Identity and Access Management- Guide To IAM Solutions

Defining Identity and Access Management

Identity and Access Management is an umbrella term that covers an infinite number of different virtual tools, devOps practices, concepts, processes, policies, and technologies. It can be defined as the IT security discipline, framework, and solution that manages digital identities, which includes identity provisioning and de-provisioning, identity authentication and security, and access authorization to resources or for performing specific actions. In other words, it protects data security and privacy with effective user authentication and authorization with the help of a single sign-on solution that features multi-factor authentication, after which, users are assigned access rights to particular resources with Identity management solutions that consistently monitors access while keeping a check on least privilege access rights.

Today, ensuring that our crucial information remains protected while giving users access to accomplish their different tasks is quite a balancing act. With the cyber attacks being more severe and on the rise today, there has to be a concrete solution for managing both identity and access. And, since no two users are alike, the access and permissions must be issued accordingly to maintain the security of the entire system. And, this is what an identity and access management system helps you with. It defines and designates roles and access privileges of different users on the network. You can deploy these systems on premises with the help of a third-party vendor through a cloud subscription or can get it deployed in a hybrid model.  

Fundamentals of Identity and Access Management

A fundamental security component, identity management makes sure the users have the required access while the systems, data, and applications remain inaccessible to unauthorized users.

Here’s how things are defined:

  • Identifying users and then assigning them the roles
  • The systems, information, and other critical areas remain protected by IAM
  • Defining correct levels of protection and access for sensitive data, information, and location
  • Flexibility to add, remove, and amend users in the IAM system
  • Defining role’s access rights in the IAM system with effective additions, removals or amendments

How does Identity and Access Management Works: Technology Behind IAM

IAM is supported by a centralized technology that either replaces or seamlessly integrates with the existing systems. It comes with a central directory of users, roles, and predefined permission levels, granting access rights to users based on their role and need to access specific resources.

Here’s how identity is managed?

Identity management helps organizations to identify, authenticate, and authorize users by following authentication steps like:

  • Unique username and password
  • Multi-factor Authentication (MFA)
  • Single Sign-On (SSO)

Here’s how access is managed?

Though interconnected, access is slightly different from identity and defines the resources that an identity is permitted to use. It works in the following manner:

  • Role-based access control (RBAC)
  • Granting user privileges

Basic Elements of Identity and Access Management System?

IAM system allows the IT to have control on user access to sensitive information within the organization  and regulates it in the following ways:

  • Managing the employee database of users and job roles
  • Recording, capturing, and authenticating user login information like usernames, passwords, etc.
  • Adding, deleting, and changing individual users and their roles as per their job roles
  • Collecting login history and systems access for audit purposes
  • Defining access controls for every part of the system and data
  • Monitoring and tracking user activities across different resources
  • Consistent reporting on user activities
  • Enforcing access policies across resources

Key Features of Identity and Access Management

Though there are many technologies to streamline password management and other aspects of IAM, some of the most commonly used solutions are:

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

Taking a layered approach to security, the IAM framework is based on multi-factor authentication, which uses a combination of different security passages like the password, security token, or a fingerprint to grant access to the user with multiple authentication factors.

Single Sign On (SSO)

A system that allows users to authenticate themselves once and then granting them access to all the associated applications, systems, data, and software without having to log into each of them separately. In short, no additional authentication is required for the services they wish to utilize thereafter.

Privileged Access Management

PAM is a segment of network security solutions that authorizes, manages, and monitors account access with a high degree of administrative permissions in order to protect the organization’s most vital information and resources. In other words, it controls and monitors the privileged user activity of the internal employee. These systems keep a check on security when users with high-level permissions get access to sensitive systems.

Different Ways to Achieve Authentication with IAM

There is a range of digital authentication methods that can be implemented with the help of an IAM like:

Pre-shared Key (PSK)

A type of digital authentication in which the password is shared among authorized users that have access to the same resources. However, this kind of authentication is usually less secure as compared to individual passwords.

