Identity and Access Management is your first line of defense against cyberattacks. It provides user access control, authentication, and governance.
Privileged access management (PAM) manages permissions for privileged accounts, like admins who oversee systems and databases. This involves requiring multiple independent credentials to log in, making it harder for hackers to gain fraudulent access.
Authentication is verifying a user’s identity to ensure they are who they claim to be. Typical methods include:
Usernames and passwords.
Biometrics (fingerprint scans, eye or face recognition).
Phone or SMS verification.
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) requires the successful verification of more than one factor to grant access and is often implemented to increase resistance to hacking and other malicious attacks.
Once a user is authenticated, authorization determines what files, data, and applications they can access. This can be done based on the principle of least privilege (POLP), which means that users only have access to the systems and information necessary to do their jobs, minimizing the surface area for attack.
A well-implemented authentication system will limit access to tools, services, and systems based on user roles. This helps to prevent privileged users from engaging in malicious activity, such as stealing confidential information or causing damage to systems and networks. The identity and access management process can also manage an employee’s access lifecycle, ensuring that it is closed off when they change roles or leave the company.
Authorization determines the user’s access level and type to data and applications. It answers the question, “Who can do what with what?”
Cybercriminals can steal and sell critical information like names, credit card numbers, social security numbers, and medical records, gain full control of systems, and wreak havoc on employees, customers, and businesses by getting into top-level accounts. This can lead to costly penalties under GDPR, CCPA, or other privacy laws and loss of business and reputational damage.
Passwords and weak authentication processes make it easier for cybercriminals to breach systems. Unauthorized access to dormant accounts gives criminals a foothold that can be leveraged to obtain privileged data. It’s also possible to mitigate risk by limiting access to sensitive data with tools that remove it from internal systems entirely, such as tokenization. This swaps out sensitive information with placeholder data that functions similarly but can’t be converted into the original information if stolen. This is a crucial step in mitigating insider risks, as many data breaches result from privileged users.
Many cyberattacks exploit vulnerabilities in software systems and third-party services. This is why it’s important to constantly monitor your network and digital ecosystem continuously to identify and mitigate potential threats.
A robust IAM system can provide visibility into who can access what data and when. By identifying and responding to vulnerabilities more quickly, you can reduce the time it takes for attacks to breach your security perimeter. It’s crucial to adhere to the principle of least privilege by only granting users access to the tools necessary for their job responsibilities. This helps protect against privilege abuse when employees use their accounts to access sensitive information for malicious purposes. It’s also important to regularly review and audit user access, removing privileges for employees who no longer require them.
IAM solutions can also automate password recovery, walking employees through the process and freeing up IT departments to focus on high-priority tasks. This can reduce the risk of a data breach caused by employee error and improve compliance with regulatory requirements. This is especially important as more organizations rely on third-party services that are more vulnerable to attack.
Monitoring threats is easy when you have an identity and access management system. IAM systems give security administrators constant information on who logs in, where, and when. This constant access to login locations helps identify internal attackers and potential data breaches. This reporting type can help you take immediate action, like implementing new patches to prevent exploitation.
Another important aspect of IAM is that it can limit employee privileges on a need-to-access basis. This means that a privileged user whose account gets hacked may have their account locked and their ability to access data and systems limited, protecting the organization from potential harm.
IAM also helps to mitigate risk by enabling the use of strong passwords and multi-factor authentication. These measures protect against weak or stolen credentials, man-in-the-middle attacks, phishing emails, and brute-force attacks. This helps to minimize the risk of unauthorized access to sensitive information and systems, as well as compliance violations, which can lead to financial or reputational damage for your organization.
The ability to enforce policies based on contextual data in real-time mitigates security risks by automatically correcting bad user behavior or stopping malicious activity. This can include rescinding access privileges for users who have violated policy and removing access for those who no longer need it, improving overall security.
A robust IAM platform backed by processes that support password security best practices and the principle of least privilege will help you protect against commonly exploited cyberattacks. This includes requiring multi-factor authentication for all logins and continuous monitoring to ensure the person you communicate with is who they say they are.
Privilege abuse is a major problem that can lead to data breaches, theft of intellectual property, or disruption of critical systems. Effective IAM processes will ensure that employees only have the exact access they need to perform their job functions and can remove access for those who no longer need it. It also helps to monitor for internal threats and identify privileged accounts that have been compromised or are being abused by attackers.