Click here to close now.

Welcome!

XML Authors: Carmen Gonzalez, Elizabeth White, AppDynamics Blog, Sematext Blog, Liz McMillan

Related Topics: Web 2.0, Java, XML, Microservices Journal, AJAX & REA, Oracle, Security

Web 2.0: Article

Five Steps Toward Achieving Better Compliance with Identity Analytics

Automation is the key to increasing the effectiveness and reducing the cost of compliance

Identity management just isn't what it used to be. Gone are the days when knowing who had access to what was simply enough. In today's world of increasing government and industry regulation; networked communications and collaboration; and pervasive mobility, the requirements have fundamentally changed. Effective identity management and access governance requires insight into not only what employees are doing with their access to systems and applications, but also how well an organization is managing and securing that access.

Such a comprehensive understanding of an organization's access matrix is essential to reducing the risks that employees, partners, customers, and even malicious third parties can introduce. It is also critical to efforts to comply with regulations that mandate access controls. In fact, without it companies have no way to provide meaningful evidence to auditors explaining how and why they assign access.

The need to perform the numerous complex tasks that comprise identity management - such as certifying access, enforcing security policy, and remediating policy violations - is compounded by the reliance on slow, error-prone manual processes to handle them. These issues, coupled with the lack of a comprehensive, cohesive approach to compliance and auditing, make it nearly impossible to address the challenge in an effective and cost-efficient manner.

As a result, enterprises are in the unenviable position of committing significant resources to compliance efforts with little assurance that they will prove successful. Most struggle with satisfying stringent compliance mandates to perform access reviews of users with access rights to thousands of business applications and target platforms, and making it a sustainable and repeatable exercise. Adding to the challenge is the fact that organizations are faced with implementing identity compliance policies within short windows and often with limited resources.

To keep pace in an increasingly competitive business landscape, obtaining quick compliance results and establishing reliable and sustainable control processes through automated compliance has become critical. However, establishing robust, organization-wide automated compliance is by no means a flip-of-the-switch endeavor, and businesses oftentimes implement inadequate and disparate policy procedures that leave key areas of the organization exposed to security threats. In order to implement identity compliance that meets today's rigorous standards while maintaining company productivity, identity analytics solutions can help improve all of the elements of an effective compliance program.

Security Compliance
Organizations that are looking to implement automated, analytics-powered compliance programs need to recognize certain truisms when it comes to ensuring secure access to systems and applications. Security compliance is a substantive and procedural undertaking that is only as effective as the processes that track and automate it. Factors such as the latency of audit and remediation efforts and the rate of change within an organization go a long way toward determining the effectiveness of a compliance effort.

That said, compliance programs must also be flexible. The general guidelines for achieving secure access to applications and systems may seem firm on the surface, but the processes that underlie compliance efforts vary greatly from one organization to the next. What's more, every security control must be designed to accommodate loopholes and exceptions necessary to accommodate business efficiency and productivity. For instance, compliance programs must allow for variation to access controls during emergencies such as severe weather, natural disasters, or even economic turmoil.

Additionally, certification of access controls cannot be an IT-only decision. It needs to be a collaborative process that involves business stakeholders and is embedded in an organization's culture. In exchange for the visibility into applications and systems they receive, those business stakeholders need to understand and accept the inherent risks. But ultimately, IT has to be responsible for providing and mitigating the necessary controls and for remediating any negative audit findings.

Unfortunately, because the collaboration that occurs around access control today is largely email-driven, most organizations have only been able to successfully audit a handful of applications or systems. In fact, according to Verizon's 2012 data breach report, 96 percent of the companies subject to compliance with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) - which governs any company that processes, stores or transmits credit card data - that were breached during 2011 were not compliant with PCI DSS guidelines.

Growing Complexity
One of the reasons enterprises are so challenged by identity management is the unprecedented complexity they face today. With applications and data residing in so many locales - on premise, in the cloud, at a hosting provider's site, etc. - and users relying upon ever-growing sets of tools, IT security teams struggle to keep up with the need to apply access control across systems and geographies. It was difficult enough to track several pages of segregation of duties controls for a single application; tracking controls across the increasingly heterogeneous landscape of systems today is geometrically more complicated.

