Identity and Access Management: What’s Driving the Rush?

October 28, 2021
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4 min read

A recent Fortune Business Insights report projects that the global Identity and Access Management (IAM) market (valued at $9.53 billion in 2018) will reach $24.76 billion by the end of 2026, showing a CAGR of 13.17%.

What’s behind this massive demand? In a nutshell, people don’t want their identities stolen. But the real drivers are growing regulatory and organizational pressure to protect corporate assets. This comes as no surprise as compromised credentials are the most common initial attack vector, leading to 20% of breaches.

Building an effective IAM strategy to thwart today’s threats is no easy task. That’s why many organizations now seek Identity-as-a-Service (IDaaS) type solutions. This approach works to ramp up affordable identity-based security quickly. Last but not least, investment in IDaaS solutions can generate an ROI of up to 619%.

Why Do We Need Identity and Access Management?

IAM is more important than ever today. Businesses have embraced remote users even to where non-employees have access to internal systems. Furthermore, COVID-caused disruption has exposed weaknesses in many identity and access architectures. According to Gartner’s latest 2021 Planning Guide for IAM report, the modern economy largely relies on IAM.

Who’s Identity Anyway?

IAM for employees, consumers and partners differ a lot in context and goals. But a shared, versatile technical solution can provide protection for everyone. For all users, static security measures are frequently either non-secure or cumbersome.

Adaptive access is one feature of IAM that solves this problem. Effective access control must constantly judge trust and risk parameters. And these change constantly. For example, what happens when workers job-hop within your organization? The access they have probably changes as well.

Advanced IAM software uses machine learning and AI to analyze key parameters, such as user, device, activity, environment and behavior. The end result is a holistic, adjustable risk score to determine whether or not to grant access. This enables a more accurate, contextual authentication for the workforce, partners and customers alike.

Cutting the Gordian Knot

In 2020, at least 38 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico introduced or considered more than 280 bills or resolutions that deal with cybersecurity. Meanwhile, GDPRs Privacy by Design’ requires data protection through tech design. And that’s a core goal of IAM: that is, building robust identity and access security into the system.

Since regulations cover a wide variety of areas, it’s painstaking to keep up with it all. Still, one way or another, compliance largely focuses on secure access. Also, within a company or agency, it matters who has access to what data. Therefore, IAM cuts through compliance from many angles.

Beyond Strong Passwords

While strong passwords are important, attackers can break even complex eight-character passwords with relative ease. But identity and access go far beyond checking password strength. IAM impacts nearly every aspect of a company’s tech stack beyond what’s normally considered security systems.

Your employees don’t get a skeleton key to every door in the building. Likewise, it’s critical that IAM techniques are paired with well-defined access policies. Decisions must be made about who has access to which data and applications and under which conditions access is allowed.

In many ways, IAM layers over the entire business, from analytics to business intelligence and from customer/partner portals to marketing solutions and beyond. Think about it. Any touchpoint (think IoT) is a door. And at every door, you need to validate identity and align it within policy guidelines. Also, not everyone knocking is a human. Apps and APIs require authentication as well.

Fast-Tracking Identity & Access Security Gaps

Building a robust IAM system is not easy. Threat actors have the upper hand in many ways. They only need to focus on one area to breach, such as credential theft. Meanwhile, the business must secure its entire attack surface. This may include thousands of assets, components, infrastructure, public and private cloud environments, social media and mobile connections. just to name a few.

For this reason, many businesses turn to identity-as-a-service providers (IDaaS). This enables access right away to advanced identity and access management tools. First, technical issues are brought up to speed. Second, compliance is not an afterthought. On the contrary, compliance prerequisites are intrinsic to any effective IAM framework.

IAM Analytics

Like the health of your body, cybersecurity requires constant monitoring, assessment and evaluation. Identity analytics illustrate how IDaaS offers the dynamic protection that our digital world demands.

An identity analytics dashboard reveals high risk across users, entitlements and apps. Some tools include:

  • Anomaly detection – Spots outliers and deviations in user entitlement.
  • Decision-making support – Calculated confidence scores help you decide whether to recertify access or remove an entitlement.
  • Deep insight – Drill down into user, policy and application details for a more granular understanding to target high-risk activity. See all successful and failed logins, SSO connections and geographic activity trends.
  • Peer group analysis – Detects deviations in groups of similar users.

Identity and Access Management Bottom Line Benefits

Like all things software, the cost/benefit must be weighed. You’re not going to turn a shopping center into Fort Knox, right? But what if the solution improves your business beyond better defenses alone? IAM specialists have discovered these opportunities. And it makes sense since orderly access improves efficiency.

Some business benefits of IDaaS solutions include:

  • Streamlined onboarding/offboarding
  • Infrastructure cost avoidance
  • Less strain on IT/security teams
  • Faster identity-related function interrogations for apps
  • Enables users to choose the most convenient authentication (average savings of 20 minutes per week per user).

Forrester reported that for one real-world organization, IAM-related benefits of $10,552,942  were realized over three years versus costs of $1,468,324. This added up to a net present value (NPV) of $9,084,618, with a payback period of less than six months and an ROI of 619%.

So yes, it’s the economy. And the economy largely hinges on IAM.

Jonathan Reed
Freelance Technology Writer

Jonathan Reed is a freelance technology writer. For the last decade, he has written about a wide range of topics including cybersecurity, Industry 4.0, AI/ML...
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