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What is the Role of Blockchain in Improving Identity and Access Management?

The digitization of the business organisations leads to the digitization of identity. From personal information to professional certifications, the need for identity information and credentials is constantly increasing. Usually, identity information is monitored and verified by third parties, whether government or the private sector. But faltering confidence and new tools challenge these structures.

Many companies from the public and private sectors, believe that blockchain can add value to their operations. It offers transparent visibility and an immutable, time-stamped record of contracts. Each “block” of information in a chain is stored across a wide array of networked computers — a full blockchain never exists in its entirety on any single device — making it nearly impossible to falsify information in a blockchain.

What is a Blockchain and how it is related to IAM?

According to our partner, IBM, Blockchain is a shared, immutable ledger that facilitates the process of recording transactions and tracking assets in a business network. An asset can be tangible (a house, car, cash, land) or intangible (intellectual property, patents, copyrights, branding). Virtually anything of value can be tracked and traded on a blockchain network, reducing risk and cutting costs for all involved.

Identity management with blockchain works in a different way. There is no centralized database, instead, information is stored over a peer-to-peer type environment, by adopting a decentralized framework. The data is stored immutably in publicly owned blocks over the network. This solution provides flexibility, security and privacy for data management with reliable authentication and integrity check.

The Role of Blockchain in Identity and Access Management

The role of blockchain in identity management is to provide a means to verify identities, control access, and ensure the integrity the data and transactions. Everything stored in the database is publicly owned and immutable. Traditionally, effective IAM has been a challenge for large corporations for several reasons. Firstly, digital credentials are frequently a target of fraud and other cybercrime. Furthermore, siloed data creates a high potential for error, unnecessary overhead, and increased vulnerability to fraud. These issues are only exacerbated by the fact that traditional IAM measures are incredibly difficult to scale.

It is essential for business leaders to understand that balancing easy information access with strong, scalable security measures requires a highly dynamic system — one that blockchain is ideally positioned to power. Blockchain offers several major advantages over traditional means of IAM:

  • Improves Identity and Access Management

While we are fully aware that employee error is the primary cause of credential theft which are centrally stored and managed, the technology can store credentials on the blockchain in a decentralized manner reducing system intrusion risks and access fraud as hackers will have to attack multiple points of entry to access the data.

  • Track changes

Blockchain can help ensure that data is not changed without authorization or stolen. If you change any part of the blockchain, it is permanent, and you can’t remove it from the database. Furthermore, changes or new data will not remove or replace old data but rather will be recorded at the top of the blockchain with ownership and a time stamp which makes it trackable in case of an attack to trace back to the source.

  • Ensure redundancy

A blockchain is distributed and omni-present. Because various computers store a copy of the blockchain data, in case of accidental and intentional tampering, you can find the original information in other sources.

  • Prevent cyberattacks

DDoS attacks are common cyberattacks which aim to bring business systems down and make them unavailable by flooding requests. DDoS attacks are easy because parts of the domain name system (DNS) is store centrally and is susceptible to attacks and theft which can be used to bring systems down. Decentralized blockchain will prevent DNS theft and prevent DDoS attacks. Also, since any block change in the blockchain must be verified with the remaining of the blocks, attacks will be detected quickly and contained by keeping bad data out of the system.

How to Secure Privileged Access in the Cloud

In times of increased cyber threats, securing privileged access is a critical step to establishing security assurances for business assets in a modern enterprise. The security of most or all business assets in an organization depends on the integrity of the privileged accounts that administer and manage IT systems. Cyber-attackers are targeting these accounts and other elements of privileged access to rapidly gain access to targeted data and systems using credential theft attacks. Protecting administrative access against determined adversaries require you to take a complete and thoughtful approach to isolate these systems from risks.

Privileged Access Management (PAM) combines the most current and comprehensive defence strategies against malicious third parties executing cyber-attacks with increased efficiency and the support of greater resources. Constantly updated and evolving Privileged Access Management manages to be efficient in terms of protecting your data, including cloud security.

Establishing Cloud Security with Privileged Access Management

Since it is quite difficult to be protected against the vulnerabilities and risks of cloud technologies with standard safety precautions, data access security should be established via innovative approaches such as Privileged Access Management. This is one of the most effective ways to create a more productive security ecosystem for digital services such as cloud technologies. Some of the steps to establish cloud security via Privileged Access Management include:

  • Use of Zero Trust

All cloud service providers utilize management consoles to manage accounts, configure services and troubleshooting. Cyberattacks commonly target these consoles in order to access various data. Cloud-based service providers should carefully monitor users with privileged access rights and privileged access requests. Authorized accounts must be taken under control in order to prevent attacks and data leaks via various controlling tiers such as privileged session manager.