Unique Passwords

One of the most common types of authentication where the organizations require long or complex passwords, which should be the combination of letters, numbers, and special characters for advanced security.

Behavioral Authentication

When it is about granting access to highly sensitive information and systems, behavioral authentication can be implemented for more granular access. With IAM systems artificial intelligence, organizations can figure out if the user or machine behavior does not match while automatically locking down the entire systems.

Biometrics

For a more precise authentication, modern IAM systems use biometrics in the form of fingerprints, irises, faces, palms, and voices, etc. Biometrics has turned out to be the most effective way of authentication as compared to passwords.

Different Areas Where Implementation of IAM Systems Must Be Considered?  

Implementation of IAM systems helps you with that extra layer of security in protecting your crucial enterprise systems, software, applications, information, and other assets against unauthorized access. With IAM solutions, the impact or likelihood of data breaches gets reduced while ensuring only legit and authenticated users have access to the resources. Below are the different areas that must be protected with IAM, allowing just the authorized access:

  • Protection of sensitive data and information stored on local servers, in the cloud, or anywhere else
  • Securing software and applications used by the employees, customers, business partners, and others
  •  Protecting all IT environments that are used for development, testing, staging, operations, and launch
  • Safeguarding devices like laptops, desktops, smartphones, tablets, and other stuff against cyber attacks
  • Protection of business locations including private workplaces, data centers, and secure locations
  • Security of data that is being transmitted, received, stored, or interacted with between different areas

Benefits of Identity and Access Management

Mobile integration got easier with IAM

With the trend of work-from-home culture on the rise, IAM technologies come with protocols that allow easy integration with this kind of work culture, ensuring complete protection to the mobile users and employees.

Reducing the need for frequent password resets

IAM decentralizes the standard help desk practices by allowing user authentication from anywhere, anytime.

Automated audit trails

Besides authentication and authorization, IAM systems also help with audit automation, providing you with detailed records of attempted access along with reducing the risk of external threats and the impact of the attempted breach.

Increased system efficiency

Implementing IAM systems lead to efficient systems and reduced operating costs as it allows the organizations to use a single network for different internal operations and client-facing purposes.

Reduced internal and external breaches

Well-managed identities help the admin with better control over user activities and permissions, resulting in reduced internal and external breaches. So the overall impact of the breach is lessened on the implementation of an IAM system, which ensures network security as per the compliance standards.

Why IAM?

With organizations integrating new technologies into their business, it has become all the more important to protect the identity and access. Today, digitization has shifted the security perimeter to identity from firewall and systems like IAM helps us enforce policies, restricting the amount of information and applications that can be accessed by specific users. It protects our sensitive information, data, applications, and systems from getting breached while allowing only the authorized users to have access.

Introduction to AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM)

When talking about secure access, it is important the organizations have control over whom to permit access to their AWS resources, what are the available resources, and what actions authorized users are permitted to perform. In short, the ultimate goal of this service is to help IT administrators in managing AWS user identities and their different levels of access to AWS resources. In simpler words, it gives you the power to control access by creating users and groups and assigning them specific permissions and policies.

So here in this article, we’ll be covering the fundamentals of AWS Identity and Access Management, how it helps you identify its unique benefits while helping you learn how to safeguard your AWS accounts. We will take you through its key important features and all the latest updates.

