The Evolution of Identity and Access Management

With the global identity and access management (IAM) market set to reach $22.68 billion by 2025, it’s time for IT security professionals to focus on the increasing complexity of digital environments across industries. The management of identities in small businesses, enterprises, government agencies and consumer applications must be addressed to ensure the security of users and their data.

Systems Continue to Evolve and Expand

The days of self-contained in-house networks are over, and new network models are evolving on an almost continual basis. Businesses and organizations now rely on diverse combinations of legacy systems, cloud-based tools and mobile devices to support critical processes and provide flexibility to users. Third-party vendor access adds another element to the security landscape by extending networks far beyond the physical location of the business.

IT professionals working in these environments face the challenge of providing granular access control without inhibiting efficiency or productivity. The increasing number of endpoints in the form of employee devices, vendor accounts, smart manufacturing tools and consumer IoT devices necessitates a unique approach to network security. Stronger modern authentication options, such as biometrics, are growing in popularity, and concerns over changing compliance standards are likely to drive further adoption of cloud-based identity-as-a-service (IDaaS) solutions. 

Say Hello to “Next-Gen” Identity Governance

The rapid expansion of systems is leading to a dangerous drop in user visibility. Only 20 percent of enterprises can account for all users, and 7 percent have no visibility whatsoever. This leaves the remainder with only a vague idea of who has access to what, how many privileged users are in the system or the number of orphaned accounts remaining open and vulnerable to attack. 

Identity governance and administration (IGA) is meant to solve this problem with clear policies and protocols for handling IAM. In light of the changing network landscape, IGA is evolving to take a “next-level” approach to: 

• Centralize access requests in environments where applications and databases use different authentication protocols 
• Create a single portal through which IT security professionals can manage permissions 
• Manage the entire lifecycle of the user from account creation to the termination of privileges 
• Employ managed identity services for complex security needs 

These updates to IGA can minimize security risks by giving enterprises the ability to monitor every user in a network at all times and grant or deny access based on the principle of least privilege. 

Embracing More “Intelligence” from Machines

In recent years, both artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technology have seen increasing adoption in business processes, including security protocols. Hackers are getting smarter and stealthier in their attempts to infiltrate networks, and human monitoring is no longer adequate to detect unauthorized access quickly enough to prevent extensive breaches.

With AI to monitor network access in real time and ML to map complex patterns of user behavior, it’s possible to detect even small anomalies and respond with immediate interventions. As attacks launched using botnets, hivenets and nearly undetectable phishing emails grow in frequency, this approach to security will become a necessity in many network environments. 

Improvement of Authentication Methods for Zero-Trust Models

Zero trust was a buzzword in the IAM space in 2018 and shows promise as a security model, but it requires a dynamic authentication protocol for proper implementation and maintenance. With zero trust in place, no user, device or application is accepted as trustworthy regardless of position in relation to the network. Whether originating from inside or outside, all requests must be authenticated prior to approval.

The risk of adopting this model is its potential to hinder productivity. Therefore, security professionals must work to create scalable authentication frameworks with the ability to automatically adjust to accommodate changing policies, including the introduction or revocation of privileged access. The flexibility of AI and ML in security environments may provide a viable solution when implementing such a model. 

More Reliance on Biometrics

The streamlining of biometric authentication options is likely to lead to wider adoption in enterprises, government agencies and other organizations seeking stronger security measures. Biometric identifiers are already replacing passwords in a variety of digital environments, and a move toward centralization will allow for broader use across industries.

In addition to common identifiers like fingerprints and facial scans, new options are likely to appear, including behavioral biometrics. Continued diversification will be necessary as hackers start to get wise to emerging tactics and begin to exploit vulnerabilities IT experts have yet to pinpoint. 

Learn About Identity and Access Management Certification Path

IT security professionals responsible for the diverse needs of today’s companies and organizations are tasked with monitoring these and other important trends in the IAM space to determine when and how to implement new protocols. Understanding what the future holds makes it possible to implement proactive defenses against potential breaches, stay ahead of new hacking tactics and preserve the integrity of complex modern systems.