It used to be that most work was done inside the corporate firewall and behind the safety net of the VPN. However, the world today has become much more mobile, collaborative, and cloud-based. In fact, today approximately 71% of services in the average enterprise are cloud-based services, meaning most applications are available from anywhere. (Source: Skyhigh Networks).

As applications continue to be added to the cloud application layer, delivering secure access and maintaining credential oversight for employees, partners, and clients have gone from challenging to downright overwhelming.

That’s why Identity and Access Management (IAM) solutions are taking center stage. Industry analysts, including Gartner, defines IAM as the security discipline that enables the right individuals to access the right resources at the right times for the right reasons. (Source: Gartner).

Leading IAM solutions today ensure secure Single Sign-on (SSO) and access control to mission-critical resources, while also providing an enhanced user experience, improved operational efficiency, and a framework for maintaining compliance and data protection from hackers. Let’s look at the ‘must have’ IAM capabilities and why unified access management will be instrumental in going forward.

    • Unified access management – Today most modern IT architectures are made up of on-premise applications, cloud, mobility, and Internet of Things (IoT) devices. The challenge becomes securing access for a hearty mix of these applications on various networks and devices by a range of users.
      Unified access management solutions can help link this heterogeneous environment, connecting all users to their preferred applications in an efficient way, without creating silos or opening potential security gaps. Unified access solutions are different from conventional IAM solutions because they are cloud-driven and can serve users from anywhere in the world and use any network.
    • Single sign-on or SSO – It’s well known that individuals have anywhere from 10 to 15 different passwords to remember for work applications. Having multiple passwords to manage not only causes frustration to employees, it produces a significant drain on IT help desks’ time (hunting down and resetting user IDs and passwords). Multiple passwords also increase security vulnerabilities. Risks are higher with numerous passwords to juggle because most people choose simple passwords or write them down to avoid the dreaded password reset. As part of an IAM or unified access management solution, single sign-on eliminates many of these issues. Instead of each application having its own set of usernames and passwords, with SSO users go through one centralized, company-branded login screen. Not only does this simplify access for employees and others logging in, IT managers have a labor-saving portal to view users, see their activities and to manage password policies. They also have a cohesive process for onboarding new employees or terminating access when required. Designed to centrally control authentication for one network domain, with SSO IT managers can close potential breaks in security that could lead to malware attacks.
    • Identify federation – Identity federation takes SSO to the next level and it’s important for enterprises that use multiple Security-as-a-Service (SaaS) products because it allows individuals to gain access to applications without exposing their credentials to the SaaS provider. Identity federation or federated SSO enables cross-domain authentication across multiple networks. These capabilities mean that IT managers can maintain centralized control of user authentication. As a result, anytime a user attempts to access a SaaS application site they are redirected back to the company’s SSO screen. The process also gives the internal IT team an audit trail to maintain control over their identity management.
    • Multi-factor authentication- Multi-factor authentication is another component of identity and access management that gives a deeper level of identity and credential authentication to ensure correct people have access to the enterprise applications and services. Today’s leading multi-factor authentication solutions include several factors, such as a specific account image, as well as validation options around multiple areas, including:
        • What the user knows (i.e. their password)
        • What a user has (i.e. their devices associated with a user’s profile)
        • What a user does (i.e. individual’s behaviors and patterns)
        • User’s location
        • Additional safeguards, such as virtualized keyboards and passcodes sent to mobile devices can also be added

What started out as a job securing access to applications on-premise, has evolved dramatically leaving IT responsible for managing access to multiple application environments, including on-premise apps as well as SaaS cloud apps. A unified access management approach is necessary because it simplifies and secures access to SaaS and on-premise applications, as well as a wide range of networks and devices.

If you’d like to learn more about your options when it comes to single sign-on and identity and access management, talk to Bluewave today.

We can evaluate your environment and make recommendations for smart access control solutions that can centralize security controls, improve efficiencies, and keep your employees, partners and customers connected and productive.