Posts Tagged ‘cybersecurity’

The Top Three Reasons Organizations Aren’t Stepping Up Their PAM Solutions

  March 4th, 2021

Many organizations are stuck between two unfortunate truths with their privileged access management (PAM) program. According to a recent poll of more than 150 IT professionals by Enterprise Management Associates (EMA), which was sponsored by Hitachi ID, nearly 90% of respondents experienced a privileged access policy violation in the last year, yet almost none of them are confident their PAM solutions will prevent privileged access security breaches. It is clear that currently adopted PAM processes are, in the majority of cases, insufficient to provide the level of protection they were introduced to achieve. 

That’s a real problem, especially as more organizations turn to a Zero Trust model, but the solution seems clear: organizations need new PAM approaches and solutions to meet their security goals and inspire confidence as cyber threats become more prevalent. Despite this, the poll also found many organizations seem content to continue utilizing inadequate PAM solution configurations, as evidenced by the high overall satisfaction rates. 

This begs the question: Why?

The reasons holding companies back from stronger, more resilient, scalable PAM solutions are many, but most fall into one of three distinct categories: 

Overly Centralized PAM Deployments

Traditional PAM deployments are predicated on centralized administration and configuration which is time consuming, resource intensive and oftentimes crippling to a project as IT is not empowered to make credential management decisions on behalf of business stakeholders/users. PAM user communities within the business are accustomed to having free reign with their privileged/elevated access and are not inclined to hand such over to IT overnight. This leads to political in-fighting around how credentials will be managed and ultimately the stalling out of PAM programs and momentum to where customers can end up with a glorified static spreadsheet of passwords behind a nicer user interface. 

Partnering with a PAM solution provider that can decentralize the credential lifecycle management processes and permissioning in order to enable business units and program stakeholders to take full ownership of their credentials should be the goal. This approach empowers users, reduces friction between IT/audit and business users all the while ensuring corporate security policy and standards are met and maintained. Furthermore, a provider that can deliver such in a standardized, pre-configured pattern that accelerates tedious and time-consuming delivery processes (implementation, migration, integration training, etc.) needs to be a key consideration when selecting a new solution. 

PAM Management Challenges 

Once organizations get past the challenges of getting the technology up and running, there’s the day-to-day use and expansion to consider. Customers can reduce program risk by measuring their use and system expansion carefully early on, ie. addressing key business systems and or user communities first and expanding from there. This approach demonstrates quick wins and early returns from a security/risk reduction perspective and allows you to maintain strong executive sponsorship to build further. 

The system also needs to be flexible with respect to accommodating differing user populations and their preferred tools when connecting to downstream systems with admin credentials. Users are fickle and will want to leverage their existing tools/clients rather than change their ways, so ensuring that the brokering/disclosure of privileged access works in-line with how users operate today is imperative for customer satisfaction and adoption.

Like any other new system or application, it’s crucial that your PAM system integrate seamlessly with existing identity lifecycle and governance processes. As privileged/admin user types come and go, so should their rights and permissions within a PAM system, especially so for your supply chain actors. Many user lifecycle and governance challenges within your PAM program can be avoided with strong integration into your existing identity management system, something Hitachi ID is uniquely positioned to deliver in one integrated platform with Bravura Identity and Bravura Privilege under the broader Hitachi ID Bravura Security Fabric. 

Competing Security Budget Priorities

Even before the impact of 2020, finding a budget for security and privilege programs has long been a challenge for IT teams. Organizations often prioritize funds for alternative methods of security management, such as security information and event management (SIEM) and threat detection systems. The problem is many of these solutions can’t prevent lateral movement if/when an attacker has breached your network the way that a strong PAM program can. 

In addition, organizations that have the advantage of an enterprise-class PAM solution will realize reductions in operational risk and therefore better insulate themselves from a data breach which are costing organizations $4 million on average according to industry analysts. 

Stop System Vulnerabilities Before They Start

The most effective approach to any enterprise security strategy is to prioritize solutions that address the organization’s greatest vulnerabilities first. The distribution of privileged access accounts needs to be towards the top of that list. With the right PAM solution in place, businesses can take the important step from reacting to systemic privileged policy breaches to proactively preventing them. 

