|By Vadim Lander||
|February 21, 2013 06:00 AM EST||
Identity management just isn't what it used to be. Gone are the days when knowing who had access to what was simply enough. In today's world of increasing government and industry regulation; networked communications and collaboration; and pervasive mobility, the requirements have fundamentally changed. Effective identity management and access governance requires insight into not only what employees are doing with their access to systems and applications, but also how well an organization is managing and securing that access.
Such a comprehensive understanding of an organization's access matrix is essential to reducing the risks that employees, partners, customers, and even malicious third parties can introduce. It is also critical to efforts to comply with regulations that mandate access controls. In fact, without it companies have no way to provide meaningful evidence to auditors explaining how and why they assign access.
The need to perform the numerous complex tasks that comprise identity management - such as certifying access, enforcing security policy, and remediating policy violations - is compounded by the reliance on slow, error-prone manual processes to handle them. These issues, coupled with the lack of a comprehensive, cohesive approach to compliance and auditing, make it nearly impossible to address the challenge in an effective and cost-efficient manner.
As a result, enterprises are in the unenviable position of committing significant resources to compliance efforts with little assurance that they will prove successful. Most struggle with satisfying stringent compliance mandates to perform access reviews of users with access rights to thousands of business applications and target platforms, and making it a sustainable and repeatable exercise. Adding to the challenge is the fact that organizations are faced with implementing identity compliance policies within short windows and often with limited resources.
To keep pace in an increasingly competitive business landscape, obtaining quick compliance results and establishing reliable and sustainable control processes through automated compliance has become critical. However, establishing robust, organization-wide automated compliance is by no means a flip-of-the-switch endeavor, and businesses oftentimes implement inadequate and disparate policy procedures that leave key areas of the organization exposed to security threats. In order to implement identity compliance that meets today's rigorous standards while maintaining company productivity, identity analytics solutions can help improve all of the elements of an effective compliance program.
Organizations that are looking to implement automated, analytics-powered compliance programs need to recognize certain truisms when it comes to ensuring secure access to systems and applications. Security compliance is a substantive and procedural undertaking that is only as effective as the processes that track and automate it. Factors such as the latency of audit and remediation efforts and the rate of change within an organization go a long way toward determining the effectiveness of a compliance effort.
That said, compliance programs must also be flexible. The general guidelines for achieving secure access to applications and systems may seem firm on the surface, but the processes that underlie compliance efforts vary greatly from one organization to the next. What's more, every security control must be designed to accommodate loopholes and exceptions necessary to accommodate business efficiency and productivity. For instance, compliance programs must allow for variation to access controls during emergencies such as severe weather, natural disasters, or even economic turmoil.
Additionally, certification of access controls cannot be an IT-only decision. It needs to be a collaborative process that involves business stakeholders and is embedded in an organization's culture. In exchange for the visibility into applications and systems they receive, those business stakeholders need to understand and accept the inherent risks. But ultimately, IT has to be responsible for providing and mitigating the necessary controls and for remediating any negative audit findings.
Unfortunately, because the collaboration that occurs around access control today is largely email-driven, most organizations have only been able to successfully audit a handful of applications or systems. In fact, according to Verizon's 2012 data breach report, 96 percent of the companies subject to compliance with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) - which governs any company that processes, stores or transmits credit card data - that were breached during 2011 were not compliant with PCI DSS guidelines.
One of the reasons enterprises are so challenged by identity management is the unprecedented complexity they face today. With applications and data residing in so many locales - on premise, in the cloud, at a hosting provider's site, etc. - and users relying upon ever-growing sets of tools, IT security teams struggle to keep up with the need to apply access control across systems and geographies. It was difficult enough to track several pages of segregation of duties controls for a single application; tracking controls across the increasingly heterogeneous landscape of systems today is geometrically more complicated.
Cloud-based apps, in particular, introduce a layer of complexity that can result in the business finding itself disconnected if it loses visibility into the related access control data. Along those lines, one of the most common audit issues organizations encounter is a failure to maintain the same level of security controls over their virtual environments as they have over their physical ones.
