How Do I Know When To Upgrade My IAM Environment?

Pathmaker Group Executive Team

Deciding if you should upgrade your identity and access management environment can be a daunting task. Although there are many variables and decision-making points involved, the “if” decision usually falls into one of two camps:

  1. The software is nearing its’ support end-of-life.
  2. There is a need to utilize new services available in the latest release.

Let’s take a look at the first camp. The end-of-life of a particular software product is tied directly to its vendor’s support. This is a very important consideration due to the potential worst case scenario. Imagine software currently running in production where its support has been deprecated by the vendor. Then when a major issue occurs, technical staff reaches out to the vendor with an explanation of the problem, only to hear “sorry, we can’t help you”.  Unless in-house staff can diagnose and find a solution to the problem, there could be a very real long-lasting disruption of service. The old adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is not always the best mantra to follow with your identity and access management software. Although it is not critical to constantly upgrade to the latest and greatest release, it is recommended to be several steps ahead of a product’s end-of-life. This is due to not only the potential issue above, but also because vendors include critical items, such as security fixes and performance enhancements, as part of their newest releases.

How about the second camp? Let’s take a company that is utilizing a single sign-on software product or version that is a few years old. Granted, the solution is working well, however, there is now a need to integrate mobile and social technologies for their customer base. Seeing as their current software version does not support this, but the newest version does, the obvious choice would be to upgrade. Or, as a second illustration, a company may have created a custom connector, but that connector now ships out-of-the-box with the newest version. By upgrading, they would no longer have the overhead of updating and maintaining their code.

Get Information on the PathMaker Group IAM Maturity Advisory here. 

Start With The End In MInd: Blog #4 – Manage Access Across On-premises and Cloud Applications

(Source: SailPoint Technologies, Inc. Identity and Access Management Buyers Guide)

“We’ve lost visibility and control over applications in the cloud. We’re not even sure about what’s out there.”

As enterprises accelerate their adoption of the cloud, they must cope with the challenges of managing a hybrid IT environment where some applications reside on-premises and some reside in the cloud. Adding to the complexity of this environment, business units are gaining more autonomy to buy and deploy applications — which can often house sensitive, corporate data — without consulting or involving the IT organization.

Signs that your organization is struggling to manage new cloud applications include:

  • IT is not fully aware of the mission-critical cloud applications in production across various departments and business units
  • Business units are performing their own user administration via spreadsheets and manual updates
  • Business units are requesting that IT integrate cloud applications with directories for periodic synchronization
  • Business units are purchasing their own identity and access management solutions — without consulting IT or considering what IAM infrastructure is already in place
  • IT audit processes, such as access certifications, have not been extended to cover cloud applications

A proper identity and access management solution should help enterprises embrace the cloud while at the same time allowing the IT organization to effectively apply centralized security policy, detect violations and demonstrate full regulatory compliance. Successful IAM solutions will allow you to automate compliance and provisioning processes for cloud applications in the same manner as on-premises applications. At the same time, it should provide end users with convenient access to cloud applications and empower them with single sign-on from any device — at work, home or on the go with mobile devices.

Check back for blog #5, Reduce the Cost of Managing Access Change

Visit SailPoint Technologies, Inc. here.

Learn more about PathMaker Group IAM MAP here. 

 

Start With The End In Mind: Blog #3 – Increase Business User Productivity

(Source: SailPoint Technologies, Inc. Identity and Access Management Buyers Guide)

sailpointweblogoWhether you’re using identity management for internal users (employees and contractors) or external users (partners, agents, customers), you want to implement technologies that reduce the burden of accessing business services. Having the right identity and access management strategy can reduce internal costs and improve productivity, but it can also contribute to revenue growth and profitability, as more and more “users” are business partners, agents or customers. As IT becomes more “consumerized,” all types of users expect quick, convenient access. And that access is no longer limited to logging in from a corporate laptop or PC — today’s workers want access anytime, anywhere, via any device. Every minute that a user has to spend retrieving a lost password or having the help desk reset a password is an unproductive minute — and when you multiply the growing number of applications by the amount of time wasted, the high price of inconvenience becomes pretty clear.