Modern privileged access management starts with an assumption that every user is a remote user for an organization. Zero trust building blocks of continuous authentication and verifying the user, context-based privileges are required to secure modern privileged access.

Zero trust follows the principle of “never trust, always verify” policy and least access/privilege model that focuses on identity-based authentication and access controls to ensure bad actors cannot use easily compromised credentials to gain privileged access, move around the network, and extract sensitive and valuable data. As organizations move to adopt zero trust, we are also finding organizations adopting a zero standing privilege posture, where no one has access rights or privileges permanently assigned; rather, access is granted just in time for a limited duration to reduce the attack surface and eliminate the potential for malicious actors accessing any infrastructure, even if they are able to compromise existing credentials.

  • Use of Multifactor authentication

Virtual servers, data storages, and other cloud resources are common targets for cyberattacks. Malicious third parties may try to utilize automatic provision tools in order to initiate attacks and cause downtime. Therefore, service providers should establish strong security systems and applications such as two-factor authentication (2FA) or multi-factor authorization in order to prevent unauthorized access to cloud automation command files and provision tools. The use of multifactor authentication for all privileged user access to cloud environments should be mandatory, and this likely could have prevented the initial compromise of Code Spaces’ console. Many providers offer a variety of different forms of multifactor access, including certificates on the endpoint, hard and soft tokens from leading multifactor providers, and SMS codes – which are not as secure, but still better than nothing at all.

  • Use of APIs

Cloud applications commonly use APIs in order to halt and initiate servers or conduct other environmental changes. API access authorization data such as SSH keys are generally coded built-in to the applications and placed in public storages such as GitHub. Then, they become targets for malicious third parties. Therefore, enterprises should remove built-in SSH keys from applications and make sure only the authorized applications to access through areas with encrypted infrastructures that act as digital safe, such as dynamic password controller. Such Privileged Access Management steps ensure efficient protection of cloud technologies, which are so hard to be protected via only legacy security software or firewalls.

Security is always best deployed in layers. While traditional security controls are necessary at the perimeter, we need to constantly think about how to prevent malicious privileged access, assuming that the bad actors are already on the inside and may already have access to credentials. Privileged accounts, credentials and secrets are found in devices, applications and operating systems allowing organisations to secure the infrastructure and applications, run business efficiently and maintain the confidentiality of sensitive data. In the wrong hands, privileged credentials can be used to cause catastrophic damage to a business. This is why they must be protected, managed and monitored.

For more information about Privileged Access Management, download the Whitepaper below:

Why Security Orchestration, Automation and Response (SOAR) Is an Essential Cybersecurity Tool?

The SOAR acronym first appeared back in 2017, and it stands for Security, Orchestration, Automation, and Response. SOAR represent a rise in automated incident response and management platforms. This technology allows organizations to collect relevant data regarding security operations by applying automation and orchestration. Gartner predicted that this technology will be a turning point in the cyber world, as more and more organizations have realized the immense value of SOAR.
With the evolution and increase in cyber attacks every day, SOAR gained popularity among security analysts for its core feature of handling repetitive tasks. By helping to plan and orchestrate responses to security incidents, SOARs offer critical functionality that extends beyond that provided by security incident and event management (SIEM) platforms, a more conventional type of security tool.


Security Orchestration, Automation and Response in detail

Let’s break down the term SOAR to get a better understanding of what it actually involves:

  • Security automation

This is the automatic execution of security operations-related tasks – such as scanning for vulnerabilities or searching for logs – without human intervention. Information is automatically retrieved from advanced detection systems and Security Information and Event Management (SIEM).

  • Security orchestration

This refers to the way all security tools are connected. Even disparate security systems are integrated. In this layer, SOAR streamlines all security processes.

  • Security response

This means automation helps to define, prioritise and execute default incident response activities based on predefined policy rules. Incident response processes may be completely automated, completely manual, or a combination of both to mirror an organization’s unique business processes.

Benefits of using SOAR as an Effective Cybersecurity Tool

  • Enhancing incident response

Rapid response is vital in order to minimise the risk of breaches and limit the vast damage and disruption they can cause. SOAR helps organisations to reduce mean time to detect (MTTD) and mean time to respond (MTTR) by enabling security alerts to be qualified and remediated in minutes, rather than days, weeks and months.

SOAR also enables security teams to automate incident response procedures (known as playbooks). Automated responses could include blocking an IP address on a firewall or IDS system, suspending user accounts or quarantining infected endpoints from a network.

  • Improve security operations center management with standardized processes

Using a centralized security operations center (SOC) management system, your organization can maintain better internal and regulatory compliance. Plus, using an automation platform specifically built with SOCs in mind, allows you to better prioritize and optimize alert remediation.

