Preventing the Number One Source of Breaches

Identity and Access Management (IAM) is a key component of an effective, comprehensive security solution. Weak authentication methods and passwords continue to be the number one source for data breaches, and with costs soaring over $4 million per breach, the impact is catastrophic to most businesses. Even if your business does survive a breach, there are serious and lasting consequences.  

What is Identity and Access Management? 

IAM is not a single product but a comprehensive set of technologies, company-wide policies, and processes for granting, controlling, and accounting for identities throughout their lifecycle. IAM is comprised of Multi-Factor authentication (MFA) and Single Sign On (SSO) services implemented as part of a complete security program. MFA validates that users are who they say they are. Users must prove their identity by using at least two verification factors from different categories. This includes something they know, something they have and something they are. It ensures that users get the right access for the right reasons at the right time. For example, A bank may allow a customer to log into their online account with just a username and password but requires a second authentication factor before transactions can be approved. SSO allows users to sign into many services, accounts, or applications using one set of secure credentials. It simultaneously reduces the number of attack surfaces and offers a positive user experience.  

IAM can mitigate many of today’s leading threats by controlling user access and ensuring that additional privileges are only given under strict monitoring. It’s a key component of Zero Trust.  

Here’s a few reasons why implementing an IAM solution as part of a comprehensive security solution is a must:  

  • With an estimated 2,200 attacks per day or the equivalent of one attack every 39 seconds, it’s only a matter of time before your business is the target. Proactively protect yourself from cyber-attacks, breaches, and insider threats caused by unauthorized access.  
  • Preserve your company’s reputation and good standing in the market; any exposure of customer data or sensitive, classified, and private information ruins the trust you’ve worked hard to establish with customers and prospects. 
  • Your career may be on the line. These days it’s everyone’s job to prevent data loss, meet regulations, and ensure uptime, but if you’re a business or IT leader, you’re especially on the hook. Neglecting to put in the proper safeguards in place can put your career at stake due to the financial implications and business impact of a potential incident.  

What’s Causing These Beaches?  

According to the Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, 61% of all data breaches in 2021 occurred as a result of weak authentication and stolen passwords. Another recent report found that 42% of data breaches were caused by insider threats, where employees attempted to steal trade secrets. With threats coming from internal and external sources, let’s consider how we got to this point.  

As a result of the pandemic, teams became more distributed, leaned further into using tools and technology in order to remain connected and productive. People created weak passwords and reused them across accounts and systems to make sign-on easier. They also shared passwords with their colleagues via chat and unprotected channels. Cybercriminals and malicious actors quickly caught on to this pattern and exploited vulnerabilities.  

The remediation for this problem includes implementing best practices for your people, processes, and technology. By developing a strategy for authenticating, authorizing, and managing access through Identity and Access Management, you’ll mitigate external risks and eliminate the potential for human error.  

Who is Most Affected and What’s the Real-world Impact?  

For 11 consecutive years, the healthcare industry has paid the highest costs when it comes to data breaches. FinTech, Retail, and Insurance are also common targets.  

Here’s a few examples of companies who failed to put IAM solution in place and suffered the consequences:   

  1. The Colonial Pipeline, the largest oil pipeline in the United States, was hacked in May 2021 due to an inactive VPN account with a leaked password on the Dark Web. The VPN account didn’t use multifactor authentication. The ransomware attack caused Colonial to shut down its 5,500-mile natural gas pipeline for five days, resulting in more than 10,000 gas stations across the Southeastern United States being out of fuel. 
  2. More than 30,000 organizations in the U.S. were impacted by the cyber-attack on Microsoft in March 2021, including local governments and federal agencies. The hackers accessed their network and gained remote control through an undisclosed Microsoft Exchange vulnerability and stolen passwords. 
  3. Using an employee’s stolen password, The New York City Law Department saw their personal records accessed by a hacker. The Law Department was required by the city to have multifactor authentication but had not implemented this safeguard yet. The intrusion interrupted city lawyers, disrupted court proceedings, and thrust some of the department’s legal affairs into disarray. 

Balancing Security with Productivity 

Workforce productivity is an essential part of IAM solutions as well. You need to provide your employees, customers, and partners with the right access and resources whenever and from wherever they need it. IAM increases user productivity at scale by standardizing and automating parts of the authentication and authorization process. As with any enterprise IT initiative, you may not have the resources or expertise to develop a comprehensive model that scales easily with evolving needs.  

Next Steps – Leverage our Expertise  

Ntirety can help you build an effective strategy and use the right configurations from the get-go, ensuring that the IAM solution is customized to your needs and strengthens your comprehensive security posture. IAM customers can expect these benefits and more:  

  • Protects data while maximizing the performance of your network 
  • Reduces security risks and meets or exceeds requirements for regulations 
  • Improves user productivity while simplifying IT management 
  • Controls access to a range of business applications and platforms, including email and collaboration software  
  • Enables collaboration between employees, partners, and customers 

Reach out to our team of experts for guidance on how you can address your compliance and security needs with our Comprehensive Compliant Security solutions.