioning

Without a centralized IAM system, IT staff must provision access manually. The longer it takes for a user to gain access to crucial business applications, the less productive that user will be. On the flip side, failing to revoke the access rights of employees who have left the organization or transferred to different departments can have serious security consequences. To close this window of exposure and risk, IT staff must de-provision access to corporate data as quickly as possible. Manual provisioning and de provisioning of access is often supposed to cause human error or oversights. Especially for large organizations, it is not an efficient or sustainable way to manage user identities and access. Solution is a robust IAM solution that can fully automate the provisioning and de-provisioning process, giving IT full power over the access rights of employees, partners, contractors, vendors, and guests. Automated provisioning and de provisioning speed the enforcement of strong security policies while helping to eliminate human error.

  • Bring your own device (BYOD)

The challenge with BYOD is not whether outside devices are brought into the enterprise network, but whether IT can react quickly enough to protect the organization’s business assets—without disrupting employee productivity and while offering freedom of choice. Nearly every company has some sort of BYOD policy that allows users to access secure resources from their own devices. However, accessing internal and SaaS applications on a mobile device can be more cumbersome than doing so from a networked laptop or desktop workstation. In addition, IT staff may struggle to manage who has access privileges to corporate data and which devices they’re using to access it. Solution is enterprises must develop a strategy that makes it quick, easy, and secure to grant—and revoke—access to corporate applications on employee- and corporate-owned mobile devices based on corporate guidelines or regulatory compliance.

  • Regulatory compliance

Compliance and corporate governance concerns continue to be major drivers of IAM spending. Ensuring support for processes such as determining access privileges for specific employees, tracking management approvals for expanded access, and documenting who has accessed what data and when they did it can go a long way to easing the burden of regulatory compliance and ensuring a smooth audit process. Solution is a strong IAM solution can support compliance with regulatory standards such as HIPAA. In particular, a solution that automates audit reporting can simplify the processes for regulatory conformance and can also help generate the comprehensive reports needed to prove that compliance.

Efficiency, Security and Compliance are important keys of Identity and Access Management. Benefits of deploy a vigorous IAM solution are clear, the complexity and cost of implementation can disrupt even the most well-intentioned organization. A robust IAM solution can ease organization pains, streamline provisioning and de-provisioning, and improve user productivity, while lowering costs, dropping demands on IT, and providing the enterprise with comprehensive data to assist in complying with regulatory standards.

For more information about PATECCO Identity and Access Management Solutions inThe Era of Digital Transformation Whitepaper, click on the image below:

Which Are the Best Practices For Securing APIs?

APIs play an essential role in the modern enterprise, and their value will continue to grow as new applications, and IoT devices are created. APIs make integrations and connecting ecosystems much easier for developers, which has added benefits for enterprises and their customers. But with a growing number of smaller application “pieces” trying to communicate with each other, APIs (your own and those from third parties) are becoming increasingly challenging to secure.

For that reason, organizations should, use a layered security approach that includes security controls such as authentication, authorization, encryption, denial-of-service protection, and ongoing monitoring. This layered approach combines several methods to protect your APIs. While each individual approach within this multi-layered approach covers a specific focus area, the unified effect increases the chances of stopping API breaches. But before presenting some API security best practices, let us introduce the main API security issues that can put your business assets at a risk. Negligence with API security can cause massive repercussions, especially if the application’s user base is too high.

Top security issues in APIs:

  • Broken Object Level Authorization

APIs tend to expose endpoints that handle object identifiers, creating a wide attack surface Level Access Control issue. Object level authorization checks should be considered in every function that accesses a data source using an input from the user.

  • Broken User Authentication

Attackers often compromise authentication tokens or implementation flaws to assume other user’s identities temporarily or permanently due to incorrect implementation of authentication mechanisms. Compromising a system’s ability to identify the client/user, compromises API security overall.

