How An Identity Platform Drives Real Business Value in Thwarting Cyber Threats

You can’t just build a perimeter and expect to thwart modern cyber threats. In the same way, you can’t rely on yesterday’s security measures to protect your organization from data breaches and compliance failures in today’s challenging environment. Any company that wants to protect its data must consider that most attacks are executed through internal or compromised accounts. 


Recent research from the Identity Defined Security Alliance (IDSA) has revealed that 79% of organizations have experienced an identity-related security breach in the last two years. Therefore, enterprises need innovative solutions and strategies that accurately identify, track, and monitor user behavior and activities to identify unusual or abnormal occurrences. 


This ability is just one of many reasons that companies need to employ a comprehensive identity platform to thwart cyber threats. This article will discuss why identity platforms like SailPoint are crucial for businesses today to produce real business value by protecting against modern threats. 


The Cyber-Attack Threat Has Skyrocketed 


In 2022, organizations around the globe will face a far more challenging cybersecurity environment as attacks and breaches become more sophisticated and destructive, even using artificial intelligence. This alarming evolution that affects or will affect nearly all businesses coupled with the rapid digital transformation of almost every organization globally has dramatically increased the attack surfaces and number of threat vectors for organizations big and small. The truth is most organizations have spent money, time, and resources on preventing and detecting and not enough on foundation technologies like identity and incident response leaving them vulnerable and at high risk.    

Many leading organizations and leadership are thinking about cybersecurity differently and now assume they will be hit at some point. Thus, increasing the market for technologies and cyber frameworks like the cloud, identity security, zero trust, machine learning, NIST, privileged access management, threat intelligence, etc. This trend will continue throughout 2022 and beyond as the stark reality that these nefarious activities are not decreasing but rapidly increasing as the bad actors continue to profit.  


Identity security is an area where more attention and spending are needed. According to a Verizon Data Breach Report, 80% of data breaches result from poor or reused passwords. Despite all the awareness about cyber security risks, successful attacks and breaches continue. 


A reason for this is that while many organizations know they should invest in identity security and other foundational technologies, they continue to rely on solutions and strategies created for a different era, long before the pandemic, remote work, and more essential compliance requirements. With yesterday’s tools and solutions, they cannot successfully protect their organizations from today’s cyber threats. Further complicating matters is that, in most cases, a lack of visibility into end-user behavior and activities is causing many of these breaches to be missed or understated, further damaging their organization. 


Securing the Hybrid Cloud Model 


In order to be successful, identity security strategies need to move from an on-premise model to the cloud. When you’re dealing with identity data and sensitive information, you want to make sure that all of your information is secure, in other words, encrypted both at rest and in transit. 


It would help if you were looking at cloud-based solutions that are SaaS-based, provide contextual information, and include the ability to do policy-driven user provisioning, which is an automated approach to provisioning or de-provisioning users in your system at a minimum. These capabilities, coupled with a capable identity platform, can genuinely help organizations become more efficient and effective, but only if it is correctly utilized in a manner that doesn’t require more administration and resources than before. This requires a strategic approach and planning that should include a realizable identity strategy from the beginning that supports the organization’s goals. Candidly, without an identity platform, any cloud or hybrid cloud strategy is likely to struggle and/or fail to meet the desired outcomes. It is becoming more imperative for organizations to be more secure and do more with less. 


How An Identity Platform Drives Real Business Value in Thwarting Cyber Threats - Cloud gears

Artificial Intelligence Supercharges Identity 


Companies need identity to protect their sensitive data and enable AI capabilities to power the next generation of services. Identity is also becoming an increasingly complex proposition, with more digital services running on cloud platforms and the vast majority of the world’s data living in often vulnerable on-premise repositories or cloud-based repositories. Identity security is critical to these environments. With most organizations not having enough trained people and resources, utilizing AI to be more secure and do more with less is imperative. 


Additionally, AI is being used in other areas to improve identity security and manage identity data, such as: automating identity decisions, processing identity events and data, managing identity provisioning and de-provisioning without human intervention, and addressing data breaches and identity federation. 