As the privileged access domain evolves and grows ever closer to identity governance and administration in terms of integration and processes alignment, organizations are starting to pursue zero standing privilege models as their baseline on the journey to a Zero Trust Architecture. As a result customer requirements now include privileged account lifecycle management to better support just-in-time admin/privileged access and reduce trust.
For more information on PAM best practices and key takeaways from EMA’s report, listen on in this on-demand webinar “Modern Requirements and Solutions for Privileged Access Management (PAM).” You can also access the full report here: Advancing Privileged Access Management (PAM) to Address Modern Business Requirements.

A Winning Security Formula: Hitachi ID Bravura Discover and Automation

  February 23rd, 2021

On average, it takes 280 days to identify and contain a data breach, according to the latest data from IBM’s “Cost of a Data Breach Report 2020.” Add the increase in malicious attacks, which now account for more than half of data breaches, plus the impact of a mostly remote workforce and it’s a recipe for a potential identity and access management (IAM) disaster. With the global average total cost of a data breach now coming in at just under $4 million, companies literally can’t afford not to modernize & evolve their access management programs.

Now, here’s the good news: security automation solutions are already responding to this problem by using AI (artificial intelligence) and ML (machine learning) to get ahead of vulnerabilities and avoid catastrophic breaches. In fact, by 2022, Gartner predicts 50% of identity governance and admin (IGA) vendors will offer predictive technologies. That’s up from less than 15% today. 

With so much at risk, organizations need a reliable solution that works for IT teams and end-users. Businesses are already avoiding and eliminating data breaches with Hitachi ID Bravura Discover, an automation first approach to identity and access. As an integral layer of the Hitachi ID Bravura Security Fabric, Hitachi ID Bravura Discover provides powerful risk and threat assessment that goes beyond surface vulnerabilities to help businesses get and stay ahead of cybersecurity threats with an arsenal of critical capabilities.

Complete Risk and Threat Assessment

To prevent system breaches, organizations need a deep & wide reaching solution. Hitachi ID Bravura Discover scans systems at-scale to discover accounts, groups, nested entitlements, and metadata beyond Windows and Linux to uncover critical and hidden vulnerabilities.

Hitachi ID Bravura Discover’s capabilities ensure security is an ongoing process that begins with identifying access risk & potential vulnerabilities. From the right business stakeholders can make informed decisions on how to modify impacted identity and access processes and remediate the discovered risks. It’s imperative that the output of Hitachi ID Bravura Discover feeds into identity process automation change or the detected risks will simply surface again as a result of bad business processes going unaddressed.

Proactive IAM and PAM Governance Reduces Risk

As ransomware attacks continue to increase, controlling who has access to critical systems and networks is a top priority for all businesses. With the most comprehensive and  in-depth risk and threat assessment, complete with resolution recommendations, Hitachi ID Bravura Discover quickly reveals identity and privileged access risks and threats. 

Its data- and metrics-driven ecosystem gives businesses proactive control with recommended automation driven fixes to solve security vulnerabilities quickly. By closing the loop between detection & automated remediation, organizations are able to respond quicker and keep systems secure.

Secure Automation That Scales

To achieve ongoing cybersecurity success, it’s crucial organizations have a solution that can easily grow with them. Hitachi ID Bravura Discover’s mature connector library simplifies scaling, allowing businesses to quickly protect and confidently expand coverage to tens of thousands of systems. When you couple Hitachi ID Bravura Discover with Hitachi ID Bravura Identity and/or Bravura Privilege to turn actionable insights into automated remediation & mitigation, you can begin to level the playing field against evasive attackers.

A Step Ahead With One Simple Solution

The ultimate goal is to provide end users seamless access to the data and resources they need without exposing the business to vulnerabilities. To achieve this, organizations need a cohesive access management ecosystem that truly covers every piece of their hybrid IT environment. The integrated Hitachi ID Bravura Security Fabric provides this required depth & reach, so no layer needs to be left unprotected.