  • Faster detection and resolution of known and unknown threats

Responding to cyber threats in real-time requires a great deal of preparation, and with today’s evolved data threats, combating incidents without the help of AI automation is virtually unthinkable. In that regard, SOAR helps managed security service providers (MSSPs) respond to these threats quickly and effectively. Furthermore, AI-enhanced technologies are used to evaluate real-time threats, search for trends, utilize historical data to detect patterns, and isolate confirmed threats or any types of suspicious activities in a rapid-response fashion.

It’s very important to note that cyber attacks are moving at a rash speed, and cyber criminals are utilizing agile development and machine learning to strike any weaknesses and evade detection, and leaving traces. And only SOAR offers that kind of instant readiness that allows MSSPs to quickly respond in a preventive manner and learn consistent pattern behaviors.

  • Automated Security Reporting

In addition to automating security incident detection and response, SOAR platforms usually provide automated reporting features that record what happened, who did what and which steps ultimately mitigated the threat.

This data is crucial for tracking trends in security risks and response over time. It may also be useful for auditing and compliance purposes in cases where businesses are required to document their security operations.

  • Vulnerability management

SOAR platforms may also provide cataloguing of assets for a clearer visibility of their security. If any asset is vulnerable to a cyber threat, timely patching of vulnerabilities will reduce the risk of cyber-attacks on those assets. SOAR also offers integration with tools that automate the process of vulnerability management, in addition to directly fetching information about vulnerabilities by integrating with threat intelligence.

  • Unification of security tools

In order to achieve optimal efficiency, SOAR allows a swift integration of both workforce and tools, and that exact integration allows SOAR to handle tasks and processes without the need for human intervention. Machine learning is also applied to automate specific tasks, and that automation is usually applied via playbooks.

Is SOAR right for your organization?

To select a suitable SOAR solution for your business, you need to think about a variety of factors. Gartner advises that before choosing a SOAR solution, it is essential to make an assessment of the need of your security team, analyze which areas of your security operations need strengthening, and find out which SOAR solutions offer the kind of features that match your actual needs. Implementing SOAR can reduce threat response times, improve security performance and resource allocation, and create a more positive, productive environment for security professionals.

The Growing Importance of Machine Learning in Cybersecurity

The need for increased data security was recently put as a top priority on the global cybersecurity agenda by the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This regulation imposes all companies having access to the personal data of the EU citizens to adopt more secure approaches to managing customer data, protecting against its accidental loss or illegal destruction, theft, and unauthorized disclosure. According to a number of cyber security reports, more than 50  percent of enterprises across the world have at least one incident of a major data breach or network attack annually. As more innovations in digital technologies end up in wrong hands, hacker attacks become more and more sophisticated and disastrous. That is why more companies rely on the AI/ML cybersecurity innovation. However, how can Machine Learning actually be leveraged to improve cybersecurity and data security, in particular? This article will explain the answer in details.

What Is Machine Learning and why it is so important?

Our partner IBM defines Machine Learning as a branch of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and computer science which focuses on the use of data and algorithms to imitate the way that humans learn, gradually improving its accuracy. The machine learning process begins with observations or data, such as examples, direct experience or instruction. It looks for patterns in data so it can later make inferences based on the examples provided.

ML has proven valuable because it can solve problems at a speed and scale that cannot be duplicated by the human mind alone. With massive amounts of computational ability behind a single task or multiple specific tasks, machines can be trained to identify patterns in and relationships between input data and automate routine processes. Machine learning models are able to identify data security vulnerabilities before they can turn into breaches. By looking at past experiences, machine learning models can predict future high-risk activities so risk can be proactively mitigated.

Use of Machine Learning in Cyber Security

Cybersecurity is a set of technologies and processes designed to protect computers, networks, programs and data from attack, damage, or unauthorized access. In recent days, cybersecurity is undergoing massive shifts in technology and its operations in the context of computing, and data science is driving the change, where machine learning (ML), a core part of Artificial Intelligence can play a vital role to discover the insights from data.

Machine learning helps automate the process of finding, contextualizing, and triaging relevant data at any stage in the threat intelligence lifecycle. This could mean anything from finding dark web forum posts indicating a data breach, to detecting suspicious network activity in real time. To better understand previous cyber-attacks, and develop respective defence responses, ML can be leveraged in various domains within Cyber Security to enhance security processes, and make it easier for security analysts to quickly identify, prioritise, deal with and remediate new attacks.

The following points are just a few examples how Machine Learning can be used to aid security:

  • Automating Tasks

A great benefit of ML in cyber security is its capacity to automate repetitive and time-consuming tasks, such as triaging intelligence, malware analysis, network log analysis and vulnerability assessments. By incorporating ML into the security workflow, organisations can accomplish tasks faster, and act on and remediate threats at a rate that would not be possible with manual human capability alone. Automating repetitive processes means that clients can up or down scale easily, without changing the manpower needed, thus reducing costs in the process.

