Today’s MNCs were once small or medium businesses (SMBs). Small and medium businesses are the proving ground for emerging technology, as they have tight budgets and require specific, targeted functionality that suits their style and processes. Once products and solutions pass this litmus test, they start becoming more mainstream, being absorbed more widely by companies and consumers.
Would you trust just anyone to enter your home? Or would you first confirm that you know them and they have the right to be there?
The Zero Trust Model (ZTM) of security follows a similar principle. The ZTM approach is to be aware of anything entering the company, whether from inside or outside the company’s perimeter.
ZTM simply verifies everything that requires access to the system. The approach does not necessarily decree that every request should be denied. Instead, it asks: Why is access needed? How far? How long?
According to Cyber Security Ventures, cybercrime damages will top $6 trillion by 2021. Little surprise that cybercrime is the trending topic today! This may be just a prediction, but an ominous one indeed. It is a great challenge to prevent cybercrime and avoid this predicted damage. However, we can certainly overcome some part of this. We just need to take the right steps to protect ourselves.
The Zero Trust approach depends on different technology and governance processes to achieve their goals. This model mainly focuses on improving the security of the IT environment of enterprises. This approach varies based on who (the User) is accessing what (SaaS or In-house Applications), as well as from where (Location or IP), how long (Time Restriction) and how (granularity) they want to access it.
There are multiple ways an organization can adopt the Zero Trust Model, and one of the best way to do so is to integrate with an IAM. For example, a well-designed application supports IAM integration and provides MFA by default. Today, all applications have begun to adopt the Zero Trust Model at the design level itself.
Whether or not you know what it is called, you have likely used 2FA at least once in your life online.
Remember the time you tried logging into your email account from a new device and your email service provider sent you an SMS with a PIN (OTP), to re-validate that it was actually you attempting to login? You would have been allowed access to your inbox only after you entered the correct OTP.
Or the time you tried to transfer money to someone through internet banking. Even though you already entered your customer ID and password, your bank’s application would want to make sure that someone else hadn’t stolen your credentials. They do this by sending you an email with a PIN or a link to click on, for additional validation.
Known by many names – two-factor authentication, two-step authentication, two-step verification or dual factor authentication, 2FA refers to a second level of authentication added on in order to enhance security inherent to a login process. This is in addition to the username and password step, which is relatively susceptible to hacking.
When two or more layers are added to the login authentication process, it’s also known as multi-factor authentication or MFA.
Types of MFA security
A two or multi-factor authentication process typically asks you for ‘something you know’ in the first step, such as your email ID/username and password.
In the second step, it may ask you to authenticate your identity with ‘something you have’ or ‘something you are’.
Something you know – the knowledge factor:
This could be your username and password, as in any ordinary login process, or it could be a PIN.
Something you have – the possession factor:
This traditionally referred to hand-held token items, such as smart cards or Yubikeys embedded with a certificate to identify the user. Nowadays, a ‘possession’ could also be your smartphone, containing an app which sends a push notification or a TOTP. This is especially beneficial since tokens like smart cards are relatively more prone to being lost, stolen or misplaced.
Something you are – the inherence factor:
Biometric authentication could involve the scanning of a biological element that is exclusively yours – such as your fingerprint, hand geometry, retina, iris and so on. Voice recognition can also be used.
Two-factor authentication for your business
If your business relies on highly sensitive data or handles personal data of clients, you need to have an information security management system in place. This is especially crucial these days as several governments are imposing stringent regulations to ensure that the privacy of their citizens is not compromised. Some business standard certifications also require security compliances to certify your business and, therefore, it is important for you to protect sensitive data with more than just single-factor authentication (SFA).
By setting up 2FA or MFA security in all your business applications, you are assured of a higher degree of protection. In this manner, even if somebody does steal, guess or hack a password or even a list of passwords, through a brute force attack, they will be stopped at the second level as they attempt to log in to a specific individual’s account.
Multi-factor authentication solutions by Akku
When your business uses multiple applications, it may be both expensive and difficult to set up and streamline multi-factor authentication in each. That is where Akku comes in, with the promise to address all these concerns once and for all.