  • Excessive Data Exposure

Looking forward to generic implementations, developers tend to expose all object properties without considering their individual sensitivity, relying on clients to perform the data filtering before displaying it to the user.

  • Lack of Resources & Rate Limiting

In most cases, APIs do not impose any restrictions on the size or number of resources that can be requested by the client/user. This can impact the API server performance, leading to Denial of Service (DoS), and also leave the door open to authentication flaws such as brute force.

  • Insufficient Logging & Monitoring

Insufficient logging and monitoring, coupled with missing or ineffective integration with incident response, allows attackers to further attack systems, maintain persistence, pivot to more systems to tamper with, extract, or destroy data.

As said above, the most critical API risks are data overexposure, lack of resources, no security configuration, insecure user-level authorization, and broken objects. Clearly, it is essential to ensure the security of the API so that application user data remains safe and the application is secure and trustworthy.

Here are eight best practices to ensure APIs are shielded and do not lead to critical security exposures.

1. Identify vulnerabilities

The only way to effectively secure APIs is to know which parts of the API lifecycle are insecure. Of course, that’s easier said than done, especially as the organization’s use of APIs scales. It is important to consider the whole API lifecycle, since APIs need to be considered software artifacts on their own and, as such, must follow a complete lifecycle, including maintenance and retirement.

2. Use strong Authentication and Authorization

Many publicly available APIs have a major issue of zero or insignificant authentication and authorization. Many APIs are the entrance to the database of the organization, so it is essential to strictly control the authentication and authorization so that the database is not exposed. Poor or non-existent authentication and authorization are major issues with many publicly available APIs. For authentication, developers can use a powerful token-based tool known as OAuth. It is a framework that authorizes the information to be shared with a third party without disclosing the user credentials.

3. Identify vulnerabilities in the API

To make an API effective against security threats, it is essential to know which parts of the API cycle are insecure and vulnerable to security risks. It might be pretty challenging to comprehend this, as a software organization might use thousands of APIs at a time. The best way to identify a vulnerability is by rigorous testing. The vulnerabilities must be identified in the initial development phase so that rectifying them becomes comparatively easy and quick.

4. Don’t expose more data than necessary

Some APIs reveal far too much information, whether it’s the volume of extraneous data that’s returned through the API or information that reveals too much about the API endpoint. This typically occurs when an API leaves the task of filtering data to the user interface instead of the endpoint. Ensure that APIs only return as much information as is necessary to fulfill their function. In addition, enforce data access controls at the API level, monitor data, and obfuscate if the response contains confidential data.

5. Encrypt data

This cannot be stated more strongly or more often: All data, especially personally identifiable data, should be encrypted using a method such as Transport Layer Security (TLS). Developers should also require signatures to ensure that only authorized users are decrypting and modifying data.

6. Use an API gateway

API gateways act as the major point of enforcement for API traffic. A good gateway will allow organizations to authenticate traffic, as well as to control and analyze how APIs are used.

7. Adopt a zero-trust philosophy

In the perimeter security model, what’s “inside” is trusted and what’s “outside” is not trusted. The network is not that simple anymore, which is why a zero-trust model makes sense, especially with remote users. With a ZTM, the security focus shifts from location to specific users, assets, and resources.

8. Use Tokens

Access tokens allow an application to access your API. Once the authentication and authorization process is completed, an access token is provided. Tokens enable you to create trusted identities and assign tokens to those identities to control access to the API.

As mentioned before, APIs have become an integral element in creating modern applications, especially for smartphones and modern IoT devices. Since using an API means pulling the information from the outside source to your application, it poses a significant security risk. Too often, APIs are developed with the functionalities in mind, not the security, that’s why organizations must take API protection more seriously and dedicate effort to ensure end-to-end security.