  • Threat Detection

Machine learning algorithms are used in applications to detect and respond to attacks. This can be achieved by analysing big data sets of security events and identifying patterns of malicious activities. ML works so that when similar events are detected, they are automatically dealt with by the trained ML model. In the case of security, by analysing millions of events, ML technologies learn to identify deviations from established norms. Instead of countering the latest threats after they have been identified like traditional systems do, ML can identify anomalies as they emerge. Against the background of quickly evolving threats, it’s not hard to see how valuable this is for protecting against data breaches and maintaining uptime and business continuity.

  • Increasing the speed of detection and response

AI and machine learning can easily analyze massive amounts of data in seconds, making it far faster than manually detecting threats. What’s more, they can implement patches and remediate threats in near real-time, dramatically improving response times. With the ability of today’s cyberattacks to quickly penetrate an organization’s infrastructure, razor fast detection and response is key to success.

  • Fraud Identification

Within the banking and finance industries, AI and ML models are being used as effective tools in identifying and preventing advanced attempts at fraud. Through predictive forecasting, models can build threat profiles to prevent fraud before it happens.

  • Provide endpoint malware protection

Algorithms can detect never-before-seen malware that is trying to run on endpoints.  It identifies new malicious files and activity based on the attributes and behaviors of known malware.

  • Protect data in the cloud

Machine learning can protect productivity by analyzing suspicious cloud app login activity, detecting location-based anomalies, and conducting IP reputation analysis to identify threats and risks in cloud apps and platforms.

  • Improving your overall security posture

With AI and machine learning, cybersecurity gets stronger over time as more data is analyzed and these technologies learn from past patterns to become more proficient at identifying suspicious activity. They also protect an organization’s infrastructure at both the macro and micro levels, creating more effective barriers than can be achieved using manual methods.

Cybersecurity is an essential consideration for any organization – especially as the world progresses digitally so fast. Cyber attacks are getting more sophisticated, requiring companies to up their game and respond in the same way. Whether preventing a future attack or analyzing why and how one happened in the past, using AI and ML models creates a faster, more comprehensive cybersecurity response.

How the Modern Identity Governance Solutions Enhance Security of the Digital Enterprises?

In times of progressive digital transformation, Identity governance is one of the most neglected branches of cybersecurity. That is why it is crucial for the enterprises to adopt or to update their current identity governance in 2022. And before implementing or updating such identity management tools, the companies should ask several important questions such as: How they ensure the permissions their users have are appropriate to their roles? Can enterprises prevent users from accumulating unnecessary privileges? How can enterprises improve their visibility into their users’ identities?

In case your corporation enterprise doesn’t take these questions into account, you may face challenges with external and internal threats. It is critical for the companies to be able to see, understand and govern their users’ access to all business applications and data. This turns identity into a business enabler for organizations, helping them to properly secure and govern all of their digital identities at the speed of business today.

Identity is not only a number of employees

When talking about identity governance, enterprises often think only about the individual users operating under their scope: their employees. That’s ok, but the corporations must bear in mind their contractors, partners, and other third parties when considering access management and identity governance in 2022. If all these groups of people have access to the network, their permissions should be as strictly controlled and monitored as any of your employees.

Furthermore, your identity governance in 2022 must extend beyond the identities of people including also the identities held by applications and software. These can move through your network and access data in much the same way a human user can. Allowing them free govern in your databases can only lead to serious issues. So, application identity governance tools are only going to become more important as cloud applications and cloud architecture continue to transform enterprises.

Identity Governance could be effectively combined with PAM

In fact, maintaining proper role management through identity governance in 2022 makes a key assumption. Specifically, the users logging in are the users to whom the account belongs.

Bad circumstances such as password sharing, stolen credentials, and phishing attacks can place your employees’ identities at severe risk; this applies doubly if the employees in question have significant administrative powers within the network. By incorporating robust privileged access management with your IGA solution, you can prevent hackers and insider threats from turning your role management against you. This can include implementing granular authentication, implementing multifactor authentication, and deploying behavioural analysis to observe discrepancies.

The benefits of modern Identity Governance solutions

Nowadays 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 or partners without disruptions and ensure strict monitoring of their access in the network. Without proper identity access governance, it is challenging for organizations to assign and keep track of the applications and resources that identities have access to. Some organizations have hundreds, even thousands of applications.

Here are several important ways that identity access governance benefits your business:

  • Visibility

Let’s say it right: you can’t protect what remains unseen. That is why visibility represents the heart and soul of cybersecurity. Identity governance provides visibility and monitoring over employee and user permissions. Also, it helps IT admins get a high-level view of what’s happening across the IT environment, allowing them to quickly make changes and troubleshoot problems that could have easily become worse if left untreated.