As part of the Hitachi ID Bravura Security Fabric, Hitachi ID Bravura Discover, along with Identity, Privilege, Pass, and Group offer technological and architectural building blocks with decades of reliability to protect, manage, and protect your entire digital identity and access infrastructure from malicious attackers.

You can learn more about Hitachi ID Bravura Discover and how organizations can get ahead of hackers with automation in our recent webinar, now available on demand: A Winning Cybersecurity Formula to Reduce Risk

Why Higher Education IAM Needs Zero Trust

  January 28th, 2021

Even though the Zero Trust model has been around for more than a decade, the term can still confound and even put off some technology teams. However, higher education’s emphasis on identity and access management (IAM) paired with the Zero Trust model’s strict controls are an ideal match for higher education.

In fact, it’s nearly impossible to build a true Zero Trust environment without a strong IAM strategy and IAM goals can only benefit from the guidelines that Zero Trust demands. Together, IAM and Zero Trust allow schools the agility they require to meet their unique cybersecurity needs while maintaining as secure a system as possible to keep the personal data of students, professors, administrators, and more protected against breaches. Many technologies such as multi-factor authentication (MFA), analytics, risk scoring and strong encryption are needed to ensure success of a Zero Trust program.

Get a Better Handle on Complex Lifecycles

A focus on the identity of users is inherently built into identity and access management for universities. With flexible, transient student and faculty populations, they’re responsible for the private data of countless individuals at any given time. This goal makes it a natural fit for Zero Trust, which relies on strict controls for each and every user.

To optimize the Zero Trust model within their user lifecycles, universities should focus on the strict provisioning of users with strong authentication and authorization. An IAM platform that allows simple management of multi factor authentications can make the most of an IAM and Zero Trust collaboration.

Optimize Automation

In many cases, introducing a Zero Trust model means exchanging the more common network-perimeter security for an access per-application method. Stricter authorization guidelines are a cornerstone of Zero Trust.

However, this case by case approach to access may seem like a non-starter for universities because of their high turnover rate as a result of student matriculation. The first step is to impose enhanced governance policies which reduce the access rights users need to an absolute minimum to accomplish their specific tasks. Then, IAM automation helps schools solve for this challenge while maintaining the restrictions required to maintain a Zero Trust architecture and secure critical data.

Mitigate the Impact of Breaches

The fact remains: Regardless of how tight restrictions are, no system is unbreachable. That being said, should the worst happen, a Zero Trust environment does help lessen the impact of a breach. Its tight authorization restrictions and strict access controls at the identity level means most breaches can be easily contained to a handful of users. That’s good news for schools as cyberattacks continue to increase in volume and complexity.

Better Together

With the continued increase in cyberthreats faced by colleges and universities (made even more critical by the spike in remote access brought on by the pandemic), rise in interest Zero Trust security architectures is certainly not surprising.

To succeed with Zero Trust and IAM, schools need a solid foundation of security technologies. For colleges and universities, that foundation is an IAM solution that truly meets all of their data privacy needs. As we prepare for Data Privacy Day, this dynamic duo is the perfect pair to keep colleges and universities a step ahead of hackers now — and well into the future.

You can learn more about how Zero Trust and IAM provide the cohesive cybersecurity solution modern organizations require in our recent webinar: Complete Your Zero Trust Mission Using a Single Pane of Glass. Join our next webinar on March 4th

Leaders Value These Key Identity and Access Management Automation Payoffs

  January 15th, 2021

Identity and access management (IAM) automation is an undeniable game changer in higher education, with countless advantages for colleges and universities. So, when we recently worked with Pulse to survey IT leaders in higher education, we were a little surprised by the narrow scope of some of the results. When asked what automation benefits they’re most looking forward to, most of the answers centered around three categories:

  • Reduced security risk
  • Boosted confidence in compliance status
  • A shift from reactive to proactive threat detection

All of these are certainly key benefits for higher education; however, the payoffs for colleges and universities go well beyond these three. Automation can increase efficiency, resiliency, and accuracy in a number of ways.