Dovetailing with the challenges cloud computing introduces is the explosive growth of mobile apps for use in the workplace, a phenomenon that has further fragmented access control processes. As organizations develop their authorizations for mobile apps, they largely are doing so separately from their existing app-authorization systems, which compounds the challenges. According to an August 2011 survey by enterprise mobility vendor Partnerpedia, 58 percent of organizations are creating mobile apps stores, leading to much more complex implementations of certification reviews and controls.
What's more, it's not just the systems that have grown in complexity. Employees have become a much more dynamic enterprise asset, causing organizations to adjust their access controls to reflect the matrices of roles that have resulted from the challenges of trying to classify access. A perfect instance of this is in the health care sector, with drug companies featuring multiple teams across the globe conducting trials and contributing research. Maintaining the privacy and confidentiality of data in this dynamic workgroup setting is a prime example of how the problem of access has evolved.
Five Steps for Leveraging Identity Analytics
Despite these numerous challenges, which collectively can prevent an organization from achieving its identity management objectives, there are ways to ensure that access control efforts can keep up with today's complex business landscape. Specifically, organizations can turn to fast-maturing identity analytics solutions to help them get a handle on this daunting business problem.
Following are five key steps organizations can take by leveraging identity analytics technology that will assist them in achieving robust identity compliance and remaining in compliance moving forward:
1. Become risk aware
While large chunks of IT budgets in recent years have been spent on regulatory compliance, many people still don't feel any safer. The ultimate cautionary tale can be found in the stories of two global financial firms. Despite the focus both companies no doubt had on complying with regulations like Sarbanes-Oxley, auditors at both firms failed to remediate excessive access violations by trusted trading employees, resulting in more than $9 billion in unexpected - and potentially crippling - losses combined.
By adopting an automated system that would enable weighted risk to be tied directly to systems access, organizations can significantly reduce their potential exposure to such embarrassing fiascos.
2. Control privileged access
Access to privileged accounts, such as root, system administration and those with elevated privileges, poses a huge threat to enterprises. These are the most powerful system accounts that, naturally, bring the greatest potential for fraud. Because they don't actually belong to users and are instead often shared by multiple administrators, they're notoriously difficult to secure. In an economy like the one we've experienced the past few years, there are more disgruntled workers, meaning an even greater emphasis should be placed on having an automated system to control privileged access.
As if that's not enough, control of privileged accounts is key to efforts to comply with everything from Sarbanes-Oxley to the PCI DSS to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which typically translates to it being at the top of lists of auditors' findings. Moreover, most business partners today want to know that there are sufficient controls placed on privileged accounts as part of their SAS 70 reviews.
Given the clear sensitivity and importance of privileged access, it's imperative that organizations adopt a circumspect approach that enables passwords to be issued for limited periods of use in order to reduce potential exposure.
3. Automate remediation
Today's largest enterprises must contend with tens of thousands of employees accessing hundreds of systems, resulting in a cacophony of controls that audit groups can't possibly hope to manage. It's simply too big of a job for humans to address in a limited number of hours per day. That's where an automated identity analytics solution can help.
By setting up a workflow-based system that can automate the simpler remediation, auditors can instead focus their efforts on the findings that pose the greatest risk. Even then, however, exceptions must be accommodated; for instance, in those moments when emergency privileged access must be granted, it's critical that the system be able to automatically undo that privileged access once the emergency has abated.
4. Reduce the potential for audit violations
As much as it may sound like advice from Yogi Berra, the best way to prevent audit violations is to stop them from happening. The easiest way to do that is to perform the proper due diligence when access is being requested. That's the time when an enterprise needs to check for any common audit problems so that they can be addressed prior to a violation occurring.
When a user requests access that could be considered excessive, if the organization has adopted a system that flags that access, it can automatically collaborate with a business owner to approve or deny the request. Similarly, if a request for access results in a violation of either the segregation of duties or the rule of least privilege, then the system can flag this and provide visibility into the potential risk introduced by the request.