  • Streamlined User Identity Lifecycle Management

When onboarding and offboarding, managers and IT personnel typically had direct physical access to the resources that they needed to manage and change, but now that’s not necessarily the case. This means that new solutions need to be leveraged to maintain the proper level of control over users, devices, networks, and other IT resources, and this is where an IGA solution becomes integral.

  • Enhanced Compliance and Security

Identity governance also helps businesses meet their compliance needs. Almost all IGA solutions provide out-of-the-box compliance reports for easy fulfilment; additionally, it can often fill those reports automatically, alleviating a burden on your IT security team. The modern Identity Governance solution reduces risk and improves compliance and security by managing access control in a comprehensive and streamlined manner. By using tools that streamline user identity lifecycle management, your organization is at less risk for the wrong users having access to confidential information, and you have higher visibility into what different users do and do not have access to.

  • Risk Management

IGA solutions enable a robust approach to managing and governing access by focusing on three aspects of access. First, they practice least privilege access, eliminating excess privileges and granting access to only those who absolutely need it in order to do their jobs. Secondly, they terminate “orphaned” accounts as quickly as possible. These accounts that are no longer being used, either because an employee is no longer with the company, or any other reason, are perfect targets for those looking to breach the environment. Finally, IGA solutions monitor for segregation of duty (SoD) violations. This critical risk management concept dictates that no single individual should be able to complete a task, creating a built-in system of checks and balances.

With these clear, measurable benefits, it’s easy to see why Identity governance solutions are quickly becoming an essential component in many organizations’ security strategy. Identity governance in 2022 will not be a panacea. It must be a part of a comprehensive cybersecurity platform, made of well integrated and well-thought-out solutions.

How to Implement a Zero Trust Model?

Today, we see increasingly distributed workforces and work regularly outsourced to contractors, partners and freelancers alike. As a result, the traditional company network perimeter has altered dramatically and many businesses have struggled to keep up with the rate of change. All that is a prerequisite for external cyberattacks and potentially harmful internal data breaches.

At its core, Zero Trust is a framework in which an organization forgoes one large perimeter in favour of protection at every endpoint and for every user within a company. This approach relies on strong identity and authentication measures, trusted devices and endpoints, and granular access controls to protect sensitive data and systems.  Zero Trust requires granular visibility.

So, implementing a Zero-Trust framework does more than increasing the security. It also helps your data management and accessibility efforts by providing the visibility into connected endpoints and networks that a great percentage of organizations lack.

Implementing a Zero Trust Model

While establishing a Zero Trust architecture can increase security, many organizations find the implementation challenging. Understanding the steps involved, can help move toward a zero trust security approach.

  • Establish strong authentication processes (Identity and Authentication)

Identity authentication is the foundation of a zero-trust security strategy. To continuously evaluate access to resources, you must first centralize user management and establish strong authentication processes. In order to track and manage all users across your systems, user identity must be centralized in a user and group directory. As employees join the company, change roles or responsibilities, or leave the company, the databases should update automatically to reflect those changes. The user and group database acts as the single source of truth to validate all users that need to access your systems.

A single sign-on (SSO) system, or centralized user authentication portal, can validate primary and secondary credentials for users requesting access to any given resource or application. After validating against the user and group directory, the SSO system generates a time-sensitive token to authorize access to specific resources. A centralized user database supporting a single sign-on system is essential. Data in a SaaS application environment must be assumed vulnerable unless access is limited to an endpoint that you control. Once that database is in place, you can introduce an authentication process such as 2FA (two-factor authentication) or MFA (multi-factor authentication) to harden your system and ensure that the users accessing your applications are who they say they are.

  • Define and implement policies around Access Management

Building on the identify and authentication mechanisms, the next step is to define and implement policies around who can access specific data and when they can access it. What makes the Zero Trust approach unique is that in order to minimize the ‘perimeter’ of any given individual and isolate the risk associate with that user, the Zero Trust approach supports the idea that an employee should only be given the minimum access and permissions needed for that employee to do their job. By limiting access in this way, risk is minimized. Should an attacker gain access to the credentials of a user in marketing, for example, that perpetrator is ‘laterally’ limited in that they cannot gain access to any of the tools, assets, or information outside of that user’s specific role.

There are several ways to ensure that an employee’s access is restricted to the tools and assets required for their job. The first is granular, role-based access and permission levels. These should be defined for each role within your organization, with cross-functional input agreement. Your organization’s appetite for risk and the breadth of access needed to effectively collaborate across teams will determine the level of granularity needed for team and individual role-based access levels. Once these role-based access levels have been defined, you can begin to map out the controls needed for each system and vendor in your organization. While your SSO or identity provider may be able to support some of your access control needs, you may find that not all applications provide the level of granularity needed to limit access in this way. Access controls are an important part of any vendor risk management assessment and integral to the long-term implementation of Zero Trust.