Is Identity Governance the Key to Your Enterprise Digital Transformation

In the era of a mass digital transformation, employees and customers can access the data and application from any place in the world and with any device of their choice. So, we can openly say that in this digital age, Identity has become the prime gatekeeper of the security and enabler of businesses. Identity Governance plays a vital role in organizations to manage identities and meet audit and compliance requirements. With growing business complexities and competition, organizations are becoming more data driven, cloud ready and security and privacy focused. In other words, organizations are exploiting Digital Transformation capabilities intending to bring buyers closer to market along with improved operational efficiency. Digital Transformation requires organizations to have real-time visibility on the changes in the infrastructure e.g., new added applications, visibility on who has access to what and why, automation with timely access provisioning/de-provisioning cycles, etc.

  • Managing an identity governance infrastructure

Managing an identity governance infrastructure is not an easy task and the complexity grows as you scale. That is why a successful Digital Transformation requires implementing an effective Identity Governance solution that tracks all the dependencies across the different business stakeholders and manages risk while transitioning from a legacy to the next-gen IGA platform.

Therefore, Identity governance is now a critical component of most organizations’ identity and access management strategies. It allows businesses to securely provide automated access to digital resources, while at the same time managing compliance risks. Identity governance is also mainly concerned with three things – govern the identity lifecycle, govern access lifecycle and secure privileged access for administration.

  • How Effective Is Identity Governance?

Managing identities is crucial. If done well, you will be able to simultaneously protect your employees and put them at ease, making it easier for them to be as productive as possible. Be it password management, access requests, or any other governance type, they are all worth investing in. Automating some facets of identity governance can be especially helpful and save IT administrators time to put towards business needs of higher importance than fielding service requests all day.

The benefits of modern Identity Governance solutions go beyond security. Modern Identity Governance solutions empower organizations with automated workflows that can streamline access requests, detect permission discrepancies, and handle temporary assignments to help your IT team prioritize other projects, thus, eliminating human errors. Organizations can also manage their non-employee identities e.g., third-party vendors, partners, etc. without disruptions and ensure strict monitoring of their access in the network. With structured workflows, it is easier to meet audit requirements. Additionally, Identity governance allows organizations to verify that the right controls are in place to meet the security and regulatory compliance requirements. Consequently, modern Identity Governance not only simplifies Identity workflows but also protects the security of the enterprise.

  • Build a culture of identity governance

To make the digital transformation more successful, the companies should build up a culture of identity governance. What does this look like? Identity governance culture means that the people in an organization, at every level, understand why identity management is important. They perceive that poor access controls can lead to data breaches and other negative security incidents, so they realise that the complex system integrations and technological layers of digital transformation need clear identity controls in order to work.

A company with an identity governance culture will embed strong identity management into everyday work streams. People will want to follow processes instead of feeling pressured to – and circumventing them. For example, a bad habit such as password sharing, which might have been tolerated previously, will no longer occur because employees and other stakeholders recognize that it is a high-risk behavior. Digital transformation can happen without a strong commitment to building an identity governance culture, but it probably won’t go well. Identity governance is an elemental success factor in the digital transformation. The degree of application and data integration required for DX, along with its tendency to connect multiple business entities, make rigorous identity management an imperative.

If you are interested to read more about Identity Governance tools, read the Whitepaper below:

Why API Security Is Critical In the Digital Business Era

Nowadays we are living in the era of digital business, and companies all across the world compete with one another to make the most of digital technology. Small companies also strive for being part of this trend, since it’s the need of the hour. In this context, every single aspect of digital security or cybersecurity is of critical importance for any business organization. In this article we will discuss one of the very relevant aspects of digital security, namely API security.

What is API?

Simply explained, API (Application Programming Interface) is connected with the development and deploying of applications. As a matter of fact, API works as an intermediary or a digital gateway that enables systems as well as applications to communicate and share data in a simple and easy manner. This is why APIs are central to the development and deployment of applications. But then, in the cyber world, everything that we use – every device, every application, every technology – would come its share of security risks. This applies to APIs, as well.

