As the world has evolved to become increasingly digital and globally connected, ICT security has become correspondingly more complex, according to Rory Young, portfolio manager: support & enabling services at T-Systems South Africa.
With digital pathways into and out of organisations expanding rapidly, business today have little visibility of their vulnerabilities and exposure. As a result, security solutions must be seamlessly integrated and work in harmony to provide a holistic view and remediation capability across the entire ICT landscape.
Identity and Access Management (IAM) is a fundamental and critical facet of a connected security ecosystem, as controlling the confidentiality, integrity and authorisation around data is key. There are, however, a number of challenges that exist around this, chiefly that many businesses do not know who is authorised to access what data when, why and from where. As mobility becomes increasingly pervasive, mobile identity and access services are emerging as the ideal solution for a wide range of IAM challenges.
In the past, IAM was a far less complex task than it is today. Organisations only had to manage identity and access to a few internal business applications, the corporate intranet, and maybe an HR or finance system. It was well understood, contained and controlled, which in turn made for fairly simple management. Today, however, there has been an “Internet” revolution – a “Digital Revolution” (termed the Third Industrial Revolution) – and with it the number of applications used is exploding. Organisations no longer have only a handful of applications and access to manage, but dozens, as “digital business” becomes everyday business.
As businesses embrace cloud, Software as a Service (SaaS), mobility and modern collaboration in order to remain relevant and competitive, they add layers of complexity when it comes to managing and controlling identity and access. Traditional network and corporate boundaries no longer exist, physical boundaries are eroded, organisational structures and hierarchies are challenged. Keeping pace is a challenge, and organisations frequently struggle to control and manage access to the plethora of loosely coupled applications. Ultimately this exposes the business, its corporate IP and customer data to very real risk.
In order to mitigate this risk, remain compliant with regulations around confidentiality of data, access thereto and integrity thereof, organisations need greater control over who is accessing what, where and when across the now extended corporate boundary. In addition, existing domain IAM and security policies need to be extended into the SaaS cloud services as well as mobile devices and applications. They also need to be able to provide assurances that adequate security is provided, meets the needs of business, and can stand up to the scrutiny of any audit.
Organisations need solutions that not only provide identity and access controls but also rich analytics in order to better understand how data is being accessed and consumed by various roles across their organisation. This in turn allows for more informed and durable decisions to be made regarding IAM strategy, policy and target investment on an on-going basis. Given that the “Digital Revolution” is characterised by the proliferation of ubiquitous connectivity and computing that enables almost anyone to access information, systems and services from anywhere, any time and on any device, the digital business has become the norm. Mobile devices are everywhere, and thus offer the ideal platform for effective IAM in a digital, connected world.
Mobile identity and access services can integrate the multiple forms of physical proof of identity we use today, from drivers licenses and identity cards to passports, loyalty cards and more with online digital identities into a single mobile application or network. Identity Document (ID) credentials and attributes are securely stored in a central location for various forms of interaction that require ID verification. These include visualisation and validation of ID, credentials, qualifications, licenses and so on, system and application login, physical access control, document approval with trusted digital signatures and more.
For example, IDs can be verified using voice verification combined with a PIN code and a scanned QR code to allow access to sites, systems or applications. Logging in to online services will no longer require a password, but the system will send a PIN number, which could be combined with a personal PIN to strengthen authentication and even with a time-sensitive image. This removes one of the most vulnerable areas of security – the password – that is only too easy to forget, reset or steal. Employee badges, physical keys and security tokens become unnecessary, closing up a security vulnerability that often exists when employees leave an organisation. In addition, provisioning of staff, both temporary and permanent, can become far quicker, easier and more secure.
Mobile identity and access services give organisations greater control and assurances over security and protection in multiple areas. In addition, centralising IAM provides organisations with a real-time global view of identity and access activity. Multi-factor authentication capability not only ensures enhanced security, but also allows for richer and deeper activity analysis. In addition, proactive alerts can be set, for example if a user appears in two locations at the same time or if there are consecutive uses where the locations are too far apart based on the access time recorded. Data can also be analysed to determine who is accessing what, where and when, which enables organisations to continually drive optimisation and efficiencies across the enterprise security landscape.
In a digital, globally connected world, security has become more complex than ever, and security strategies need to adapt in order to keep pace. Identity and access management is critical not only for protecting physical assets but also important business data and more. Not only does this improve security, it also provides additional data that can be used for analysis and improvement. However, with more applications and forms of identity than ever before, consolidating and centralising this for enhanced security, convenience and analytical capability is essential. Mobile identity and access services provide the ideal platform to enhance security, provide effective IAM, and deliver advanced analytics that can be used to drive more intelligent business and security decisions.