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How to Solve Compliance Challenges with IAM

As experts in identity and access management, we noticed that many of our clients face different issues with access control. In particular, we find that most business owners and managers do not have the proper identity access management measures. Based on our long-term experience in Identity and Access Management, we guide and support clients on meeting the access control measures governing their industries.

In this article, we will discuss the key challenges that most of our clients face. We will also guide you on ways to prevent them and ensure compliance using different IAM tools.

  • Common Access Control Issues Facing Industries


As technology progresses, companies are now handling their tasks using digital systems. While this helps, controlling who can access certain information gets more complicated. Besides, a great number of employees are currently working remotely, which makes it challenging to oversee all their activities.

One issue most companies are facing is Sarbanes Oxley compliance. This law mainly applies to the financial industry. It focuses on protecting investors from fraudulent activities by such institutions. When checking if companies are abiding by this law, PATECCO experts find that most do not have enough measures to control access to data. This is because they focus on meeting financial regulations and neglect access control.

More common compliance issues faced by institutions in different sectors are:

• Meeting PCI requirements

• SOC compliance

• FFIEC compliance

The healthcare industry is another one facing different compliance challenges. One common issue in this field is meeting HIPAA requirements. As most facilities focus on improving their technology, they fail to develop measures to limit access to sensitive information.

Most data control issues in the healthcare industry revolve around creating various security measures to protect medical documents. Such include multi-factor authentication and single sign-on protocols. ISO 27001 and ISO 27002 are other security standards that most brands do not know how to meet. Without the proper measures, managing information security is tricky. This issue then makes it hard to pass audits and safeguard data from people without authorized access.

  • Ensuring Access Control Through Provisioning and Reviews

After learning about the issues faced when meeting different regulations, you may be concerned how to avoid them. Implementing access control policies helps reduce the risk of data breaches. It also makes it hard for unlicensed people to access sensitive information.

One way you can solve such issues with Identity and Access Management is through provisioning. This process involves assigning specific employees to systems with sensitive information. It also includes issuing them with IDs that allow them to access protected files.

When provisioning with IAM, you should have complete control over access rights. If an employee leaves your company, you should delete their account or deactivate it to withdraw their rights. This way, you will prevent breaches and feel confident that your data is safe. After putting in place measures to limit access, it is also advisable to review them regularly. We also recommend to check if all your employees have the proper access based on their job roles. Besides, confirm that they are not abusing this power or using the information for personal activities.

You should also take into account that in most cases reviewing access may be tricky without the right tools. For example, recording the results of each assessment is time-consuming, but IAM tools are able to simplify this process by automating compliance assessment. These programs then produce a report to help you identify ways to improve access control.

  • Ensuring Compliance with Privileged Access

Controlling access goes beyond having security measures and reviewing them. It also involves tracking the employees that have permission to view or use specific files. Still, most companies find it hard to manage employees with such privileges.

For example, after shifting from one system to another, you can forget to change your admins. This means that they will still be able to access files in the other program. If a data breach happens, it will not be easy to pinpoint its source. By using IAM tools, you can quickly identify the employees using specific systems. It is also possible to simplify tracking privileged access. These programs also allow you to set security measures to limit access.

Getting IAM solutions to limit access of your current and past employees is the best way to abide by different regulations. These come with various tools to help you secure privileged accounts. With such features, it is simpler to revoke access and avoid security threats.

Types of IAM Solutions Available Today

The most suitable IAM solution for your company may vary depending on your needs. For instance:

  • Privileged Access Management is one of the most common IAM solutions. This one focuses on protecting privileged accounts. If around 20 of your employees have access to different systems with IAM protocols, you can use PAM to protect the most sensitive ones. This solution is mainly helpful in meeting NERC compliance needs.
  • User provisioning IAM tools are another subset you can use to ensure all accounts have the correct permission. With these solutions, it is possible to control the access rights of all your employees. The compliance needs you can meet with the tool are GLBA, NERC, GDPR, and HIPAA. An important aspect to look into when adopting access control tools is the role of each employee. Besides, determine the entitlement they have to sensitive data. You should also consider the cost and compare it against the benefits of getting the software.
  • Data governance IAM solutions protect sensitive information using measures like SSO. Its main drivers are FERPA, PCI-DSS, HIPAA, and FERPA.