Cloud-based apps, in particular, introduce a layer of complexity that can result in the business finding itself disconnected if it loses visibility into the related access control data. Along those lines, one of the most common audit issues organizations encounter is a failure to maintain the same level of security controls over their virtual environments as they have over their physical ones.

Dovetailing with the challenges cloud computing introduces is the explosive growth of mobile apps for use in the workplace, a phenomenon that has further fragmented access control processes. As organizations develop their authorizations for mobile apps, they largely are doing so separately from their existing app-authorization systems, which compounds the challenges. According to an August 2011 survey by enterprise mobility vendor Partnerpedia, 58 percent of organizations are creating mobile apps stores, leading to much more complex implementations of certification reviews and controls.

What's more, it's not just the systems that have grown in complexity. Employees have become a much more dynamic enterprise asset, causing organizations to adjust their access controls to reflect the matrices of roles that have resulted from the challenges of trying to classify access. A perfect instance of this is in the health care sector, with drug companies featuring multiple teams across the globe conducting trials and contributing research. Maintaining the privacy and confidentiality of data in this dynamic workgroup setting is a prime example of how the problem of access has evolved.

Five Steps for Leveraging Identity Analytics
Despite these numerous challenges, which collectively can prevent an organization from achieving its identity management objectives, there are ways to ensure that access control efforts can keep up with today's complex business landscape. Specifically, organizations can turn to fast-maturing identity analytics solutions to help them get a handle on this daunting business problem.

Following are five key steps organizations can take by leveraging identity analytics technology that will assist them in achieving robust identity compliance and remaining in compliance moving forward:

1. Become risk aware
While large chunks of IT budgets in recent years have been spent on regulatory compliance, many people still don't feel any safer. The ultimate cautionary tale can be found in the stories of two global financial firms. Despite the focus both companies no doubt had on complying with regulations like Sarbanes-Oxley, auditors at both firms failed to remediate excessive access violations by trusted trading employees, resulting in more than $9 billion in unexpected - and potentially crippling - losses combined.

By adopting an automated system that would enable weighted risk to be tied directly to systems access, organizations can significantly reduce their potential exposure to such embarrassing fiascos.

2. Control privileged access
Access to privileged accounts, such as root, system administration and those with elevated privileges, poses a huge threat to enterprises. These are the most powerful system accounts that, naturally, bring the greatest potential for fraud. Because they don't actually belong to users and are instead often shared by multiple administrators, they're notoriously difficult to secure. In an economy like the one we've experienced the past few years, there are more disgruntled workers, meaning an even greater emphasis should be placed on having an automated system to control privileged access.

As if that's not enough, control of privileged accounts is key to efforts to comply with everything from Sarbanes-Oxley to the PCI DSS to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which typically translates to it being at the top of lists of auditors' findings. Moreover, most business partners today want to know that there are sufficient controls placed on privileged accounts as part of their SAS 70 reviews.

Given the clear sensitivity and importance of privileged access, it's imperative that organizations adopt a circumspect approach that enables passwords to be issued for limited periods of use in order to reduce potential exposure.

3. Automate remediation
Today's largest enterprises must contend with tens of thousands of employees accessing hundreds of systems, resulting in a cacophony of controls that audit groups can't possibly hope to manage. It's simply too big of a job for humans to address in a limited number of hours per day. That's where an automated identity analytics solution can help.

By setting up a workflow-based system that can automate the simpler remediation, auditors can instead focus their efforts on the findings that pose the greatest risk. Even then, however, exceptions must be accommodated; for instance, in those moments when emergency privileged access must be granted, it's critical that the system be able to automatically undo that privileged access once the emergency has abated.

4. Reduce the potential for audit violations
As much as it may sound like advice from Yogi Berra, the best way to prevent audit violations is to stop them from happening. The easiest way to do that is to perform the proper due diligence when access is being requested. That's the time when an enterprise needs to check for any common audit problems so that they can be addressed prior to a violation occurring.

When a user requests access that could be considered excessive, if the organization has adopted a system that flags that access, it can automatically collaborate with a business owner to approve or deny the request. Similarly, if a request for access results in a violation of either the segregation of duties or the rule of least privilege, then the system can flag this and provide visibility into the potential risk introduced by the request.