5. Take a platform approach to identity management
Merely having identity analytics technology in place doesn't guarantee that an organization will meet its compliance objectives. But for those enterprises wanting to increase their compliance success rate, having an identity analytics module that's part of a larger identity management platform greatly improves the odds. Like many other categories of software, identity analytics - and compliance in general - benefits from the tight integration of a platform approach.
This truism was further validated by a recent Aberdeen Group study in which companies that adopted fragmented identity and access systems were compared with those that acquired integrated systems from a single vendor. The findings? The companies that adopted pre-integrated systems experienced 35 percent fewer audit violations and reduced their identity analytics costs by 48 percent. They also reported improved end-user productivity, reduced risk and enhanced agility.
It's clear that the growing complexity organizations face has upped the ante when it comes to compliance with identity access controls. That increasingly complex landscape calls for better tools that enable enterprises not only to effectively administer access to applications and systems, but also to understand how they're managing that access.
Automation is the key to increasing the effectiveness and reducing the cost of compliance. Automation streamlines compliance-related processes, reducing the need for resources while at the same time lowering the risk of manual error that can lead to audit failure. More important, automation makes it possible to create sustainable, repeatable audit processes that enable the enterprise to address compliance in an ongoing manner without starting from scratch to address every new regulation or prepare for every audit.
A software solution, such as identity analytics, that automates access control can play a critical role in achieving effective compliance and lowering the related costs. In these turbulent economic times, organizations can't afford to ignore this increasingly important - and complex - part of their security paradigm.
Cultural, regulatory, environmental, political and economic (CREPE) conditions over the past decade are creating cross-industry solution spaces that require processes and technologies from both the Internet of Things (IoT), and Data Management and Analytics (DMA). These solution spaces are evolving into Sensor Analytics Ecosystems (SAE) that represent significant new opportunities for organizations of all types. Public Utilities throughout the world, providing electricity, natural gas and water, are pursuing SmartGrid initiatives that represent one of the more mature examples of SAE. We have s...
Nov. 27, 2014 04:00 PM EST Reads: 1,165
The security devil is always in the details of the attack: the ones you've endured, the ones you prepare yourself to fend off, and the ones that, you fear, will catch you completely unaware and defenseless. The Internet of Things (IoT) is nothing if not an endless proliferation of details. It's the vision of a world in which continuous Internet connectivity and addressability is embedded into a growing range of human artifacts, into the natural world, and even into our smartphones, appliances, and physical persons. In the IoT vision, every new "thing" - sensor, actuator, data source, data con...
Nov. 27, 2014 04:00 PM EST Reads: 1,558
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, discussed single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series data. By focusing on enterprise applications and the data center, he will use OpenTSDB as an example t...
Nov. 27, 2014 03:00 PM EST Reads: 1,401
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff happens, where data lives and where the interface lies. For instance, it's a mix of architectural styles ...
Nov. 27, 2014 03:00 PM EST Reads: 1,191
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
Nov. 27, 2014 03:00 PM EST Reads: 778
An entirely new security model is needed for the Internet of Things, or is it? Can we save some old and tested controls for this new and different environment? In his session at @ThingsExpo, New York's at the Javits Center, Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, reviewed hands-on lessons with IoT devices and reveal a new risk balance you might not expect. Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, has more than nineteen years' experience managing global security operations and assessments, including a decade of leading incident response and digital forensics. He is co-author of t...
Nov. 27, 2014 01:00 PM EST Reads: 1,597
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, discussed how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money!
Nov. 27, 2014 11:00 AM EST Reads: 1,205
The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Kaplan, Managing Director of THINKstrategies, will examine why IT must finally fulfill its role in support of its SBUs or face a new round of...
