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Why should public sector organisations invest in Identity & Access Management solutions?

Why should public sector organisations invest in Identity and Access Management solutions?

With the acceleration of cloud adoption, remote working, tech evolution and the frequency of cyber security breaches, organisations are realising the value that an identity and access management solution can provide – but is it worth the investment?

Simply put, yes it is.

And, in our honest opinion, modern IAM should also be considered a critical component for organisational security.

But why?

IAM is an ever-changing discipline and organisation’s need to keep up to date with changing protocols and practices to ensure organisational security on all levels and from all angles. Organisation’s must have firm control over employee and user access to mitigate any possible data breaches, leaks, or serious security incidents.

Incorrect allocation of an identity to an application, obscure role definitions or inaccurate classifications can result in employees having too much or too little access, causing disruption to users’ productivity and consequently halting business operations.

The implementation of an IAM solution contributes not only towards the organisation’s protection from compromised credentials but can also contribute towards improved business productivity, seamless functioning of digital systems, increased efficiency, lowered costs, and improved information governance.

 

The importance of Identity and Access Management (IAM): Security, Costs and Business Functions

Ignoring the need for modern IAM can result in a multitude of organisational security issues, high costs and reduced business functioning. Implementing an effective identity governance solution and a robust IAM resolution, can significantly improve these risks through the enforcement of:

  • Mandatory password resets
  • Micro-certifications
  • Least privilege access policies
  • Multi factor authentication
  • Conditional access

And much more – keeping your employees, partners, and the organisation as a collective safe.

 

Security risks

Password Fatigue and Security/Data/PI Breaches

Each year billions of users’ credentials are exposed – notably usernames, email addresses and passwords – which can have a detrimental effect on your organisation: breaching data protection legislations, exposing financial details, and more. Individual applications require their own identity login credentials. For users, this can be tiresome and frustrating as they waste time attempting to remember, reset and manage their various login credentials.

The result: using obvious and recycled passwords across all or multiple systems AKA “password fatigue”.

The danger: one of the applications used is breached, hackers then try and use credentials across other networks and apps, becoming both an identity and security breach for the organisation.

The solution: SSO, multi-factor or biometric authentication.

Through single sign-on (SSO), multi-factor and biometric authentication these issues can be resolved and alleviated.

Passwords – even the more complex – are nothing but a minor obstacle for cyber criminals. They alone are no longer enough and can no longer compete with today’s requirements.

With MFA and biometric solutions that IAM brings, users can authenticate their identity providing multiple authentication factors:

  1. Something they know: password, NI number, answers to security question(s) etc.
  2. Something they have: access to a mobile phone receiving SMS messages and tokens.
  3. Something you are: facial, fingerprint, and voice recognition.

Authenticating users through biometrics in addition to private and personal data, information or knowledge provides substantial security. Authentication can also change depending on how someone is accessing applications. For example, if a user is attempting to log in through a new device or IP address, you can enforce stronger security processes.

 

Reduce service labour costs

Password resets

Password resets may appear to be a trivial matter with little to no costs to the business – this, however, is not true. Studies by Gartner suggest that 20-50% of IT desk calls request performing a password reset, whilst Forrestor Research reports that a single password reset costing more than £50.

With these statistics combined, it is clearly a costly inconvenience. Through the adoption of IAM, these costs can be significantly reduced – specifically through the implementation of SSO, MFA or the more modern “future of passwords” – password-less authentication.

On-boarding and off-boarding

The process of both on-boarding and off-boarding can be costly for organisation’s with poor IAM.

Typically, an on-boarding process consists of:

  • HR send ticket(s) to IT, requesting to add new employee member(s)
  • IT member manually inputs user into the system
  • IT will also manually add user(s) to several security groups – based around access level
  • IT add user(s) to various applications on-premises and cloud-based
  • Electronic devices i.e., laptop, computer, mobile phone(s), need to be provisioned and set-up for employee(s)
  • Electronic devices need to be shipped for remote workers and then talk them through the set-up

With offboarding, IT administrators must manually remove each user’s access to individual applications, ensure data is secure and wipe devices clean. With remote workers, this also means ensuring that electronic devices are received in a timely manner to then carry out these processes. With modern, automated onboarding and offboarding, the time spent conducting both onboarding and offboarding can be drastically shortened – from days to mere hours. This is achieved through relevant IT policies and provision(s) of permissions.

Permissions will be coded based on their role and position within the business – this can then be updated accordingly as employees move through the organisation, or as and when they leave. Updates to least privilege based on their positions will also apply to all applications, data and resources individuals use, further reducing the time IT team spend on lifecycle management. Through the reduction of time spent on lifecycle management, application provisioning and creating custom profiles, your IT team will spend less time focusing on administrative work resulting in your IAM platform helping your organisation save time and money collectively.