More Time for Strategic Initiatives

While just over a third of respondents showed interest in this benefit, the importance of time saved cannot be overstated. Institutions that no longer have to spend time manually managing IAM can instead dedicate those resources to more innovative projects. Whether it’s app development, streamlining processes across departments, or focusing on end user experience, removing the more time-consuming parts of identity and access management allows colleges and universities to devote more resources towards strategic thinking.

Improved End User Experience

With so many other priorities to manage, user experience can get left behind. Our recent survey certainly reflected that: only 13% of respondents noted it as an expected benefit. Overlooking this vital piece of the IAM roadmap may expedite processes in the short-term, but poor UX can create extra work (i.e., onboarding challenges and overall usage issues) down the road if neglected for too long.

Simplified Workflows and Streamlined, Modernized Processes

Never underestimate the power of simpler processes. These automation bonuses may have only sparked excitement in around 10% of our IT leaders, but these streamlined workflows can make all the difference for universities. This is especially true for larger institutions who are tasked with identity and access management across multiple departments and colleges where automation can save countless hours.

Hurdles That are Holding Back Critical Growth

Unfortunately, due to obstacles faced by much of higher education, that automation panacea is still a ways off. The following hurdles are holding back critical growth for identity and access management in higher education and overcoming them will be crucial for success in the future.

Budget Constraints

Pre-pandemic, higher education was already facing budget cuts. Now, Covid-19 has only further intensified financial constraints. IT departments at colleges and universities, in particular, have been faced with unforeseen challenges as they were forced to quickly adapt for remote learning and then strengthen these swift solutions as the pandemic stretched on. Of course, this increase in internal IT demand had its own financial outlays and was simultaneously coupled with schools needing to tighten their budgets even further.

In our survey, all IT leaders agreed that budget is a primary roadblock for identity and access management automation. While there’s no easy solution for these financial hurdles, clearly communicating the full value of IAM automation (long-term cost savings, more efficient processes, fewer errors, etc.) will strengthen efforts to implement these essential processes and solutions.

Existing Infrastructure Investments

Legacy systems make those budget constraints even more challenging to overcome, as many schools have put significant amounts of time and financial investment into these systems and processes. Making the switch to a new automated system is about more than the financial cost, it’s also the time needed to onboard and implement that new technology — especially training teams and getting them up to speed with the new IAM solution.

All IT leaders we surveyed selected this as an impediment on the road to automation. Understanding that the investment — both time and cost — is worth the increase in efficiency, security, and so much more will allow colleges and universities to expedite their automation journey.

Executive Buy-in

Ultimately, automating identity and access management in higher education requires that IT leaders achieve buy-in from all decisions makers. While those in the trenches of the IT department may have a clear understanding of the benefits of automation, communicating that with the C-suite can present its own challenges.

While three-quarters of respondents identified executive buy-in as an automation hindrance, for schools struggling to convince decision makers of the value, it can be the sole roadblock to automation. As is the case with budget constraints, presenting the ROI of automation (time saved, decrease in human error, and as a result, reduced long-term costs) will be key in convincing leadership to commit to this essential evolution.

All of these challenges certainly present stumbling blocks on the path to IAM automation for colleges and universities. Clear communication of the return on this investment will be critical as higher education IAM moves forward.

Reputation Is Everything

Most end users may not be a decision maker at any colleges and universities, but they’re still certainly stakeholders when it comes to identity and access management. Whether it’s a student needing to reset their password from home or a new research project that requires specific entitlements, the process needs to be seamless, simple, and secure.

Clunky processes can create frustration for the end user (at best) and serious system vulnerabilities (at worst). It’s also worth noting that ultimately, when it comes to IAM processes, the opinions of end users can and do influence those who make the decisions.

End User Experience Also Has Pull

For many of these questions, the results matched the trends we’re witnessing in IAM for higher education. However, a few categories had some surprises, among them, end user experience (UX).

