How to Win When Logging In
Have you ever paused and thought about how many times you type a password every day? Getting logged into something is progressively more difficult as our security concerns increase. And the number of things we need to gain access to daily has also increased. Think about the times you need to log in or authenticate. Here are some typical ones:
- log in to your computer each morning
- enter your password again when your screen locks throughout the day
- authenticate to a CRM package
- authenticate to the ERP or line-of-business software
- gain access to banking
- gain access to time reporting
- get into a password vault
- connect to the company VPN
- login to software support to create a ticket
- download an app on a phone
The list goes on, and some of these not only require an id and password but also want an MFA pin. Depending on your role in business, proving your identity and gaining access can consume significant time. And, if your company uses many different cloud platforms, even more time can be spent just getting in, as each has its own method. From an IT support perspective, managing access to many different systems and providing support for getting people logged in has also ballooned.
This whole area of authentication has created a category in the technology marketplace called Identity & Access Management, or IAM. This category of business and its surrounding products is centered on securely managing and proving identities and easing the burden it places on us trying to get some work done! How can IAM help sharpen security and make things easier?
Here are 5 Ways IAM Streamlines and Secures Logging In:
- Single Sign On or SSOis one of the key features of an IAM platform. With this feature, a user signs onto the IAM platform and gains access to all their applications. This allows a user to log in once, then click on each of their applications and gain access to them without having to type another password. If a person uses a wide variety of applications, the time and frustration savings here are significant. It is important to note that though password management software has some of this same functionality, IAM is different. Password managers remember and feed the correct password to your screen. IAM has deeper control, as we will see in some of the following points.
- Multi-Factor Authentication or MFA can be added to networks, remote access, and applications that don’t support it natively. You might be wondering why you would want to add this if it is not required, but it is common for cyber insurance or compliance requirements to insist on it. With IAM, you can add it for these critical systems even when they don’t have it built in. It forces using more than one form of authentication for administrative access and other high-risk functions.
- User Account Management is also part of a good IAM platform. This feature integrates with applications that have the proper controls built in. Thousands of applications support this technology; for those that do, accounts can be created, enabled, disabled, and even changed through a single pane. Imagine having eight different software platforms managed by IAM. When an employee leaves, the IT department can disable their account on all eight platforms by simply disabling them in the IAM platform. This can be a huge time saver and help prevent a security problem due to an account being overlooked.
- Key Encryption is an essential function of IAM. It must control login and store passwords securely. IAM packages maintain their own credentials vault in a secure and encrypted way. The vaulting of credentials not only makes things easier for the user but also improves security because the user no longer has to keep track of individual passwords for so many applications. The user can log in once and not have to log in again for the day.
- Providing a Single Point of Management is a another key feature of IAM. As mentioned above, account maintenance can be done in one place rather than individual applications. In addition, password policy can be enforced across multiple platforms from IAM. Many of these products also allow for extra security features like preventing login from certain geographic locations, biometric authentication, app-based verification, behavioral restrictions (for instance, restrict login between 12 PM and 6 AM), and many other features.
Most of us are working in a hybrid environment with various cloud-hosted applications. We also have heightened security concerns due to the world we live in. And many are experiencing increased requirements from cyber insurance companies and perhaps even industry compliance requirements. Identity & Access Management platforms fill a gap in security and are quickly becoming a necessity for many organizations.
Scott Hirschfeld is the President of CTaccess, a Brookfield IT support company that has been helping businesses stop focusing on IT and getting back to doing business since 1990. Under his leadership CTaccess provides the business minded approach of larger IT companies with the personalized touch of the smaller ones. Connect with Scott on LinkedIn.