Today, organizations need to adapt their Identity and Access Management (IAM) strategies to ensure their remote workforces are secure and productive. Above all else, today’s IAM teams must develop strategies to make certain that only authorized users have access to the company’s systems and information.
According to a LastPass survey from 2020, “98% of organizations surveyed depend on IAM solutions to keep their business secure in the work from anywhere era.” As this survey was conducted during the onset of remote work en masse, and cyber attacks have only grown more sophisticated in recent years, we know that identity and access management is still a top priority for cybersecurity teams across the globe. The same survey found that remote work has impacted 96% of IAM strategies.
So what can today’s security leaders do to safeguard their remote workers and the company’s proprietary data? What tools and strategies do security teams need to address these challenges? In this blog, we’re answering all the above as we explore the challenges of managing identities and access in a remote work environment and provide tips on how to overcome them.
Remote Work and the Associated IAM Challenges
A multitude of challenges face remote workforces, especially as it relates to IAM. Let’s look at just a few:
The Rise of Account Compromise
According to the Verizon DBIR, 82% of breaches are due to human error, and account compromise is involved in 61% of those breaches. Today’s threat actors are leveraging social engineering tactics to target users susceptible to attack. Social engineering attacks have nearly doubled in the past year alone. As threat actors continue to enhance their attack techniques, it becomes challenging to identify the individuals attempting to access your systems without appropriate tools that enable a comprehensive understanding of the user’s cyber risk context.
Legacy IAM Solutions Were Built for On-Premises Environments
Legacy IAM solutions, such as Privileged Account Management (PAM), were initially built for on-premises systems. These outdated identity solutions are “typically siloed and difficult to maintain” and “leave gaps in coverage and expectations” as Okta describes them. Today’s remote work far surpasses these technologies and calls for cloud-based identity solutions that can reach all associated devices regardless of location.
Remote Work is a Contributor of Identity Sprawl
Identity sprawl occurs when workers have multiple accounts and identities that are then managed by many systems. A 2021 study revealed that as a result of remote work, “84% of respondents had more than double the number of user identities than 10 years ago” and “51% used more than 25 different systems for identity management.” Having poor visibility over your accounts and worker identities leads to inefficient (and ineffective) identity and access management, enabling potential threat actors’ persistence.
➡️ Explore additional IAM challenges and the 4 steps to achieving smarter identity and access management in our comprehensive guide to IAM.
Securing the Remote Workforce with Smarter IAM
Multiple identities, rising security threats, and outdated solutions are plaguing IAM teams. To overcome these challenges and build a stronger cyber defense, identity and access management teams must add people-specific cyber risk to the user authentication process. In doing so, they gain a complete picture of the risk of each access attempt to log in. As a result, protection decisions become nuanced, dynamic, and specific.
Below, we’re outlining a few must-haves to strengthen IAM in remote environments.
Adaptive Access Control & Automated Conditional Access Policies
Adaptive access control and automated conditional access policies enable organizations to implement IAM policies that consider factors like network location, device posture, and ultimately, user behavior. This flexibility ensures that remote workers can securely access corporate systems and data from various locations and devices while mitigating user risk.
By continuously monitoring and analyzing user activities and contextual information based on user risk, these mechanisms can detect and respond to abnormal or risky behavior, including potential security threats. IAM teams can define rules and policies that automatically adapt access controls based on risk levels, allowing them to respond swiftly to emerging threats and protect critical assets.
Now, individuals identified as high-risk will have restricted access to specific systems, whereas low-risk users will enjoy unrestricted access to these systems, ensuring that company productivity remains high.
For example, Elevate Identity enables IAM teams to enforce conditional access policies and controls, such as the use of MFA, device restrictions, or trusted location requirements based on dynamic mapping of user actions and risk thresholds.
The Ability to Act on Risky Behaviors
The right identity and access management tool will provide you with the context and insights on a user’s risk level derived through API integrations with core security technologies, such as email security, endpoint, web gateways, and other tools. This aggregate data helps to generate high-confidence risk signals based on user behavior and patterns of attacks.
Once you have this data, you can make data-driven access decisions based on risky behavior insights across your remote or hybrid workforce, such as:
- Recently downloading malware
- Browsing to sites they shouldn’t
- Clicking on phishing links
With Elevate Identity, you can automatically revoke an individual’s active sessions and remove access to sensitive resources based on threat signals and actions that indicate potential account compromise. Learn how to do it in our recorded demo.
A Tool to Insert User Risk Intelligence Into Access Governance Workflows
Identity Governance and Administration (IGA) is labor intensive, especially in a remote work environment. Therefore, managers often allow historical access to continue unabated for many workers, even as conditions and job responsibilities change. By inserting user risk intelligence into access governance workflows, teams can ensure the right level of approval scrutiny is available to decision-makers.
Elevate injects user risk data into identity systems to automate conditional access policies, revoke access based on verified threat signals, and enhance access governance reviews. Check out Elevate’s intelligent access review capabilities to learn more.
It’s no surprise that remote work is here to stay. But what can’t stay is an outdated identity and access management program. Securing your remote workforce relies on strengthening your IAM program with the right tools and strategies. That’s why we built Elevate to work with IAM and IGA systems to automate:
- Conditional access policies
- Real-time access evaluations
- Intelligent entitlement review workflows
Take Elevate for a test drive! Book your personalized demo here.