Nov. 27, 2014 10:00 AM EST Reads: 1,167
One of the biggest challenges when developing connected devices is identifying user value and delivering it through successful user experiences. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mike Kuniavsky, Principal Scientist, Innovation Services at PARC, described an IoT-specific approach to user experience design that combines approaches from interaction design, industrial design and service design to create experiences that go beyond simple connected gadgets to create lasting, multi-device experiences grounded in people's real needs and desires.
Nov. 27, 2014 08:00 AM EST Reads: 1,157
Enthusiasm for the Internet of Things has reached an all-time high. In 2013 alone, venture capitalists spent more than $1 billion dollars investing in the IoT space. With "smart" appliances and devices, IoT covers wearable smart devices, cloud services to hardware companies. Nest, a Google company, detects temperatures inside homes and automatically adjusts it by tracking its user's habit. These technologies are quickly developing and with it come challenges such as bridging infrastructure gaps, abiding by privacy concerns and making the concept a reality. These challenges can't be addressed w...
Nov. 27, 2014 07:45 AM EST Reads: 1,457
The Domain Name Service (DNS) is one of the most important components in networking infrastructure, enabling users and services to access applications by translating URLs (names) into IP addresses (numbers). Because every icon and URL and all embedded content on a website requires a DNS lookup loading complex sites necessitates hundreds of DNS queries. In addition, as more internet-enabled ‘Things' get connected, people will rely on DNS to name and find their fridges, toasters and toilets. According to a recent IDG Research Services Survey this rate of traffic will only grow. What's driving t...
Nov. 27, 2014 07:00 AM EST Reads: 1,435
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using the URL as a basic building block, we open this up and get the same resilience that the web enjoys.
Nov. 27, 2014 06:45 AM EST Reads: 1,330
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, examined three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective storage designed to handle the massive surge in back-end data in a world where timely analytics is e...
Nov. 27, 2014 06:45 AM EST Reads: 1,264
We are reaching the end of the beginning with WebRTC, and real systems using this technology have begun to appear. One challenge that faces every WebRTC deployment (in some form or another) is identity management. For example, if you have an existing service – possibly built on a variety of different PaaS/SaaS offerings – and you want to add real-time communications you are faced with a challenge relating to user management, authentication, authorization, and validation. Service providers will want to use their existing identities, but these will have credentials already that are (hopefully) i...
Nov. 27, 2014 04:00 AM EST Reads: 1,162
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Nov. 27, 2014 04:00 AM EST Reads: 1,108
P2P RTC will impact the landscape of communications, shifting from traditional telephony style communications models to OTT (Over-The-Top) cloud assisted & PaaS (Platform as a Service) communication services. The P2P shift will impact many areas of our lives, from mobile communication, human interactive web services, RTC and telephony infrastructure, user federation, security and privacy implications, business costs, and scalability. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robin Raymond, Chief Architect at Hookflash, will walk through the shifting landscape of traditional telephone and voice services ...
Nov. 26, 2014 02:00 PM EST Reads: 1,569
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems at Red Hat, described how to revolutioniz...
Nov. 24, 2014 07:00 PM EST Reads: 1,689
Bit6 today issued a challenge to the technology community implementing Web Real Time Communication (WebRTC). To leap beyond WebRTC’s significant limitations and fully leverage its underlying value to accelerate innovation, application developers need to consider the entire communications ecosystem.
Nov. 24, 2014 12:00 PM EST Reads: 1,578
The definition of IoT is not new, in fact it’s been around for over a decade. What has changed is the public's awareness that the technology we use on a daily basis has caught up on the vision of an always on, always connected world. If you look into the details of what comprises the IoT, you’ll see that it includes everything from cloud computing, Big Data analytics, “Things,” Web communication, applications, network, storage, etc. It is essentially including everything connected online from hardware to software, or as we like to say, it’s an Internet of many different things. The difference ...
Nov. 24, 2014 11:00 AM EST Reads: 1,709
Cloud Expo 2014 TV commercials will feature @ThingsExpo, which was launched in June, 2014 at New York City's Javits Center as the largest 'Internet of Things' event in the world.
Nov. 24, 2014 09:00 AM EST Reads: 1,734