APIs are rich targets for security breach because they are not intended for direct access by users, but often granted access to all data within the application environment. Access is then controlled by granting specific permissions to the users making the initial requests that are translated into API calls, and having the API inherit only those permissions. This works fine until an attacker manages to bypass the user authentication process and access the downstream app directly via the API. Since the API has unrestricted access, the attacker gets visibility into everything. Just like a web application, APIs are subject to application vulnerability exploits to gain unauthorised access, steal sensitive data and launch damaging attacks.

Why API Security Must Be a Top Priority

APIs are critical to enterprises, empowering internal applications, integrating disparate systems, and providing data whenever needed. Without API, the digital economy would collapse. Business leaders must do more to protect API and the data communicated through them.API development has drastically increased in the past few years, fuelled by digital transformation and the central role APIs play in both mobile apps and IoT. This growth makes API security a top concern. In its How to Build an Effective API Security Strategy report, Gartner predicts that “by 2022, API abuses will be the most-frequent attack vector resulting in data breaches for enterprise web applications.” To protect yourself against API attacks, Gartner recommends adopting “a continuous approach to API security across the API development and delivery cycle, designing security into APIs.”

Given the critical role they play in digital transformation—and the access to sensitive data and systems they provide—APIs warrant a dedicated approach to security and compliance. APIs are the connective tissue linking ecosystems of technologies and organizations. They also allow businesses to monetize data, form profitable partnerships, and open pathways of innovation.  Additionally, APIs are hard to defend because they are highly exposed to the outside world. The amount of data that passes through the application layer makes it attractive to malicious actors. Furthermore, API hacking does not require advanced technical capabilities. Even relatively inexperienced attackers can use basic tools to discover and exploit API traffic to perform credential stuffing attacks, exfiltrate databases, change account values, or conduct denial of service attacks on critical applications.

Machine Learning and API Management tools

As discussed above, to tackle these intelligent cyber-attacks, there must be a comprehensive security solution which not only requires security capabilities, but also anomaly detection ability. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are excellent tools for the development of such comprehensive and intelligent capabilities and can be used to manage challenging and emerging security threats. With the self-learning cognitive capabilities of AI and ML, security models can be developed for identifying and flagging anomalous behavior and malicious data trends. It will lead to a blocking of API attacks and abnormal behavioral patterns under various environments and circumstances. Thus, it adds continuous learning capability to APIs and anomalous behavior is flagged without prior knowledge of attacks and written policy.

With API management tools in-place, an API consumer’s behavior and resource utilization data are easily available. Organizations must understand real-time consumer behavior from existing information such as platform logging. There are machine learning capabilities which help us to classify positive against negative patterns. We must have proper tools and services in place to have these machine learning models. These models need to be trained on multiple APIs across different service providers.

Whether on your corporate network or in the cloud, securing your APIs is critical to your organisation’s overall security posture in a digitally transformed world. APIs are incredibly powerful tools that can help an organization advance its business goals and better integrate with customers, vendors and business partners. However, these tools also open up the organization’s technology infrastructure, requiring careful security measures to protect sensitive information and systems. Organizations using APIs should carefully assess the state of their API security controls and implement an ongoing API security program.

For more information about IAM in the era of digital transformation, check out our whitepaper below:

What Are the Main Principles Behind Zero Trust Security?

Nowadays the security modernization should be on the top of mind for most organizations, especially with increasingly complex hybrid environments and the need to support a remote workforce. At the same time, IT budgets are getting reduced in many organizations, and the cost to maintain aging legacy infrastructure continues to grow. To struggle the rising costs, more and more enterprises are turning to cloud-based services with the goal of enabling posture-driven, conditional access and zero-day threat sharing. Large companies need to streamline the security environment with cross-platform automation which provides secure access to applications and data.