More IAM solutions you can find in the market today, and their driver compliances are:

• Access controls- HIPAA, SOX, NERC, and GDPR

• Identity governance- SOX and GLBA

• Multi-factor authentication tools- GDPR, PCI-DSS, and GLBA

Since each of these IAM solutions has unique features, you should understand the needs of your firm. Taking this measure makes it easier to pick a tool that addresses them and helps you stay compliant.

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.

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.

What is a Zero Trust Security Model?

Digital transformation and the adoption of hybrid multicloud are changing the way we do business. Users, data and resources are spread across different locations and it is getting more and more challenging to connect them quickly and securely. But focusing primarily on perimeter security and firewalls is no longer enough. That is why organizations start implementing zero trust security solutions to help protect their data and resources by making them accessible only on a limited basis and under the right circumstances.

  • What is Zero Trust and how it works?

Zero Trust is a security model and a coordinated cybersecurity and system management strategy based on an acknowledgement that threats exist both inside and outside traditional network boundaries. Zero trust can be defined under the following approach: “never trust, always verify.” This security approach treats every access attempt as if it originates from an untrusted network — so access will be denied, until trust is demonstrated. Once users and devices have been regarded as trustworthy, zero trust ensures that they have access only to the resources they need, to prevent any unauthorized lateral movement through an environment.

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 (data) 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.

Adoption of zero trust can help address common security challenges in the workforce, such as phishing, malware, credential theft, remote access, and device security (BYOD). This is done by securing the three primary factors that make up the workforce: users, their devices, and the applications they access.

  • 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. Ideally this database system integrates with your HR processes that manage job categorization, usernames, and group memberships for all users. As employees join the company, change roles or responsibilities, or leave the company, these 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.

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.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we work and has increased the threat landscape, with more targeted attacks on organisations from cybercriminals and nation-state groups. As well as remote work, the Internet of Things (IoT), operational technology (OT), and network-enabled smart devices introduce areas of potential compromise for enterprise networks. In such uncertain times, the best thing companies can do is to implement technology that can be scaled and adapted to meet unpredictable challenges. 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.

For more information about Zero Trust Network Access, watch PATECCO video here:

Is Artificial Intelligence a Factor for Improving Identity Management and Security?

In today’s global and highly interconnected business environment people and companies collaborate constantly together. From one side, the business becomes more productive and efficient, but from the other side grows probability for the company to become a victim of a data breach or another cyber threat. Determining who should have access to what information is a hard task for many businesses and leaving that problem aside could make their systems vulnerable. That is why the importance of a smart and mature Identity & Access Management (IAM) strategy shouldn’t be underestimated. Researches from analyst companies report that more than 70% of organizations do not have a serious approach to IAM. That means that the risk for these organizations to get suffered from a data breach is twice as high compared to organizations that have their IAM strategy applied. Research reports also show that the smarter an IAM approach is, the smaller is the security risk.

IAM against data breaches

As mentioned above, for many organisations, IAM is a critical weapon in their cyber security arsenal. It is a great solution to mitigate against data breaches as well as manage the additional risks coming with remote working and Bringing Your Own Device (BYOD). Identity and Access Management (IAM) involves tracking the behaviour and actions of each individual and asset in the IT environment, specifically your system administrators and mission-critical assets. IAM enables individuals to access the correct resources at the right times for the proper reasons, which requires significant systems integration so that all platforms have the situational awareness necessary to properly enforce policy. If properly implemented, IAM can drastically increase visibility and security.

As we look ahead to the rest of 2021, securing identity access will once again be everywhere, but we are predicting that with the help of artificial intelligence and machine learning (AIML), there will be a more positive narrative to creating and managing an immutable digital identity. New AIML authentication technologies that continuously protect pre-, during and post-authorization, while leveraging individual behaviours in a secure and private manner will become mainstream, leaving cybercriminals in the dust.

How can AI improve Identity Management and Security

AI and machine learning (ML) technologies can be a major help for effective IAM and can help to avoid a lot of problematic situations. These technologies can assist enterprises to grow from an overly technical approach of access management into a form of access management that is understandable on all levels within a business.

  • Advanced analytics

Analytics in a combination with artificial intelligence can provide more focus and contextual insights so that both technical and non-technical employees can work more time efficient. Modern technologies provide ways to learn new insights and automate processes, which are able to drastically speed up the existing IAM compliance controls. They can detect anomalies and potential threats, without the need of security experts. This gives employees the needed information to make correct decisions. Such progress is crucial, especially in the area of fraud detection and in the area of combating insider threats. In this way the enterprises are continuously in control, continuously secure and compliant.

