Necessity may be the mother of invention, and it also drives change. To remain competitive in 2021, companies had to transform rapidly. Today, many of us work from home. Remote and hybrid work models have become the new normal. But what about security?

In one recent survey, 70% of office workers admitted to using their work devices for personal tasks, while 69% used personal laptops or printers for work. Also, 30% of remote workers let someone else use their work device. Plus, cyber attack rates have gone through the roof. The average person may not think much about security, but they expect it. It all sounds like a busy security officer’s nightmare.

How can you possibly secure your perimeter when so many employees and users engage in risky behavior outside your firewall? The answer is to make identity the new perimeter. And thanks to identity and access management (IAM), this new, fluid perimeter can be secured.

The rush to secure identity

The IAM market is projected to grow from $13.41 billion in 2021 to $34.52 billion in 2028 at a CAGR of 14.5%. Why so much interest?

According to the 2021 IBM Cost of a Data Breach report, compromised credentials continue to be the most common initial attack vector. So, we need better credentials protection. Also, regulatory and organizational pressures continue to mount in a call to secure corporate assets. IAM solutions satisfy both these needs. There are other powerful incentives driving the rush to adopt identity and access strategies, too.

IAM secures the perimeter-less architecture

Protecting apps and digital assets in the remote context requires strict data access management. As device and connection types grow in number, security gets more complex and cumbersome. However, people can still enforce rules according to the who, what, where and when surrounding access to sensitive data.

Zero trust models, which include least privilege access, verify each and every connection and endpoint. This means the system grants every request for access the least amount of privilege. Zero trust ensures that resources are restricted by default, even for connections inside the perimeter.

IAM has become a centerpiece of this new vision. To meet current threats, security teams need to set a perimeter against each and every request for access, no matter where they come from. This is key for distributed teams who work worldwide with employees, partners and freelancers. And as team members change roles, access privileges must be granted or removed.

IAM software relies on machine learning and artificial intelligence to analyze key parameters, such as user, device, browser type and behavior. This enables them to rapidly spot something odd. You can also define adjustable risk scores to match the evolving access terrain. The result is a real-time, accurate and contextual authentication process across your entire ecosystem.

More benefits of IAM

Savvy business and IT leaders rapidly see other benefits that IAM models bring to a company’s performance. For starters, instead of badgering users (and wasting time) about non-authorized device use, people can access networks regardless of location, time or device.

For more complex environments, with multiple applications, you can grant access via single sign-on and multifactor authentication capability. This simplifies web and mobile experiences, increases productivity and drives down the drain on IT resources. From there, automated access management can streamline on- and off-boarding processes critical for remote teams.

Consider the boutique asset management firm that built a cloud-based wealth management platform for its employees, associates and clients. Accessible through a wide range of devices, an IAM-based portal gave the firm’s stakeholders access to a full suite of apps and tools that connect through an API gateway. The company’s website, Salesforce CRM, portfolio analysis software, custom-built in-house solutions and third-party offerings (such as Zoom) were all united to conserve resources, improve user experience and streamline performance.

Can you simplify compliance, too?

In 2020, governments passed over 280 bills or resolutions dealing with cybersecurity. Meanwhile, the General Data Protection Regulation’s Privacy by Design policy insists on data protection by design. Here, IAM fits the bill perfectly. After all, it builds in strong identity and access security into the system.

Keeping up with constant updates to regulations can be painstaking. So it’s comforting to know that a major compliance concern is secure access. Who has access to what data is a top worry as well. IAM goes a long way to satisfy both internal and external compliance mandates.

Let the right ones in

Human beings aren’t the only ones requesting network access. The digital space has exploded with the number of apps, APIs and internet of things devices that come knocking on your network door. IAM includes these connections as well with their own set of permissions and protocols.

An ideal IAM solution caters to all clients, partners, employees and contractors. It also responds to the ever-growing requests of non-human connections. IAM is not just a defense, but a better way to manage the workplace.

Consider the customer journey. From lead to prospect to customer, each interaction must be cultivated to account for user preferences and privacy while providing a great experience. Here, IAM tools can work double-shift to provide access authentication and assemble user profiles that enhance security and user experience.

Whether it’s an employee, partner or customer, every person has one identity no matter the device or platform. This can include access from apps, social media, websites and any other endpoint. This not only makes for a more holistic user experience, but it can also help thwart social engineering-type attacks.

Be perimeter-less, be secure.

While it might be tempting to fall back on rigid, complex authentication processes, this approach does more harm than good in the long run. One might argue that a static solution saves money, but does it really? It cannot address the myriad of attacks that continue to surface. If you consider the business and compliance benefits, a non-IAM solution may lock you out of other ways to improve outcomes.

Today’s digital landscape was thrust upon us before its time. To meet new challenges and seize opportunities, you must clearly define, and skillfully manage, identity.

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