As cybersecurity professionals defend increasingly dispersed and complex enterprise networks from sophisticated cyber threats, embracing a Zero Trust security model and the mindset necessary to deploy and operate a system engineered according to Zero Trust principles can better position them to secure sensitive data, systems, and services. As we mentioned in our previous articles, Zero Trust is a security model, a set of system design principles, and a coordinated cybersecurity and system management strategy based on an acknowledgement that threats exist both inside and outside traditional network boundaries.

Principles of Zero Trust security

To be fully effective to minimize risk and enable robust and timely responses, Zero Trust principles and concepts must impregnate most aspects of the network and its operations ecosystem.

  • Comprehensive security monitoring and validation

The Zero Trust security model assumes that a breach is inevitable or has likely already occurred, so it constantly limits access to only what is needed and looks for anomalous or malicious activity. Zero Trust embeds comprehensive security monitoring; granular risk-based access controls; and system security automation in a coordinated manner throughout all aspects of the infrastructure in order to focus on protecting critical assets  in real-time within a dynamic threat environment. This data-centric security model allows the concept of least-privileged access to be applied for every access decision, allowing or denying access to resources based on the combination of several contextual factors.

The philosophy behind a Zero Trust network assumes that there are attackers both within and outside of the network, so no users or machines should be automatically trusted. Zero Trust verifies user identity and privileges as well as device identity and security. Logins and connections time out periodically once established, forcing users and devices to be continuously re-verified.

  • Least privilege

Another principle of zero trust security is least-privilege access. The principle refers to the concept and practice of restricting access rights for any entity (users, accounts, computing processes) where the only resources available are the ones required to perform the authorized activities. The privilege itself refers to the authorization to bypass certain security restraints that would normally prevent the user to use the needed resources. This is extremely important to prevent the risks and damage from cyber-security attacks.

Implementing least privilege involves careful managing of user permissions. VPNs are not well-suited for least-privilege approaches to authorization, as logging in to a VPN gives a user access to the whole connected network.

  • Variety of Preventative Techniques

To prevent breaches and minimize their damage, a variety of preventive techniques are available. Multi-factor authentication is the most common method of confirming user identity. It requires the user to provide at least two forms of evidence to confirm credibility. These may include security questions, SMS or email confirmation, and/or logic-based exercises. The more means required for access, the better the network is secured.

Limiting access for authenticated users is another layer used to gain trust. Each user or device only gains access to the minimal amount of resources required, thus minimizing the potential attack surface of the network at any time.

  • Microsegmentation

Zero Trust networks also utilize microsegmentation. Micro-segmentation is a network security technique that involves separating networks into zones, each of which requires separate network access. For example, a network with files living in a single data center that utilizes microsegmentation may contain dozens of separate, secure zones. A person or program with access to one of those zones will not be able to access any of the other zones without separate authorization.

  • Multi-factor authentication (MFA)

Multifactor authentication (MFA), or strong authentication, is a key component to achieving Zero Trust. It adds a layer of security to access a network, application or database by requiring additional factors to prove the identity of users. MFA combines two or more independent credentials: what the user knows, such as a password; what the user has, such as a security token; and what the user is, by using biometric verification methods.

The goal of MFA is to create a layered defence that makes it more difficult for an unauthorized person to access a target, such as a physical location, computing device, network or database. If one factor is compromised or broken, the attacker still has at least one or more barriers to breach before successfully breaking into the target.

Implementing the five principles of zero trust listed above will enable organizations to take full advantage of this security model. A continuous process model must be followed that cycles though each principle – then it starts over again. The zero-trust model also must continually evolve to accommodate how business processes, goals, technologies and threats change.

For more information about Zero Trust, watch the video below:

PATECCO Success Story – Integration of IBM Verify into Service Now

Last week, on the 6th of October 2021, PATECCO team had the opportunity to present one of its success stories at IBM Security Ecosystem Summit EMEA, with a focus on Zero Trust and Threat Management, Data and Identity. To increase the awareness for the interested ones, we wrote a summarised version of the story about the Integration of IBM Verify into Service Now.

