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Seven Elements of a Strong Cloud Security Strategy

Cloud security is gaining importance at many organizations, as cloud computing becomes mainstream. Most organizations use cloud infrastructure or services, whether software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS) or infrastructure as a service (IaaS), and each of these deployment models has its own, complex security considerations.

Cloud systems are shared resources and are often exposed to, or exist on, the public Internet, and so are a prime target for attackers. In recent years, many high profile security breaches occurred due to misconfigured cloud systems, which allowed attackers easy access to sensitive data or mission critical systems. This is the reason why securing cloud systems requires a comprehensive program and strategy to embed security throughout the enterprise’s cloud lifecycle.

A cloud security strategy is the foundation of successful cloud adoption. Besides significantly increasing your pace of progress as you embark on the journey, documenting your strategy early will achieve consensus and organizational agreement between business and technical teams on key drivers, concerns and governance principles.

  • 7 Key Elements of a resilient Cloud Security Strategy

Today’s security landscape is complex. Protecting your organization requires accepting the fact that your systems will be breached at some point; therefore, your strategy should contain both pre-breach and post-breach elements. Here are seven key elements of a strong cloud security strategy:

1. Identity and Access Management

All companies should have an Identity and Access Management (IAM) system to control access to information. Your cloud provider will either integrate directly with your IAM or offer their own in-built system. An IAM combines multi-factor authentication and user access policies, helping you control who has access to your applications and data, what they can access, and what they can do to your data.

2. Visibility

Visibility into current cloud architecture should be a priority for your security team. Lack of visibility around cloud infrastructure is one of the top concerns for many organizations. The cloud makes it easy to spin up new workloads at any time, perhaps to address a short-term project or spike in demand, and those assets can be easily forgotten once the project is over. Cloud environments are dynamic, not static. Without visibility to changes in your environment, your organization can be left exposed to potential security vulnerabilities. After all, you can’t protect what you can’t see.

3. Encryption

Your data should be securely encrypted when it’s on the provider’s servers and while it’s in use by the cloud service. Few cloud providers assure protection for data being used within the application or for disposing of your data. So it’s important to have a strategy to secure your data not only when it’s in transit but also when it’s on their servers and accessed by the cloud-based applications.

Encryption is another layer of cloud security to protect your data assets, by encoding them when at rest and in transit. This ensures the data is near impossible to decipher without a decryption key that only you have access to.

4. Micro-Segmentation

Micro-segmentation is increasingly common in implementing cloud security. It is the practice of dividing your cloud deployment into distinct security segments, right down to the individual workload level. By isolating individual workloads, you can apply flexible security policies to minimize any damage an attacker could cause, should they gain access.

5. Automation

Certainly, automation is a key part of building a successful cloud strategy, as is the need to manage IAM policies. We recommend automating everything you can, everywhere you can. This includes leveraging serverless architecture to respond to alerts, making them manageable to avoid alert fatigue and enabling your security operations team to focus on the events that need their attention.

6. Cloud Security Monitoring

Security Monitoring is not only a matter of choosing the right security service provider but it requests that company develop and drive adoption of a standard interface that permits to query the actual security status of specific elements of a provider’s services. In an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offering, these may include security status of a virtual machine. In a Platform as a Service (PaaS) or Software as a Service (SaaS), the patch status of a piece of software may be important. In both of these cases (PaaS and SaaS), applications are provided through the cloud and their update status would need to be monitored. The data will be maintained by the provider in real time, allowing the subscriber to ascertain security levels at any given point in time. The onus is ultimately on the subscriber to ensure its compliance reporting meets all geographical and industry-based regulations.​

7. Secure data transfers

Keep in mind that data is not only at risk when it’s sitting on cloud storage servers, it’s also vulnerable when in transit (i.e. while being uploaded, downloaded or moved on your server). Although most cloud service providers encrypt data transfers as a rule, this is not always a given.

To ensure data is protected while on the move, make certain that transfers go through secure HTTP access and are encrypted using SSL. Your business IT support provider should be able to help you obtain an SSL certificate and configure your cloud service to use it. You may also want to install HTTPS Everywhere on all devices that connect to your cloud.

The role of the cloud and container utilization will significantly grow in 2022 and beyond, as the speed of migrating to hyperscale environments continues to accelerate. Without a sound cloud security strategy, organizations will increase their risk profile as they increase their cloud consumption, opening themselves up to potentially devastating attacks and breaches.

A strong cloud security strategy paired with advanced technology solutions and trusted security partners will help ensure organizations can take advantage of the many unique capabilities and benefits of modern computing environments without incurring additional and unacceptable risk.

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.

How to Successfully Conduct Recertification of Access Rights

From our practice, we know that every company has employees that have been there from the beginning and worked in different departments. They know everything about the company’s processes, and it makes them valuable employees. But at the same time, they can also access sensitive data, and that makes them dangerous and a periodic user access review can mitigate this danger.