Defining AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM)

AWS IAM is a web service that allows you to have secure access control to AWS resources. IAM lets you grant permissions on who is authenticated and authorized to use the resources. It can manage users and security credentials as well. Let’s understand this in a better way

On creating an AWS account for the first time, you need a single sign-in identity for accessing various AWS services. This identity is the AWS account root user, which can be accessed by signing in the username and password that were used to create an account. Now AWS IAM will help you in the following ways:

  • You can set users, permissions, and roles with its help and can grant access to the different parts of the AWS platform.
  • Organizations can centrally manage users and security credentials with the help of AWS IAM
  • It allows the AWS customers to manage users and user permissions in AWS
  • It also facilitates creating multiple users, each having their unique security credentials that will be controlled and billed to a single AWS account

Since cloud security remains the biggest barrier in the adoption of the cloud, following the best security practices for a smooth transition and building a strong foundation is important. This is where AWS IAM’s granular approach helps in providing permissions and access control within your environment. It gives you the freedom to control who can and who cannot use the specific resources and in what ways. In this way, AWS lets you create exceedingly secure environments.

Features that set AWS IAM apart

  • AWS Organizations: For control on multiple AWS accounts, AWS Organizations can be used to segment the different accounts into groups with permission boundaries assigned. It helps in centrally managing the control access, compliance, and security and sharing resources across your AWS accounts.
  • Identity Federation: This feature helps you integrate access from other identity providers. This means users with passwords elsewhere can access federated services.
  • Secured Shared Access to AWS Accounts: You can permit people to administer and use resources in your AWS account without having to share your credentials.
  • Granular Permissions: IAM lets you configure and tune permissions as per the needs of your users. In simpler words, different permissions can be granted to different people for different resources.
  • Authentication (MFA): You can create and manage identities with IAM while enabling authentication for people, services, apps, and resources within your AWS account, adding an extra layer of security to it.
  • Authorization: This feature comprises two main components- policies and permissions, where each “Policy” grants a specific set of permissions, and “Permission” allows you to perform actions on AWS resources.
  • Access Analyzer: This is the newest addition to AWS IAM. Access Analyzer comes with an additional level of security that allows you to continuously examine and analyze permissions given using policies for all organization’s resources.   

Different ways to access AWS IAM

Working with AWS IAM can be done in any of the following ways:

  • IAM HTTPS API

IAM and AWS can be accessed programmatically with the help of IAM HTTPS API that allows you to issue HTTPS requests directly to the service. When using HTTPS API, always include code to digitally sign requests using your credentials.

  • AWS SDKs

AWS comes with Software Development Kits (SDKs) that include libraries and sample code for different programming languages and platforms. The SDKs help with a convenient way to create programmatic access to IAM and AWS.

  • AWS Command Line Tools

There are two sets of command line tools in AWS- AWS CLI (Command Line Interface) and AWS Tools for Windows PowerShell. These tools can be used to issue commands at your system’s command line for performing AWS and IAM tasks. These tools are also useful while building scripts that perform AWS tasks. As compared to console, they are faster and convenient.

  • AWS Management Console

You can access IAM and AWS resources with the help AWS Management Console. The console is a browser-based interface, ensuring secure and easy access while bringing in the unparalleled depth of AWS to your system or mobile phones. It helps you find new AWS services, configure services, and much more. It lets you take action quickly.

How do AWS IAM works?

With the best infrastructure in place, AWS IAM controls all the authorization and authentication. Here’s how the entire system works:

  • The principal takes an action on the AWS resource. The first principle is the administrative IAM user that can grant access to the users for specific services in order to assume a role. Federated users can also be allowed access to your AWS services.
  • When using the AWS management console, a request is sent to the AWS by the API or CLI, specifying the following information:

Actions are defined as the principals, which can be performed on the resources and the principle information includes the details of the GET request that has been previously made.

  • After the above two steps, comes the authentication which is the most commonly used principle to sign in for AWS while sending it the request. While it also consists of Amazon S3 services that allow requests from the unknown users, so to authenticate from the console, you must sign-in with your login credentials like username and password. However, to authenticate, you will also need to provide the access key along with other required additional security information.
  • Next is authorization, in which all the matching policies will be checked and evaluated for the request made while deciding whether to allow or deny it. Then AWS IAM comes into the picture to inspect all the policies with respect to the requests. In case the single action gets denied, the entire request will be denied by IAM with no evaluation of the remaining ones too, which is known as explicit deny. Below are the general rules for evaluating a request within a single account:

1. All requests are denied by default except the ones made through the AWS root account

2. This default is overridden by an explicit, which is allowed in any permission policy

3. An explicit deny can override any allow in any policy

  • After the request authorization, the action is approved by AWS in the form of a request, where you are permitted to perform your requested actions like creating, editing, deleting, and viewing.
  • Once all the operations get approved in your request by AWS, they can be performed on the related resources within your account.