Current Challenges in IT Infrastructures

Nowadays the complexity of multiple service management interfaces is constantly increasing. Such a complex interface can disorient the users in a mild case and completely alienate them in an extreme case. A lot of training is required to master all user interfaces, but that takes time, resources, and money. It’s also clear that companies spend quite a lot of time on redundant, manual tasks that can be automated. If you really want to take your business to the next level, you should think of investing in business workflow automation software.

It’s not an easy task to effectively manage and orchestrate the workflows, that’s why customers need to reduce the amount of different User Interfaces of their IT-Infrastructure The positive result will be increased user experiences, business efficiency, improved service and outcomes.

The concept of workflow automation

Most customers have an ITSM-solution, in most cases this is ServiceNOW. ServiceNow is a cloud-based workflow automation platform that improves operational efficiencies in enterprises by streamlining and automating routine work tasks. What needs to be integrated in the existing clients‘ infrastructures, is a centralized solution, so the workflows and processes should be centralized and automated in these systems.

It’s important to say that Workflow Automation is key to the success of every business. It’s an efficient solution to all those time-consuming and inefficient business processes. When implemented correctly, the workflow automation tool can help you save thousands of work hours every year.

Furthermore, the centralized workflow application allows users to stage and sequence tasks needed to produce the desired output, to minimize operational costs and increase ROI. All these features help to reduce time and improve efficiency. In addition, complete Governance logic is controlled by IBM Verify which is the whole controlling mechanism that governs the identities.

The solution

The advantage of utilizing the available ServiceNow integration App for IBM Verify is that the customers don‘t have to develop such integration, they need only to implement, configure and customize it. We utilize ServiceNow as a workflow engine, instead of building the workflows within IBM Verify and we also keep ServiceNow as the central place where we can efficiently build workflows.

Another advantage of the integration between IBM Verify and ServiceNow, is that they could be customized according to customers‘ specification. And for the proper customization of the workflows there needs to be an open and constant communication between all stakeholders. We use this system to make business process easier, more productive, user-friendly and time efficient. So, implementing automated workflows is the best possible way to achieve this goal.          

As a conclusion we can say that Zero Trust and Automation go hand in hand and they are one of the factors that determine the future of the cyber security. An efficient automation platform allows security teams to coordinate multiple technologies, ecosystems and vendor solutions, across on premises and cloud envirnments. It helps to streamline processes and drive efficiencies. It supports the Zero Trust model as it allows organizations to prototype, enforce and eventually update their security policy framework, no matter how big or complex that framework happens to be.

PATECCO Launches a New Whitepaper About Best Practices in Privileged Access Management

Privileged Access Management (PAM) is one of the most important areas of risk management and security in any business. The constantly changing business practices and the digital transition more and more provoke the necessity of PAM solutions. They reduce the risk of cyber attack and secure digital business with privileged access management, application control and endpoint privilege security.

Known with its expertise in PAM, PATECCO launches a new whitepaper about its best practices in  managing privileged accounts effectively and efficiently. The new whitepaper contains useful information about PAM as a cyber security top priority, features of a Privileged Access Management Solution and management and protection of Privileged Accounts.

Click on the book image to read the new Whitepaper:

Why Is Access Control a Key Component of Data Security?

Who should access your company’s data? How do you make sure those who attempt access have actually been granted that access? Under which circumstances do you deny access to a user with access privileges? To effectively protect your data, your organization’s access control policy must address these questions, because security is an important priority for organizations of all sizes and industries

What is access control and how does it work?

The goal of access control is to minimize the security risk of unauthorized access to physical and logical systems. Access control is a fundamental component of security compliance programs that ensures security technology and access control policies are in place to protect confidential information, such as customer data. The definition of an access control system is typically based on three concepts: access control policies, access control models, and access control mechanisms. Access control systems perform identification authentication and authorization of users and entities by evaluating required login credentials that can include passwords, personal identification numbers (PINs), biometric scans, security tokens or other authentication factors. Multifactor authentication (MFA), which requires two or more authentication factors, is often an important part of a layered defense to protect access control systems.

