A malicious user gaining access to your apps can be catastrophic. Here’s how a secure SSO could help.

In any enterprise, it is a given that employees will come and go, and many will switch roles within the organization as well. At the same time, the same is true for the applications that the company uses – new apps will be deployed, old ones will be retired, and changes are constant.

What this means is a continuous churn – in identity management for users, and service providers, by means of the SaaS applications in use. Ensuring data and app security across the organization depends heavily on ensuring secure communication between your identity provider and service providers.

Deploying a robust Single Sign-On (SSO) solution represents the best answer to this challenge. An SSO allows an enterprise to manage the identities of employees in one place, and delegate access and privileges from there.

Most SaaS providers support SSO integration as it is the most efficient route to centralized identity and access management. The SSO authentication method also enables users to securely access multiple apps and websites with a single set of credentials, which reduces issues like password fatigue, which boosts security, lowers IT help desk load, and increases organizational efficiency.

How SSO works

To get your SSO in place, you need to find the right identity provider. The identity provider is essentially a service that securely stores and manages digital identities. An SSO works based on a trust relationship between the app and the identity provider.

Organizations establish a trust relationship between an identity provider and their service providers to allow their employees or users to then connect with the resources they need. Such a trust relationship is established by exchanging digital certificates and metadata. The certificate carries secure tokens which contain identity information like email address and password, to authenticate that the request has come from a trusted source and to verify identity. 

Although SSO can work with as many apps as the organization wants, each must be configured with a unique trust relationship.

How the Service Provider-Identity Provider relationship works

Once an identity provider is onboarded, every time a user tries to connect to a service provider, the sign-in request is sent to the central server where the identity provider is hosted. The identity provider validates the credentials and sends back a token. If their identity cannot be verified, the user will be prompted to log into the SSO or verify credentials using other methods like a TOTP. Once the identity provider validates the credentials it sends the user a token.

The token confirming the successful authentication is validated by the service provider against the certificate initially configured and shared between service provider and identity provider, after which the user can access the application.

The identity provider verifies the user credentials and sends back an ‘authentication token’ (almost like a temporary ID card) to the service provider. And, of course, all this happens in a fraction of a second.

Advantages of using SSO

  • Simplifies credentials management for users and admin
  • Improves speed of app access
  • Reduces time spent by IT support on recovering passwords
  • Offers central control of password complexity and MFA
  • Simplifies provisioning and de-provisioning
  • Secures the system as information moves encrypted across the network
  • Completely seamless/transparent to the user
  • Easy to add on new service providers

Akku is a powerful identity and access management solution that can enhance data security, efficiency, and productivity across your corporate network through its robust SSO feature. If you would like assistance on ensuring secure access for all your users to your organization’s applications, do get in touch with us.

Burn down the Firewall! The Future is Device-level Security

Many enterprises have built their cybersecurity around their firewalls. But increasingly, the firewall is losing favor in modern enterprises with apps and data on the cloud being accessed from devices and networks anywhere in the world. 

The traditional cybersecurity tool is a network security device that monitors traffic to or from the network. It allows or restricts traffic based on a defined set of security rules.

Legacy firewalls: Blurring boundaries

The issue with this is that firewalls do not go far enough in securing your systems. By the nature of their operation, firewalls create boundaries around your network. Today, with enterprises using many interlinked networks, multiple IPs and cloud computing, boundaries are fading. As a result, firewalls are less effective.

Based on a recent study, businesses are increasingly mistrustful of firewalls. Over 60 percent of respondents stated that: (1) their legacy firewalls don’t prevent cyberattacks against critical business and cloud-based applications; (2) their legacy firewalls cannot contain a breach of their organization’s data center perimeter; and (3) their legacy firewalls do not enable enterprise-wide Zero Trust.

As Gartner puts it, Zero Trust is “useful as a shorthand way of describing an approach where implicit trust is removed from all computing infrastructure”.

In addition, legacy firewalls impact organization flexibility and speed to a large extent. It is hard to update security rules on the firewall, and the study found that on average, enterprises take as much as three weeks to update firewall rules to accommodate any update needed. This can have a crushing security impact. They also limit access control, with policies that are often not sufficiently granular.

For all these reasons, legacy firewalls are increasingly falling into disfavor with enterprises of all sizes.

Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB)

A traditional firewall stands between your network and a non-trusted network (for example, the Internet). However, cloud data and apps are hosted on the Internet and as a result, legacy firewalls are not very good at protecting apps and data on the cloud.

Just like a traditional firewall protects the trusted network against attacks, a CASB protects cloud assets (applications, data, platforms and infrastructure) against cyberattack. They act as a foundational cybersecurity tool and resolve many of the issues associated with legacy firewalls.