While only 13% of higher education IT executives cited the improvement of end user experience as a main benefit of IAM automation, two-thirds rated the influence of UX over the IAM roadmap as at least a 4 (on a scale of 1-5). End user experience isn’t driving IAM automation, but it still has plenty of pull when it comes to automation. Understanding its influence can help higher education better incorporate UX into automation plans moving forward.

Amplified by Remote Access

While remote access has always played a role in UX, the pandemic has made it a priority. Our survey reflected that 98% of those surveyed said UX improvement has risen in importance following the mass work-from-home migration and the broad swath of resources being accessed remotely. Remote access has also added another dimension to UX with IT teams needing to account for how remote students and faculty can reach support (for password problems or more serious issues) when the need arises.

Lighten the Load

While the end user is the focus of UX, higher education IT teams will also reap some of the benefits. Seamless, simple, secure IAM that’s easy to use and incorporates support solutions that users can access remotely, will ultimately remove many of those tasks (password resets, permission updates, etc.) from the IT team’s to-do list. Fewer user issues means less problem solving for your IT team, freeing them to focus on more strategic initiatives — further improving processes, application development, or whatever innovation is next.

User Experience Smart From the Start

UX may not be the driving force for higher education IAM automation, but IT leaders still need to keep its impact and influence in mind when plotting out their identity and access management roadmaps. When higher education IT leaders incorporate UX into IAM automation strategies from the start, they can stay ahead of any complications and ensure IAM automation benefits all stakeholders.

Get our one minute whitepaper to read the full results of our survey and learn more about IAM automation challenges and benefits for higher education in our resource:

Higher Education IT Leaders Are Looking to Complement Access Governance With Automation.

Join Hitachi ID and Pulse for an upcoming webinar to learn more about how higher education is using automation to complement identity and access management governance in their zero trust strategies to protect data against cyber security attacks.

How to Complete Your Zero Trust Mission With a Single Pane of Glass

  January 14th, 2021

Since it was first coined by Forrester more than a decade ago, the Zero Trust model has proven its strength in identity and access management (IAM), relying on strict controls and not trusting anything by default. The events of 2020 have made Zero Trust (ZT) a priority once again as remote working requirements expanded every organizations’ networks well beyond the office walls.

The flexibility of the cloud made the swift shift to remote work possible, but it also introduced more than a few challenges for IAM and ZT. The challenges are compounded by the hybrid situations most companies find themselves in: still unable to move everything to the cloud while simultaneously in search of solutions that can better integrate with their on-premise and legacy systems. Unfortunately, this has often resulted in a disconnected patchwork of not quite connected quick fixes.

Piecemeal solutions are not sustainable. Businesses need one source of truth — one pane of glass — that brings all of these otherwise disparate technologies together in one platform. This saves organizations time and resources, keeps costs down, and seriously simplifies processes for IT teams.

The Hitachi ID Bravura Security Fabric gets organizations over these hurdles by bringing all of these critical needs into one solution and framework including Pass, Identity, Group, Privilege, and Discover. By shifting to a single pane of glass for IAM, organizations are able to better see the big picture and conquer even the most persistent challenges to achieve ZT success.

Bridge the Gaps

For many businesses, moving to the cloud is not a simple migration. It’s likely done in stages. Some businesses may even have highly regulated data that can’t be stored in the cloud at all and need to find hybrid solutions. On-premise and legacy problems don’t just go away when cloud services are introduced. Having a solution that can seamlessly integrate the cloud with existing architectures is a critical success factor.

The Hitachi Bravura Security Fabric and its extensive set of connectors significantly simplifies the integration of disparate systems. These connector capabilities are also core to the offerings within Hitachi ID Bravura Security Fabric, allowing organizations to easily turn on or off services (Pass, Identity, Group, Privilege, and Discover) as their business needs change.

Get a Handle on Groups

Across most industries, groups reign supreme as the primary access granting system for organizations. Keeping group access organized is a crucial aspect of maintaining a ZT model. All too often this is where wires get crossed — either by human error or a lack of access to controls beyond the IT team. Granting incorrect permissions via groups can spell disaster.