“I can’t keep up with the incoming requests for managing user access across the organization. There’s got to be a better way!”

“Our business users have to remember so many passwords, they’re writing them on yellow sticky notes in plain view.”

Here are some questions you should consider as you plan your strategy to ensure your IAM solution delivers convenience and improves user adoption and productivity:

  • Do you make it as simple as possible for new users to register and begin using your business services — even if they have no prior relationship with your organization?
  • Can users request new access from a self-service tool without having to call the help desk?
  • Do you provide simple password reset capabilities for users who have forgotten their username and passwords?
  • Do you offer users a streamlined and personalized single sign-on experience for all the applications, regardless of where they are hosted or how employees access them — via a desktop, laptop or mobile device?
  • Do you use risk-based authentication to ensure that low-risk transactions are as easy as possible, but high-risk transactions require more assurance?

Check back for blog #4, Manage Access Across On-premises and Cloud Applications

Visit SailPoint Technologies, Inc. here.

Learn more about PathMaker Group IAM MAP here. 

Start With The End In Mind: Blog #2 – Speed Delivery of Access to Business Users

Speed Delivery of Access to Business Users

(Source: SailPoint Technologies, Inc. Identity and Access Management Buyer’s Guide)

sailpointweblogoGiven the fast-paced and dynamic environment of business today, IT organizations are challenged to keep up with the demand for identity and access management services, and to do so in a compliant manner. Business users cannot wait days or weeks for access to systems required to perform their job duties. Similarly, organizations cannot tolerate huge gaps in deprovisioning access when a user changes positions or is terminated. Changes to user access must be performed in near-real time, while remaining a controlled and auditable process that is visible to the business. The current state of IAM in most organizations makes it almost impossible to provide consistent and effective service levels to the business due to the following challenges:

  • Heavy use of disparate manual access request and change processes
  • Lack of end-user participation and visibility into identity management processes
  • Ad hoc methods for dealing with external identities and their access rights
  • Growing number of cloud-based applications that are managed outside of IT
  • Help desk staff that is over-burdened with access request and password resets

What organizations need is an easier, more cost-effective way to deliver access to the business. With the right self-service tools, business users can manage their own access, from requesting new accounts or roles to recovering forgotten passwords, using intuitive, business-friendly interfaces. In addition, today’s user provisioning solutions offer easy-to-configure options for automating the entire access lifecycle of a user based on event triggers from authoritative sources — to minimize the need for manual changes. By providing an integrated approach that leverages business-friendly self-service access request tools and automated lifecycle event triggers, identity and access management can streamline the delivery of user access across your organization while continuously enforcing governance rules and compliance policies. It also empowers business users to become an active participant in the identity and access management process, enabling them to manage their own access and passwords while providing them with full visibility into active requests, thereby reducing the workload on help desk and IT operations teams.

Be sure to read blog #3, Increase User Productivity, about implementing technology that reduces the burden of accessing business services.

Visit SailPoint Technologies, Inc. here.

Learn more about PathMaker Group IAM MAP here. 

 

Start With The End In Mind: Blog #1 – Identify Priorities and Establish Clear Goals 

Identify Priorities and Establish Clear Goals

(Source: SailPoint Technologies, Inc. Identity and Access Management Buyer’s Guide)

sailpointweblogo

Identity and access management is a strategic imperative for organizations of all sizes. Companies ranging from large, multi-national enterprises to smaller, fast-growing businesses must address requirements to protect and govern access to critical applications, systems and databases whether in the cloud or on-premises. Identity and access management plays a critical role in enabling organizations to inventory, analyze and understand the access privileges granted to their employees — and to be ready to answer the critical question: “Who has access to what?” At the same time, today’s enterprise demands faster and higher levels of service delivery across an increasingly diverse and dynamic environment:

  • There are growing populations of external users, such as partners, agents, and customers, that need access
  • New users come on board daily, requiring immediate access to enterprise resources
  • Users’ responsibilities change, or their relationships with the enterprise end, and access must quickly be modified or revoked
  • Users want fast, convenient access resources anytime, anywhere using smartphones and tablets
  • Some applications and users represent a higher level of risk to the organization than others and require more focus

For IT staff, the challenge becomes how to meet service-level demands while identifying and managing high-risk activities, enforcing policy and security, maintaining stringent controls and addressing compliance requirements. Because there are many different business drivers for identity and access management, you may wonder how and when to put the different components of a solution in place. The answer depends on your business priorities and the immediate challenges facing your organization. To get started, step back and assess your most urgent issues. Do you understand what you want your solution to help you achieve? Here are some common business goals that can help you determine your own unique priorities:

  • Speed delivery of access to business users
  • Increase business user productivity
  • Manage access across on-premises and cloud applications
  • Reduce the cost of managing access change
  • Eliminate audit deficiencies and improve audit performance
  • Lower the cost of compliance
  • Salvage or replace an existing provisioning system

Be sure to read blog #2, Speed Delivery of Access to Business Users, for more detail about the business drivers for identity management — the goals organizations most frequently hope to achieve with their implementation.

Visit SailPoint Technologies, Inc. here.

Learn more about PathMaker Group IAM MAP here. 

 

Meeting IAM Gaps and Challenges with New Product Offerings

PathMaker Group has been working in the Identity and Access Management space since 2003.  We take pride in delivering quality IAM solutions with the best vendor products available.  As the vendor landscape changed with mergers and acquisitions, we specialized in the products and vendors that led the market with key capabilities, enterprise scale, reliable customer support and strong partner programs.  As the market evolves to address new business problems, regulatory requirements, and emerging technologies, PathMaker Group has continued to expand our vendor relationships to meet these changes.  For many customers, the requirements for traditional on premise IAM hasn’t changed.  We will continue supporting these needs with products from IBM and Oracle.  To meet many of the new challenges, we have added new vendor solutions we believe lead the IAM space in meeting specific requirements.  Here are some highlights:

IoT/Consumer Scalability

UnboundID offers a next-generation IAM platform that can be used across multiple large-scale identity scenarios such as retail, Internet of Things or public sector.  The UnboundID Data Store delivers unprecedented web scale data storage capabilities to handle billions of identities along with the security, application and device data associated with each profile.  The UnboundID Data Broker is designed to manage real-time policy-based decisions according to profile data. The UnboundID Data Sync uses high throughput and low latency to provide real-time data synchronization across organizations, disparate data systems or even on-premise and cloud components.  Finally, the UnboundID Analytics Engine gives you the information you need to optimize performance, improve services and meet auditing and SLA requirements.

Identity and Data Governance

SailPoint provides industry leading IAM governance capabilities for both on-premise and cloud-based scenarios.  IdentityIQ is Sailpoint’s on-premise governance-based identity and access management solution that delivers a unified approach to compliance, password management and provisioning activities. IdentityNow is a full-featured cloud-based IAM solution that delivers single sign-on, password management, provisioning, and access certification services for cloud, mobile, and on-premises applications.  SecurityIQ is Sailpoint’s newest offering that can provide governance for unstructured data as well as assisting with data discovery and classification, permission management and real-time policy monitoring and notifications.

Cloud/SaaS SSO, Privileged Access and EMM

Finally, Centrify provides advanced privileged access management, enterprise mobility management, cloud-based access control for customers across industries and around the world.  The Centrify Identity Service provides a Software as a Service (SaaS) product that includes single sign-on, multi-factor authentication, enterprise mobility management as well as seamless application integration.  The Centrify Privilege Service provides simple cloud-based control of all of your privileged accounts while providing extremely detailed session monitoring, logging and reporting capabilities.  The Centrify Server Suite provides the ability to leverage Active Directory as the source of privilege and access management across your Unix, Linux and Windows server infrastructure.

With the addition of these three vendors, PMG can help address key gaps in a customer’s IAM capability.   To better understand the eight levers of IAM Maturity and where you may have gaps, take a look this blog by our CEO, Keith Squires about the IAM MAP.  Please reach out to see how PathMaker Group, using industry-leading products and our tried and true delivery methodology, can help get your company started on the journey to IAM maturity.

With today’s increasing Mobile Enterprise Security Threats, do you have a strategy to mitigate the risk on your Corporate Network?

Corporations are increasingly utilizing mobile enterprise systems to meet their business objectives, allowing mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets to access critical applications on their corporate network.  These devices provide advanced technologies over traditional desktop clients, such as: information sharing, access from anywhere at any time, data sensors, location, etc. But what makes these mobile devices desirable, by their very nature, also poses a new set of security challenges.  Reports by research agencies in recent years show an alarming trend in mobile security threats listing as top concerns: Android malware attacks, and for the IOS platform issues with enterprise provisioning abuse and older OS versions.

These trends highlight the need for corporations to start taking seriously a mobile security strategy at the same level to which cyber criminals are planning future attacks. A mobile security strategy might involve adopting certain Mobile Security Guidelines as published by standards organizations (NIST) and Mobile OWASP project. See the references at the end of this document:

The following guidelines are a subset of Mobile Security Guidelines I pulled from various published sources with most coming from NIST. It is by no means a comprehensive list, however they can be considered as a starting point or additional considerations for an existing mobile security strategy.

1 – Understand the Mobile Enterprise Architecture

You should start with understanding and diagramming the flow from mobile application to business applications running on the back-end application server. This is a great starting point and should be done at the beginning stages, as most of the security guidelines will depend on what is known about the architecture.

  1. Is the mobile application a native application or mobile web application? Is it a cross-platform mobile application?
  2. Does the mobile application use middleware to get to the back-end API, or does it connect directly to a back-end Restful based Web Service?
  3. Does the mobile application connect to an API gateway?

2 – Diagram the network topology of how the mobile devices connect

Is the mobile device connecting to the business application servers over the cellular network or internally through a private WiFi network, or both? Does it go through a proxy or firewall? This type of information will aid in developing security requirements; help with establishing a QA security test bed and monitoring capability.

3 – Develop Mobile Application Security Requirements

At a high level, a security function must protect against unauthorized access and in many cases protect privacy and sensitive data. In most cases, building security into mobile applications is not at the top of the mind-set in the software development process. As such, these requirements should be gathered as soon as possible in the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC). It has been my personal experience in many cases that you have to work with application software developers in adopting best security practices. So the sooner you can get that dialogue going the better. Security objectives to consider are:  Confidentiality, integrity, and availability. Can the mobile OS platform provide the security services required? How sensitive is the data you are trying to protect. Should the data be encrypted in transit, and in storage? Do you need to consider data-in-motion protection technologies?  Should an Identity and Access Management (IDAM) solution be architected as part of the mobile enterprise system? Should it include a Single Sign On functionality (SSO)? Should there be multi-factor authentication, role based or fine-grained access control? Is Federation required? Should the code be obfuscated to prevent reverse engineering?

4 – Incorporate a Mobile Device Security Policy

What types of mobile devices should be allowed to access the organization’s critical assets. Should you allow personal mobile devices, Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD’s) or consider only organization-issued or certified mobile devices to access certain resources? Should you enforce tiers of access? Centralized mobile device management technologies are a growing solution for controlling the use of both organization-issued and BYOD’s by enterprise users. These technologies can remotely wipe the data or lock the password from a mobile device that has been lost or stolen. Should Enterprises consider anti malware software and OS upgrades to become certified mobiles on the network? To reduce high risk mobile devices, consider technologies that can detect and ban mobile devices that are jail broken or rooted, as these can pose the greatest risk of being compromised by hackers.

5 – Application Security Testing

According to a study performed by The Ponemon Institute, nearly 40% of 400 companies surveyed were not scanning their applications for security vulnerabilities, leaving the door wide open for cyber-attacks. This highlights the urgency for security teams to put together some sort of security vetting process to identify security vulnerabilities and validate security requirements as part of an ongoing QA security testing function. Scanning application technologies typically conduct two types of scanning methods: Static Application Security Testing (SAST) which analyzes the source code and Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST), which sends modified HTTP requests to a running web application to exploit the application vulnerabilities. As the QA scanning process develops, it can be automated and injected into the software build process to detect security issues in the early phases of the SDLC.

6 – System Threat Model, Risk Management Process

What will typically come out of the application scanning process will be a list of security vulnerabilities found as either noise, suspect or definitive.  It will then be up to the security engineers knowing the system architecture and network topology working with the application developer to determine whether the vulnerability results in a valid threat and what risk level based on the impact of a possible security breach. Once the risk for each application is determined, it can be managed through an enterprise risk management system where vulnerabilities are tracked, fixed and the risk brought down to a more tolerable level.

7 – Consider implementing a Centralized Mobile Device Management System

Depending on the Mobile Security Policy that is in place, you may want to consider implementing a Centralized Mobile Device Management System especially when Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) mobiles are in the mix that can:

  • For mobile devices, manage certificates, security setting, profiles, etc through a directory service or administration portal.
  • Policy based management system to enforce security settings, restrictions for organization-issued, BYOD mobile devices.
  • Manage credentials for each mobile device through a Directory Service.
  • Self service automation for BYOD and Reducing overall administrative costs.
  • Control which applications are installed on organization-issued applications and check for suspect applications on BYOD mobile devices.
  • A system that can remotely wipe or lock a stolen or loss phone.
  • A system that can detect Jail-broken or rooted mobile devices.

8 – Security Information and Event Management (SIEM)

Monitor mobile device traffic to back-end business applications. Track mobile devices and critical business applications and correlate with events and log information looking for malicious activity based on threat intelligence. On some platforms it may be possible to integrate with a centralized risk management system to specifically be on alert for suspicious mobile events correlated with applications at higher risk.

References:

Your journey toward IAM maturity requires the right MAP

Developing an Entitlements Management Approach

We were sitting down with a client during some initial prioritization discussions in an Identity and Access Management (IAM) Roadmap effort, when the talk turned to entitlements and how they were currently being handled.  Like many companies, they did not have a unified approach on how they wanted to manage entitlements in their new world of unified IAM (a.k.a. the end of the 3 year roadmap we were helping to develop).  Their definition of entitlements also varied from person to person, much less how they wanted to define and enforce them.  We decided to take a step back and really dig into entitlements, entitlement enforcement, and some of the other factors that come into play, so we could put together a realistic enterprise entitlement management approach.  We ended up having a really great discussion that touched on many areas within their enterprise.  I wanted to briefly discuss a few of the topics that really seemed to resonate with the audience of stakeholders sitting in that meeting room.

(For the purpose of this discussion, entitlements refer to the privileges, permissions or access rights that a user is given within a particular application or group of applications. These rights are enforced by a set of tools that operate based on the defined policies put in place by the organization.  Got it?)

  • Which Data is the Most Valuable?- There were a lot of dissenting opinions on which pieces of data were the most business critical, which should be most readily available, and which data needed to be protected.   As a company’s data is moved, replicated, aggregated, virtualized and monetized, a good Data Management program is critical to making sure that an organization has handle on the critical data questions:
    • What is my data worth?
    • How much should I spend to protect that data?
    • Who should be able to read/write/update this data?
    • Can I trust the integrity of the data?
  • The Deny Question – For a long time, Least Privilege was the primary model that people used to provide access. It means that an entitlement is specifically granted for access and all other access is denied, thus providing users with exact privilege needed to do their job and nothing more.  All other access is implicitly denied.  New thinking is out there that says that you should minimize complexity and administration by moving to an explicit deny model that says that everyone can see everything unless it is explicitly forbidden.  Granted, this model is mostly being tossed around at Gartner Conferences, but I do think you will see more companies that are willing to loosen their grip on the information that doesn’t need protection, and focus their efforts on those pieces of data that are truly important to their company.
  • Age Old Questions – Fine-Grained vs. Coarse-Grained. Roles vs. Rules. Pirates vs. Ninjas. These are questions that every organization has discussed as they are building their entitlements model.
    • Should the entitlements be internal to the application or externalized for unified administration?
    • Should roles be used to grant access, should we base those decisions on attributes about the users, or should we use some combination?
    • Did he really throw Pirates vs. Ninjas in there to see if we were still paying attention? (Yes.  Yes, I did).

There are no cut and dry answers for these questions, as it truly will vary from application to application and organization to organization.  The important part is to come to a consensus on the approach and then provide the application teams, developers and security staff the tools to manage entitlements going forward.

  • Are We Using The Right Tools? – This discussion always warms my heart, as finding the right technical solution for customers IAM needs is what I do for a living. I have my favorites and would love to share them with you but that is for another time.  As with the other topics, there really isn’t a cookie cutter answer.  The right tool will come down to how you need to use it, what sort of architecture, your selected development platform, and what sort of system performance you require.  Make sure that you aren’t trying to make the decisions you make on the topics above based on your selected tool, but rather choose the tool based on the answers to the important questions above.

Building an IAM Roadmap – A five step process

Since 2003, our teams have been part of over 350 efforts to implement or rescue Identity and Access Management (“IAM”) projects.  Our customers, most of whom have become great friends, are from all over the US, crossing many disparate and unique industries.  In most cases, they are working to solve similar business problems and to fix or improve the same processes.

On many occasions, we started from the ground floor and had the opportunity to create a roadmap for their long-term strategy.  To those familiar with IAM capabilities, it may seem obvious what to prioritize and where to start, but let’s not be so quick to jump to what looks like an easy decision.  All IAM capabilities are not created equal.

Our job as a systems integrator is to successfully implement these complex IAM security technologies, and to ensure that our customers maximize the return on their significant IT investments.  As we help guide our customers through these decisions, this ROI is always our priority, which leads us to the topic for today.

So how, exactly, can we accomplish this?  This article is all about alignment.  Having alignment between IT and the other key stakeholders will significantly reduce the risk of your IAM projects failing and losing or wasting precious budget dollars.

How can you ensure you have correct alignment?  Here’s how our IAM Roadmap process breaks down.

Step 1 – We start by prioritizing a list of over 100 key IAM capabilities.  This list was compiled from our work over the years and is vendor agnostic.  After a brief explanation to help educate the stakeholders, we apply a ranking of low, medium or high based on their opinion on how important the organization needs a certain capability.  Typical examples of high priority capabilities are automated provisioning of accounts, self-service password reset and role recertification.

Here’s a common example of the final output

Step 2 – Once you have a high priority list to work from, we dig a little deeper into three categories of analysis.  The first category is Business Benefit – How significant is the true Business Benefit of this capability?  Is this just a shiny new IT toy or will the stakeholders see lift and leverage from adopting this functionality.  It’s critical to have your business stakeholders at the table so they can weigh in.

Step 3 – The second category is for your technical staff regarding Technical Complexity – How technically difficult will it be to configure or customize this solution?  Are there products that provide this feature and function out of the box?  Will your team be able to update and maintain the tools going forward or is this going to be way outside of their comfort zone and expertise?  Is it cost prohibitive based on the benefit?  This is where we can weigh in to help provide some context as well.

Step 4 – The third and last category is about Organizational Readiness – can the company readily adopt the capability?  Are there so many competing priorities that gaining mindshare and focus will be difficult?  Do you have the buy-in from stakeholder leadership?  Is everyone at the table truly on board with this project and these priorities?  Will they drive the effort through their organizations?

Step 5 – Once you’ve made it through this list and conducted a robust debate and Q&A with these three key questions, it’s time to score and rank the results.  Amazingly you will see a handful of capabilities that float to the top where the Business Benefit is high, the Technical Complexity is low and the Organizational Readiness is high.  After a short review of the results with some discussion and debate, a solid scope of high priority capabilities emerge as candidates for the first one or two phases of a successful program.

The next step is to choose a product that can fulfill these priorities, and then you are off and running.  The advantage you have is that your stakeholders are more educated and have bought into the process and priorities – they are aligned.  At the first sign of deviating from scope or questioning why we are including specific capabilities, you simply go back to the prior analysis and remind the team of the decision-making rationale.

Does this IAM Roadmap process guarantee a successful project or program?  Not necessarily.  But having all your stakeholders at the table and aligned provides a huge advantage and a great start.