5. Take a platform approach to identity management
Merely having identity analytics technology in place doesn't guarantee that an organization will meet its compliance objectives. But for those enterprises wanting to increase their compliance success rate, having an identity analytics module that's part of a larger identity management platform greatly improves the odds. Like many other categories of software, identity analytics - and compliance in general - benefits from the tight integration of a platform approach.

This truism was further validated by a recent Aberdeen Group study in which companies that adopted fragmented identity and access systems were compared with those that acquired integrated systems from a single vendor. The findings? The companies that adopted pre-integrated systems experienced 35 percent fewer audit violations and reduced their identity analytics costs by 48 percent. They also reported improved end-user productivity, reduced risk and enhanced agility.

Conclusion
It's clear that the growing complexity organizations face has upped the ante when it comes to compliance with identity access controls. That increasingly complex landscape calls for better tools that enable enterprises not only to effectively administer access to applications and systems, but also to understand how they're managing that access.

Automation is the key to increasing the effectiveness and reducing the cost of compliance. Automation streamlines compliance-related processes, reducing the need for resources while at the same time lowering the risk of manual error that can lead to audit failure. More important, automation makes it possible to create sustainable, repeatable audit processes that enable the enterprise to address compliance in an ongoing manner without starting from scratch to address every new regulation or prepare for every audit.

A software solution, such as identity analytics, that automates access control can play a critical role in achieving effective compliance and lowering the related costs. In these turbulent economic times, organizations can't afford to ignore this increasingly important - and complex - part of their security paradigm.

More Stories By Vadim Lander

Vadim Lander is Oracle's Chief Identity Strategist responsible for direction and architecture of Oracle's Identity Management portfolio. He has more than 20 years of experience in the IT industry. Previous to Oracle, he served as Senior Vice President and Chief Security Architect at CA, where he advised the company on key technology trends and helped guide its strategic direction in security management. Vadim joined CA in 2004 with its acquisition of Netegrity, where he was CTO and was instrumental in the definition and development of the company’s identity and access management products.

