Listen to this podcast on Apple Podcasts, SoundCloud or wherever you find your favorite audio content.

Who’s there? It’s a critical question for enterprises, and identity and access management (IAM) solutions help ensure the right employees are accessing the right applications for the right reasons.

But what about consumers? On this week’s Security Intelligence podcast, hosts Pam Cobb and David Moulton search for consumer identity and access management (CIAM) answers with the help of Sean Brown, program director for the IBM IAM team, and Martijn Loderus, global CIAM lead for IBM.

Control vs. Capture

According to Loderus, what sets IAM and CIAM apart “isn’t the technology, it’s the use case.” While IAM tools are designed for access control, CIAM solutions are built for data capture. “Think about IAM as a vault,” says Loderus. “CIAM is like the entry to Disneyland. The goal is to get everyone through the gate as quickly as possible.”

Where IAM solutions require employees to authenticate their identity before gaining access, CIAM services rely on self sign-up. Consumers provide specific information in exchange for specific outcomes. Rather than regulation, the goal is to build a relationship.

As noted by Brown, however, there’s a growing need for organizations to ensure the data they capture is protected. “What we see across the board in every market is that new regulations are taking hold,” he says. “Companies need to protect customer data or there’s financial impact.”

Fighting Friction Burns

Friction frustrates customers. “We’ve all tried to go into an application and need to get to it quickly and are then prompted for additional authentication factors,” notes Brown. In turn, we often see “cart abandonment and brand dissatisfaction caused by friction when users are asked for too much information or to re-verify information.” In other words, consumers begin to lose confidence.

To fight friction burns, companies need collaborative efforts. CIAM touches multiple lines of business, according to Loderus. The CMO and CIO need to devise how it looks and how it works, while the CISO needs to make sure that capturing consumer information is done effectively and securely. For Brown, this means striking a balance — giving consumers control of their data without compromising corporate networks. Put simply, “CIAM should deliver frictionless access without reducing security.”

Smooth Operators

Trust forms the foundation of effective CIAM experiences. But from a corporate perspective, “there is no trust,” says Loderus. “And from a consumer perspective, they don’t have trust either. You need to create it on both sides.” This requires what Loderus calls “progressive trust” — information requests that are relevant to current use cases.

For example, customers simply visiting a website shouldn’t be subject to CIAM. If customers want to download a brochure, asking for an email address is reasonable. Creating an on-site account might require email verification, and Loderus notes that “during a financial transaction it’s normal to have step-up authentication, while high-level transactions may require a Social Security or passport number.”

From a consumer perspective, effective CIAM solutions reduce friction while building a relationship based on reciprocal trust. For companies, this means recognizing the “shift of privacy and control back to the individual user,” according to Brown. This requires an approach that relies on decentralized identity and a blockchain-style structure to protect consumer data, along with a consolidation of existing identities across siloed CIAM solutions to ensure users aren’t forced to continually verify data.

The bottom line is that CIAM must be a reciprocal relationship. By prioritizing progressive trust and fighting friction, enterprises can enhance the consumer experience without sacrificing security.

More from Identity & Access

Kronos Malware Reemerges with Increased Functionality

The Evolution of Kronos Malware The Kronos malware is believed to have originated from the leaked source code of the Zeus malware, which was sold on the Russian underground in 2011. Kronos continued to evolve and a new variant of Kronos emerged in 2014 and was reportedly sold on the darknet for approximately $7,000. Kronos is typically used to download other malware and has historically been used by threat actors to deliver different types of malware to victims. After remaining…

An IBM Hacker Breaks Down High-Profile Attacks

On September 19, 2022, an 18-year-old cyberattacker known as "teapotuberhacker" (aka TeaPot) allegedly breached the Slack messages of game developer Rockstar Games. Using this access, they pilfered over 90 videos of the upcoming Grand Theft Auto VI game. They then posted those videos on the fan website Gamers got an unsanctioned sneak peek of game footage, characters, plot points and other critical details. It was a game developer's worst nightmare. In addition, the malicious actor claimed responsibility for a…

What is the Future of Password Managers?

In November 2022, LastPass had its second security breach in four months. Although company CEO Karim Toubba assured customers they had nothing to worry about, the incident didn’t inspire confidence in the world’s leading password manager application. Password managers have one vital job: keep your sensitive login credentials secret, so your accounts remain secure. When hackers compromise these software applications, the entire industry of identity and access management (IAM) takes notice. As an alliance of tech giants leads a global push…

Beware of What Is Lurking in the Shadows of Your IT

This post was written with contributions from Joseph Lozowski. Comprehensive incident preparedness requires building out and testing response plans that consider the possibility that threats will bypass all security protections. An example of a threat vector that can bypass security protections is “shadow IT” and it is one that organizations must prepare for. Shadow IT is the use of any hardware or software operating within an enterprise without the knowledge or permission of IT or Security. IBM Security X-Force responds…

Your browser doesn't support HTML5 audio
Press play to continue listening
00:00 00:00