Secure distributed teams with identity and access management

identity and access management

With employees scattered because they’re all working from home, it can be difficult to ascertain if they are who they say they are when they log into their accounts. Or, it can be easy — thanks to identity and access management (IAM).
 
It’s no coincidence that IAM sounds like someone saying “I am,” because identity authentication is a large part of this security framework.

Identity authentication has two objectives, the first being to make it easy and convenient for authorized users to access what they need to do their jobs.
Its second objective is to make it very difficult for unauthorized users to get their hands on company data and other digital assets.

IAM not only fulfills this objective at the network periphery but also within the network itself (more on this in the section on behavior monitoring).
 
Essentially, IAM allows for better control over who can access certain business data, systems, and resources, thereby reducing identity-related access risks. In fact, here are some of the most important IAM features that can protect your business as it leverages distributed teams.

Multifactor authentication (MFA)

Usernames and passwords are no longer enough to protect user accounts from ill-intentioned hackers. Some sophisticated brute force attacks involve powerful computers that can crack an account’s password in just a minute or up to a few days, depending on the password’s length and complexity. Additionally, many data breaches have mined access credentials from company databases, making staff members’ company accounts vulnerable to being taken over.
 
Therefore, organizations need to implement MFA to ensure that company accounts aren’t compromised just because of stolen login credentials. MFA is the collective term for the methods employed to verify a user’s identity beyond their username and password. Some methods use biometric scans to authenticate users’ identities, whereas others utilize one-time passcodes that are sent to users via SMS or email.

Passwordless authentication

Some IAM tools enable passwordless authentication. This method involves a hardware device, such as a USB thumb drive, to work like a key that unlocks network permissions for the device holder.

Single sign-on (SSO)

It’s good password hygiene to use different passwords for different accounts, but remembering all of them can be a huge headache. This difficulty pushes people to use and reuse simpler, easier-to-crack passwords, which makes using such security measures moot.
 
With IAM, you can enforce SSO, which is the use of one complex password (and MFA requirements) to grant users access to the things they’re permitted to use. To illustrate, a user may simply log in to their corporate account and then open their email without having to log in their email account separately.

Behavior monitoring

IAM tools that are equipped with machine learning can become familiar with the normal behaviors of users. That is, the tools can learn from which IP addresses users normally access their accounts, when they usually do so, and what types of data they usually access.
 
Once a normal profile is created, the IAM tool can spot unusual IP address logins, irregular login times, and abnormal file access. The tool can then alert IT admins of the suspicious activity so that they can quickly respond to any potential threats.

Further reading: Cybersecurity trends in 2021

Zero trust network access (ZTNA)


A ZTNA solution presumes that your network perimeter has already been breached, which means that those already moving inside your network aren’t necessarily trustworthy (thus the term “zero trust”).
 
Network admins can use ZTNA to limit users’ access to the bare minimum they need to perform their work. This means that if a user’s account has indeed been taken over by a cybercriminal, the criminal can only steal the data that the user has access to instead of having unfettered access to company data.
 
Furthermore, ZTNA permits IT admins to focus more on protecting sensitive information. They can create micro-perimeters around folders and drives that contain such info and require extra login procedures that only authorized personnel can fulfill. In short, with ZTNA, admins can become more efficient when it comes to where they expend their security efforts.
 
Thanks to IAM tools, permitting remote work doesn’t mean having to compromise your company’s cybersecurity. To learn how to leverage IAM, turn to SimplyClouds. Schedule a consultation with our IT experts today.

Identity authentication via an IAM tool makes it easy for authorized users to access what they need to do their jobs, while makingit very difficult for unauthorized users to get their hands on company data and other digital assets.

Categories: Cybersecurity, Zero trust network access

Tags: multi factor authentication, cybersecurity, Identity management, Access management, IAM, cybersecurity risks, zero trust network access, ZTNA, single sign-on, SSO, Passwordless authentication, behavior monitoring