How to select your IAM service provider

Given the increasing number of cyber-attacks, greater adoption of Cloud Services, and swelling mobile workforce, it’s little wonder that IAM has been gaining recognition as a key technology platform at the forefront of the digital world. 

At the same time, IAM is almost never one-size-fits-all, and so choosing the right solution provider is important. Your IAM needs to work at scale, efficiently, and seamlessly. It also needs to be cyber-attack-proof as well as future-proof.

There are several IAM providers in the market, with more continuing to enter the fray. And why not, considering the global identity and access management (IAM) market size is projected to reach USD 24.76 billion by 2026.

So, how do you know which identity and access management solution is right for your organization? Here are some important factors to consider…

Credentials

What you need is a proven solution, one that can scale and perform. At the same time, if you are not a large enterprise yourself, the large enterprise IAM platforms on the market may prove to be financially unviable.

There are IAM platforms that offer most of the same functionalities at SME-friendly costs. To evaluate these solutions, get information on the following factors to see if you are on the right track:

  • Customer references or testimonials
  • Age of the business. How long has your vendor been around?
  • Any data they may have on product testing, performance tests, security tests, and so on
  • Policy controls regarding data access governance, adaptive authentication, and so on
  • Number of similar projects done as well as case studies. You need to align with an IAM vendor that shares your direction

Identifying an established and well-regarded smaller service provider can be a great way to build the capabilities you need without breaking the bank.

Technical expertise

Deploying an IAM solution is rarely a simple plug and play process. Today, most organizations – whether large enterprises or SMEs – use a range of applications, both cloud-based and on-premise. Integration and deployment support therefore need to be key factors in your selection process. While you yourself may not be fully technically aware, here are some questions you need to ask:

  • Does the IAM’s SSO support all of your current and planned apps? Does it come with pre-built connectors for SaaS applications? Also ask about integration kits, token translation capabilities, and support for a range of industry standards.
  • How does your vendor plan to monitor, track, delegate, revoke, suspend or integrate access across applications?
  • Does your vendor have on-prem deployment options while offering flexibility to sync data from heterogeneous data?
  • What approach does your vendor use to handle the migration from a legacy system?
  • What multi-factor authentication options are supported and can they be accessed via APIs, SDKs, or both? Ask about the types of MFA supported — use of mobile devices, push notifications, SMS, and so on. The MFA options need to balance security and user experience.
  • What range of authorization and access policy controls does it provide?

And finally, are you and the vendor the right fit?

You must align with an IAM vendor that shares your direction. Particularly as a small or mid-sized business partnering with a small or niche vendor, you need to both share the same roadmap so that the journey together is smooth. 

Also, before you select a vendor, ask yourself how much technical help you require – do you possess enough internal technical capabilities to deploy an IAM solution on your own? What about post-deployment tech support?

Here are more questions to have answered so you are the right fit. 

  • How customizable is the solution? Can it meet your tech needs today and tomorrow?
  • Is the authentication policy adaptable? It needs to be because a one-size-fits-all authentication can hinder user productivity, experience, and so on. A customized solution is what you are looking for.
  • Are the authentication policies adaptive and scalable? (Do read our previous article on Alternatives to Okta for more)
  • What plans does your vendor have for large-scale deployments and product performance? How are they adapting to emerging standards considering the industry is evolving rapidly?
  • Most importantly, does the IAM vendor’s long-term strategy align with your objectives?

Akku specializes in creating solutions tailor-made for the needs of small and medium-sized businesses. Call us today if you want IAM solutions that best fit your enterprise needs.

Transitioning from a legacy IAM to an interwoven Identity Fabric

With the emergence of cloud apps, identities need to be managed outside the traditional network. This has introduced new security concerns, on account of the many user identities and passwords that administrators have to manage.

IT security systems, which used to be bifurcated between securing what is “inside” the network and what’s “outside”, have been transformed into a consolidated portfolio of services that enable users to connect to anything and anyone, anywhere and at any time, while being secure, scalable and controlled.

It is therefore imperative for Identity and Access Management (IAM) solutions to evolve continuously and seamlessly, to expedite the process of adapting to business in the digital era.

This is where the concept of the Identity Fabric comes in. It sews together a gradual, non-disruptive integration and migration of identity and access management.

As secure digital identities are at the core of any digital transformation, identity fabric is the way forward for a future-proof metamorphosis.

What is identity fabric?

Identity Fabric is a deployment approach that helps to continually and quickly update enterprise architectures for IAM. It is the infrastructure that enterprise IAMs use to enable access for all across multiple elements and domains, without redundant user administration.

Identity fabric is the interwoven linking of identity online, providing seamless and controlled access for everyone to every service as long as they are authorized. They are not a single technology, tool, or cloud service, but the digital identity backend that delivers all the identity services in a standardized manner and integrates with legacy IAM. It is a secure and adaptive system that manages identities and access rights.

Identity fabrics use APIs to integrate with different systems and deliver a comprehensive set of services from Directory Services to Identity Lifecycle Management, Access Management Services, to Access Governance.

The identity fabric architecture

Identity fabric architectures are designed to provide identity services that can be consumed by digital services in hybrid environments (spread across a mix of on-premises, cloud, serverless, and Internet of Things) through homogenized protocols.

Identity fabrics help to avoid siloed approaches, facilitating compliance to legal and regulatory requirements to manage personally identifiable information and corporate access to resources.

Several different but overlapping APIs make up the building blocks of the identity fabric, as it puts API capabilities at the center.

While it is recommended to design the identity fabric to use the least possible number of APIs and other components, there is likely to be a large number of components one needs to migrate as a large number of solutions fall under the IAM umbrella.