Improved productivity

The purpose of digital integration is to help your organisation eliminate tedious tasks, improve security, and promote productivity. New employees need to be on-boarded as quickly as possible – the faster they are settled in, the faster they can start work and be productive – this will mean money spent is an investment.

Typically, organisations use a multitude of applications. Normally this requires the new starter to gain access to each individual app which can become frustrating, time-consuming, and ultimately halt the user from carrying out their job and being productive. When users can’t log in or are unable to access their account due to slow on-boarding process or forgotten passwords, valuable time is lost – this is something that affects all employees.

Using a single password (SSO) solution enables users to use just one set of credentials and gain access to a multitude of applications and resources. This allows for a seamless experience, with incredibly easy access. With a low friction process which IAM provides, employee productivity is improved.

 

Can IAM ensure protection and security with hybrid environments?

Whilst Identity and Access Management plays a role in the protection and security of an organisation, it is an added element (a crucial one in today’s digital era) of protection. IAM alone is not the solution for organisations security and protection. It is down to the organisation and their practices and policies that will determine the true security of any organisation.

However, through incorporating an IAM solution your organisation has increased chances of defending themselves against ransomware, data security breaches and cyberattacks. Statistics, studies and reports speak for themselves with how IAM contributes towards the protection and security – especially within new, hybrid working environments.

It is reported that the majority of security breaches, 81% to be precise, are caused by ‘weak’ passwords being compromised. Experts believe that nearly 80% of these breaches would be avoided with MFA. This is further supported with 91% of organisations claiming that password MFA (a feature of IAM) is important in order to stop credential theft and phishing attacks.

 

So, how exactly does IAM equip organisations?

Identity and Access management equips an organisation’s IT with the ability to successfully secure and maintain employees identities, whilst simultaneously controlling and managing access. Furthermore, IAM equips organisations with the ability to ensure that their workflows, processes and handling of data complies with all regulatory guidelines. Regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Ultimately, an Identity and Access management solution will work to:

  1. Identify
  2. Authorise
  3. Authenticate

In order to fulfill these IAM tools and methods include:

  1. Single sign on (SSO)
  2. Active directory management (AD)
  3. Multi-factor authentication (MFA)
  4. Role-based access control (RBAC)
  5. Federated identity management

With today’s ever-emerging technological developments, IAM can now incorporate additional (and more modern) functions and tools. These tools typical include:

  1. Biometrics
  2. Fast Identity Alliance (FIDO)
  3. Adaptive MFA
  4. Machine learning
  5. Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  6. Risk-based authentication, and (most recently)
  7. Zero-trust network security

Through the use of the tools, functions and methods, IAM acts as a cybersecurity best practice. Not only identifying, authenticating and authorising users, but further prohibiting unauthorised ones. Collectively, IAM equips organisations to not only be efficient, but improves its effectiveness and accuracy of management throughout the business – promoting a secure and protected organisation that can be trusted.

 

Why Zero Trusts models should be in organisation IAM strategies

Security is no longer confined to the building of an organisation. Valuable information and business critical data flows between SaaS and IaaS applications, data centres, IoT devices, remote devices and more. As a result, there is an increase in entry points and therefore opportunities for malicious entities to infiltrate.

With rises in these more advanced attacks, in addition to cooperation IT trends i.e. making the move to a hybrid cloud and remote working, there are increasing demands for efficient and effective defenses. Simply put, traditional perimeter-based securities are no longer able to keep up with the complexities with modern environments and infrastructures.

Organisations today require new, innovative and agile security models that can effectively adapt to the complex modern environments and hybrid working, whilst simultaneously protecting business critical information, data, apps, resources and people.

What Is Zero Trust?

Zero Trust models ensure both verification and authorisation for every user, device and application attempting to gain access to organisations resources. As opposed to assuming everything and everyone can be trusted, Zero Trust models automatically assume breach and verifies each and every request as if the source originates from an open network.

Prior to its development, implicit trust was the reality for many businesses, along with effective VPNs, web gateways and firewalls for protection. It was safe to assume that everything behind the organisation’s firewall is safe, and could be trusted.

However, organisations have quickly come to find that is not the case.

Through Zero Trust, anomalies can be both detected, and responded to in real time; whilst also minimising lateral movement. This is achieved through the utilisation of rich intelligence and analytics, and through the application of micro-segmentation and least privileged access principles.

Zero Trust models can helps organisations defend themselves across their entire organisation, including the following areas:

  1. Identity
  2. Endpoints
  3. Apps
  4. Data
  5. Infrastructure
  6. Network

What is the connection between Zero Trust and Identity and Access Management (IAM)?