A cloud-hosted or on-premises software, a CASB acts as an intermediary between users and cloud service providers, and can secure SaaS, PaaS or IaaS environments. It provides visibility into application access, maintains logs of activity, and allows enterprises to modify and create policies that suit cloud infrastructure and assets. A good CASB brings together key elements of privilege access management (PAM), identity and access management (IAM) and identity governance and administration (IGA).

Identity and Access Management solution (IAM)

As many as 90 percent of businesses believe that an IAM is indispensable to their cybersecurity plans. An IAM offers device-level security. This helps plug the gaps left by legacy and CASBs. Through IAMs, enterprises can provide granular access control, with unique rules defined for each user and class of user.

IAM offers comprehensive password management support, in the form of password policy management and single sign-on (SSO) SSO allows users to create and remember just one set of credentials for a whole suite of applications. This reduces risk of password loss and noting the password in unsafe locations. With password policy management, businesses can define rules to create strong, secure passwords that are less prone to cracking.

User-friendly provisioning and deprovisioning makes errors less likely. IT administrators find it easier to remember to revoke access when employees leave the organization when deprovisioning can be done with a single click. This also secures cloud apps against unauthorized access.

In a very real way, identity is the new firewall. When the device is secure against unauthorized logins, business-critical apps and data are as well, whether housed on-premises or on the cloud. Secure identity and access with an IAM you trust – like Akku, the premier IAM. Contact our experts today to discuss how to get started.

IAM as the Solution to Healthcare Sector Challenges

Healthcare organizations are unique in the volume and sensitivity of information that they hold. Reports say that healthcare is among the 5 most cyber-attacked industries over the past 5 years. 

The 2020 Breach Barometer published by Protenus reports that in 2019, more than 41 million patient records were breached, and around 40% of the respondents surveyed in Europe and the U.S. were concerned hackers would breach their digital data.

The importance of bolstering cloud security in such an environment is therefore vital, and deploying an Identity and Access Management (IAM) system can play an important role in this process.

Here is a look at some of the key challenges facing the healthcare sector, and how an IAM could help to overcome them.

#Challenge 1: Enabling easy but secure access

Very often, breaches of patient data occur due to a lack of caution on the part of patients themselves, with the use of easily compromised passwords. This applies equally to healthcare providers too, with the need to access multiple applications, and therefore, the need to memorize multiple passwords.

The IAM Solution: 

Enforcing a strong password policy can help ensure that patients and providers alike set strong passwords that are more difficult to breach. Additionally, by enabling multi-factor authentication (MFA), an additional layer of security is added above the password. And to make things easier for providers, bringing all applications onto a single platform to provide them with a single point of access means that just one set of credentials is all that they need to remember.

# Challenge 2: Compliance with regulations

Healthcare is a highly monitored industry and there are certain established regulations to follow. For instance, in the USA you have the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), as well as newer industry-specific regulations like Electronic Prescribing for Controlled Substances (EPCS), for which compliance is non-negotiable.

These newer regulations call for adherence to certain prescribed standards of data security along with detailed audit capabilities.

The IAM Solution:

With an appropriate IAM solution, compliance requirements can be largely met through strong data encryption, implementing standards-compliant password policies across users, providing only the minimum necessary access to users, and comprehensive logging of every user action across applications and data points.

# Challenge 3: Driving digital transformation

COVID-19 has accelerated the speed of digital transformation, with the healthcare sector right at the center of the revolution. Telemedicine, Patient Access Management, and a host of other new requirements, each need control over a number of identities and access entitlements. 

The healthcare industry is under growing pressure to adapt to changing business models and technology innovation, as there is an ever-increasing need to protect access to sensitive data.

The IAM Solution:

With features like single sign-on, IAM offers an integrated approach to patient care, enforcing security and compliance capabilities to increase efficiency. In order to support the new digital-first world of healthcare, therefore, IAM has become a necessity rather than an add-on.

Clearly, IAM is the need of the hour in the healthcare industry. And Akku, the powerful and flexible enterprise cloud control solution created by CloudNow helps to facilitate identity and access management across your healthcare enterprise’s cloud environment. Talk to us today to discuss how Akku may be able to help with your compliance requirements.

Is dependence on AD holding back your provisioning & deprovisioning?

Active Directory is quite simply the most popular identity management solution for enterprises in the world. An incredible ~90% of the Global Fortune 1000 companies use Active Directory as their primary method of authentication! 

Does your organization, like so many others, manage user identity with Active Directory (AD) too? If so, we’re guessing you have probably run into trouble with provisioning and deprovisioning for users across your environment. AD is great for identity management, but it was never built to act as a single sign-on (SSO) platform.

Challenges with AD for Provisioning & Deprovisioning

What this means is that either provisioning and deprovisioning would need to be performed for each application and user individually, or else, for Active Directory to be used to control access and permissions, each application would need to be integrated with AD separately. 

With the average enterprise running 1295 cloud-based applications, both these options seem like pretty poor choices. The former option is a tremendous drain on productivity for both admins and users, while the latter presents a host of complexities and costs to integrate AD with each of your apps.

