Enhance Business Security: Identity & Access Management Starts with Passpack

Enhance Business Security

Identity and access management (IAM) is the sum of various technologies, processes, and policies in an organization to ensure only authorized network users have the proper level of permissions to digital resources, have secure access to the trusted data within, and can only access the systems, applications, and file shares needed to do their jobs; nothing less, nothing more.

Based on the three-step AAA framework, IAM works to prove that an entity (a person, application, or machine) trying to access information is really who they say they are before granting access to a protected asset.

  • Authentication – the process of identifying a user. This can be accomplished in multiple ways: 1) by verifying something only the user knows, like a username and password or PIN, 2) by an object the user has, like a smart card, key fob, or a YubiKey USB stick, or 3) by a quality unique to the person, like a fingerprint, retina scan, voice print, or other biometric. The IAM system will compare the credentials provided by the user or entity to those stored in a database. If they match, the user is authenticated.
  • Authorization – the process of granting access to specific network resources based on set permissions and establishing limits on what each user can do by role or level of responsibility. Many businesses adopt a zero-trust model, meaning the organization practices the principle of least privilege, where users must authenticate themselves each time and have just enough data and application access to do their jobs. For example, a salesperson may be allowed to access the CRM application, but not HR servers or a customer database. Inside the app, IAM policies can control user privileges, such as only allowing salespeople to see and edit their own CRM data, while enabling sales managers to view and change data for their entire team(s).
  • Accountability – the process of tracking user login activity and collecting data regarding which assets were accessed, when, and for how long. This creates an audit trail for compliance purposes, helps identify the source in the event of a breach, and gauges usage to determine when a resource may need to be upgraded, replaced, or retired.

Why IAM?

In today’s uber-connected world, it is virtually impossible for any business with a web presence to avoid the dangers of cyberthreats without a robust IAM strategy in place. Criminals are smart and getting smarter. They are using AI for malicious purposes, creating deepfakes to fool even the savviest IT personnel into divulging critical data and passwords. Zero-day threats mean many detection tools don’t know what to look for until it’s too late.

Without IAM, it is difficult to manage who and what has access to an organization’s systems. Exposure to cyberattacks is increased not only because is it difficult to see who was breached, it is also difficult to revoke access from a compromised user – if you can find them.

Think about the thousands of static and mobile devices used by customer service representatives at call centers, by fleets of delivery drivers, by field-based service techs, by university faculty and students, by customers shopping online – all in constant communication with the corporate network, with each user and device being a potential entry point for a cyberattack.

The continuous monitoring and verification of user access allows businesses to understand who is using their network and which resources they are trying to access. IAM automates many of these processes to keep company data protected while allowing authorized users to access needed systems without delay.

IAM Benefits, Challenges & Best Practices

IAM is one of those things whose very definition neatly sums up its advantages to businesses: It manages access to network resources so that the right people can do their jobs and the wrong people, like hackers, are denied entry to company systems. IAM provides secure access to, and limits access for different levels and roles of users, extending beyond employees to manage contractors, suppliers, partners, and customers.

IAM provides traceability and granular control over user permissions, helps organizations with compliance and data privacy, and can limit damage in the event of a successful cyberattack. Returning to our salesperson example, if a user with salesperson privileges is compromised, only credentials for systems they are allowed to access can be exposed, like the CRM app, but not higher-level resources beyond their clearance. After an attack, IAM provides accountability to help identify the source of the incident.

When used in combination with other cyberthreat and malware detection and prevention defenses, IAM is an excellent tool to prevent and minimize the impact of an attack, but only if company policies are consistently enforced across all users. Without that buy-in even the best defenses can be broken. Toward that end, Passpack presents this list of best practices when implementing an IAM solution in your organization:

  • User training and education. Publish a set of policies explaining the IAM technologies and processes in use and how to follow them. Teach employees to spot phishing scams and not to open suspicious emails.
  • Encourage strong password use. Set minimum thresholds for character string length and strength, rules for password sharing and recycling, and schedules for credential expiration or rotation periods.
  • Enable role-based access control (RBAC). Define user roles and grant access to systems and resources such as applications, file shares, printers, databases, and servers based on job title, location, or level of responsibility. Protect Tier 0 Assets by limiting critical resource access to those with a need to know.
  • Implement Multi-factor Authentication (MFA). Use two or more pieces of separate data – something a user knows, something a user has, and/or something a user is – to verify their identity for an added layer of security. Be careful to match the level of complexity to the need. For instance, in B2C applications don’t make consumers jump through too many hoops to prove their identity each time they visit a website or they’ll stop coming, while internal employee authentication to ERP systems, on the other hand, can be made more stringent to control risk.
  • Use Single Sign On (SSO) login. As an alternative to MFA, enterprises with large user populations can simplify password management and reduce password fatigue by assigning one set of credentials to each employee to login to any of the network resources they are allowed to use. This may require the use of a third-party provider.
  • User Lifecycle Management. Constantly monitor and vet user accounts, being sure to keep pace with employees’ change in status (promotion, relocation, or termination) to quickly provision or deprovision user access to resources as necessary.
  • Conduct regular audits and reviews. Inventory key digital assets and catalog users with access to each one. Continually ensure access is limited to appropriate personnel to meet regulatory and compliance mandates in the event of an audit.

Enhancing IAM Defenses with Passpack

There are many different IAM vendors and solutions to choose from with a wide range of capabilities. There are software industry giants like Google, AWS, Oracle, and Microsoft and pure IAM providers like Okta, Ping, and SailPoint. Selecting the right one will be a function of your organization’s size, feature support (like SSO or MFA), and compliance needs in your industry. Some will offer password creation and management tools, others will not.

Password management is a crucial component of the overall IAM ecosystem. The Passpack password management application supports these best practices and more to enhance your business’ security posture.

In addition to offering a password generation tool that enables companies to implement and enforce consistent password creation and management policies, Passpack supports SSO, MFA, and makes it easy to segment users by role and create a layered approach to security.

Passpack is built on a centralized model in which a single administrator has 100% control and visibility into all password-related activities across the organization. Passpack employs a zero-trust architecture and uses unique Packing Key technology – a user encrypting key separate from the master known only to each account owner – to unlock information stored in a Passpack account. When sharing passwords among team members, all requests and communications pass through the admin for a closed loop, using end-to-end encryption so data is safe while in transit and at rest and never exposed to hackers.

When it comes to IAM there is no single solution. Most organizations stitch together a combination of products from firewalls to malware detection to create their security blanket. When it comes to the user authentication facet of IAM, Passpack plays a critical role for the secure creation, management, and sharing of digital credentials.

Unlock the power of secure password sharing with Passpack

We offer versatile plans and tiers for businesses of every sie at a fraction of the cost of competitive services. Visit us at www.passpack.com and try our service risk-free for 28 days and see how easy and affordable it is to keep all your passwords safe with Passpack.

Share article

Get Started with Passpack Today