July 20, 2021
There is an old business axiom that states: “you cannot manage what you cannot measure”; something that proves very true when it comes to digital identities.
Cyberattacks, such as ransomware, malware, user takeovers, escalated privileges, and password attacks, are growing in ferocity and frequency, creating massive problems for IT teams. Many of those threats leverage weaknesses found in digital identities, such as lack of proper management policies, weak passwords, over-privileged rights, and many other shortcomings found within how identities are provisioned, managed, and secured.
Obviously, more must be done to secure user accounts and the associated digital identities and privileges assigned to remediate attack surfaces. Yet, how can IT better secure those accounts without having the details of each account? The answer comes in the form of attaining visibility. In other words, IT administrators must have visibility into what accounts are used, who uses them, what purposes the accounts serve, and what entitlements should be granted to those accounts. At ObserveID, we specialize in solving for this through what is known as Identity Intelligence.
To date, most “intelligence” has been gathered manually and stored in databases, spreadsheets, and logs, leaving a lot of room for human error. What’s more, as enterprises embrace modern solutions, moving from on-premise storage to a more complex hybrid and multicloud architecture, the concept of a centralized identity has become an artifact of the past.
With businesses adopting these hybrid and multicloud environments, coupled with the exponential growth in a remote workforce that must constantly access these clouds, managing identities and their entitlements has become far too difficult to be accomplished manually. Today, enterprises need advanced tools, along with automation to garner actionable information about accounts, identity, and entitlements. Otherwise, gaping security holes could be introduced into the network – a risk that can be extremely costly, not to mention damaging to business operations and reputation.
Previously, gathering intelligence, especially in the form of identity intelligence, has been achieved only in a reactive manner. That is, pulling a snapshot of data from a database on a routine, scheduled basis and reviewing what happened during that past period. At ObserveID, we believe that the key to reducing attacks and stopping threats before they infiltrate requires taking a holistic, proactive approach to identity, account, and entitlement management. In other words, enterprises today must have a centralized platform that can offer cradle to grave management of identities, as well as monitor those identities in real-time.
The first step in achieving identity management nirvana comes in the form of an identity intelligence and automation platform. This should not be confused with a typical IAM (Identity and Access Management) platform, which does not offer the same level of sophistication and functionality as an identity intelligence and automation platform. Case in point is ObserveID, which supports hybrid and multicloud environments and centralizes identity management chores through the use of automation. In real-time, the ObserveID platform actively monitors identity behaviors, determines access patterns, and correlates access activity into an analytical user dashboard.
Simply put, avoiding modern day threats requires gathering real-time intelligence and then being able to automatically act on those threats. ObserveID incorporates real-time monitoring and pairs it with automation to provide customized alerts and responses to threats based on customer preferences and preset rules.
However, there is even more that can be done to further simplify and strengthen identity intelligence for organizations. With the advent of Cloud Infrastructure Entitlement Management (CIEM) solutions, of which ObserveID is a leader, privilege and access entitlement are put at the forefront. Now, enterprises can avoid blanket policy for entitlement, and grant higher levels of access only to those who actually need it. This is called Least Privilege Access, and as the name suggests, it is an effective method at reducing risk exposure by limiting who is entitled to what access, when they have it, and for how long.
There is much more to a holistic approach for identity intelligence in hybrid and multicloud environments. Going beyond the capabilities of the typical IAM means incorporating advanced analytics, which are also aimed at mitigating cybersecurity risk. Any solution must be able to seamlessly integrate all software platforms into existing identity and access management systems used by cloud vendors and also be able to rollup information into a centralized management structure.
The platform must be able to provision and deprovision accounts from a single pane of glass, or dashboard, and should incorporate account activity monitoring capabilities. In today’s complex hybrid and multicloud environments, having a central, single source of “truth” that integrates any and all software accessing the clouds proves critical for mitigating account security problems. Also, behavioral analytics, which can normalize access data, proves critical for finding account anomalies. As with ObserveID’s dashboard, most importantly, it must be customizable to the unique needs of each user.
Having the ability to govern identities and accounts across multiple applications and clouds helps to bring additional value to user account and identity management. Automation helps to smooth over provisioning tasks, while also helping to identify potential cybersecurity threats. Integrating a software platform, like ObserveID, should involve a simple integration and quick implementation, while also demonstrating long term cost savings after deployment.
Ultimately, identity automation and analytics, paired with real-time response is destined to become the foundation of identity governance, where identity governance becomes the central tool to synchronize, secure, and provision identities, while also providing the framework for cybersecurity, compliance, and account usability.