Zero Trust models are built around IAM – the identification and verification of entities or user identities is a central element to this model. Quintessentially, and hypothetically, Zero Trust is a state of mind. It’s the approach of: “never trust, always verify”. It is an added element, or model, to Identity and Access Management (IAM). Organisations are embedding security features such as single sign-on (SSO), multi-factor authentication (MFA) for confirmation and assurance. As organisations become more aware of IAM, Zero Trust will surely become a prominent pillar embedded within an organisation’s strategy – pushing for a more secure future.

Why Zero Trust, and why now?

The sudden move to a hybrid workplace and remote working, accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic, exposed the flaws of organisations’ prior implicit trust model. In fact, it was very quickly revealed that hijacking remote workers was the key to perforate firewalls through an employee’s VPN. This revelation further accelerated the adoption of Zero Trust models, strategies and implementation. Why? Because Zero Trust models can aid security with new remote and hybrid work environments.

Here’s some background: In July of 2021 Microsoft conducted a global Zero Trust Application report. From this report it was revealed that 81% of organisations made their move to hybrid working (with 31% already there). However, organisations’ concerns for transitioning, chiefly, employee misused, increased IT workloads, and most importantly, security and cyberattacks, was quickly revealed. In fact 91% of organisations had these concerns.

Since these revelations, over the past three years 82% of companies and organisations have implemented Zero Trust strategies, with 21% having done so since the pandemic hit.

Due to the vast variety of concerns, as well as start points for organisations and their security concerns and stress points, Zero Trust models are in fact perceived as an end-to-end strategy – delivering a complete functional solution for each concern.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to Zero Trust implementation, giving permission to start anywhere.” – Microsoft Zero Trust Application Report (July 2021)

What are the proven benefits of Zero Trust?

You’ll be surprised.

Organisations that have begun their journey to implement a Zero Trust strategy for security and protection, have expressed (and experienced) the following benefits:

  • 37% report increased agility
  • 35% report improved speed
  • 35% report improved and an increase in protection of customer data

Direct benefits can also be felt by employees too:

  • 27% report ‘freed-up’ security teams
  • 22% report less resources needed to manage its infrastructure

Most importantly, 47% of organisations believe that their Zero Trust strategy will help them not only manage changes to a hybrid environment, but also threats too. With an astounding 79% reporting that they feel confident about their ability to handle such security threats.

 

How to start an IAM Journey

To start your IAM journey, you will need an effective strategy in place.

Making drastic, modern, and necessary security changes without expertise and a robust strategy can drastically effect your organisation and its day-to-day operating functions, employee productivity and ease of use. Today it is a crucial element not to assume that all employees and users are tech-savvy, as this can dramatically impact the productivity of business functions, and ease of use.

The implementation of an effective IAM strategy will provide you with a strategic guide, education and insight of the true transformational value of doing so. An IAM strategy will enable your organisation to both accelerate and achieve organisational goals. When creating your strategy, whether you decide to embark on this transformational security journey independently, or through a third party, there are crucial elements to be covered and discovered.

At Shaping Cloud, we break this down into 5-phases:

  1. Discovery: Identification and Analysis
  2. Current State
  3. Future State
  4. Road Map
  5. Implementation and Management

Essentially, organisations must work to discover and determine its current state, its aspiring future state, and the roadmap to get there. Organisations should seek an IAM solution that is frictionless. This will then create seamless interaction with your applications and product(s), promoting not only their digital and cyber safety but the organisations too.

 

Shaping Cloud: Your IAM Solution

Shaping Cloud provides bespoke IAM solutions, allowing your organisation to access applications, data, and other information seamlessly and securely on any device from any location. This further permits your organisation to remain both productive and on-trend with technological advancements – meeting the needs and requirements of both the organisations and individuals.

Working with you, we take the time to fully understand your systems, data and applications, current backup and retention policies, as well as your business needs, requirements and more. This ‘discovery phase’ allows us to determine the design and configuration of your new IAM solution.

Shaping Cloud will then work transparently with the organisation, as the organisation begins to convert its current state to the new IAM solution. To ensure quality assurance, on-going support, assistance and advice is provided and testing is carried out to assure that all migrations, configurations or creation of solutions with deployments are smooth-running with minimal disruption and impact.

Our integrated Identity and Access Management service provides expert consultancy, design, development, implementation, integration and managed support throughout.

What you need can be facilitated with Shaping Cloud’s IAM solutions.

Shaping Cloud is your partner, not provider.

We therefore take pride in being your end-to-end IAM partner who understands your needs, the current technological trends and technology available, who can both design and implement a bespoke solution aligned with your wider strategy.

 

Related Blog Posts:

Data Analytics within the NHS and why it’s so important. (shapingcloud.com)

Can data help Local Authorities achieve the digital innovation they desire? (shapingcloud.com)

Cloud Strategy Formula: A Complete Guide – What is a Cloud Strategy? (shapingcloud.com)


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