In order to adhere to the “continuous verification” tenant of the Zero Trust model, you will also need a way to consistently analyse audit logs to verify access controls and identify suspicious or unsanctioned activity in your systems. This information helps detect suspicious activity within your systems and supports the application of access and permission levels by allowing you to verify that those levels are implemented correctly and that there aren’t any suspicious actors that have gained access to a user’s credentials.

  • Monitor and audit everything

In addition to authenticating and assigning privileges, it is vital to monitor and review all user activity across the network. This helps organizations to identify any suspicious activity in real-time. Deep visibility is especially important for administrator accounts which have rights to access a wide spectrum of sensitive data.

  • Implement Principle of Least Privilege

Every Zero Trust architecture should include Principle of Least Privilege, which is based on the concept that individual users should only be granted sufficient privileges to allow them to complete specific tasks. For example, an application developer should not be allowed to access financial records. For maximum effectiveness, PoLP should be extended to “just-in-time” access, which restricts users’ privileges to specific time periods.

Implementing the Zero Trust security model is no simple task. For many organizations, especially large, established enterprises, implementation can take a considerable amount of time and effort. But the upsides are significant. Beginning to implement the foundational elements of Zero Trust Security is the key to securing your sensitive company data in the midst of the proliferation of cloud applications, devices, and user identities.

How Automation Can Raise the Level on Security

The growing popularity of cloud providers such as AWS, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure over the last decade has brought considerable change to the way we build, use and operate web services. As a result, the enterprises’ production environments have become larger and more complex – and it’s getting more and more difficult for a typical security team to safeguard them manually. As security teams struggle to keep pace using old best practices, automation is a key enabler of performing the team’s work effectively at scale.

The problem is that security is often seen as the biggest obstacle to cloud adoption, but when automated it can be its greatest accelerator. Automating the cloud security process enables organizations to work on deeper analysis and higher-level tasks, to secure their cloud environments and to focus their efforts on innovation and growth. Automating the security processes that are conventionally created and deployed manually brings a new evolution to the cloud.

Before we go deeper into the security automation benefits, let’s first start with what security automation is, what it means in the current threat landscape and how to get the most out of automation.

What is security automation?

Security automation is the automatic execution of security tasks without human intervention. This includes any security action involved with detecting, analysing, preventing or remediating cyber threats that is automated (therefore, machine-based) and contributes to the overall organization’s security posture and plays an active role in future security strategies. It’s no wonder more and more often, enterprise businesses that have undergone digital transformation are looking to automated security as an asset for their organization.

Using security automation, risk analysts can focus on proactively identifying security problems instead of remediating existing tickets. This allows these professionals to use their skills in a way that adds more value to the organization.

How Businesses Benefit from Security Automation?

  • Reduction of routine tasks

The most valuable benefit to automation is that it handles the time-consuming repetitive tasks. This reduces fatigue and saves the company resources which can be directed toward projects that provide additional value to the organization. Moreover, it saves time and efforts for the employees and gives them the opportunity to be more productive.

  • Speeds up threat detection

Security automation allows faster threat detection, without depending on any external force. This means that threats like malware, phishing, and endpoint vulnerabilities will be detected right away by the security system. This allows for faster, more responsive threat protection that plays a critical role in security infrastructure.

  • Improves incident response and resolution time

In the same way security automation speeds up threat detection, it also improves incident response. When analysts are overwhelmed with security alerts, they can only mitigate the most critical on the list. By taking a share of the workload from the security analyst, incident response becomes standard practice.

By quickly identifying and differentiating between opportunistic scans and other sources of security alerts, security automation reduces the time needed to respond to an incident. It addresses cyber threats in real time, prioritizes them, determines whether to take any action, and if so, escalates them to a designated security analyst who takes the next steps toward ensuring the incident is contained and resolved. All of this makes the organization more resilient in the face of different types of cyber crime.

  • Ensures Secure Software Development

Automated security operations ensure high-end security during the development phase. It is able to identify potential threats and vulnerabilities, allowing developers to fix the issues on the go. Security automation helps security systems by using threat intelligence to analyze the attack surface and to triage security threats before the program is deployed.

  • Streamlines Business Processes

Security automation tools help to streamline security processes. That reduces complexity, avoids human errors, improves knowledge sharing, and supports faster decision-making.

  • Operational efficiencies and cost

All of the above-mentioned benefits come down to this one final, security automation benefit – improved ROI on automation. When you have tools that aren’t integrated well with one another, you don’t have resources for developers to build custom integrations and automate tasks, you have a staff shortage due to the cybersecurity skills gap. By adopting automation, organizations can allow their analysts more time to spend on deeper analysis and more strategic involvement into security procedures within the same time frame, yielding increased returns on automation investments.