As they offer a multi-pronged approach to IAM, businesses need to gradually migrate and integrate legacy IAM services and existing apps into the identity fabric, while simultaneously building new digital services.

As companies continue to modernize identity and access management, multiple products must be integrated to deliver a holistic access management solution that works for cloud and on-premise needs. CloudNow offers tailored enterprise identity and access management solutions that work for you. Reach out to us for more information and to get started.

What are some alternatives to Okta?

In this new world of remote working and cloud enterprises, Identity and Access Management (IAM) has been thrust to the fore. It’s almost as if the economy now relies on agile and automated IAM systems to enable rapid and seamless digital transformation.

Okta is the leading player in the area of IAM, and has made major strides forward in the field by harnessing artificial intelligence, and thus going beyond merely using the password and other multi-factor authentication options.

Okta has several advantages such as its security, scalability, and simplicity. But cost-wise, Okta works better for larger enterprises and can prove to be quite expensive for smaller organizations.

Though Okta is a popular choice, that doesn’t mean it is your only option. There are several other options out there for enterprises looking to go the IAM way, each with its own advantages. 

Some of these alternatives include Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS), OneLogin, and Akku for instance and we’re going to give you the lowdown on each of them.

1. Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS)

Developed by Microsoft, ADFS is a Single Sign-On (SSO) solution and is a component of Windows Server operating systems.

ADFS is preferred by many enterprises as it is perceived to be more stringent on privacy issues when compared to other tech majors; and more convenient as most enterprises use Windows Active Directory (AD) for user management already, meaning there is no environment change if you are adding on ADFS.

But like with Okta, initial costs are high, and there are hidden infrastructure and maintenance costs as well. For instance, commissioning ADFS requires a Windows Server license, which comes at a cost. 

Also, ADFS tends to be complex and needs substantial technical know-how to use properly. Commissioning, configuring, and maintaining an ADFS solution is time-consuming and customer support too, though free, is not very user-friendly. 

2. OneLogin

OneLogin, another market leader, brings to the table secure, one-click access, through all device types. Advantages are that OneLogin comes pre-integrated with over 4000 apps, offers multiple language options, and integrates with popular directories such as Active Directory (AD) and G Suite, thereby offering flexibility for growing businesses. 

But like with Okta and ADFS, here too, pricing can be steep for smaller enterprises. It is also complex to use and though it integrates with AD, it offers limited analytics on the admin console, user support time is not ideal, and adding new apps can be tricky.

3. Akku

Akku (yes, that’s us) is an emerging player in the Asia Pacific region. While it comes with all IAM features, it has been developed specifically keeping the needs of small and medium sized businesses in mind. It is therefore ideal for teams of 10-300 people and companies looking for high ROI and responsive support. 

So, if you are a smaller enterprise, a fast-growing start-up, or a business in any industry where value for money is an important consideration, Akku presents a sensible option. Another advantage here would be that it provides enterprises with complete control over data access and privacy on the cloud while staying compliant with statutory standards.

Akku isn’t a one size fits all option and because of the bespoke nature of the solution, it takes more time than Okta to purchase and set up. But once you are all set up, it is simple to use, and offers all the IAM functionalities you will need at a fraction of the cost of the other options listed here.

So, there are options out there for IAM beyond Okta. And while a strong IAM strategy is integral to productivity and security, you’ve got to choose one that fits your requirements and your budget. If you are a small or medium-sized business looking for an IAM solution, with an eye on customization, contact Akku today.

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.

Password Spray Attacks: What Are They & How To Avoid Them?

Ever wondered why organizations emphasize the importance of setting a complicated password as opposed to something convenient like ‘password123’? In today’s world, hackers are getting creative with their cybersecurity attacks. One type of attack that has gained a lot of traction in the past year is ‘password spraying’ – a type of brute force attack in the cybersecurity realm that goes beyond the traditional forms of hacking into an account. 

Picture this – in the past, hackers would attempt to gain unauthorized access to a single account by constantly guessing the password in a short period of time. But with organizations bringing measures such as locking an account when three or more attempts have been made, the user gets notified about any attempted security breach.  Continue reading Password Spray Attacks: What Are They & How To Avoid Them?

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Why an IAM solution is a Crucial Investment for Financial Services Organizations

Today, migrating to the cloud is a crucial stage in a financial enterprise’s growth and development. It is, quite simply, the most efficient way of running operations. With this in mind, financial services organizations are investing significant resources in cloud-based technologies, including infrastructure, platform, and software as a service. Continue reading Why an IAM solution is a Crucial Investment for Financial Services Organizations

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Digital transformation has been adopted by most companies from around the world, resulting in a more connected and innovative business environment. Today, digital transformation essentially involves an organization’s adoption of IoT, cloud computing, machine learning, and AI.  Continue reading Security or Functionality? Security Risks with Digital Transformation

How Technology Can Simplify IT Security

Just last year, the popular Q&A site Quora suffered a data breach, as reported by Techworld in their article on UK’s most infamous data breaches. This just goes to show that even the best of businesses are finding it a challenge to secure their data and vital business information in this age of digital advancements.

IT security is, no doubt, an overwhelming, daunting, and expensive task. With cybercriminals getting more advanced and sophisticated, organizations are struggling to find security solutions that will effectively counter them. Continue reading How Technology Can Simplify IT Security

Data Protection & Data Privacy – A difference that matters

Data protection and data privacy are so closely linked that people (and sometimes even organizations) tend to think of them as synonyms. However, understanding the difference between the two is crucial to ensuring that both protection and privacy are maintained. Continue reading Data Protection & Data Privacy – A difference that matters