  • More precise access control

Moving on from biometric passwords, it is not hard to conceive that AI could identify a user with extra security by using sight and sound. Rather than checking against pre-defined credentials, a machine would be able to understand and confirm whether a person was who they claimed to be, by using visual and aural clues. It could also learn when to grant access, and act accordingly. Permitting access on the basis machine learning is the logical next step on from biometric ID.

Working within a user’s access permissions, AI systems could also monitor in a real-time any unusual or irrational behaviour. They could detect whether a user is trying to access a part of the system they wouldn’t normally or downloading more documents than they usually would. The rhythm of a user’s keyboard and mouse movements could be observed to identify irregular or uncommon patterns. These security policies allow the companies to safely conduct their business and to rely on a better breach detection and prevention.

  • Automation and Flexibility

 AI has the capability to monitor subtle details of users’ actions, so it’s possible to automate authentication for low-risk access situations and in this way it offloads some of the burden of IAM administration from the IT department. Considering these details before granting network access makes IAM contextual and granular and can control potential problems caused by improper provisioning or deprovisioning. AI-powered systems are able to apply appropriate IAM policies to any access request based on needs and circumstances, so that the IT department doesn’t have to waste time figuring out the basics of “least privilege” for every use case or resolving problems with privilege creep.

  • Going Beyond Compliance

Many enterprises make the mistake when thinking that complying with security and privacy regulations is sufficient to keep hackers away. Actually these laws are not enough to meet the security needs of every organization. The basics of compliance refers to ensuring information is only accessed by those who need it and ignoring everyone else. The flexible and adaptable nature of AI-powered IAM is very helpful in these situations. Due to the fact that AI and ML constantly monitor traffic, learn behaviors and apply granular access controls, enterprises face less of a challenge when enforcing security protocols, and it becomes difficult for hackers to get any use out of stolen credentials.

AI is no longer some special idea that nobody can realistically implement. It becomes a trend in the cyber security environment. The high degree of interconnectivity, the increasing number of human and device identities and the common practice toward global access will force the enterprises to incorporate smarter technologies into security protocols. And to implement a risk-based approach to Identity and Access Management (IAM), the enterprises will need advanced identity analytics powered by Machine Learning (ML). Best practices across the industry have proven that ML based identity analytics delivers significant improvements to IAM architecture and program management.

The Advantages of Role-Based Access Control in Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is an advanced emerging technology and it is regarded as a computing paradigm in which resources in the computing infrastructure are provided as a service over the Internet. Cloud computing provides a platform to cut costs and help the users to focus on their core business instead of being impeded by information technology obstacles. However, this new paradigm of data storage service introduces some security challenges for the business. A great part of data owners are concerned that their data could be misused or accessed by the unauthorized users in the cloud storage system.

Cloud stores a large amount of sensitive information that can be shared by other users of the cloud. Hence, to protect this sensitive information from the malicious users, access control mechanisms are used. Here, each user and each resource is assigned an identity, based on which they may either be granted or denied access to the data. These methods are called identity-based access control methods. One of the examples of such method is Role-Based Access Control (RBAC).

Role-Based Access Control Method

To protect sensitive data from improper use, change or deletion, companies need a system to restrict employee access. Role-Based Access Control refers to a method for restricting data access based on a user’s role in the company. With RBAC, employees can access only the resources and files they need to fulfil their responsibilities. Their credentials allow or restrict access based on the tasks they are assigned, so the chance for data misuse is minimised.

RBAC systems can be especially useful in larger enterprises and in companies that use third-party contractors. As the number of employees increases and the authorized contractors change, it can be difficult to provide unique credential settings for each employee. Using a role-based access control system means that admins can sort employees or contractors into pre-existing groups, or roles, which grant access to a defined set of resources. This access is temporary, as the employees can also be removed from the group when the task is complete. Admins can also reset the permission levels for the groups, which means they can better manage employees at scale, increase efficiency, and even improve compliance.

RBAC enables administrators to divide users into groups based on the different roles they take on, and a single user can belong to multiple groups. Typically, employee access takes into consideration the person’s active status and roles, any security requirements, and existing policies. The best practice is to provide minimal authorization for any given user – only enough so that they can do their job. This is known as the principle of least privilege, and it helps ensure data security.