Organizations can avoid catastrophe with a few simple best practices: allow users group management access, automate where possible, create business friendly names for groups, etc. Hitachi ID Bravura Group can help your IT team easily oversee all of these group activities to maintain visibility and control over these critical access points. By balancing user access with IT oversight, organizations can maintain IAM and ZT success.

Increase Resiliency With Adaptive Authentication

As our recent survey uncovered, remote access remains a top IAM challenge and priority for many organizations. User authentication and password management is a critical component of remote access strategies and the ZT model. With remote access, IT teams face challenges caused by overly simple, misplaced, and generally compromised passwords and credentials. Remote working environments have only increased the risk surrounding these vulnerabilities, especially with insufficient support access.

Hitachi ID Bravura Pass helps businesses tackle these risks by providing resources to help users better manage their own credentials, including:

  • Strong authentication (MFA) and federated access (Security Assertions Markup Language (SAML) 2.0 identity provider (IdP) )
  • Self-service password and PIN reset
  • Self-service unlock of encrypted drives
  • Password synchronization
  • Managed enrollment of security questions, mobile phone numbers, personal e-mail addresses and biometrics

The Future of Zero Trust in the Cloud

Cloud environments present a fresh host of IAM and ZT challenges and the fact is siloed technologies cannot address these issues. By bringing together the tools to manage all of these business-critical pieces in one place, companies have a comprehensive collection of tools and resources that streamlines IAM in a single, secure, scalable solution.

We covered all of this and more in our recent webinar with Hitachi ID partner IntiGrow. As a leading global enterprise information security company and one of our channel partners, IntiGrow delivers comprehensive security solutions empowering enterprises to proactively detect and prevent security threats to their computing infrastructure, data, and applications.

Learn more about IntiGrow and the rest of our channel partners here and see the full webinar now available on demand by following this link: Complete Your Zero Trust Mission Using a Single Pane of Glass

Combat Ransomware With Hitachi ID Bravura Security Fabric

  December 17th, 2020

In the age of digital transformation, protecting employees and users against cyberattacks and ransomware threats is increasingly difficult but also more crucial than ever. Organizations face a constantly evolving and costly cyberattack landscape. In 2019, they spent an estimated $11.5 billion on ransomware attack recovery and this year, IBM projects data breaches will cost affected businesses around the world an average of $3.86 million each. Furthermore, the latest forecasts for global ransomware damage costs are expected to reach $20 billion by 2021.

It’s apparent the world of security is getting increasingly more costly and complex. When we used to think about organizational security, we were only concerned with our employees — whether they be in finance, operations, engineering, or supply chain. Today, when we evaluate security, we must also factor our customers and partners into the equation. We are seeing an explosion of identities across the security landscape and many organizations have adapted by weaving a complex web of identities and relationships into their network infrastructures. However, this complicated structure is still vulnerable to risk and attack.

As usage grows in complexity, businesses have traditionally tried to secure their systems through siloed individual technologies from different companies that have disparate architectures, different connectors, and multiple administrative screens. But when put to the test, these siloed solutions are not protecting organizational networks and leading to billions in damages not to mention irrevocable brand damage.

Interwoven legacy and disparate solutions aren’t the answer. Instead, many organizations are opting to weave in patterns of functionality with one solution — the Hitachi ID Bravura Security Fabric — to protect against continual and evolving threats.

The beauty of the Hitachi ID Bravura Security Fabric is that it’s a singular platform for identity, privilege access, and password and group management. It offers mature automation and detection, governance and compliance, and analytics and reporting capabilities all in one solution. Through the platform, organizations can simplify vendor selection and program deployment and streamline service level agreements and lower overall cost.

With a singular security platform, people, edge devices, network, system preferences, and data are all all under one umbrella. All layers are interconnected so changes you make to one layer or vertical will reverberate across the entirety of your organization’s systems and infrastructures. This ability makes implementing updates and security more efficient and cost effective. Moreover, these deployments can be fine-tuned to fit your customized needs whether that be SaaS, on-premise implementation, private cloud, or mix ‘n’ match hybrids.

