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IAM Challenges Of The Modern Enterprise

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Nearly 94% of all enterprises have faced some form of an identity-related security breach within their ecosystem.

Identity and Access Management (IAM) performs the core function of the gatekeeper for managing an organization’s access control requirements. However, IAM has a broader landscape to address in the modern enterprise of today.

Enterprise digital transformation is scaling, ushering a new dimension of people and software collaboration. The onset of digitization drives the increased use of newer tools. Some of these are SaaS-based others developed in-house. Tools and data are deployed in the private cloud or hybrid combinations of cloud and on-premise infrastructure. Unaccustomed and untested interlocks are emerging to create new vulnerabilities and reveal previously unseen chinks in the armor.

The scope of IAM now must traverse a web of complex relationships that have been mapped by different enterprise systems and enable seamless connectivity for users who switch between apps on-demand. IAM today must perform a multi-faceted role spanning service access certification, role engineering, application lifecycle management, single sign-on credential management, multifactor authentication, privileged access, and entitlement validation to name a few.

The hunt for the perfect IAM solution is not easy. The solution chosen needs to factor in a range of key challenges in today’s heightened risk scenario. Let us explore the key challenges current IAM solutions need to handle:

Custom Integrations

The reality today is that the enterprise tech ecosystem has become uber-complex. There is a large portfolio of applications that every enterprise utilizes daily for operations. Some of these apps may be homegrown and have traditional software architectures that do not have dedicated connectivity terminals or APIs into which IAM solutions can plug. Consider for instance, crucial systems like HRIS. Many enterprises use home-grown applications which may not support IAM out of the box. Even many applications from smaller vendors and some born-in-the-cloud applications also suffer this problem or don’t have standard SSO and user life cycle management support. This scenario creates the requirement of custom integrations that have to be strategically planned and executed to ensure seamless interoperability and connectivity between the IAM and the organization’s legacy application suite.

Cost of Management

As the domain of IAM expanded, an array of point solutions by different vendors started competing for the attention of the enterprise CISO. Each of these offerings promised the ability to effectively cater to one or more areas of the IAM horizon. Solutions added up to address authentication or access management or identity management. As a result, enterprises ended up onboarding multiple systems they felt were necessary to comprehensively manage their operational constraints. While big enterprises may not have an issue with such an approach, SMB’s may not have the financial muscle to invest in multiple solutions in their entirety. Of course, this isn’t just about the investment. More solutions are harder to manage, demand bandwidth, and call for tweaks in operating procedures. These costs also add up.

Specialized IAM Skill Requirement

The modern enterprise is rife with complex collaboration scenarios and workflows that span applications belonging to the legacy age all the way through to the SaaS age. This often creates hybrid environments for which sophisticated access privileges need to be provided. There are several complexities to address. For instance, modern SaaS-based IAM products offer only limited out-of-the-box support for User Life Cycle Management (ULCM) using SCIM. Thus, it will have a hard time enabling automation of the ULCM in organizations that have large hybrid environments involving multiple legacy and SaaS applications co-existing for operations. It’s clear that enterprises require experts to architect IAM provisions for each unique business scenario and workflow liable to emerge in this hybrid environment.

Expanding Digital Landscape

As more businesses explore the promise of emerging technologies like the Internet of Things and Edge Computing, new fronts are opening up in the battle to stay safe and keep data secure. Organizations are recognizing that the ambit of their security solution is expanding as the digital landscape expands and they are looking at perimeter-based security policies. The ever-expanding digital landscape now comprises multiple endpoints, networks, and devices. All of these are susceptible to threats from the misuse of credentials. IAM solutions today must be able to converge security policies and offer centralized security measures that will prevent the compromise of identities. And this is critically important. Nearly 74% of all data breaches have been traced back to the abuse of privileged credentials. As the number of endpoints within the horizon of the modern enterprise expands, IAMs need to embrace a much broader security perspective to prevent risks.

It is estimated that a security intrusion or breach remains undetected for an average of 206 days in an organization and it takes a further 73 days to find a solution and fix the problem. Forrester predicts that nearly 80% of all data breaches that occurred due to hacking had a strong connection to the abuse of privileged access. There’s no doubt at all that it is of fundamental importance for enterprises to have a solid IAM strategy and framework in place if they want to ensure that their digital assets are secure. They need to strategically evaluate their unique technology landscape and information workflows before picking a product or platform to handle their IAM requirements. Having the right IAM strategy in place is central to the ability of the enterprise to provide a secure and safe digital ecosystem for its employees and customers.

Enterprise CISOs and CTOs may worry about how they will stay ahead of this dynamic situation? While undoubtedly critically important, it’s fair to say that they would rather devote their resources to their core business than to the forever ongoing task of outpacing malicious elements. The logical way forward would be to partner with an organization with deep experience of having helped other organizations in such situations. 

The blog was originally posted on GS Lab’s Website. 

Author: Mrinal Srivastava, Customer Success Manager – Cyber Security at GS Lab