Generally, access control solutions work by identifying a user, verifying that they are who they say they are, authorizing that they actually have access to the resource or location, and then associating their actions with their username or IP address for auditing purposes.

What are the main components of access control?

Authentication

Authentication is the first component of access control. It means determining that a user or system requesting access is who they claim to be. Authentication is typically through user ids and passwords. It’s often supplemented by a second level of authentication, using tokens delivered either to a user’s phone or smart card, or biometrics that validate a user’s physical features such as fingerprints.

Authorization

Once you’ve determined that the person requesting access is who they say they are, authorization controls determine which data and systems the user can access. In information systems, access can be defined as the ability to read, write, or execute certain data and files. This has to be determined by determining both the functions the user needs to perform and the data they need to see. Often more sophisticated rules take into effect such factors as where the user is connecting from, the type of device they are using (desktop computer or mobile phone), and the time of day they are requesting the access.

Assigning access privileges to individual users is difficult to manage and frequently results in too many privileges being granted. Role based access control (RBAC) allows privileges to be more easily managed by grouping the permissions required to perform certain functions. By assigning users the permissions identified as appropriate for their role, they can be given the minimum access required to perform their jobs.

Monitoring Access

Access requires ongoing monitoring. There are two aspects to this. First, the actual access to your networks, systems, and data needs to be reviewed to ensure that there aren’t any attempts at unauthorized access. Second, when users’ responsibilities change, the access rights granted to them need to change as well. Deleting user privileges when an employee leaves the organization is also critical. RBAC makes this review easier, because it makes clear why privileges were granted.

In addition to monitoring the access granted, you should monitor systems for vulnerabilities that allow access even when privileges are not granted. This can be done through manual reviews and automated vulnerability assessments.

What are the benefits of access control?

The benefits of strong and comprehensive access control points within your IT platform are many.

  • Cyber-based protections

The most fundamental provision of strong cybersecurity solutions (including access control) is protection against adware, ransomware, spyware and other malware. It allows you to control who gets in and who has access to what data, and mitigates the overall risk from potential threats that you may not even know about. With global ransomware costs expected to increase to nearly $20 billion in 2021, an access control program that defends your business against these threats is essential.

  • Access Controls Are Central to Zero-Trust Security

Maintaining strict access controls is also essential to the concept of zero-trust security. That’s because the zero-trust model requires users to have authorization and to authenticate themselves before they can access or modify any systems or data — and they must continue to do so to maintain said access. 

Basically, the idea here is that everything is treated as being suspicious — even when it’s something that’s coming from inside your network.

  • Customer confidence

Your customers’ confidence in your systems should be one of your highest priorities. Even the appearance of weakness or vulnerability within your cyber access controls can result in customers backing off your company or brand. Robust access controls also prevent customers from experiencing a cyber breach by proxy (e.g., cyber thieves acquire customer data and can then hack into their financial accounts).

Access control is one component of a strong information security program. PATECCO services offer a comprehensive approach to information security, utilizing firewalls, data loss prevention software, identity and access management and other controls to implement a robust defensive strategy. Contact us to learn more about the best ways to approach protecting your valuable data and systems.

Critical Factors to Look For When Choosing a Managed Services Provider

Managed Services does more than just provide the peace of mind that real time systems like cloud computing and private cloud are reducing your operational costs through increased productivity to help achieve your business goals. Partnering with a managed service provider (MSP) to handle your business IT gives you the freedom to focus on your business instead of struggling to keep your IT infrastructure operational, compliant and secure. MSP gives your businesses the flexibility of access to a dedicated and highly skilled IT team without its being an in-house resource. They can manage your cloud demands, and make sure your other key IT infrastructure stays up and running.