Automation has become a central component to growing and successful businesses. This holds true in the cybersecurity sector as well, specifically with identity and access management, patching, and network change management. At PATECCO we have supported organizations on their path to automating security tasks for many years. We have the know-how and experience to help organizations make the most out of their investment into security automation.

How Privileged Access Management Defends Financial Organisations Against Data Breaches?

Privileged account management (PAM) is a domain within identity and access management (IAM) that focuses on monitoring and controlling the use of privileged accounts. Managing privileged accounts is an important and complicated task. Financial institutions often operate highly complex infrastructure and disparate systems that run on multiple operating systems. Managing and controlling access to these privileged accounts is further complicated by the significant pace of workforce and responsibility changes over time. Lastly, changes made at a system level can be used to bypass controls, to hide activity, and to cause financial institutions to breach their stringent reporting and compliance requirements.

  • The Challenge:

On one hand, financial organizations rely on privileged accounts to enable authorized users to perform their duties with little to no direct oversight or technical control of their actions. Companies have difficulty managing these accounts, which, in turn, opens a significant risk to the business. If used improperly, these accounts can cause substantial operational damage, including data theft, espionage, sabotage, or ransom. Malicious external actors can gain unauthorized access to privileged accounts through a variety of techniques, such as leveraging stolen credentials or social engineering schemes. In addition, there are rare instances of disgruntled employees who abuse their accounts, as well as honest employees who make mistakes. Misuse and mistakes can affect both high-value applications (e.g., payment systems) and core systems (e.g., human resources, database access, access control). 

On the other hand, privileged accounts comprise not only employees with direct, hands-on responsibility for system and network administration but also vendors, contractors, business partners and others who have been granted privileged access to systems within your organization. In many cases, privileged accounts aren’t even people—they can be applications or configuration files empowered by hard-coded administrative credentials. According to a number of data breach investigations reports the finance sector reported more than 1000 data breaches and was one of the top industries subject to insider and privilege misuse.

The sad fact is that exploited privileged accounts are a common thread in many data breaches, regardless of whether those accounts were compromised by external actors with malicious intent or simply abused by insiders. As data moves to the cloud, accessed by multiple third-parties and handled by insiders, the threat grows ever larger, as does the challenge of protecting your organization from evolving threats and staying in compliance with internal, industry, local, country and international regulations. These compliance mandates include access control and data security regulations that your organization is legally required to meet. Not doing so could mean everything from fines for non-compliance to actual data breaches from lack of prevention. This is the cost of negligence.

  • What Financial Services Organization Must Do to Secure Access to Data?

While the nature, extent and technological sophistication behind data breaches continue to evolve, what is needed is a defence-in-depth strategy with multiple layers of security. In this new world, level of access is everything: which accounts have access, what they are accessing and why they have access are critical elements to understand. Many financial services organizations are moving to what is known as a zero-trust model, in which it is assumed that a corporate account has already been compromised. That perspective prompts the need to control, monitor and audit user access and activity, ensuring that the right people have the most appropriate, fine-grained level of access: just enough to do their jobs, but no more. As part of this process, companies are automating the privileging (and de-privileging) process as well as recording and reporting on user activities to prevent breaches before they occur. Automation also helps to defend against privilege escalation that results in access to sensitive resources and prevents the compromise of new systems as well as data exfiltration.

  • What does PAM Solution provide to Financial Services Customers?

Whether they are obtained maliciously or leveraged inappropriately by a valid user, exploited privileged user accounts are the common thread of most data breaches. And as your environment grows increasingly complex, so does the challenge of defending against ever more sophisticated—and damaging—attacks. PATECCO offers a comprehensive PAM solution delivering both network- and host-based controls for the enterprise and hybrid cloud. Our customers use PAM to provide secure access with enhanced security for authentication and authorization. While most legacy systems in the financial services industry do not have hardened security, with PAM, methods for third-party integration such as multifactor authentication as well as single sign-on tools using role management techniques can easily be deployed, removing the requirement for enhancement to the application while providing a centralized, auditable, and repeatable process of access control.

In addition, PAM supports compliance requirements regarding access control  as well as protection of consumer accounts through tracking and reporting user activities as well as configuration changes to the network, enforcing access control to all network devices and network servers and producing audit reports that document and verify this, among other things. Regardless of the compliance use case, financial enterprises can count on PAM to manage user authentication and authorization, secure access to information and provide comprehensive audit trails for access, usage and password management as part of a solid, defence-in-depth security program.

