Why Identity Management Should be a Priority

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According to a recent Right Scale survey, 38% of organizations have made shifting to the cloud their top priority for 2018. As organizations shift to the cloud, though, they aren’t prioritizing key security components like identity management. Instead, the Spiceworks’ 2019 State of IT report confirms about 40% of IT budgets are going towards online backup/recovery, email hosting, online productivity, and web hosting. Only 6% is going towards IT management software such as an identity management solution. From a security perspective, this can be painful to watch because an identity management solution is fundamental for creating a productive and secure environment. So, let’s discuss why identity management should be a priority as organizations shift to the cloud.

Why Should Identity Management be a Priority?

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Identity management is central in achieving the benefits that likely initiated the move to the cloud for many organizations. Interested in efficiency gains, security, and more control? These benefits won’t come easily if identity management is not a priority in your cloud strategy.

Additionally, one of the top issues organizations are facing is identity security. The human factor combined with the increasing sophistication of attacks have made identities the primary attack vector. An identity management solution is crucial if organizations plan to combat this attack vector.

Forbes even reports that 68% of executives who have experienced a breach said that a larger investment in identity and access management would have likely prevented the breach.

One more reason why identity management should be a priority is that it directly impacts an organization’s ability to remain competitive and agile. IAM will either enable your competitiveness or stand in the way.

To go further as to why identity management should be a priority as you move to the cloud, let’s dive deeper into how an identity provider impacts security, control, efficiency, and agility.

A Closer Look at the Importance of Identity Management

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Security

Unfortunately, data breaches are continually on the rise, and they are only becoming bigger and more costly.

According to the 2018 Cost of a Data Breach Report, the global average cost of a data breach has risen since the 2017 report from $3.62 to $3.86 million. Specifically in the U.S., the cost went up from $7.35 million to $7.91 million.

What’s more is the 2018 Verizon Data Breach Investigation Report lists stolen credentials and phishing as two of the top three methods used to carry out a data breach. In other words, hackers are focusing a large portion of their efforts on going after the weakest link in any security strategy: employees. Yes, on one hand hackers are getting smarter, so some of their phishing attacks, for example, can be hard to detect. On the other hand, users tend to prioritize convenience over security. They don’t necessarily change their password right away if their data has been compromised, and they tend to use weak, easy to remember passwords to begin with. An identity provider enables IT admins to lock down their user identities by enforcing security policies, complex passwords, MFA, SSH key authentication, and more.

Further, a modern IAM solution will integrate with all IT resources, including systems, apps, file storage, and networks. This impacts security in a couple of different of ways. First, IT admins are able to connect all necessary IT resources to a single identity for each of their users. From a single pane of glass, IT can know for certain what each user has access to and what they don’t have access to. It’s not guesswork—not anymore. Next, because a user’s access to all of their IT resources is controlled from one solution, locking down a set of credentials doesn’t take more than a couple of clicks.

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Control

The Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model makes it all too easy and affordable for users to purchase the IT resources they want with their own credit card. In other words, it’s too easy to leave IT out of the process altogether, and as a result, shadow IT abounds. McAfee even documents that the average organization is using about 975 services that IT doesn’t know about. This is a situation organizations need to address because when IT admins are not in control of resources, these resources are under the control of the end user. It’s then up to the end user to make sure the app doesn’t have any vulnerabilities, it’s regularly updated, and access to the app is secure.

Organizations should avoid giving users this responsibility because an academic study on cybersecurity ultimately found that, “users are not concerned about security issues unless” the consequences will affect them personally.

Therefore, it is in an organization’s best interest to ensure IT admins are in control of all IT resources. A key piece in gaining this control is utilizing a cloud-forward identity management solution that supports all IT resources regardless of platform, provider, location, and protocol. This empowers organizations to provide users with the types of resources that make the most sense for them while IT remains in control of those resources.  

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Efficiency

An identity management solution impacts how IT admins and end users end up using their time. Without one, both parties will end up wasting time on tasks that have little-to-no value. From the IT admins perspective, a legacy identity management solution (or the lack thereof) impacts how they are able to manage the environment. The right identity provider will embrace the “as-a-Service” era and take on many responsibilities like the configuration, maintenance, and security of the solution. This allows IT admins to use more of their time on tasks related to increasing business value. Additionally, when an identity management solution does a good job of supporting a wide range of IT resources, IT admins are empowered to centralize their environment. This helps IT admins eliminate manual processes in favor of streamlined workflows.

IT admins aren’t the only ones who benefit, though. On the first day on the job, users gain access to everything they need instead of waiting days or weeks. Additionally, users only have to keep track of one set of credentials, decreasing the amount of times they have to reset a password. When it is time to reset the password, users can self-service their password changes, making it faster and less of a hassle for users and IT admins alike.

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Agility/Freedom

Lastly, organizations shouldn’t be locked-in to using resources from one provider or platform. They should be able to leverage the technology that works best for them without having to make sacrifices in security and time to do so. The identity management solution is key in whether or not organizations can easily and efficiently adjust their digital tool set because an identity provider will do one of two things:

  1. Enable you to use the technology that allows you to competitively meet your goals

  2. Lock you into using a set group of IT resources regardless of if they meet your business needs or not

These days, it’s far from ideal to be locked-in to a set of resources from one provider or platform because that simply isn’t how work is accomplished. Most organizations are using a mix of Windows, Mac, and Linux systems, around 50+ web-based applications, a myriad of file storage solutions, and more. An identity management solution that supports all of these IT resources empowers organizations to choose tools that can increase their prosperity and efficiency without decreasing security and imposing cumbersome processes. Additionally, as the years go by, they can rest assured that their heterogeneous identity provider can adapt to the ebbs and flows of the ever-changing IT landscape.

Identity Management Next Steps

As organizations shift to the cloud, implementing a strategy for IAM is foundational. It directly impacts an organization’s ability to work in a secure, controlled, efficient and agile manner, and this is why identity management should be a priority.

If you are interested in implementing a cloud-forward, comprehensive identity management solution, consider taking a look at JumpCloud® Directory-as-a-Service®. JumpCloud is completely cloud-based and securely connects users to virtually all of their IT resources. Learn more by starting with the DaaS Overview Webinar above or dropping us a note.