30th May, 2021 4 Min read
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This year, the business community was forced to adapt to a new era of distributed work—and cyber threats have adapted right along with them. Between unsecured home WiFi networks and the rise in personal devices accessing company resources, the opportunities for data theft have risen as teams have dispersed.
Implementing robust identity and access management (IAM) solutions is proving to be a vital method for reasserting control over who has access to your company’s digital resources. This approach is key for mitigating the security risks associated with distributed work. With effective IAM, you can contextually assess risk, grant permissions on a granular level, and fully integrate third-party services without compromising user experience. But it’s not just a matter of flipping a switch.
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Reaching IAM maturity as we embrace remote work requires a staged approach—one that starts with implementing basic identity features to support your remote workforce, and ends with a robust Zero Trust framework in place.
In this post, we’ll take a look at the final stage of our distributed work IAM maturity curve, and how you can begin to implement Zero Trust.
Distributed work is safest when organizations operate within the architecture of Zero Trust, essentially, treating every user, device, and IP address as a threat—until proven otherwise.
To begin your journey towards never trusting, and always verifying, it can be helpful to identify how far your company has already come along the path to Zero Trust. Before they begin actively implementing Zero Trust, many companies have already deployed some of the framework’s foundational elements, including single sign-on (SSO) and multi-factor authentication (MFA) solutions that protect access and minimize vulnerability.
At this stage, companies have often enhanced the productivity of their workforce by automating security processes related to onboarding and offboarding, extended access controls to on-prem apps or IaaS, and implemented the right authentication policies and factors for their business. From there, they can take various steps to ensure that they have achieved Zero Trust access across applications, servers, and APIs, rooting policies and decisions in each user’s identity.
A Zero Trust security architecture, supported at its core by IAM, involves the following stages and considerations:
By moving your organization from awareness into context-based policies and processes, you ensure that your distributed workforce is protected and you’ve closed the door to dangerous and costly breaches.
Distributed teams are working hard to get things done, without the convenience of having their colleagues in an adjacent office or down the hall. Their new work environment should feel as seamless as possible, while still being secured.
To better equip their distributed teams, businesses should consider key pieces of the Zero Trust puzzle, including:
The goal isn’t to authenticate workers once and then step back. Instead, each user’s digital activities need to be continuously evaluated for risks based on the contextual signals they’re sharing. If the signals change, they may be re-prompted for one or more authentication factors.
Today, IT administrators have choices when setting policies and prompting for authentication factors. If the risk level is low, they can prompt users for non-password factors, like push notifications to the user’s mobile phone. Plus, they can reduce their reliance on VPNs by connecting to a Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) tool like Zscaler or Akamai.
IAM vendors continually roll out features that increase the strength and simplicity of access management. Today, it’s also possible to go beyond the discrete contextual access policies and achieve an even higher standard of security. An organization can specify its level of risk tolerance and let modern technologies weigh data-based considerations in a way that humans just can’t. A good example is the recent capabilities added to Okta:
Zero Trust is no longer an abstract goal. It’s an achievable security standard for a newly distributed, adaptive workforce—and we’re here to help.
Contact us to start your Zero Trust journey today, and finish it quicker than you imagine.
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