Imagine you are the security administrator of a large enterprise. One day a competitor is hacked, and in response, your board mandates tightened access security. Alternatively, imagine that your regulatory agency mandates that access to sensitive applications require two-factor authentication. How well-positioned are you to implement the change? How long will it take? How expensive will it be in terms of custom application development?
Struggles With Access Management
If you are like many large IT organizations today, fragmentation of your access management and security solutions makes these changes a daunting prospect. Many access management systems have been coded into individual applications, while others have evolved around particular groups of users, such as employees, business partners or customers.
The proliferation of mobile devices means you may have separate access control systems for Web and mobile applications. You may even have different access control systems for resources hosted in the cloud or delivered by third-party software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers than you have for on-premises resources. This level of fragmentation is not just expensive to maintain and upgrade; it also creates a serious security concern because a criminal could find the weakest link and slip through to compromise an entire network.
Improving the Process
How can this messy situation be improved? Security administrators can start by stepping back to take a more strategic view of access security. A converged access management platform can help reduce complexity and, in the process, reduce application development and management costs by removing access logic from applications.
Changes to access policy can be made once in a single policy definition tool. Those policy changes take effect on all protected applications regardless of whether the applications are enterprise Web apps, mobile apps or third-party SaaS programs.
In addition to the security and simplification benefits, a single access platform lets users authenticate once and then move smoothly between applications to accomplish their objectives. This is a big advantage for mobile devices on which entering a password can be cumbersome. On mobile, thoughtfully implemented access security can dramatically increase application usage.
What Should Be Included
There are several key features that security administrators should look for in an access management platform. These qualities include:
- Support for Web, mobile and API access security;
- A flexible, risk-based security policy engine that can incorporate a wide range of contextual information into access decisions;
- Federation to support the secure sharing of identities across domains, especially to business partners and SaaS applications;
- Strong authentication mechanisms; and
- The ability to automate deployment and configuration to ensure that the access management platform is as agile as the applications it protects.
IBM Security Access Manager provides an access management platform that delivers these capabilities and lets security administrators take back control of their access management. The single, converged appliance platform lets organizations consolidate, standardize and automate access security to help close the door on would-be attackers while enabling user productivity and reducing costs.