Benefits of RBAC

For many organizations, divided into multiple departments, with hundreds of employees often equipped with their own computers, the role-based access control system is the best solution to apply for optimal security. If implemented efficiently, RBAC has many benefits for both your team and the entire organization.

  • Reducing administrative work and IT support

When a new employee is hired or if a current worker changes his job position or department, role-based access control eliminates the need for time-wasting paperwork and password changes to grant and remove network access.  Instead, you can use RBAC to add and switch roles quickly and implement them globally across operating systems, platforms and applications. It also reduces the potential for error when assigning user permissions. This reduction in time spent on administrative tasks is just one of several economic benefits of RBAC. It also helps to more easily integrate third-party users into your network by giving them pre-defined roles.

  • Maximizing operational performance

RBAC systems also can be designed to maximize operational performance and strategic business value. They can streamline and automate many transactions and business processes and provide users with the resources to perform their jobs better, faster and with greater personal responsibility. With RBAC system implemented, organizations are better positioned to meet their own statutory and regulatory requirements for privacy and confidentiality, which is crucial for health care organizations and financial institutions. Directors, managers and IT staffers are better able to monitor how data is being used and accessed, for the purpose of preparing more accurate planning and budget models based on real needs.

  • Providing solid security and high business value

Low maintenance costs and increased efficiency are among the key benefits of RBAC as a security strategy for midsize and large organizations. Here’s how it works: Once all of the employee roles are populated into the database, role-based rules are formulated and workflow engine modules are implemented. Through these elements, role-based privileges can be entered and updated quickly across multiple systems, platforms, applications and geographic locations – right from the HR or IT manager’s desktop. By controlling users’ access according to their roles and the attributes attached to those roles, the RBAC model provides a companywide control process for managing IT assets while maintaining the desired level of security.

  • Role-Based Access Control Helps Protect Against Data Breaches

Roles can also help minimize damage caused by a data breach. Besides data encryption and other security measures built into the storage repository, user access limitations help seal off potential hackers and limit any adverse impacts arising from a breach. Businesses can alert users trying to view data that they don’t have proper access and prompt them to contact an administrator for additional access.

Many businesses utilize single sign-on (SSO) connected to Active Directory (AD) to authenticate users. Employees can then connect locally or log in with a VPN. Once the data lake verifies their information, it produces a signature of their identity and role. If an employee is accessing data in your cloud-hosted data lake remotely, it’s critical to secure their connection.

  • Better security compliance

All organizations are subject to federal, state and local regulations. With an RBAC system in place, companies can more easily meet regulatory requirements for privacy and confidentiality. Furthermore, IT departments and executives have the ability to manage how data is being accessed and used. This is especially significant for health care and financial institutions, which manage lots of sensitive data.

A core business function of any organization is protecting data in the cloud. RBAC system can ensure the company’s information meets privacy and confidentiality regulations. So, if your business does not have an established data governance plan, it is time to develop one. Moreover, learning to recognize the potential dangers and establish proper responses to a data breach will help you to react faster and minimize damage.

How Can Identity and Access Management Prevent Cyber Attacks?

In recent times the network cyber security is serious task and challenge for each organisation. The impact of an identity management cyber security breach could have its negative consequences on staff productivity, your IT network, and company reputation, and profit as well. Cyber security threats occur at an increasingly alarming rate and become a day-to-day struggle for every company which is a potential target. Especially, most preferred targets are critical infrastructure organizations such as financial and insurance institutions, government agencies, public utilities, airports, energy and healthcare organizations.

The common practice of the attackers is to use the Internet, remote access, and partner network tunnels to penetrate your network and facilities. Attackers take advantage of vulnerabilities, wherever they exist, using a variety of techniques and tools to probe networks, publicize targets, stifle operations, gain business advantage and promote causes. For that reason organizations must create an effective enterprise security strategic plan based on identity and access management, ongoing vulnerability assessments, automatic intrusion detection and enterprise response planning.

IAM as a determining factor of cyber resilience

IAM is the foundation upon which each enterprise’s cybersecurity infrastructure must be built. It must have a comprehensive handle and always updated view of the identities flowing across your IT environment. With IAM, you allow only the right people, devices, and services get the right access to the right applications and data, at the right time. Without strong access control your organization faces a considerable risk of suffering a catastrophic security breach. By having tight control over identities, you boost your cyber resilience. Strong IAM makes your organization able to absorb the constant, inevitable changes, that businesses experience: mergers and acquisitions, new technology adoptions, continuous staff changes, pandemics and so on.