Vadim holds a BS in computer science from Northeastern University.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
17th Cloud Expo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterprises are using some form of XaaS – software, platform, and infrastructure as a service.
P2P RTC will impact the landscape of communications, shifting from traditional telephony style communications models to OTT (Over-The-Top) cloud assisted & PaaS (Platform as a Service) communication services. The P2P shift will impact many areas of our lives, from mobile communication, human interactive web services, RTC and telephony infrastructure, user federation, security and privacy implications, business costs, and scalability. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robin Raymond, Chief Architect at Hookflash, will walk through the shifting landscape of traditional telephone and voice services ...
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems at Red Hat, described how to revolutioniz...
For IoT to grow as quickly as analyst firms’ project, a lot is going to fall on developers to quickly bring applications to market. But the lack of a standard development platform threatens to slow growth and make application development more time consuming and costly, much like we’ve seen in the mobile space. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mike Weiner is Product Manager of the Omega DevCloud with KORE Telematics Inc., will discuss the evolving requirements for developers as IoT matures and conduct a live demonstration of how quickly application development can happen when the need to comply...
Container frameworks, such as Docker, provide a variety of benefits, including density of deployment across infrastructure, convenience for application developers to push updates with low operational hand-holding, and a fairly well-defined deployment workflow that can be orchestrated. Container frameworks also enable a DevOps approach to application development by cleanly separating concerns between operations and development teams. But running multi-container, multi-server apps with containers is very hard. You have to learn five new and different technologies and best practices (libswarm, sy...
SYS-CON Events announced today that DragonGlass, an enterprise search platform, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. After eleven years of designing and building custom applications, OpenCrowd has launched DragonGlass, a cloud-based platform that enables the development of search-based applications. These are a new breed of applications that utilize a search index as their backbone for data retrieval. They can easily adapt to new data sets and provide access to both structured and unstruc...
Converging digital disruptions is creating a major sea change - Cisco calls this the Internet of Everything (IoE). IoE is the network connection of People, Process, Data and Things, fueled by Cloud, Mobile, Social, Analytics and Security, and it represents a $19Trillion value-at-stake over the next 10 years. In her keynote at @ThingsExpo, Manjula Talreja, VP of Cisco Consulting Services, will discuss IoE and the enormous opportunities it provides to public and private firms alike. She will share what businesses must do to thrive in the IoE economy, citing examples from several industry sector...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo in Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 17th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal an...
The security devil is always in the details of the attack: the ones you've endured, the ones you prepare yourself to fend off, and the ones that, you fear, will catch you completely unaware and defenseless. The Internet of Things (IoT) is nothing if not an endless proliferation of details. It's the vision of a world in which continuous Internet connectivity and addressability is embedded into a growing range of human artifacts, into the natural world, and even into our smartphones, appliances, and physical persons. In the IoT vision, every new "thing" - sensor, actuator, data source, data con...
IoT is still a vague buzzword for many people. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mike Kavis, Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Partners, discussed the business value of IoT that goes far beyond the general public's perception that IoT is all about wearables and home consumer services. He also discussed how IoT is perceived by investors and how venture capitalist access this space. Other topics discussed were barriers to success, what is new, what is old, and what the future may hold. Mike Kavis is Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Pa...
Disruptive macro trends in technology are impacting and dramatically changing the "art of the possible" relative to supply chain management practices through the innovative use of IoT, cloud, machine learning and Big Data to enable connected ecosystems of engagement. Enterprise informatics can now move beyond point solutions that merely monitor the past and implement integrated enterprise fabrics that enable end-to-end supply chain visibility to improve customer service delivery and optimize supplier management. Learn about enterprise architecture strategies for designing connected systems tha...
There's Big Data, then there's really Big Data from the Internet of Things. IoT is evolving to include many data possibilities like new types of event, log and network data. The volumes are enormous, generating tens of billions of logs per day, which raise data challenges. Early IoT deployments are relying heavily on both the cloud and managed service providers to navigate these challenges. In her session at Big Data Expo®, Hannah Smalltree, Director at Treasure Data, discussed how IoT, Big Data and deployments are processing massive data volumes from wearables, utilities and other machines...
SYS-CON Events announced today that the "First Containers & Microservices Conference" will take place June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City. The “Second Containers & Microservices Conference” will take place November 3-5, 2015, at Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, CA. Containers and microservices have become topics of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities.
Buzzword alert: Microservices and IoT at a DevOps conference? What could possibly go wrong? In this Power Panel at DevOps Summit, moderated by Jason Bloomberg, the leading expert on architecting agility for the enterprise and president of Intellyx, panelists will peel away the buzz and discuss the important architectural principles behind implementing IoT solutions for the enterprise. As remote IoT devices and sensors become increasingly intelligent, they become part of our distributed cloud environment, and we must architect and code accordingly. At the very least, you'll have no problem fil...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MetraTech, now part of Ericsson, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Ericsson is the driving force behind the Networked Society- a world leader in communications infrastructure, software and services. Some 40% of the world’s mobile traffic runs through networks Ericsson has supplied, serving more than 2.5 billion subscribers.
The 4th International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 17th International Cloud Expo - to be held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA - announces that its Call for Papers is open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
The 17th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. 17th International Cloud Expo, to be held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, APM, APIs, Microservices, Security, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal today!
Since 2008 and for the first time in history, more than half of humans live in urban areas, urging cities to become “smart.” Today, cities can leverage the wide availability of smartphones combined with new technologies such as Beacons or NFC to connect their urban furniture and environment to create citizen-first services that improve transportation, way-finding and information delivery. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Laetitia Gazel-Anthoine, CEO of Connecthings, will focus on successful use cases.
The explosion of connected devices / sensors is creating an ever-expanding set of new and valuable data. In parallel the emerging capability of Big Data technologies to store, access, analyze, and react to this data is producing changes in business models under the umbrella of the Internet of Things (IoT). In particular within the Insurance industry, IoT appears positioned to enable deep changes by altering relationships between insurers, distributors, and the insured. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Sick, a Senior Manager and Big Data Architect within Ernst and Young's Financial Servi...
The recent trends like cloud computing, social, mobile and Internet of Things are forcing enterprises to modernize in order to compete in the competitive globalized markets. However, enterprises are approaching newer technologies with a more silo-ed way, gaining only sub optimal benefits. The Modern Enterprise model is presented as a newer way to think of enterprise IT, which takes a more holistic approach to embracing modern technologies.