Additionally, as an organization uncovers new threats or as its roadmap evolves, it allows you to turn services on or off as needed without installing other products. This potential offers turn-key customization and quick as-needed changes that a patchwork of distinct solutions simply cannot provide. Furthermore, it combats automated attacks with security automation to win against hackers and provide continual protection to secure your systems faster and more effectively than access certification and individual products.

With a singular security fabric, you can achieve some quick wins in increasing cybersecurity. Start with simple password management. Vault your shared credentials. Review all the current entitlements. Doing those undemanding things well will provide you with an immediate return on investment. Then over time, grow into more comprehensive, mature, and automated approaches. Often small changes have outsized gains when dealing with adversaries. But the critical thing here is to look at your threats comprehensively and tackle your most serious threats in priority order instead of which products you may have purchased:

  • Password policies and periodic changes with Hitachi ID Bravura Pass
  • Vaulting and managing administrative credentials with Hitachi ID Bravura Privilege
  • Reducing peoples unnecessary access through your organization with Hitachi ID Bravura Identity

Watch the webinar from our Power of One Summit to learn more about how the Hitachi ID Bravura Security Fabric can singularly transform your digital identity and access security culture.

IAM Automation: The Secret to Governance and Cybersecurity Success in Higher Ed

  September 8th, 2020

For colleges and universities, governance and cybersecurity can get quite complicated. These institutions of higher learning are entrusted with an enormous amount of personal data (emails, transcripts, test scores, salaries, etc.), from students, teachers, alumni, and more. The safety and security of it is of the utmost importance, but due to the complexity of higher ed organizational structures, many schools are still operating with manual legacy and homegrown solutions for identity and access management (IAM).

When the Covid-19 pandemic forced schools to shift to remote and hybrid learning, the importance of strong policies and protocols for cybersecurity and governance only increased, as did the degree of difficulty. With increased remote access, universities have to contend with a slew of unknowns as students and staff who once primarily accessed systems via internal networks are now signing in from countless external sources.

The solution? Automation. It’s a core value of IAM solutions and can help schools meet and maintain governance and cybersecurity goals by simplifying critical IAM processes:

Better Define and Manage Roles

Lifecycle management, particularly properly assigning user roles, is a critical piece of higher ed IAM and governance. It’s complicated because of the unique organizational structure of colleges and universities — roles can overlap (professors who are also students, for example), change frequently (active students become alums), and new users are a near-constant (welcome, freshmen!). Because of these complexities, a manual approach is both time-consuming and prone to human error. 

To assign roles effectively and efficiently, higher ed IAM requires flexibility and customization. By automating and integrating the IAM solution, the system is able to both discover and define roles based on the parameters provided, saving time and avoiding costly, potentially disastrous mistakes.

Improve Data Cleaning Capabilities

Given the sheer volume of data processed in higher education, it’s inevitable some bad data will exist in the system. Unfortunately, there’s a persistent myth that this data needs to be cleaned before any automation can be implemented. That simply isn’t true. 

Automation supports data cleanup, not the inverse. Automated processes and workflows can be used to quickly flag inappropriate access and deal with orphan and dormant accounts and profiles, eliminating potential cybersecurity risks before they begin.

Strengthen Controls

Preventing inappropriate access either by internal users or outside threats is a core piece of cybersecurity and governance for colleges and universities. It’s important that schools not only have the right controls in place but that they’re able to quickly react to any potential threats to the system.

From automatic access deactivation to risk scores to password security, controls are key to tighten access procedures (a crucial part of cybersecurity). Automation exponentially improves these processes to quickly spot and solve any potential breaches before they happen.

Institutions of higher learning are dealing with an exponential amount of personal data at any given moment, and manual solutions simply won’t cut it anymore. The transition to IAM automation is by no means a challenge that’s unique to the higher ed world, but when it comes to governance and data privacy, the stakes are high and complicated. Getting it right is critical not only for governance and cybersecurity success, it benefits the whole IT ecosystem from admin to end-user.