Implementing identity and access management best practices sounds dry, but it is one of the most critical aspects of cybersecurity – and is often overlooked! Cloud has made access easier than ever, leading more of the workforce to access files from remote locations. Meanwhile, identity-based security offers such strong security for zero-to-little investment, making it the biggest bang for your buck that companies are still not taking advantage of.
If you’re worried about securing your company, this article is for you.
What Is Identity and Access Management?
Identity and access management (IAM) is the system of policies and procedures used to control who can access files, applications, networks, and information.
This is important because ransomware often sneaks in through an unsuspecting employee, through email attachments, links or downloads – and the hacker can then access whatever that employee has access to.
System administrators have the ability to control access through common tools. These same tools require employees to prove their identities.
IAM systems identify employees, define roles and assign them to workers. They also determine what level of access either individuals or groups receive.
How does it work?
While there are many components that make up an identity and access management system, these 3 are the primary technologies used:
- Multifactor authentication
- Single sign-on
- Privileged access management
Multifactor authentication requires that you prove your identity by verifying it with information, typically a code, sent to a previously verified device, app or email address belonging to the user. This is commonly used in the business and consumer environments.
Single sign-on (SSO) allows you to sign in once to verify your identity and authenticate the log-in. For SSO tools to be effective, passwords must be strong and difficult to guess. This allows for a secure environment without the hassle of always having to log in to each and every application. Paired with multifactor authentication, this is a powerful IAM tool.
Privileged access management refers to when some users have more rights and access than others. Those with privileged access typically need more comprehensive access due to their role. With this access, they are able to make changes to devices. Access should correspond to what the employee needs to know. This prevents users from bypassing security protocols on their computers.
IAM systems allow administrators to add, remove, or update employees in the system. As employees leave or are promoted, it’s necessary to review their access and make changes accordingly.
Why is IAM important?
Identity and access management is essential because it adapts to the changing landscape of cybersecurity threats, securing your network and protecting your business data.
For example, imagine that one of your employees mistakenly revealed their email username and password to a hacker in a phishing attack. If you had IAM controls in place and that employee was limited to only accessing a small slice of your company data, then the hacker is confined to trying to exploit that data rather than all your business’ data. Further, if your employee had multifactor authentication, then the hacker would get nowhere with that password.
Many industries are seeing an increase in cybersecurity regulations. The push for more widespread use of identity and access management will help businesses fortify their cybersecurity.
IAM is for everyone
You may think that because your staff is small, you don’t need an IAM system. However, any crack in the wall can be exploited, and IAM is useful for businesses of any size. Remember, hackers are preying on smaller companies because they expect you to think you’re not at risk.
Identity and Access Management Best Practices
Tools are only as effective as the person who wields them! You can buy a top-of-the-line weed eater, but if you only use it rarely, your lawn will remain just the way it was.
Similarly, you can purchase security tools or services, but if you don’t use them in accordance with identity and access management best practices, your data is just as vulnerable as it was before.
Implementing best practices will keep your IAM system operating efficiently. One best practice is to enable single sign-on to increase efficiency while maintaining security. Enabling conditional access is another critical practice for managing who can access your network. Requiring employees to use multifactor authentication is also a key best practice for strong identity and access management.
3 more best practices for identity and access management:
These identity and access management best practices can help you secure your data, and should not be left out:
- Use the principle of least privilege. That means restricting employee access as much as possible without interfering with their daily workflows.
- Routinely audit who has access to what files in your network.
- There also needs to be a routine audit of password strength.
What Is Microsoft Identity Manager?
Establishing a system for identity and access management may sound like a daunting task. However, if you already use a platform like Microsoft Azure, there is a clear path forward.
Microsoft Identity Manager supplements Azure Active Directory. It allows the business leader to decide which members in the Azure Active Directory should have access to on-premises apps and to cloud-based apps as well.
With this powerful tool, you can automate access based on groups and your business policies. It includes password change notification service, a portal, add-ins, and extensions.
Configuring and monitoring these systems can be a challenge. Nortec is a Certified Microsoft Gold Partner, and we are well-versed in identity and access management. We work to continually adhere to rigorous standards by proving our ability through exams, certifications, and performance goals. Through this work, we have achieved several gold competencies from Microsoft.
Our team can confidently help you navigate the world of identity and access management, from determining how to apply the principle of least privilege to automating user roles in your system.
Nobody should have to worry about losing everything.