When you say “identity management” in IT circles, you can sometimes receive a polarised response.
One camp may tell you that IT identity management should be a background concern – kept under wraps with regular housekeeping and an authenticator app. But in the other camp, you’ll find IT leaders overwhelmed by identity management and continuously worried about getting it wrong.
The good news is that reality is somewhere in between. So, yes – identity management is serious, and you should treat it as such. But, with solid policies, products, and support, it doesn’t need to be a stressor.
What is IT identity management, and why is it important?
In the context of IT, identity management is a framework of policies, procedures and technologies that control user access to IT resources, including data. Identity management is a faction of cybersecurity and is sometimes called identity and access management.
Having identity management helps businesses achieve two critical objectives. One – to ensure that only authorised users can access the IT resources required to undertake their job. And two – to protect user accounts from being compromised and exploited by cyberattackers.
As a result, when part of a robust security stack (ideally including a SOC), IT identity management is highly effective at mitigating operational downtime and data exfiltration caused by external threat actors and insider attacks.
In a cyberthreat epidemic where 93% of networks can theoretically be penetrated, 95% of IT breaches are traced back to human error, and 80% of breaches are due to identity access issues, taking control of user behaviour is a business continuity fundamental.
What does business IT identity management include?
IT leaders can deliver business identity management via several solutions tailored to threat levels and IT infrastructure practicalities. A framework often combines technologies to ensure coverage for every function and to avoid blind spots, but it should always have:
- Policies and technologies that cover every organisational process related to user access to data, networks, and application
- Identification, authentication and authorisation for individuals, groups, and applications
- Take a Zero Trust approach based on digital identities and suspicious network behaviour.
- Alerts and alarms directly to your internal or managed SOC or helpdesk, which can take swift action against unauthorised access or programmes
- Protection for hardware resources in addition to software and data stores
- Compliance with government and organisational regulations
- Management capability for a broad range of devices and operating systems
Which IT identity management solutions are best for businesses?
Tightly controlled digital identities are critical to maintaining a robust security posture in every business. Many technology options are available, but as a solutions-agnostic managed security expert, Sentis recommends these four first.
1. Active Directory Management
Cybercriminals love Active Directory and engineer some of their most devasting attacks by exploiting permissions, segmentation, and general housekeeping vulnerabilities.
Often, user accounts are compromised through a hack and from here, cybercriminals cascade through a network and create all-seeing admin accounts. The damage can be catastrophic. For example, critical changes to infrastructure are made, or ransomwares with lengthy dwell time is installed.
Active Directory management ensures that a skilled expert constantly oversees IT user permissions, access, and lifecycles to minimise the risk of compromise and catastrophic business harm. Although it can feel like general admin, Active Directory management is a vital, continuous security task that makes or breaks your digital perimeter.
2. Bitlocker Drive Encryption
We’ve all read the stories about the laptops left on trains. You know, the ones bursting with sensitive data, stored on the local drive and never to be seen again…
Although these security breaches still happen, it’s more than likely that data will be autosaving to a cloud location and, therefore, not lost with a misplaced or stolen user device. But what if an authorised person can access the device? Sure, your data is backed up, but how long is it safe?
Bitlocker drive encryption mitigates the risk of unauthorised data access and the operational and productivity losses stemming from inaccessible devices. It allows you to remotely lock down lost, offline, unreachable, or decommissioned user devices and transfer all data to a secure backup. Managed Service Providers are often chosen to deploy Bitlocker for their specificity and response time.
3. Azure Identity and Access Management
If your business is using Azure, you need to take additional identity management steps – that’s non-negotiable.
Although Azure has excellent permissions tools, the base functions can struggle to pick up less apparent digital identity abuse. We’re talking about malicious login attempts, credential compromise and the risks posed by virtual machines – i.e., when behaviour is within the confines of permissions but is driven by malicious intent.
Azure Identity and Access Management solutions use risk-based access controls, identity protection tools, and robust authentication to stop cyberattackers in their tracks and protect the integrity of the apps and data stored in your Azure environments.
These sophisticated measures are best developed in partnership with a security specialist. Sentis, for example, works with businesses to design, implement and monitor Azure permissions tailored to your workforce, customers, third parties and threat surface. Check out our solutions.
4. Multifactor Authentication
As an IT professional, you’ll know that multifactor authentication is far more than a CAPTCHA prompting you to select cars, traffic lights, road signs…the list goes on!
The supposed simplicity of multifactor authentication, or MFA, mustn’t be underestimated. It is, in fact, a powerful tool for safeguarding your network and operational functions across all business units, locations, and teams.
MFA isolates your network, devices, and apps from unauthorised access. The latest products use context-driven artificial intelligence to search for anomalies in the event of compromise or insider attacks – a critical capability as our hybrid networks grow exponentially.
MFA is at its most effective in preventing downtime and data loss when implemented strategically. Sentis helps our customers develop MFA strategies that leave zero weak links or blind spots in your digital perimeter while enabling productivity and collaboration. We use staggered, automated processes to give IT leaders complete control of the digital footprints perusing your network. Read more here.