Once you opt for Akku, it becomes a common identity provider (IdP) across all your enterprise applications and creates a single sign-on (SSO) page through which your users can access them. Having brought all of your applications to a single platform through the SSO, Akku then seamlessly implements the multi-factor authentication functionality across them all.
With Akku, users can decide to use any of the following options as their second factor for re-validating their identity, giving them the power of choice:
- A push notification delivered to their smartphone through the Akku mobile app
- A time-based OTP (TOTP) which expires in 30 seconds through an authentication app (such as Google authenticator)
- A PIN sent through an SMS to their registered mobile number
Cloud technology has broken several operational barriers to make remote data access easy. It allows you to scale your business with minimal cost while securely holding business-critical data and applications. But with all these advantages comes a catch – managing personnel access for all the applications and files in your network has become increasingly cumbersome.
Why does your organization need an Identity and Access Management Solution?
Managing the credentials of all your employees across all the verticals of even a small to mid sized organization is time-consuming. It can drain the productivity of your company’s Human Resource and IT management teams. They are valuable resources who could otherwise focus on their core competencies to help you grow your business.
In addition to this, securing your network from breaches and other threats can be challenging with so many people accessing your cloud from various devices and locations. If your network is compromised, all your critical business data is compromised along with it.
This is where an Identity and Access Management (IAM) solution can come in handy. It allows you to seamlessly manage access while protecting your cloud network from breaches.
Building blocks of an IAM solution
A strong Single Sign-on (SSO) function is at the heart of an IAM solution. The first step in implementing an SSO is to determine and streamline the role of the identity provider (IdP). The IdP is responsible for bringing all the applications and data on your cloud network to a centralized platform. From this platform, access and identity services are managed through a customized Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML). When a high end, customizable SAML is integrated with your enterprise cloud network, it can result in a secure Single Sign-on solution.
With a cloud SSO setup, you can provide each member of your organization with single login credentials for any or all the applications in your cloud network. With your own powerful Identity Provider, you can redirect all access authentications to a safe and fast network. With this setup in place, it is possible to consolidate a single node in your network to control access to your entire organization’s cloud network.
Features of an IAM System
With an efficient Identity and Access Management system, you can accomplish so much more than just rudimentary monitoring of your cloud network. It will come with a well rounded set of features which allows you to control your cloud in a convenient platform. If your network is fitted with a powerful cloud IAM solution, it will automatically come with provisions in place to handle password standardization and multi-factor authentication frameworks.
Allocating a single set of credentials for your employees to access relevant data and applications is made easy by implementing an SSO solution for your cloud network. As the admin of your network, it also becomes simple for you to handle access operations in a single dashboard. In addition to this, if the need arises for a user to be removed, it can be done in a few short steps instead of removing access individually for all your applications. When all of this comes together seamlessly, it results in improved productivity across your organization.
Sometimes, in spite of the password protection measures you have implemented to secure your cloud, you might feel the need to bring in an additional layer of security to protect all your critical business applications. When that need arises, a well structured IAM solution allows you to keep in place, a multi-factor authentication system. It ensures that your system is insulated against remote attacks and prevents unauthorized access from getting a foothold in your secure network. This will enable you to extract data from TOTPs, thumbprint scanners or even Yubikeys and verify the users accessing your cloud network.
Password Policy Enforcement
Another challenge faced while trying to secure a cloud network is the varying standards of all the passwords of all the users who access it. The difference in standards can make breaches easier to happen and there rises a need for standardization of all the password credentials issued to the users of your cloud. But with an IAM solution, you can set the minimum standard required to set a password. With an effective password policy enforcement, you can rest assured that all your critical data is protected irrespective of the number of service providers you are associated with. It consolidates all the applications on your network under a single identity and verifies that all the passwords required to access your network comply with PCI and ISO/IECt standards.
Securing your cloud with an effective Identity and Access Management solution can empower you to control identity and access across your cloud environment. In addition to this, an IAM solution helps you improve data security, privacy, standards compliance, and productivity.