In today’s hybrid multicloud environment, users expect to be able to access their work and personal resources from wherever they are, whenever they need them. With this expanded security perimeter, and especially considering this year’s tectonic shift in remote work, organizations need to be prepared with a distributed security strategy that incorporates principles like zero trust. Only the right users under the right conditions can have access to the right data, requiring deep contextual analysis of dynamic conditions to perform continuous, risk-based authentication (RBA).

In Forrester’s new report, ‘The Forrester Wave: Risk-Based Authentication, Q2 2020,’ the independent research firm mentions that security and risk professionals “increasingly want risk-based authentication solutions to provide out-of-the-box risk scoring capabilities not only for authentication but also for registration, navigation, payments, and other nonfinancial transactions.” This validates the need for the worlds of fraud protection and access management to come together in order to simultaneously maximize both security and user experience for any user and any authentication event. A leading RBA vendor should leverage that technology intersection for comprehensive adaptive access, couple that access with robust authentication options including passwordless and ensure it is all easily consumable for any application.

Read the Report

The Importance of Context and Adaptive Access

Organizations need to differentiate between legitimate and malicious users—not just at login, but throughout their digital journey to adapt to dynamic context and risks. Access management solutions should incorporate other technologies like fraud protection in a continuous fashion in order to provide frictionless access to low-risk users while also protecting against higher risk conditions. In a world where context is key, authentication technology must evaluate a robust set of parameters across domains like user, device, and environment to aggregate contextual information and assess an overall level of risk. True adaptive access technology must also move beyond static attributes to more dynamic context like environment changes or user behavior analysis. When a detected risk level warrants an authentication challenge, only then will a user be prompted; however, the MFA methods themselves don’t necessarily have to add significant friction.

Eliminating Passwords

Knowledge-based authentication methods like passwords have consistently proven to be inefficient, disruptive, and perhaps most importantly, insecure when compared to alternative options. Malicious credential stuffing is an increasingly popular hacker tactic, and these attacks are commonly responsible for brand-damaging data breaches. Even dated MFA methods like knowledge questions appear all too commonly throughout digital experiences, despite their inherent insecurity. While a world without passwords may feel futuristic to some, the journey to passwordless authentication has started and the options are already available today. Authentication solutions should provide advanced options for MFA like facial biometric technology, QR codes and FIDO2 hardware keys to improve both security and convenience for end users. And, these options should be easily consumable by any application, no matter how custom.

Security Is Not an Afterthought

Developers are trying to “shift left” in their mindsets and keep security in mind throughout the entire application development lifecycle instead of playing catch-up near the end. Vendors should take an API-first approach to empower developers with the tools they need to add authentication to new apps much faster than with traditional solutions, without being an IAM expert. Beyond reference documentation, solutions should provide a guided, wizard-like experience that includes code snippets with step-by-step integration instructions, plus fully-functioning examples. The underlying technology enables a frictionless experience for end users of the application, so the experience integrating that technology into the application itself must remain frictionless and highly consumable as well. It’s only right.

How Vendors Were Scored in the Forrester Report

Forrester included seven vendors in their RBA assessment, each of which met the following general criteria:

  • A thought-leading, productized portfolio of products and services
  • Total annual RBA revenues of at least $6 million with at least 12% growth
  • An unaided mindshare with Forrester’s end user customers
  • An unaided mindshare with vendors

Forrester evaluated the seven chosen vendors across 33 criteria grouped into three high-level categories:

  • Current offering – including rule management, authentication policies, user self-service, case management, reporting, integration, and other criteria
  • Strategy – including execution roadmap, market approach, partner ecosystem, solution delivery, and other criteria
  • Market presence – including overall revenue, RBA solution revenue, annual RBA solution revenue growth, and vertical presence in key verticals

IBM Named a Leader in Risk-Based Authentication

Forrester named IBM a Leader in its new report, ‘The Forrester Wave: Risk-Based Authentication, Q2 2020.’ Only two vendors were ranked as a Leader of the seven evaluated as the most significant vendors in the RBA space. IBM earned the highest score in the Market Presence category and was ranked among the highest scores for the Current Offering category.

According to Forrester, “IBM’s RBA solution is a robust, end-to-end solution that covers enterprises’ RBA needs.” We believe Forrester’s evaluation validates our goal to provide holistic, contextual access for every user to maximize both security and user experience. Working together, fraud protection and access management make adaptive access and RBA a reality.

Read the Report

More from Identity & Access

Taking the complexity out of identity solutions for hybrid environments

4 min read - For the past two decades, businesses have been making significant investments to consolidate their identity and access management (IAM) platforms and directories to manage user identities in one place. However, the hybrid nature of the cloud has led many to realize that this ultimate goal is a fantasy. Instead, businesses must learn how to consistently and effectively manage user identities across multiple IAM platforms and directories. As cloud migration and digital transformation accelerate at a dizzying pace, enterprises are left…

“Authorized” to break in: Adversaries use valid credentials to compromise cloud environments

4 min read - Overprivileged plaintext credentials left on display in 33% of X-Force adversary simulations Adversaries are constantly seeking to improve their productivity margins, but new data from IBM X-Force suggests they aren’t exclusively leaning on sophistication to do so. Simple yet reliable tactics that offer ease of use and often direct access to privileged environments are still heavily relied upon. Today X-Force released the 2023 Cloud Threat Landscape Report, detailing common trends and top threats observed against cloud environments over the past…

Artificial intelligence threats in identity management

4 min read - The 2023 Identity Security Threat Landscape Report from CyberArk identified some valuable insights. 2,300 security professionals surveyed responded with some sobering figures: 68% are concerned about insider threats from employee layoffs and churn 99% expect some type of identity compromise driven by financial cutbacks, geopolitical factors, cloud applications and hybrid work environments 74% are concerned about confidential data loss through employees, ex-employees and third-party vendors. Additionally, many feel digital identity proliferation is on the rise and the attack surface is…

X-Force certified containment: Responding to AD CS attacks

6 min read - This post was made possible through the contributions of Joseph Spero and Thanassis Diogos. In June 2023, IBM Security X-Force responded to an incident where a client had received alerts from their security tooling regarding potential malicious activity originating from a system within their network targeting a domain controller. X-Force analysis revealed that an attacker gained access to the client network through a VPN connection using a third-party IT management account. The IT management account had multi-factor authentication (MFA) disabled…

Topic updates

Get email updates and stay ahead of the latest threats to the security landscape, thought leadership and research.
Subscribe today