In this way, the entire system works in sync to manage all the identities and access.

The best AWS IAM practices to follow

To secure your AWS resources the right way, here the best AWS IAM practices that you must take note of.

  • Do not use your root account unless it is strictly necessary

Avoid using your root account for your day to day admin activities. The root account user has access to all resources for all AWS services by default, therefore, it’s best to create IAM users with least privilege access. Also, do not create access keys for your root account unless it is necessary. It is important to secure your root account with consistent monitoring, which detects and alerts on all the account activities followed by a hardware-based multi-factor authentication setup for accessing root account.   

  • Never share your credentials with anyone

It is advisable to use temporary credentials for anyone who has access requirements. In this regard, credentials that are dynamically generated and expire after a specific period of time, are a great way to keep the security intact.

  • Follow the least privilege principle and check all IAM permissions periodically

It is important to go with the least privilege method to ensure complete security, which means if a user doesn’t want to interact with a resource, it is better not to provide them access to that resource. IAM permissions allow for very granular access controls, so avoid using policy statements that give access to all resources, actions, or principals. Additionally, make use of the IAM Access Advisor on a regular basis to make sure all the assigned permissions to a specific user are being used.  

  • Make use of policy conditions for an extra layer of security

Define the conditions under which your IAM policies grant access to a resource. For instance, conditions can be on allowing a specific range of allowable IP addresses. You can also set conditions requiring the use of SSL and MFA.  

  • Regularly monitor the activities in your AWS account

Use the logging features in AWS to check out the actions users have taken in your account and what resources have been used. The log files indicate the time and date of actions, the source IP from where the action is taken, and actions that failed due to inadequate permissions, and much more. The AWS services like Amazon CloudFront, AWS CloudTrail, Amazon CloudWatch, AWS Config, and Amazon S3 come with logging features that can help you keep track of the users’ activities.

  • Ensure Multi-factor Authentication

Add an extra layer of security for all users in your account with MFA. This way both the user’s credentials and device-generated response will be required to complete the sign-in process. Even if the user’s password or access keys are compromised, your account resources will still be secured because of the additional authentication in place.

  • Create a strong password policy

Enforce a strong password policy that requires the users to create strong passwords, rotate their passwords periodically, allowing only alphanumeric characters and so on.

Conclusion

AWS is the biggest cloud platform and cloud service provider that has brought in several measures to improve security, out of which, IAM is the most important and widely used one. In this article, we have tried to cover most of the aspects that will help you learn about AWS IAM, its advanced security features, and the best practices in the simplest way possible. We hope this article will help you understand Identity and Access Management in a better way.

Top 10 Tips on How to Improve Security Inside the Firewall

Big companies have significantly improved the security of the network perimeter, and despite considerable investments in this area, most enterprise networks remain vulnerable at their core. Techniques that have deployed and proved highly successful at defending the network perimeter have not been sufficient for protecting the internal system, because of both scalability and perception issues. Despite this, security practitioners can make significant steps in shielding their internal networks by aligning their tactics with the realities of internal network security.

The following ten tips explain ways to tackle the security challenges of large, active internal networks. Furthermore, since these tips involve defensive tactics, they offer a workable a tactical plan for improving the security of an extended enterprise network.

