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‚ÄčTop 3 Ways to Improve Identity and Access Management Security

Identity and access management is an important aspect of cyber security. Indeed, 80% of all cyberattacks use identity-based methods to gain access to target systems. Organisations that don’t adequately verify the identity of their users or ensure they’re only accessing what they need could be at risk of a costly data loss - or worse! 

The process of ensuring your users are who they say they are is identity and access management (IAM). In this article, we’re going to go over the ins and outs of identity and access management security and show you three ways that you can improve your own IAM security strategy.

What is Identity and Access Management?

Identity and access management is a set of systems within your business that manage the roles and access privileges of individuals within your organisation. They essentially make sure that only the right people can access data, resources and systems within your network. 

This is important as it helps you keep control of who can access what within your business and keeps you protected from identity-based attacks. IAM lets you restrict sensitive data and functions to only those who need them, meaning that if criminals successfully infiltrate a user’s account, you can easily limit the footprint of the attack. 

The two aspects of IAM are: 
  • Identity management: Identity management uses an identity management database, which is an ongoing record of everyone within your organisation that requires access. Users present their credentials to a login system and may also use an additional factor to verify their identity (this is multi-factor authentication). 
  • Access management: Access management ensures that users can only access whatever they’re permitted to, to ensure that they don’t access files and systems that are not available to them or that cannot be accessed by them.

Implement Least Privilege

The principle of least privilege is a vital framework for access control and identity management. Essentially, it’s the idea that users should only have access to the information and systems they need to do their work.

This is important for a few different reasons: 
  • Security: Using the principle of least privilege will let you ensure that you have fewer chances for your organisation’s security to become compromised through one of your employee's accounts. Fewer accounts being able to access your most valuable assets is always a good thing. If the identity management fails and an attacker can access your system, the least privilege principle limits the damage they can inflict. 
  • Insider Information: If you limit what users can access, you reduce the risk of sensitive information being leaked by an insider within your organisation. Malicious insiders may use information they’re not supposed to access for personal gain or industrial espionage.  Insider disclosure may not even be malicious, as employees may come across information they don’t know is sensitive or secret - and share it. The principle of least privilege reduces the chance of this happening greatly.Because of these, using the principle of least privilege can be a vital thing to ensure that your organisation is using a key practice — something that your organisation should be utilising at all times.

Enforce MFA and Use SSO Where Possible

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) and single-sign-on (SSO) are two vital tools that are practically everywhere in the modern world. MFA ensures users are who they say they are, while SSO reduces the likelihood of credential-stuffing attacks. 

Multi-factor authentication will ensure that whenever someone logs in, they’re authenticating themselves by using another factor of authentication than just a password. This means using a phone text, an app code, or however else MFA is set up within their business. Single-sign-on lets you log into multiple programs or platforms with one login, meaning you have to log in fewer times.

Using a Single Sign-On service such as Microsoft Entra ensures that your services and apps all use one login. If users had separate logins for different apps, a password breach in one service could put all of their other credentials at risk - as hackers will likely use the same password and login to access other services. An SSO is one point of access and passwords can be reset with ease.  While good password hygiene is still important, SSO ensures that one point of failure doesn’t turn into more. 

Make Use of Conditional Access

Conditional access is a feature within Microsoft’s IAM platform, Entra. It uses a multitude of ‘signals’ to verify access attempts to your apps and data during sessions. That is, it continually looks for signs that an attacker is attempting to access your network. 

Entra uses these signals to make decisions about what access to grant users. It does this based on the real-time risk of attack and the sensitivity of the data or applications being accessed. 

This helps network administrators strike a balance between security and convenience. Having to verify your identity before every task you need to complete is frustrating, so low or medium-risk actions may warrant a less restrictive decision. But, sensitive information needs a higher standard of security. 

Looking for Support?

Your organisation’s security is vital, and identity and access management security will help you ensure that your organisation doesn’t leave any gaps to make the whole process far harder and more stressful for you and your team.

If you’re looking to get started with identity and access management security but need a helping hand, reach out to us today. Our experts are here to help you get started and will provide a helping hand for the whole journey, to ensure that you have all of the support you need at all times.

Get in touch with us now and see how we can help.