Implementing a PAM system is an essential way for financial institutions to effectively secure, manage, control, and audit the activities of privileged accounts. A properly implemented and administered PAM system can help your organization meet compliance requirements, limit opportunity for and reduce the damage that a privileged user can cause, and improve the enforcement of access policies. The other benefits that PAM solution provides to the financial companies are the following:

  • identifying vulnerabilities and risk factors within your organization
  • limiting opportunity for a successful attack by improving control over privileged accounts
  • improving efficiencies by reducing the complexity associated with managing privileged accounts, 76 which leads to the following results
  • minimizing damage that results from misuse and mistakes by internal/external actors
  • automating enforcement of existing access policies
  • simplifying compliance by producing automated reports and documentation

To guard against costly data breaches, smart financial institutions are protecting and automating access to privileged accounts across both physical and virtual systems. Whether your company’s data is on-premises, in the cloud or within a hybrid infrastructure, it’s critical to protect, monitor and audit privileged access everywhere. Employing a zero-trust model with a defence-in-depth approach to security that includes privileged access management offers your organization the best chance of protection against ever-evolving threats.

For more information about PATECCO PAM Solutions and best practices, check out our latest Whitepaper:

PATECCO launches a new Whitepaper – “Digital workspace compliance through Managed Services for Privileged Access Management to effectively prevent insider threats and data loss”

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 – “Digital workspace compliance through Managed Services for Privileged Access Management to effectively prevent insider threats and data loss”. The Whitepaper contains useful information about PAM functions and capabilities, the latest trends in PAM implementation and explains in details why Privileged Access Management should be the highest cyber security priority of enterprises.

Click on the book image to read the new Whitepaper:

The Essential Role of Identity and Access Management in Remote Work

Since fast two years, the pandemic has pressured organizations of all sizes to embrace IT transformation at a rapid pace and to adapt to new models of business related to a transition to remote workforces.

Nowadays, streamlined accessibility of critical applications is top of mind for executive leadership than ever before. However, a company’s IT security posture and administrative governance remain vital, as cybercriminals see unsecured home offices as attack vectors to exploit for personal gain. The rapid evolution of work-from-home technologies highlights a need to validate full coverage and completeness of an organization’s IT ecosystem, operational impacts and cybersecurity foundation. Furthermore, a comprehensive approach to cybersecurity helps enhance end-user productivity and remove the barriers for further IT transformation.

Identity and access management are crucial starting points

For these reasons, Identity and Access Management (IAM) has distinguished more critical to IT departments and organizations overall. Identity and Access Management (IAM) both secures the work-from-home networks and enables employees to easily access the data and applications they need for their role.

A good Identity and Access Management solution helps to securely connect the right employees to the right business resources at the right time. From an end-user perspective, IAM enables an employee to log into a critical application as they normally would, but their sign-on would also apply to a whole suite of commonly used and IT-approved applications. Meanwhile, IT staff can monitor who accesses what application when, add or remove approved applications for sign-on, and adjust security controls across the IT ecosystem in one platform.

  • Least Privilege Principle

To better secure your data with employees working from home, your IAM solution should include least privilege access capabilities. This provides you the opportunity to customize each employee’s level of access, so they only have what they need and nothing more. In this way the companies have a greater level of control over who is accessing their sensitive data each time.

  • Secure Sharing

For remote teams, the easy and secure virtual collaboration is a necessity. When it comes to sharing access to accounts and data, teams need a way to share credentials without increasing the risk of cyberattacks and data breach. Enterprise password management provides central and safe storage of shared corporate credentials, so remote team members can access shared accounts, from anywhere, any time.

  • Secure Authentication

To alleviate cyber threats when working remotely, businesses should think about adding layers of security that slow down attackers – but not employees. Additional login requirements and behind-the-scenes analysis of many factors helps reduce the risk of a cyberattack. Multifactor authentication (MFA), especially a solution that incorporates biometric and contextual authentication, can significantly increase security in a way that is quick and easy for employees.

Building an Identity and Access Management Strategy for Remote Work

A lot of studies show how critical IAM is, especially as remote work becomes the new normal. Businesses need to prioritize their IAM strategy and ensure they are crafting one that supports the new normal of work-from-anywhere.

The enterprises should realize how critical IAM is, especially as remote work becomes the new normal. As employees work remotely, organizations will need to craft an IAM strategy that makes it easy for employees to connect to work resources, while maintaining a high standard of security.

  • Managing every access point

If secure access is a top priority, your IAM solution needs to combine SSO and password management. SSO simplifies login to many apps, and password management ensures any password-protected accounts are properly stored.

  • Sharing the secure way.

For remote teams, virtual collaboration is inescapable. Any credentials or sensitive information like credit card numbers that need to be shared among team members should be done in a way that is encrypted and private, while making it easy for team members to get the information when they need it.

  • Enabling MFA for additional protection.

Choose a solution that is simple for employees to use, and then turn on MFA everywhere you can (apps, workstations, VPNs, and more) for an additional layer of security across every employee login.

In the future remote work will continue to change as the companies develop new normal work routines for the employees. Identity and authentication methods must develop alongside those changes to ensure secure access and simplicity for both employees and companies.