There’s no doubt about it – the COVID-19 pandemic and its resulting lockdown restrictions has had a fundamental and potentially long-lasting impact on businesses all over the globe. While the shift to remote working was already seeing considerable uptake prior to the arrival of the virus, this trend has very suddenly and unexpectedly become a necessity.
Although this change has offered many organisations a valuable insight into the benefits of remote working, its abruptness has also meant critical success factors like cybersecurity have sometimes been overlooked for the sake of convenience. Left unchecked, however, this sharp rise in remote working could leave businesses open to all manner of cyberthreats. An area of particular concern is the management of your people’s digital identities and access privileges.
What is Identity Access Management and why is it important?
Identity Access Management (IAM) enables organisations to define and manage the digital identities and permissions of the users on their network. With so many different devices, environments, and applications being utilised by your people on a regular basis, usernames and passwords alone are no longer enough. It’s imperative to ensure they are provided seamless, rapid access to the things they need and are not distracted by the things they don’t. While this is achievable in a typical on-premises office environment, for those with dispersed remote workforces, IAM has been put under the spotlight.
The most prominent challenge remote working presents is that it offers little-to-no visibility over what your people access, download, or modify at any given time. With an IAM solution in place, you gain complete control over who sees what, why, and when. It’s often perceived as the first line of defence when it comes to protecting how your people and their devices connect to your network and data.
Here are 5 reasons you should be seriously considering IAM:
1. Stronger security
The security focus for many businesses tends to lean more towards protecting against external threats, however with 90% of data breaches in 2019 caused by human error, it’s clear that internal threats are just as critical. By implementing an IAM solution, you’re able to grant, decline, and revoke access privileges at the click of a button. That means when your users are working from home, they can only see and use what you’ve allowed them to in the context of where they are connecting from, the device they’re using, and other contextual factors you consider important. This reduces the risk of sensitive or business-critical data getting into the wrong hands, both internally and externally.
2. An improved user experience
One of the most compelling benefits of IAM is that it allows your users to enjoy single sign-on (SSO). This enables them to gain seamless access to multiple apps and systems without the need to log into each one separately, streamlining the sign-on process and accelerating productivity. This can be crucial in time-sensitive industries such as healthcare, and thanks to intelligent two- and multi-factor authentication options, the experience can also overcome the flaws of using passwords to achieve this.
3. Automation, automation, automation
IAM makes it possible for policies to be created to govern access and then their implementation automated to create protection at scale. This relieves your IT team of the manual work that typically accompanies assigning privileges and resetting forgotten passwords, freeing their time to instead create more value for your business. This in turn can lead to significant cost savings. Perhaps most importantly, automation greatly assists governance, seeing you stay compliant with identity and privacy regulations.
4. On-boarding and off-boarding made easy
Thanks to this automation, the process of on-boarding new starters becomes a breeze. Access policies are provisioned in a matter of minutes – IT barely needs to get involved at all. And, if their role changes at any point, you can just as readily shift their policies to suit. Likewise, when it comes to off-boarding leavers, privileges can be revoked with minimal intervention, so you know your critical data is never compromised. The same goes for any suppliers, customers, or partners you may invite onto your network.
5. Auditing: achieved
The control made possible by IAM solutions enables you to easily track and monitor user behaviour, analyse sign-in attempts, and assign policies according to risk. With this knowledge at your fingertips, providing evidence of compliance with regulatory standards is simple, enabling you to offer password-less options for authentication, conduct regular audits, and deliver detailed reports.
IAM is more than on-prem
It’s not only remote working that’s accelerated the need for a comprehensive IAM solution – the pandemic has also seen an upsurge in the deployment of cloud apps. With IT services being increasingly delivered off-premises, your IAM solution needs to be ready to efficiently handle this.
While many businesses will already be familiar with on-premises solutions such as Windows Active Directory, these just aren’t built to handle mixed environments. Newer solutions such as Azure Active Directory and Okta, on the other hand, were designed to help control user access both on-premises and in the cloud. You can even integrate these solutions with your cybersecurity measures to enhance the IAM experience and knit together into a robust security posture.
To learn more about which IAM solution can best enrich your remote working strategy, get in touch with a member of the team.