Effective identity security usually involves having an IAM solution in place that allows IT admins to centrally manage user identities and their access to IT resources. By using an IAM solution, IT admins can enforce password complexity requirements, MFA, and securely provision/de-provision access throughout the network – components that are vital to any solid identity security strategy whether your network is in the clouds or on-prem.

How Can IAM Prevent a Cyber Attack?

So how could Identity and Access Management help the enterprises to avoid or reduce the damage sustained in the attack? In this blog post PATECCO recommends a list of practices on how IAM can prevent an organization from a cyber attack:

  • Manage your IAM infrastructure centrally

Make sure your IAM infrastructure can ingest all identities and from ID stores wherever they’re located—on premises or in cloud—and manage them centrally, so that when changes happen, such as someone leaving or joining the company or changing roles, you can sync and consolidate the identity types in real time, without lags in status updates that cyber attackers are always ready to pounce on.

  • Automating the access privilege provision

For every new employee who needs to be added, assign all the privileges based on their roles and business rules. It’s better to have workflow automation. Besides, in case of an employee resignation or termination, you should be able to ensure that all the privileges will be taken away automatically. This practice will help in limiting and preventing unnecessary privileges.

  • Provide privileged account controls

Compromised privileged accounts are generally responsible for the most damaging breaches. Privileged users are still vulnerable to social engineering and phishing for shared passwords and those risks must be mitigated with a robust set of controls. Cyber risks from excessive privileges often go undetected indefinitely, which can allow intruders to expand their own abilities and privileges via those compromised privileged accounts.

  • Establish strong password policy

PATECCO advices to prevent the use of weak passwords across your network and systems. This is because increasing the complexity of a password makes it difficult to guess or crack. If enterprises prevent the use of weak passwords by enforcing every employee to fulfill some criteria while creating a password. It is recommended to use special characters, numbers, capital letters. Such a practice helps against the brute-force attack.

  • Use of Multi-Factor Authentication

When adding an extra layer in security precautions, you make a cybercriminal’s action more difficult. Using One Time Password, token, and smart card for multi-factor authentication fortifies the security infrastructure. Furthermore, the application of transparent multifactor authentication for critical applications and privileged identities is essential in the modern enterprise or government organization

  • Continuous Authentication

It is supposed that sometimes the hackers can destroy even the strongest authentication and authorization protocols Granted, they may need special tools, experience, and time, but eventually they could do so. So what you need in this case is an IAM tool that helps prevent hackers even beyond the login portal.

This is where continuous authentication comes into action. It evaluates users’ behavior compared to an established baseline often through behavioral biometrics. Hackers may have the right credentials, but each individual types in a particular manner that is not easily replicated. This can help stop phishing attacks before they happen.

The sudden and mass shift to remote work we experience since last year, as a result of the global pandemic, is a good example of why IAM is needed more than ever. With a strong IAM system and process, an organization can reduce the risks from such an abrupt and disruptive change. And it is sure that the importance of IAM will keep growing, as IT environments become more hybrid, distributed, and dynamic and as business processes continue to be digitized. Without strong IAM, modern IT technologies such as cloud computing, mobility, containers, and microservices could not be as efficient and secure as you would like them to be. 

Why Privileged Access Management Should Be a Cyber Security Top Priority For 2021

Cyber security is a hot topic for every enterprise in today’s hyper connected world. With the fast-growing technologies like cloud, mobile and virtualization, the security boundaries are a little bit blurred and not each organization protects its valuable and sensitive information properly. As a result, cyber attacks and data leakages occur more often and that’s why they are no surprise in the Information Security field. With the increasing sophistication of attacks on organizations of all sizes, the question is not whether the company will suffer a cyber attack, but when that attack will take place, and what its consequences will be.

Controlling privileged actions in a company’s infrastructure enables IT systems to be protected from any attempt to perform malicious actions such as theft or improper modifications to the environment – both inside and outside the company. In this context, a Privileged Access Management (PAM) solution can be considered as an important tool to speed up the deployment of a cybersecurity infrastructure.

Privileged Access Management is an area of identity security that helps organizations maintain full control and visibility over their most critical systems and data. A robust PAM solution ensures that all user actions, including those taken by privileged users, are monitored and can be audited in case of a security breach. Controlling privileged access not only reduces the impact of a breach, but it also builds resilience against other causes of disruption including insider threats, misconfigured automation, and accidental operator error in production environments.

Here are the top 7 reasons why Privileged Access Management (PAM) should be your highest cyber security priority:

  • PAM ensures high level of security for privileged credentials

PAM has drastically changed the way enterprises protect access to critical systems. Using credential vaults and other session control tools, PAM has allowed managers to maintain privileged identities while significantly decreasing the risk of their compromise. By centralizing privileged credentials in one place, PAM systems can ensure a high level of security for them, control who is accessing them, log all accesses and monitor for any suspicious activity.

  • Secure Passwords

A privileged account is a door to a company’s valuable assets, therefore it demands a high level of security. Multi-factor authentication protects the login attributes of privileged accounts. The admin or user’s identity verify to authenticate more than one independent credential. Adding layers of security to the credentials in the form of OTP, biometrics, response questions, etc., make it highly difficult for hackers to access the data.   

  •  Monitor Access

Only a certain number of specific people have privileged access to the account. PAM can help you detect any unauthorized access, by giving you a clear picture of who can access and who can not. Privileged Access Management also has the capability to detect and alert on malicious activity which helps in enhancing the overall cybersecurity.

  • Keeping track of users

Privileged Access Management always keeps track of users who access the accounts. It is possible to record any request for password change or update along with the user’s details. Besides, it can generate an extended report of the users along with the number of times they logged in to any application. This provides the organization a clarity on usage and security of the account.

  • PAM enhances compliance

A large number of corporations have to comply with industry and government regulations and that leads to more challenges. Coming with strong security control recommendations, Privileged Access Management can help get ahead quickly and develop a strong baseline. For better compliance, strong policies have to be in place that cover privileged accounts, monitoring usage and secure logons amongst others. In this case a PAM solution enables you to get in control of managing and securing privileged accounts to meet the needs of the access control requirement for a good number of the regulations, fast-tracking your way to being compliant.

  • PAM enables fast recovery from cyber attacks

In case of a cyber-attack your Privileged Access Management solution gives you the opportunity to quickly audit privileged accounts that have been used recently, to discover whether any passwords have been changed, and to determine which applications have been executed.

Professionally-designed PAM software also lets you restrict access to sensitive systems, require additional approval processes, force multi-factor authentication for privileged accounts and quickly rotate all passwords to prevent further access by the attackers. Moreover, PAM can help compare a baseline to before and after the incident, so you can quickly determine which privileged accounts might be malicious and audit the lifecycle. This is a good way to ensure recovery and maintaining the integrity of your privileged accounts.

  • PAM provides a high return on investment (ROI)

One of the main reasons that Privileged Access Management should be a top priority for organizations in 2021 is that it could save them time and money. On one hand, most cyber security solutions only reduce risk and a lot of enterprises spend valuable budget on security solutions that actually add no additional business value. On the other hand, the right PAM solution makes employees more productive by giving them access to systems and applications faster and more securely.

Implementing a proper PAM solution protects the access to sensitive systems and reduces the risk of getting compromised by disclosed passwords on the dark web. PAM also minimizes the cyber fatigue and simplifies the process of rotating and generating new complex passwords. All of these core features save valuable employee time which leads to cost savings for the business.

Best Practices of Role-Based Access Control (Part 2)

Access control is an essential component of IT and data security for all kind of businesses. This term describes a variety of ways to control who has access to your organization’s information resources. Access control provides not only a greater control over your network, data, website, or other sensitive systems or assets, but it also help you stay compliant with various industry standards and regulations.

When restricting the access to sensitive systems or data, you are limiting the potential risks concerning data exposure. For example, if only a few certain people have access to your customer database, it is less likely that the database will be exposed through credential compromise or insider threats.

And talking about giving access to company’s resources, it is crucial to mention that this access is related to roles and groups. So, what is actually Role-Based Access Control? What benefits it brings to the large enterprises and which are best practices for its implementation?

You can probably guess from the name, that role-based access control gives access permissions based on user roles. Under “role” you should understand the functions that an employee performs. Users may have one or more roles and may be assigned one or more permissions. In RBAC system, user access provisioning is based on the needs of a group (for example marketing department) based on common responsibilities and needs. This means that each role has a given a set of permissions, and individuals can be assigned to one or more roles.  A well-designed RBAC system also simplifies and streamlines the administration of access by grouping sets of access in a logical way (i.e. via department, job title, region, or manager level). Grouping common access permissions into roles ensures a secure and efficient way to manage access, while simplifying the process for both administrators and users.

Roles versus Groups

A frequently asked question is “What is the difference between roles and groups?” Indeed, there is a superficial similarity between RBAC roles and traditional groups. Let’s explain: Groups of users are commonly provided in many access control systems. A major difference between most implementations of groups and the concept of roles is that groups are typically treated as a collection of users and not as a collection of permissions. A role is both a collection of users on one side and a collection of permissions on the other.

A group is a collection of users with a given set of permissions assigned to the group. You can assign a role to group or you can assign user to group. By adding a user to a role group, the user has access to all the roles in that group. When they are removed, access becomes restricted. Users may also be assigned to multiple groups in the event they need temporary access to certain data or programs and then removed once the project is complete.

What are best practices for implementing RBAC?

In addition to the above mentioned RBAC features, we could also say that role-based access control provides a number of benefits such as improving your security posture, complying with relevant regulations, and reducing operational overhead. However, implementing role-based access control across an entire organization can be complex, so it is recommended to follow some best practices.

  • Build RBAC Strategy

When creating a plan you should start with an evaluation of where you are (data, method, policy, systems), to determine your ideal future state (automated RBAC-enabled access provisioning for a collection of apps and systems), and to identify the critical gaps that need to be addressed (data quality, process problems, various system-to-system authentication/authorization models). Pointing the challenges upfront makes it easier to fix them head-on before the implementation starts.

  • Establish a Framework for Governance

Organizations preparing to implement RBAC should make decisions on project goals, set expectations, manage and support implementation, set performance metrics, and manage risk. To identify data and process problems and prioritize remediation efforts, the governance board should link up with the HR function.

  • Prepare a team

The next step is to hire experienced business analysts and role engineers who have a broad experience of interviewing business owners and IT staff to gather detailed RBAC requirements from each area of business involved in the RBAC program.

  • Define roles

Once you’ve performed your analysis and decided on the scope, you can proceed to design roles around what permissions different roles need. Define roles strictly based on persona’s duties and responsibilities. Make sure the roles you defined are applicable to groups of individual users, otherwise, your RBAC model will minimize efficiency and simplification. We also recommend consolidating automatically migrated End-User roles.

  • Test and verify your roles

Roles require testing and verification. If at the outset you define roles sub-optimally and place them into production, you can end up with a lot of users who have too little or too much access. A major cleanup effort may be required if you roll out a role structure that has not been properly set up or tested.

  • Roll out in stages

Do not miss to consider rolling out RBAC in stages to reduce workload and disruption to the business. You can start with a core set of users and coarse-grain controls before increasing granularity. Then it is necessary to collect feedback from internal users and to monitor your business metrics before implementing additional roles.

  • Get Started With a Pilot

Try to reduce the implementation risk by produce a quick win and by demonstrating the efficiency of the RBAC model. That is why we suggest choosing a small department or business feature as a beta project. Do not expect to achieve immediate full coverage of all access via RBAC. A comprehensive RBAC solution could take months or even years to complete. It is realistic to implement RBAC in several phases.

Understanding the best practices and adapting to them early in an RBAC project is an efficient way to reduce IT service and administration costs, and to greatly improve an organization’s overall security posture. A successful RBAC implementation can reduce or even eliminate insider threats. This is a critical measure for any organization looking to strengthen its cybersecurity infrastructure.

Why Businesses Should Migrate to Hybrid Cloud Systems

Cloud structures are a hot topic, discussed from specialists and businessmen all over the world. Cloud computing, the disruptive technology that we know today, is the outcome of technological advancements over many years. It became a powerful tool and an enabler of business success through its attributes in today’s competitive market. Besides, it has also radically improved the way we interact with each other and perform businesses.

Now, the transformation to a „digital business“ by implementing cloud services and platforms is no longer an option – it’s an imperative for the existence and survival of any enterprise.  Organizations of all sizes have already access to more data to guide their decisions than at any point in history, and it’s turned data-access technology into big business. Gartner experts have stated that by 2021, over 75% of midsize and large organizations will have adopted a multicloud or hybrid IT strategy, so it’s important to understand what it is and how enterprises benefit from the hybrid cloud.

The essence of a hybrid cloud

Hybrid cloud computing started its development in 2008 and offers the enterprises incredible customization and security. The foundation of a hybrid cloud model is the combination of private and public cloud infrastructures that allow workloads to move between the two interconnected environments. This mobility between cloud environments gives organizations greater flexibility and agility in their data deployment options. For companies that want to maximize the benefits of both public and private cloud environments, hybrid cloud deployments offer tremendous advantages. Versatile and responsive, hybrid clouds are a popular solution for organizations looking to adopt creative solutions for their IT and computing needs.

Here are the top 6 reasons why business moves to hybrid cloud?

1. Security Compliance

One of the big challenges that many businesses face with hybrid cloud are unauthorized access (both from outsiders and other cloud tenants), visibility and worries about how you respond to incidents. When implemented well, a hybrid cloud security strategy can help provide the right level of security for the right data.  With a hybrid cloud model, however, companies can leverage the security of a private cloud with the power and services of a public cloud. While data stored in a private environment will likely still have to be transmitted to the public cloud for analytics, applications, and other processes, extensive encryption methods can be implemented to ensure this data remains as secure as possible.

A hybrid cloud’s centralized management makes it easier to implement strong technical security measures such as encryption, automation, access control, orchestration, and endpoint security, so you can manage risk effectively. An ideal hybrid solution will also help to support compliance and will offer a suite of helpful security benefits, for instance, system hardening and vulnerability shielding for protected systems.

2. Increased Scalability

Flexibility is critical for growing businesses. A hybrid cloud system provides new tools and data for innovation, ensuring you are no longer constrained by what’s available onsite. Using both private and public cloud solutions increases power and scalability through higher speeds and advanced infrastructure and planning. Resources and workloads can also be easily moved between clouds. As your needs change, you can scale resources up and down, optimising for performance and efficiency.

3. Reduced costs

Cost is a key factor for many organizations considering migrating to the cloud. A hybrid cloud is a great option for companies that want more security and control of their data but need a cost-effective way to scale their operations to meet spikes in demand. The hybrid cloud option means organizations can house their core, business-critical, and sensitive data on their private, on-premise servers while offloading less sensitive data and applications to the public cloud.

Hybrid cloud environments allow businesses to leverage the resources they already have, without the requirement to adopt new tools or splash out on new hardware. When using both a mix of private and public clouds, the upfront costs of installing in-house technology can be removed, or combined with a simple monthly payment, in order to simplify costs.

4. Flexibility

As previously mentioned, solely using private cloud can be very limiting for a business. Increased security means that employees cannot access the private cloud or business functions through unknown devices, limiting their ability to work remotely on the move or from home. This can hinder the productivity of a business, and contrasts with the kind of flexibility a business can achieve with public cloud.

Through a hybrid environment, a public cloud solution can be used for employees who want to share and store data in a form that is accessible from anywhere, whilst a private cloud can host critical security compliant applications. This offers flexibility to businesses looking for both security and mobility, and reduces the need for businesses to invest in a costly in-house infrastructure for their security reliant applications.

5. Increased agility and innovation

The ability to respond automatically to changes in demand is a key factor for innovation and competition. Nowadays, speed to market can build or break a company’s competitive edge. A hybrid cloud model helps organizations increase their speed to market by optimizing IT performance and providing the agility needed to meet changing business requirements.

Due to the fact that companies with a hybrid cloud aren’t limited to their private on-premise infrastructure, they can easily expand their workload on the cloud and more quickly test, prototype, and launch new products.

6. Improved Customer Experience

We are living in the digital age, where businesses should be customer-centric in order to be competitive against industry disrupters. If a business is not able to adjust to extra demand from customers, there is a risk of losing valuable business. In order to remain competitive and relevant, a business should invest in a cloud system that is flexible, scalable and caters to all their business needs. For example, with a hybrid cloud model, healthcare organizations can interact with patients in real-time and financial institutions have better oversight over a customer’s full financial overview.

Hopefully after reading through the top six advantages of Hybrid Cloud you now have a better perception why it is becoming such a popular choice for IT executives all over the world. Furthermore, just choosing to go hybrid cloud doesn’t mean you are guaranteed these benefits. Depending on your company and its needs and inherent complexities, executing your hybrid cloud vision could be a complex undertaking and the best option is to do it with an experienced partner.