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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. 

The Role of Identity and Access Management in Cybersecurity

In today’s digitally transformed world, Identity and Access Management (IAM) plays an essential  role in every enterprise security plan. As the business stores more and more sensitive data electronically, the need to protect sensitive information and data becomes critical. In this sense, IAM solution gives or limits the access permissions of different employees according to their roles.

Why IAM becomes more important than ever for enterprises?

IAM solutions must be an integral part of any enterprise security system. Their central management capabilities can help in improving security while decreasing the cost and complexity of protecting user access and credentials. In addition to providing access to employees, organizations also need to work, collaborate, and connect with contractors, vendors and partners, each with their own set of access requirements and restrictions. Furthermore, data and applications spread across cloud, on-premises and hybrid infrastructures are being accessed by a variety of devices including tablets, smartphones, and laptops.

Identity and Access Management is a Cyber and Information security discipline that ensures the right people have appropriate access to the organization’s critical systems and resources at the right time. For that reason IAM is based on three major pillars (Identification, Authentication and Authorization) which prevent the company to be exposed to cybersecurity threats like phishing, criminal hacking, ransomware or other malware attacks.

Benefits of IAM solutions having a significant influence in the cybersecurity

As mentioned above, effective IAM infrastructure and solutions help enterprises establish secure, productive, and efficient access to technology resources across these diverse systems while delivering several important key benefits:

  • IAM enhances security: This is perhaps the most important benefit organizations can get from IAM. Consolidating authentication and authorization capabilities on a single centralized platform provides business and IT teams with a streamlined and consistent method of managing user access during identity lifecycle within an organization. For example, when users leave a company, centralized IAM solution gives IT administrators the ability to revoke their access with the confidence that the revocation will take place immediately across all the business-critical systems and resources which are integrated with centralized IAM solution within the company. Thus, by controlling user access, companies can eliminate instances of data breaches, identity theft, and illegal access to confidential information.
  • Reduced Security Costs: Having a centralized IAM platform to manage all users and their access allows IT to perform their work more efficiently. In the digitally hyperconnected world, employees have access to hundreds of systems and resources as part of their job. Efficient centralized IAM solution can successfully address this challenge which results in huge savings of time and money for the company. A comprehensive IAM solution can reduce overall IT costs by automating identity processes that consume IT resources, such as onboarding, password resets and access requests, eliminating the need for help desk tickets or calls. Whenever a security policy gets updated, all access privileges across the organization can be changed in one sweep. IAM can also reduce the number of tickets sent to the IT helpdesk regarding password resets. Some systems even have automation set for tedious IT tasks.
  • IAM Provides direct connectivity: Connectivity is a hallmark of IAM because it provides direct linking to more than one hundred systems and applications. Supporting a wide range of systems, IAM makes it possible not only to apply Workflow Management and Self-Service to user account management, but also to a variety of other service provisioning processes including: requesting physical access to a work area, applying for a smartphone, or submitting a helpdesk ticket.
  • Least Privilege Principle: Least privilege is an important practice of computer and information security for limiting access privileges for users. With the increasing number of data breaches involving an insider, it is necessary to ensure access to all your corporate resources are secured and granted using least privilege principle. In a company it is a common practice for employees to move across different roles in the organization. If the granted privileges are not revoked when the employee changes the role, those privileges can accumulate, and this situation poses a great risk for many reasons. That makes this user an easy target for cyber hackers as his excessive rights can be an easier gateway for criminals to access the broader part of the company’s critical systems and resources. Or this can eventually turn into the insider threat where a person gets the ability to commit data theft. Sometimes companies forget to remove these excessive privileges from a user’s profile when he or she leaves the company. That leads to a security risk where the user can still access the company’s systems even after the termination. In this case, a well-designed centralized IAM solution can help organizations eliminate insider threat challenge by utilizing the Least Privilege Principle to a great extent.

There are many factors which have proved that Identity and Access Management evolution will influence on the cybersecurity industry. These factors refer to weaknesses in password security, increasing number of distributed and interconnected systems, technological advancements, and, the basic business needs to manage access and regulatory compliance risks efficiently. An end-to-end IAM implementation provides assurance that only authorized, authenticated users are able to interact with the systems and data they need to effectively perform their job. All that results in reducing the likelihood and impact of data breaches.