However, choosing the wrong MSP can get your organization in serious trouble. You could be locked into an expensive multi-year contract that doesn’t fit your business needs, or even suffer cyberattacks, data loss, and downtime. For these reasons, it’s crucial that you take the MSP vetting process seriously. This article will discuss the most important best practices when choosing your next managed services provider.

1.Availability

The first factor to consider about IT managed services companies is their service availability. They should be able to provide services that are available 24/7. Determining service availability is important. This is because it allows you to ascertain how proficient a service provider can be. With 24/7 IT monitoring, IT managed services companies will be able to administer updates and patches as quickly as possible. Furthermore, this allows them to detect IT issues in a timely manner. When IT issues are detected in time, your provider can rapidly set up methods to troubleshoot them. This guarantees that your business can prevent worse system problems and IT disasters to happen.

2. Technical expertise

Technical expertise has to be the primary consideration when selecting a managed services provider. It doesn’t matter how cheap or responsive the provider is if they don’t have the skills to actually do the work. Look for a provider who understands the technologies your business uses, who has partnerships with leading vendors, and whose team maintains certifications in the products they support.

3. Industry Experience

Your managed service provider should have a real experience working in your industry, that capability is of a great importance for your business. If you run an insurance company, then an IT expert with insurance industry experience will be able to serve you much better than one who has primarily worked with accounting agencies.  Industry experience ensures your managed service provider will be able to foresee potential problems and also anticipate your operational needs.

4. A proven track record.

Experienced, effective managed IT services providers should have an array of clients with whom they have a proven track record of success. Before entering into an agreement with an MSP, look for reviews, references, and testimonials to determine if other businesses are happy with the service.

5. Flexibility

Organisations’ needs change often, so businesses require flexibility. The services and solutions that you avail of today will not be the same as those you will require in five years’ time. Select an MSP that can provide the flexibility to tailor and scale services to the evolving needs of your company and whose contracts allow flexibility without restrictive penalties. This will allow your organisation to choose from the services that add most value at any given time.  

6. Ability to Innovate

Offering the latest services and adopting new technology early on, will ultimately give your business an edge over its competition.  A managed service provider which stays on top of the latest innovations and offers the most advanced options in IT will ensure your company remains contemporary, functional, and relevant.

7. Partner accreditations

Assessing your prospective provider’s partner accreditations will give you a better understanding of the depth of knowledge and expertise they have in specific areas. Checking the length of time they have been accredited with each vendor and the level of accreditation (Platinum, Gold or Silver) will also help you to find out if they have the ability to maintain long-term relationships at a high level.

8. Reputation Look for a managed service provider that has been around long enough to have developed a good reputation. Be sure to check references and speak to some existing clients to hear how well services were delivered, whether contract commitments were met, and how easy the business was to work with.

  • Why Invest in a Managed Service Provider?

Your company stands to gain a great deal from selecting the right managed service provider. With your technology needs in the hands of experienced professionals, you will have more time to focus on what you do best, while your company benefits from the following:

– Reduced risk and security

– Increased efficiency and flexibility

– Improved service and business continuity

– Increased IT security infrastructure

– Improved regulatory compliance

– Increased adaptability to technological innovations

– Fixed-price projects: based on defined scope

Investing in a managed service provider will add an operating expense to your business, and the cost is minimal compared to the benefits. IT managed services companies allow you to focus on the core needs of your company. With best-in-class IT services, you can ensure that your IT infrastructure will remain secure and stable. This allows you to maintain smooth day-to-day business operations.

PATECCO – Professional Managed Services

For over 20 years, PATECCO has been providing expert-level managed IT services for businesses across all industries in Europe and beyond. From Solution implementation and integration to risk assessment, to actionable threat intelligence and incident response, and more, PATECCO offers full-service IT management to help businesses grow and thrive. Our mission is to provide innovative, comprehensive, and practical IT services to help our clients save time and money while meeting their long-term goals.

For more information about PATECCO Managed Services, read the Whitepaper below: