Welcome!

Cloud Security Authors: Harry Trott, Kevin Jackson, Elizabeth White, Nishanth Kadiyala, Stackify Blog

Related Topics: Cloud Security, Microservices Expo, Microsoft Cloud, Containers Expo Blog, Government Cloud, SDN Journal

Cloud Security: Article

What the Business Doesn’t Know Will Hurt

Part 1 | IAM and compliance with federal and industry regulations

Imagine you work at a company preparing to issue its quarterly earnings report. The phone rings. It's bad news. A coworker has discovered that a former employee has been logging into the company's network for months. It's unclear whether the former employee has used this illicit access to make any buy-loss orders without proper authorization, but the damage has been done. The company is required to force the release through the business channels, halt its stock sales and make the dreaded phone call to the SEC alerting them to the possibility of insider trading. The company must announce its report before it's ready, and is forced to absorb any market blows that result.

Who's watching the shop?
Most of a company's line of business (LOB) or human resources (HR) leaders are not tasked with worrying about identity and access management (IAM); that is, the processes by which employees are granted access to company systems when they are hired and removed from those systems when they leave. Yet the business must absorb the consequences of failing to control access to company systems. The mentality of "don't want to deal with it, just address the immediate issues," while common, isn't enough.

Increasing numbers of regulations increase the chances that an instance like the one above will occur. The business might prefer to push IAM responsibility over to another department (like IT), yet when accidents happen, the business is left holding the bag. To truly prevent access breaches from occurring, LOB leaders and HR must take an active role in IAM.

LOB Leaders' IAM Responsibilities
The LOB leaders include the heads of an organization's finance, marketing, sales and operations departments. The role of the LOB leaders in the IAM process includes:

  • Deciding which team members should have access for what programs
  • Reviewing and certifying access periodically
  • Defining policy and access roles for team members
  • Approving and rejecting access

LOB Leaders' Business Pains
LOB leaders have one of the most important roles in IAM: determining who gets access to what. However, in traditional IAM systems, there's not a unified identity repository that tracks all that information. Instead, LOB leaders must undergo a burdensome periodic overhead and certification review, wherein they must review a sheaf of systems access reports from IT and attest that the information is correct. Oftentimes, extra help must be brought in to review the reports at a cost.

HR Leaders' IAM Responsibilities

The HR department is up close and personal with employee data, and is tasked with several high-profile responsibilities within the IAM process, including many onboarding and offboarding tasks. The role of HR leaders in the IAM process includes:

  • End-to-end onboarding and offboarding
  • Registering employee data
  • Tracking personnel performance
  • Ensuring employees have the tools and support necessary to do their jobs
  • Recruiting
  • Talent management
  • Management coaching and training
  • Employee retention programs and performance incentives
  • Ensuring current employee information and employee record maintenance

HR Leaders' Business Pains
HR leaders often find themselves grappling with an IAM conundrum. They are responsible for onboarding and offboarding-related IAM tasks, yet completion of those tasks requires HR leaders to chase down an assortment of contacts from different departments for help in getting new employees setup with account access, desks, telephones, building cards and IDs and other necessary items.

In a perfect world, HR would want to minimize the currently disjointed fulfillment task process that hobbles progress toward actually being able to train new people. Getting these processes under control and in one centrally-managed system will generate a huge amount of value for HR. With a centralized, automated IAM platform, companies can drive a huge amount of efficiency, train people more easily, make onboarding better, make retention better and retain better talent.

The IAM checklist
What are the first questions that LOB leaders and HR should ask themselves?

  1. Quantifying the exposure to risk: how much is at stake if a breach occurs?
  2. Which employees have access to what information?
  3. How much access does each type of employee have? Is that access ad hoc or role-based?
  4. Are there controls in place to prevent a breach from occurring?
  5. If not, are there alerts in place that notify the business that a breach has occurred?
  6. Which departments have an ownership stake in IAM within the organization? What are their roles? What information do they own?
  7. Are there any processes already in place that determine what level of access to give to an employee? If so, are these processes invisible or are they burdensome?
  8. Does the IAM platform have analytics in place to identify and track these access levels throughout employee churn?

Collecting the information to answer these questions provides LOB leaders and HR with an excellent starting point for identifying what improvements need to be made to the company's IAM strategy.

Simplify, simplify, simplify
Step one is to simplify the IAM structure as much as possible. If the company is able to get creative with its IAM processes, it can streamline and reduce the number of procedures needed to monitor access rights. A simplified IAM platform is not just "nice to have," it is absolutely critical. By encouraging LOB and HR leaders to seize an ownership stake in IAM by making it as simple as possible, the company is helping ensure the long-term success of its IAM strategy.

There are a number of ways that a simplified approach to IAM helps the entire organization. An uncomplicated strategy makes it easier for the IT department to quantify the level of risk, helping bring LOB leaders and HR in as full partners in the IAM process. Rules are defined that automatically set the level of access provisioned to each employee. Because access rights are set by rules instead of by an ad hoc checklist, the company is liberated from having to audit access all the time, saving time, money and annoyance.

Below are some steps LOB leaders and HR can take to simplify IAM processes:

  1. Have a checklist in place to step through the division's existing IAM processes. (The questions earlier in the article are a good place to start.)
  2. Centralize as much of the IAM infrastructure as possible. If all company divisions - business, IT, HR and compliance - are using the same platform, it's less likely for access violations to slip through the cracks
  3. Put in appropriate controls that provision the same levels of access to groups of similar employees. Lose the ad-hoc approach.
  4. Automate continuous, proactive oversight and accountability over all different areas.

Once the LOB and HR divisions have identified the benefits they can gain from a simplified approach to IAM, the next steps are to put the strategy into place.

In the next part of the series, we will discuss how IT can take steps to empower LOB leaders and HR in the IAM process.

Conclusion
LOB leaders and HR should demand better processes from their organizations' IT departments. A fully revamped and simplified IAM process will change the way the company does business for the better. A centralized, automated approach eliminates re-keying, reduces onboarding costs to the tune of millions, improves employee retention and improves dozens of other training and management processes that ultimately contribute to a better organization. In addition, business leaders are leading the charge toward a transition to cloud services. That means that any IAM vulnerabilities must be fixed before the move to cloud, or risk improperly-offboarded employees retaining access to critical data weeks or months after they were let go.

The benefits of a unified IAM platform - increasing efficiency and compliance with regulations - are clear. Once LOB leaders and HR have taken a snapshot of the company's existing IAM plan, they can begin taking steps to turn it into a well-oiled machine that will benefit everyone.

More Stories By Jay O'Donnell

Jay O’Donnell is the CEO and founder of N8 Identity and spearheads the continuing development of N8 Identity’s industry-leading solutions. One of the early pioneers of the identity and access management (IAM) industry, he initially founded an IAM consulting business in 2000. After overseeing dozens of large-scale IAM projects, he led the development of Employee Lifecycle Manager® in 2007 to meet the need for a software solution that delivered pre-defined identity and access processes throughout the lifecycle of a user within an organization. Jay is an internationally recognized expert in information security, compliance, identity management, federated identity and directory services.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
The current age of digital transformation means that IT organizations must adapt their toolset to cover all digital experiences, beyond just the end users’. Today’s businesses can no longer focus solely on the digital interactions they manage with employees or customers; they must now contend with non-traditional factors. Whether it's the power of brand to make or break a company, the need to monitor across all locations 24/7, or the ability to proactively resolve issues, companies must adapt to...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Datanami has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Datanami is a communication channel dedicated to providing insight, analysis and up-to-the-minute information about emerging trends and solutions in Big Data. The publication sheds light on all cutting-edge technologies including networking, storage and applications, and the...
SYS-CON Events announced today that EnterpriseTech has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. EnterpriseTech is a professional resource for news and intelligence covering the migration of high-end technologies into the enterprise and business-IT industry, with a special focus on high-tech solutions in new product development, workload management, increased effi...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MobiDev, a client-oriented software development company, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MobiDev is a software company that develops and delivers turn-key mobile apps, websites, web services, and complex software systems for startups and enterprises. Since 2009 it has grown from a small group of passionate engineers and business...
SYS-CON Events announced today that GrapeUp, the leading provider of rapid product development at the speed of business, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Grape Up is a software company, specialized in cloud native application development and professional services related to Cloud Foundry PaaS. With five expert teams that operate in various sectors of the market acr...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ayehu will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on October 31 - November 2, 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara California. Ayehu provides IT Process Automation & Orchestration solutions for IT and Security professionals to identify and resolve critical incidents and enable rapid containment, eradication, and recovery from cyber security breaches. Ayehu provides customers greater control over IT infras...
Artificial intelligence, machine learning, neural networks. We’re in the midst of a wave of excitement around AI such as hasn’t been seen for a few decades. But those previous periods of inflated expectations led to troughs of disappointment. Will this time be different? Most likely. Applications of AI such as predictive analytics are already decreasing costs and improving reliability of industrial machinery. Furthermore, the funding and research going into AI now comes from a wide range of com...
In this presentation, Striim CTO and founder Steve Wilkes will discuss practical strategies for counteracting fraud and cyberattacks by leveraging real-time streaming analytics. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Steve Wilkes, Founder and Chief Technology Officer at Striim, will provide a detailed look into leveraging streaming data management to correlate events in real time, and identify potential breaches across IoT and non-IoT systems throughout the enterprise. Strategies for processing massive ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Conference Guru has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. A valuable conference experience generates new contacts, sales leads, potential strategic partners and potential investors; helps gather competitive intelligence and even provides inspiration for new products and services. Conference Guru works with conference organi...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloud Academy named "Bronze Sponsor" of 21st International Cloud Expo which will take place October 31 - November 2, 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Cloud Academy is the industry’s most innovative, vendor-neutral cloud technology training platform. Cloud Academy provides continuous learning solutions for individuals and enterprise teams for Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and the most popular cloud com...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CA Technologies has been named "Platinum Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CA Technologies helps customers succeed in a future where every business - from apparel to energy - is being rewritten by software. From planning to development to management to security, CA creates software that fuels transformation for companies in the applic...
SYS-CON Events announced today that TMC has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo and Big Data at Cloud Expo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Global buyers rely on TMC’s content-driven marketplaces to make purchase decisions and navigate markets. Learn how we can help you reach your marketing goals.
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devic...
"MobiDev is a Ukraine-based software development company. We do mobile development, and we're specialists in that. But we do full stack software development for entrepreneurs, for emerging companies, and for enterprise ventures," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.
We build IoT infrastructure products - when you have to integrate different devices, different systems and cloud you have to build an application to do that but we eliminate the need to build an application. Our products can integrate any device, any system, any cloud regardless of protocol," explained Peter Jung, Chief Product Officer at Pulzze Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM has been named “Diamond Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st Cloud Expo, which will take place on October 31 through November 2nd 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California.
Multiple data types are pouring into IoT deployments. Data is coming in small packages as well as enormous files and data streams of many sizes. Widespread use of mobile devices adds to the total. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists looked at the tools and environments that are being put to use in IoT deployments, as well as the team skills a modern enterprise IT shop needs to keep things running, get a handle on all this data, and deliver...
The current age of digital transformation means that IT organizations must adapt their toolset to cover all digital experiences, beyond just the end users’. Today’s businesses can no longer focus solely on the digital interactions they manage with employees or customers; they must now contend with non-traditional factors. Whether it's the power of brand to make or break a company, the need to monitor across all locations 24/7, or the ability to proactively resolve issues, companies must adapt to...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Enzu will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st Int\ernational Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Enzu’s mission is to be the leading provider of enterprise cloud solutions worldwide. Enzu enables online businesses to use its IT infrastructure to their competitive advantage. By offering a suite of proven hosting and management services, Enzu wants companies to focus on the core of their ...