Identity and Access Management (IAM) is more than just about managing passwords. Ensuring only authorized users can access your business data and systems and only at the appropriate permission level is vital to cybersecurity.
Identity and Access Management has many facets, but in the end, it is about two aspects:
- the access to the network (authentication) (How do I make sure that the user who logs on to the network is who he/she claims to be?)
- the permissions within the network (authorization) (Which systems and data are available to the user after login?)
Why Should Management Be Concerned With Identity and Access Management?
Because an organization cannot function without Identity Management. If access and permissions to your systems and data are not properly protected and managed, the business is put at risk – in terms of data security, compliance, or organizational efficiency.
If your employees don’t have proper access and permissions to their systems and data, they simply can’t do their jobs or do them less efficiently. The organization’s goals would be compromised.
Cyber Crime is Targeting Employee Credentials
Cybercriminals actively go after credentials to assume a legitimate user identity and breach a system. Here are a few disturbing recent statistics that show how dangerous credential compromise has become (and how important IAM is):
- Credential compromise is now the #1 cause of data breaches
- 80% of data breaches are tied to stolen privileged credentials
- 77% of cloud account breaches are due to credential theft
Many companies have most if not all of their data and business processes (email, CRM, etc.) in the cloud. The easiest way for hackers to get to these assets is through legitimate employee logins.
Loss of Data Could Result in Significant Costs
Management is responsible for the proper use and security of data for customers, products, finances, or personnel. After all, this data is one of your organization’s most important assets. Therefore, access to this data should be well thought out and organized. A loss of data could result in significant financial damage or, at best, just a loss of image.
Data loss due to ransomware is particularly costly, and no size company is safe. Ransomware is now being sold to those that don’t even know how to write code through Ransomware as a Service (RaaS) platforms. This puts even more companies of all sizes at risk because ransomware has become democratized.
Between 2020 and 2021, ransomware remediation costs more than doubled, jumping from $761,106 to $1.85 million per incident.
Access Management Is Critical to Compliance
And then, there are the compliance requirements (e.g., DSGVO and HIPAA) as well as the quality requirements of your customers, such as ISO 27001. Each user should only have access to the data they need to perform activities: the so-called “Principle of Least Use.” During the employment relationship, the authorizations should be managed correctly. So when the employment relationship ends accesses and authorizations should be withdrawn promptly and completely.
Incorrect management of user credentials leads to unnecessary costs in many organizations. For example, in case of a change of department, after a project, or resignation, if licenses, storage capacity, and other IT resources that are no longer needed are not released with accounts being closed, it leaves a company at high risk of a breach.
For example, the Colonial Pipeline attack that occurred in the U.S. in May of 2021 and caused gasoline prices to soar was facilitated by an unused account. The company had failed to close an unused employee VPN account and did not protect that account with two-factor authentication; thus, it was even more vulnerable to a breach.
The Case for Automated Identity and Access Management
Accesses and authorizations are usually still managed manually by in-house IT departments or an office administrator. The manual management of users and permissions in the network takes up a lot of time with already limited staff resources.
Manual administration of permissions is prone to errors. Errors in permissions management lead to potential data loss, data protection risks, audit problems, or image loss.
Poor communication is also a factor when using a manual process. For example, what if an employee has left a department or been promoted, but the person in charge of changing their access permissions isn’t informed of those changes?
This leads to an accumulation of authorizations and licenses among users. Everybody gets permissions and licenses, nobody gives anything back, and this happens not only with trainees. This accumulation of permissions and licenses is not only a data protection risk but also a problem during audits and a serious cost factor because too many licenses are purchased.
The Solution? An Automated IAM Platform
These risks can be easily remedied with an IAM solution. With a proper IAM solution, you ensure that the right employee gets an appropriate set of systems and permissions in an automated and rule-based way. This relieves your IT/office administrator, protects your data, and ensures satisfied employees thanks to optimized IT processes. An IAM solution also helps you to pass possible audits more easily.
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