The user access review, otherwise known as access recertification, is an essential part of access management and is an important practice for each organisation. As a critical component of your Identity and Access Management strategy, this control mechanism ensures that your Information System users have legitimate and consistent access rights to your systems and applications.

In this article, we discuss the definition and importance of user access recertification and review the best practices to make the process fast and effective.

What is Access Recertification?

As said above, recertification, is a key component of your IAM strategy, closely linked to identity lifecycle management and to account and rights provisioning. The goal is to ensure that information system users have the access rights they should have, and to certify them, or – if necessary – carry out remediation operations in the event of non-compliance with the company’s authorisation policy.

This IAM element helps provide good governance and authorisations control, in order to ensure the expected compliance guarantees. It allows companies not only to achieve compliance with their security policy and to limit operational risks, but also to meet a wide range of regulatory challenges, including those relating to regular audits by the parent company or by official auditors.

If not reviewed periodically, privileged access can fall into the hands of bad actors, whether on purpose or on accident. The risks involved with the wrong person having access can be great and potentially disastrous for an organization and its reputation.

Why is it important to review access rights?

The ultimate aim of a user access review is to reduce the risk of a security breach by limiting access to critical data and resources. To prevent situations such as security breach or data theft, is one of the reasons to conduct a recertification. It also eliminates threats such as the following:

  • Excessive privileges. In a perfectly secure world, access privileges can be granted only to users that need them only to do their jobs. In reality, permanent access is often granted when an employee needs access just once or may (or may not) need it in the future. A timely review helps to revoke unneeded user access rights.
  • Access misuse and employee mistakes. According Data Breach Investigations Reports, 15% of data breaches happen because of access and data misuse. A user access review helps to limit access and, therefore, reduce the possibility of a costly mistake.
  • Insider threats. The key danger of insiders comes from the fact that they have access to sensitive data and know about security measures implemented in the organization. Insider threats can be partially mitigated by revising and restricting access according to the principle of least privilege. However, the best practice is to couple reviews with the creation of an insider threat policy and deployment of user monitoring, access, and identity management software.

Figure 1: Functions of recertification

Which best practices should be followed for effective recertification?

To mitigate the potential risks and keep your access management routine efficient and secure, it’s in your organization’s best interest to conduct periodic user access reviews. And if you don’t have regular access recertification done already, here are some user access review best practices to help you set up an efficient process.

  • Develop a user access review policy

Developing a user access review policy is crucial for any organization’s security. A thorough policy can help save an organization time and money while mitigating cybersecurity risks and protecting sensitive information. It’s best to consider policy development as the information-gathering stage of the process, with a lot of asking questions and finding answers. For example: Who has access to what? What is the most important information that needs protecting? Who and what is most vulnerable to risk? What software exists to mitigate those risks?

The development of a user access review policy should always be geared toward achieving a Zero Trust policy, meaning, a policy that allows users access to only the bare minimum needed for job duties.

  • Implement role-based access control (RBAC)

This access control model allows for creating user roles for positions instead of configuring each user’s account individually. Each role is assigned a list of access rights. RBAC speeds up a user access review because, with this model in place, you can review roles instead of separate profiles.

In PATECCO, role-based access is easy to set up and manage: you can add users with similar privileges to groups and manage their privileges in a few clicks.

  • Implement the principle of least privilege

The principle of least privilege dictates that users should have access to data only if they absolutely need it. The fewer privileges a user has, the less time you need to spend reviewing them.This principle is easily implemented with PATECCO: new users have a minimum number of access rights or privileges by default. An administrator can assign a user to a privileged user role by adding them to a specific group or can provide constant or temporary access to resources.

  • Provide temporary access instead of permanent

During an access review, revoking such access rights takes a lot of time. Whenever possible, one of the best practices is to use features like one-time passwords instead of assigning a user a new role or granting permanent access rights. Another option for providing temporary access is to implement privileged access management (PAM). This approach is based on granting access only when users need it to complete their jobs and revoking it when the task is finished.

Conducting a user access review is an important part of the access management process. It reduces the risk of a data breach and reduces a wide range of security issues. With the support of PATECCO, you can take your access management to a higher level, as this solution provides:

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:

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.

PATECCO Launches a New Whitepaper – “How can Management, Audit and IT Simplify the dentity Governance Process Using Security Verify Governance”

The latest whitepaper from PATECCO is here. Learn more about IBM Security Verify Governance and what are the goals of IGA processes. In the whitepaper you will also find interesting information on the following points:

  • People – Processes – Technology
  • Reduction of security risks
  • Proposed solution
  • Compliance with recertification campaigns
  • Lifecycle of roles with SVG workflows
  • Analytics – Risk analysis with SVG Access Risk Control

Click the image below to read the white paper:

Identity and Access Management – Concept, Functions and Challenges

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

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

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

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

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

2. Key Concept of IAM

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

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

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

3. Function of Identity Management

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

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

• Authentication and authorization

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

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

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

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

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

4. Challenges in IAM

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

Distributed applications

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

  • Productive provisioning

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

  • Bring your own device (BYOD)

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

  • Regulatory compliance

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

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

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

Is Identity Governance the Key to Your Enterprise Digital Transformation

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

  • Managing an identity governance infrastructure

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

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

  • How Effective Is Identity Governance?