IAM to the rescue!

So how do you get over these challenges? The answer lies in deploying an Identity & Access Management (IAM) solution that includes single sign-on (SSO) functionality.

Essentially, the IAM would act as an intermediate layer between your AD and your applications. So the IAM solution would need to integrate with Active Directory on the one side, and with all of your organization’s applications on the other. 

Through integration with your applications, the IAM can bring them all onto a single common platform and act as the Identity Provider (IdP) across your environment. Since most modern IAM solutions use SAML-based integrations with applications, these integrations are far less complex and expensive to implement than directly integrating AD to each application.

And secondly, integrating the IAM with AD would allow you to continue to manage identity – and now access permissions too – on AD itself.

Benefits of an IAM integrated with AD

At the end of this process, you would be able to control identity and access across your environment on Active Directory, giving you a familiar interface and process with enhanced functionality. 

Single-point control for your admins, and single-point access for your users, mean simple, fast provisioning and deprovisioning for IT and HR teams, saving them a tremendous amount of time and effort. 

Not to mention easy access to all permitted applications for users, helping to make them more productive too.

Akku is a powerful Identity and Access Management (IAM) solution by CloudNow that is built to play well with Active Directory, and also to integrate seamlessly with virtually any of your business applications. Call us today to see how Akku could enhance productivity and security at your organization!

The What, Why, and How of Deprovisioning

What’s deprovisioning?

Simply put, deprovisioning is the opposite of provisioning. While provisioning is carried out when an employee joins the organization, deprovisioning needs to be carried out when an employee exits. 

Deprovisioning involves revoking the user’s access to the organization’s data, applications and devices. It is the final stage of the corporate user lifecycle that begins with on-boarding and provisioning.

Why is it important?

Provisioning plays an important role in an organization’s productivity by getting new users the access they require to perform their role in the company. 

Deprovisioning, on the other hand, plays a critical role in security and compliance. When an employee moves on, it is vital that they no longer have access to the organization’s data or applications, because this would leave the door open to misuse. 

The consequences can range from data theft to malware insertion, leaks of confidential information to compliance violations. Each of these can have a major negative impact on the company’s finances as well as reputation.

How does it work?

Most organizations make use of multiple applications in their operations. Manually remembering to revoke access from a user when they exit the company can therefore be tedious, time consuming, and can easily result in human error as well.

A key requirement for an efficient and effective provisioning and deprovisioning process, therefore, is to bring control over access to all of the organization’s applications and data onto a single platform. This is typically achieved through the use of a Single Sign-On (SSO) solution – which is typically one of the major components of an Identity and Access Management solution.

With an SSO in place, the company’s admins can exercise control over user access from a single place, making the process fast, accurate and convenient. By removing the user’s account in one centralized dashboard, their access to all applications and data is then automatically revoked.

Akku is an enterprise identity and access management solution by CloudNow that helps companies manage the corporate user lifecycle more efficiently – from provisioning all the way to deprovisioning. Talk to us today to see how Akku could help your business address security and compliance issues arising from sub-optimal deprovisioning processes.

Can IAM Improve User Experience and Efficiency on the Cloud?

When an enterprise migrates to the cloud, it essentially opens the doors to a range of new possibilities for its business to flourish. When cloud capabilities are utilized to their full potential, several aspects of management are largely simplified, various processes integrated, and employees empowered to focus on their core roles.

However, many of these benefits to efficiency and convenience are often rendered ineffective by the roadblocks that tight security systems bring into the mix. That is why it is important to take into account the impact of your user, data and application security set up on user experience across your environment.

Continue reading Can IAM Improve User Experience and Efficiency on the Cloud?

Access Management Across Different Devices and Browsers

In today’s technology ecosystem, a strong foundation for authorization plays an important role in the overall data security of a company. Controlling each user’s access to data, and monitoring this across devices and browsers is essential to your enterprise’s security. 

Implementing a strong device policy is an integral aspect of data security

With a strong device policy in place, it is possible to exercise highly granular control over which of the company’s applications, information, and data your employees can access– through the company’s devices, as well as through their personal devices. Continue reading Access Management Across Different Devices and Browsers

Exploring the Difference Between Identity Management and Access Management

Only a small percentage of people across industries understand the difference between Identity Management and Access Management. The two concepts are certainly related and intricately interwoven, but they are still distinct in meaning and function. 
Continue reading Exploring the Difference Between Identity Management and Access Management

Managing Identity and Access in the Workplace

Identity and access management, sometimes simply known as identity management, refers to the IT function of maintaining security through the management of digital identities. In a workplace, this includes provisioning employees with accounts to all applications and platforms they will be using for their official tasks, assigning them with the right kind of permissions to each of these applications/platforms, and making sure that the right people have the right access to the right resources and data. Continue reading Managing Identity and Access in the Workplace