These AI-based capabilities are critical in allowing identity services to scale size and performance-wise as your identity environment grows and expands. It is also essential to have these AI capabilities to keep up with increasingly stringent compliance requirements, especially in financial services, healthcare, government agencies, and other highly regulated industries. 


IDC believes identity security will become a significant pain point as cloud-native applications multiply. AI and machine learning capabilities will be critical in ensuring these primarily hybrid environments are appropriately protected. Coupling these AI capabilities with enhanced identity analytics and automation, you can now see a path to further securing your environment while utilizing fewer precious resources. 


Lifecycle Identity 


You need to have the ability to provide role-based access so that employees can be provisioned or de-provisioned based on their roles and responsibilities; a process is known as “least privilege” access. This is important for mitigating risk within your organization because it ensures that only users who access specific information can do so. Those who don’t have access to the data are prevented. 


You also need to track, control and audit this access to ensure only proper access was given after a person’s identity and devices identity have adequately been authenticated and confirmed. As employees and contractors move within an organization, it is important to have structure and consistency in continually managing users and their access privileges across on-premises and cloud systems. If an employee receives a promotion and moves to another department, their access and compliance requirements are likely to change. In many organizations today, this creates security and compliance challenges without an identity platform.  


Another example of an issue that can arise is when an employee leaves the organization. Their privileged access is left in place due to not having a competent off-boarding process that removes their account’s many different levels and areas of access. This leaves the risk of a bad actor coming along and compromising the account and then has un-fettered access to the organization’s data. Unfortunately, this is a reality too many enterprises have seen.


True Visibility and “Operations Anywhere” Capability 


Identity includes more than people, and this requires diligence around the endpoints themselves, such as the mobile devices and laptops used by employees to ensure all activity is being captured and monitored.  


So, when you’re dealing with identity issues on a large scale, you want to have a 360-degree view of all your user identity activity because it’s challenging to establish what average looks like without this visibility. Your context-rich identity platform should monitor all identities across your domain and all applications in real-time and provide deep insight into who is accessing the resources and data. 


This makes integrating your identity platform with your existing applications and security solutions critical to realizing greater visibility. There is no use in buying a disparate and point solution if you cannot coordinate identity activities between them. In today’s cyber threat landscape, you need to have an identity platform that blends all technologies. 


Another fundamental approach for greater visibility is ensuring your identity platform accurately identifies, tracks, and monitors user behavior to provide accurate and timely intelligence about anomalous activity across your environment. Given the ferocity and sophistication of today’s modern threats, this may sound complicated and overwhelming, but it need not be. Many organizations still experience breaches because they can’t identify or understand normal versus abnormal behavior among their end-users. User behavior analytics enables you to immediately identify any unusual or suspicious behavior, whether it’s an end-user trying to access data they don’t usually have access to or even a device that has been compromised. 


How An Identity Platform Drives Real Business Value in Thwarting Cyber Threats - Cloud Security

In a Nutshell? Identity Security Matters 


While this might seem like a lot to focus on, it’s important to remember this is not intended as an exhaustive list, instead to provide an idea of how to effectively move forward with your identity-based security strategy and have the knowledge to select employ an identity platform properly. 


According to Cybersecurity Ventures, damages related to cybercrime are projected to hit $10.5 trillion annually by 2025. There’s no doubt about it; identity security works and is more critical than ever before. Selecting an identity platform needs to be at the forefront of any business’s digital transformation or modernization strategy.  


A trustworthy cloud-based identity platform like SailPoint can drive real value to an organization and help ensure a safe and secure environment to transact business on a global scale.  


Mark Lynd (CISSP, ISSAP, ISSMP), Head of Digital Business at Netsync is Top ranked global thought leader, author, speaker and practitioner for, AI, Data Center, IoT and Cybersecurity. He has been an accomplished enterprise CIO, CTO, CISO and Board Member for several large organizations. Mark has performed speaking and thought leadership engagements for Oracle, Intel, IBM, Cisco and others. He was named an Ernst & Young’s "Entrepreneur of Year – Southwest Region" Finalist and presented the Doak Walker Award on ESPN’s CFB Awards Show to a national television audience. He served honorably in the US Army’s 3rd Ranger Battalion & 82d Airborne.

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