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

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

  • Build a culture of identity governance

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

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

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

Why 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.

Why Zero Trust Is Important For Your Business?

Organisations today need to estimate the risk associated with each request for access to their critical resources, provided that a great part of these requests come from third party platforms, contractors, and, most important of all, remote workers. In such situation, relying on network centric models carry with them several challenges and expose several vulnerabilities that may be exploited to the detriment of companies.

Deploying a Zero Trust model directly addresses and solves security challenges of this nature, and in the process, also helps in streamlining businesses that are moving towards greater and secure adoption of digital transformation processes. A Zero Trust model moves away from the conventional, network-centric approach that traditional security models have come to rely on, and are instead moving towards a more nuanced approach that focuses on the identity of the users and the applications that only they are allowed to access. By focusing on user and device identity, and not assigning trust to any user by default, a zero trust model ensures a more rational approach to security.

Here, in this article, we have outlined the security and business benefits associated with the adoption of a Zero trust Model.

Why Zero Trust?

Adopting the Zero Trust Networking approach to security can serve well the needs of both corporations and consumers. To truly protect their own and their customer’s data, organizations must not trust any activity that might take place either inside or outside of their networks. Instead, they should verify every request to access their networks to ensure it’s safe.

To make the enterprise IT environment safe, organizations can utilize a number of technologies and protocols. Leveraging these security technologies — including IAM, multi-factor authentication, encryption, analytics, orchestration, scoring and file system permissions – Zero Trust makes it easier for businesses to be more alert about access to information, ensuring data security.

Benefits of Zero Trust for Business and Security

  • Lowers breach potential

Apart from the obvious financial losses, data breaches can also result in an immeasurable impact on customer trust in companies. Both customers and governments are growing increasingly strident in their demands for data privacy and security and it falls upon businesses to meet that obligation in the best possible way. To minimise breach potential, the network using Zero Trust architecture continuously analyses workloads vis-à-vis their intended states. The moment there is a mismatch, its communication privileges are cut off from the rest of the system. It’s a form of practicing automatic distrust by the system until there is adequate course correction as dictated by system policies.

  • Reduces business and organizational risk

Zero trust assumes all applications and services are malicious and are disallowed from communicating until they can be positively verified by their identity attributes—immutable properties of the software or services themselves that meet predefined authentication and authorization requirements. Zero trust, therefore, reduces risk because it uncovers what’s on the network and how those assets are communicating. Further, as baselines are created, a zero trust model reduces risk by eliminating overprovisioned software and services and continuously checking the “credentials” of every communicating asset.

  • Reduce management costs

In addition to centralizing the location of security tools, Zero Trust also reduces expenditures by centralizing security management. In a traditional network, each security control has its own management interface or consoles, so operational, maintenance, and training costs soar. By reducing the number and types of controls, Zero Trust reduces the number of management consoles needed for the network. Security employees spend less time on management and more on substantive security activities.

  • Becomes a partner in digital transformation

In a perimeter-based approach to security, the security team earned a reputation as paranoid custodians because once they allowed access into the corporate perimeter in support of a new cloud service, partner, or customer engagement model, they were opening a door or connection to the entire corporate network. In a Zero Trust network where the security team has segmented apps and data into secure enclaves or microperimeters, security pros can quickly support new services with the appropriate granular privileges and data protection without inhibiting existing business and employee productivity.

  • Ensures greater agility in Business and Operations

A Zero Trust Model offers businesses the flexibility to implement their priorities rapidly throughout the organisations. Once a Zero Trust Model has been implemented, it can allow for easy transition of workforces from on premise to remote locations without the accompanying security challenges that traditional security models often carry with them. Zero Trust Models also allow for easier accessibility of required resources for third party contractors, and allow for secure deployment of company assets on customer sites as well, which allows for easier integration with customer assets, and hence, better security for them.

  • Better control over cloud environment

One of the greatest concerns of security practitioners about moving to and using the cloud, is loss of visibility and access control. Despite an evolution in cloud service provider security, workload security remains a shared responsibility between the CSP and the organization using the cloud. That said, there is only so much an organization can affect inside someone else’s cloud.

With zero trust, security policies are based on the identity of communicating workloads and are tied directly to the workload itself. In this way, security stays as close as possible to the assets that require protection and is not affected by network constructs such as IP addresses, ports, and protocols. As a result, protection remains unchanged even as the environment changes.

The implementation of a Zero Trust Model ensures significant business benefits for businesses. Not only do they ensure better visibility across the network, their focus on a continuous assessment of risk and trust associated with each user, each device, and each access request ensures all round, streamlined security. At the same time, with their scalable on demand, multi cloud flexibility, a Zero Trust Model ensures an enhanced user experience and a smooth transition and operation in the cloud.