I spend way too much of my time thinking about identity and access management (IAM). I guess it’s what pays the bills, so that’s a good thing. I get paid to write about, talk about, and evangelize the One Identity way of doing IAM.
I’ve written a little book called Identity and Access Management for the Real World. Chapter One: The Fundamentals delves into the basics of IAM, the challenges we all face, and some recommendations to overcome those challenges.
Unlike many of you, if I mess something up I just look like a fool … no one really gets hurt, my employer doesn’t suffer significant damage, and there’s no headlines warning everyone of the dangers of doing business with me or my employer.
These tenets aren’t universal; there are organizations that have everything nailed down and have all the right people doing the right things and are able to prove it. But there are many more (possibly you and your organization) that are struggling with one or more of these factors. That’s just the way it is. Here’s a short Identity and Access Management video that discusses one company’s struggle with, and solution to this complexity problem.
I think the reason we have these problems is that we’re spending so much time putting out fires that we haven’t been able to purge the dead undergrowth to prevent the next fire from spreading out of control. After all, when you find a weakness or experience a breach, you must immediately find a solution to that problem. And the fastest solution may not be one that has anything to do with the preventing the next fire that will inevitably ignite. We end up with a bunch of disjointed access methods, a jumble of ways authorization is defined and enforced, and lots of productivity-sapping hoops that end users and IT have to jump through just to do their jobs – all in the name of better security. The victim is business agility (and isn’t that what we’re all in business for in the first place?)
Reduce complexity where ever possible. Take advantage of existing tools and infrastructure whenever possible to reduce the need for new identities, new provisioning workflows, and new IT tasks to simply grant users access. A great example of this is the AD bridge – simply extending Active Directory authentication and authorization to Unix/Linux systems has proven to dramatically reduce the workload and risk of access to those systems.
Put the business in charge. We all love our IT departments but they should not be the ones making decisions on who should access what and under what circumstances. But they are precisely the ones that most often control these things simply because they know how to manage the systems and the accounts. Do whatever you can to return that control to the ones that are accountable for the data stored and used on those systems.
The little book I've written goes into more detail on this future-proof approach to IAM. Subsequent chapters discuss the specifics of governance, access management, privileged account management, mobility, and even IAM as a service. I’ll be writing about those topics in the coming weeks.