Identity management systems are a critical component of any organization’s information security program. As cybercrime continues to evolve and deploy new methods of infiltrating data systems, identity management adds an essential layer of added protection to strengthen cybersecurity.
What Are Identity Management Systems?
Identity management systems are software applications that include authentication services, authorization services, user management services, and directory services. They are an essential component of organizational systems and ensure that individuals accessing company data are authorized to do so.
Identity management systems associate user rights with established identities. They work together with access management tools to authenticate, identify, and authorize users before they can access files, software, or systems.
Five Reasons Identity Management is Critical to Your Organization
Let’s outline the main components of identity management systems and explain why they are essential.
1. Only authorized personnel can access systems and data
Identity management systems catalog all parties and devices accessing systems, providing a detailed log of who initiated access, when it happened, and on what device.
This aspect keeps unauthorized outside users out of company systems and supports role-based access within the company, ensuring that only the appropriate people can open, view, or modify files. Not all departments need access to all file systems. Identity management ensures the right people at the right time access systems—and only systems they are authorized to use.
2. Mitigates risk of system breach through phishing/spear-phishing attacks
The easiest way for a hacker to breach systems is to steal existing access credentials. Malicious actors have highly sophisticated methods of accomplishing this goal, convincing users to give up their login info, account access, or other confidential details. Some of the most damaging attacks in recent years have spurred from messages that look like they are sent from the company’s CEO requesting accounts or funds are redirected. Identity management systems reduce risk, but employees must also be educated to recognize the signs of an attack and authenticate such requests through a reliable third party.
3. User training is not always enough to prevent an attack
Users are the easily weakest link in an organization’s information security program as they often share credentials, either voluntarily or involuntarily, with colleagues. Following up on the previous point, the critical nature of user training can’t be stressed enough. Training is an essential component of identity management as it ensures users do not share credentials with other parties, either inside or outside the company.
4. Enables real-time monitoring of all systems on the network
Anyone with access to company systems should be monitored to ensure they only use those systems for legitimate purposes. Control must be established to prevent or mitigate the risk of insider threats, as those with the highest levels of access are most likely to commit fraud. These individuals will also know better than any other user how to cover their tracks to avoid detection. Identity management not only monitors company systems to identify unauthorized access but will also detect any unusual activity or transactions based on established criteria.
5. Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC)
Data privacy, security, and compliance regulations are becoming more stringent and often require access logs for tracking activity. Should a breach occur, these logs must be available for review as there is a lot at stake.
GRC, in itself, is not legally mandated, but the principles it supports certainly are, through data protection legislation like the GDPR and other international data privacy laws. Considering the average cost of a data breach in 2022 is $4.24 million, and it takes an organization about 280 days to detect, contain, mitigate, and resolve such a breach, the consequences are not something the average company could survive.
Tracking identities across organizations is becoming more critical for compliance purposes. With the recent trend in remote work and an increasing reliance on BYOD (bring your own device) in the enterprise, networks are becoming more complex and distributed, compounding the risk.
Given these five key points, it’s easy to see why identity management is so critical in managing security risks. Identity management systems support and strengthen your cybersecurity programs and policies and are essential to protecting your vital data from unauthorized access and malicious attack.
As a final caveat, although identity management systems are excellent and necessary tools, the need for employee training and a well-documented security policy can’t be stressed enough. Today’s threats are more sophisticated, insidious, and costly than ever before and are a massive threat to your business continuity. Therefore, you must do everything possible to prevent your business continuity, and identity management systems help.
Contact Jeff Lovejoy to discuss. 817-349-2151, firstname.lastname@example.org