1. Internal security is different from perimeter security.

There is a stack of difference in the threat model between internal security and perimeter security. Perimeter security defends your networks from Internet attackers, armed with zero-day exploits of standard Internet services like HTTP and SMTP. However, the access a maintenance man has to your network, just by plugging into an Ethernet jack, dwarfs the access a sophisticated hacker gains with scripts. Deploy “hacker defences” at the perimeter; configure and enforce tight but flexible policy to address potential internal threats.

2. Tighten VPN access.

Virtual private network clients are a substantial internal security threat because they position poorly locked down desktop operating systems outside the protection of the corporate firewall. Therefore, be unambiguous about what VPN users can access by ensuring there is a clear policy in place. Do not give every VPN user unfettered access to the entire internal network. Apply access-control lists to limit classes of VPN users’ access to only what they need, such as mail servers or limited intranet resources.

3. Perform due diligence on business partners and build internet-style perimeters for extranets.

Partner networks contribute to internal security challenges. Although highly experienced security administrators know how to configure their firewalls to block MS-SQL, the Slammer worm penetrated defences and brought down networks because companies had given their partner’s access to internal resources without proper risk analysis. Since you can’t control the security policies and practices of your partners so, create a DMZ for each partner, place resources they need to access in that DMZ and disallow any other access to your network.

4. Automate security policy tracking.

Intelligent security policy is the key to active security practice. The challenge is that changes in business operations significantly outpace the ability to adapt security policy manually. This reality demands that you devise automated methods of detecting business practice changes that require reconciliation with security policy. This can be as in-depth as tracking when employees are hired and fired, and as simple as monitoring network usage and observing which computers talk to which file servers. Most importantly, ensure your security policy is not too limiting to impact its day-to-day operational use.

5. Closed off unused network services and ports.

Multiple numbers of servers might be deployed just for delivering email service alone, but a typical corporate network might also have upward of 100 other servers listening on the SMTP port alone. It would help if you audited the network for services that shouldn’t be running. If a server is acting as a Windows file server but has never been used as a file server in a long time, turn off file-sharing protocols on this server.

6. Protect your business-critical assets first.

Perform a complete audit of your network for wireless connectivity, and eliminate rogue wireless access points. It would help if you recognised that wireless network access is a compelling and useful facility, and offer secure wireless access to your network users. You should Position an access point outside your of your perimeter firewalls and allow users to access your VPN through it. The chances of your users trying to install and use rogue access points are eliminated if you already provide wireless access on the network.

7. Build protected wireless access.

Perform a complete audit of your network for wireless connectivity, and eliminate rogue wireless access points. It would help if you recognised that wireless network access is a compelling and useful facility, and offer secure wireless access to your network users. You should Position an access point outside your of your perimeter firewalls and allow users to access your VPN through it. The chances of your users trying to install and use rogue access points are eliminated if you already provide wireless access on the network.

8. Build protected visitor access.

Open access to the internal network should be strictly prohibited to visitors. In many organisations, security administrators and engineers attempt to enforce a No Internet Access from certain areas, like the conference rooms. This policy can force employees to give unauthorised access to visitors from alternative desks areas that are harder to track. To mitigate the chance of this happening, build visitor network segments for conference rooms, outside the perimeter firewalls.

9. Install virtual perimeters.

Hosts will remain vulnerable to attack as long as human beings are operating them. Instead of creating unrealistic goals like “no host should ever be compromised,” make it the intention that no one host gives an attacker complete access to the network if it is compromised. Analyse how your network is used and build virtual perimeters around business units. If a human resources user’s machine is compromised, the attacker should not be able to pivot to other business units, such as IT, for example. So, implement access control between HR and IT. Organisations have experienced network staff who knows how to build perimeters between the internet and internal networks. It’s, therefore, time that these skills are put to use in deploying boundaries between different business user groups on the network.

10. Streamline security decisions.

Network users are a critical ally in the efforts to improve network security. Typical users may not know the difference between RADIUS and TACACS, or proxy and packet filtering firewalls, but they are likely to cooperate if you are honest and straightforward with them. Make the network readily accessible to use for typical users. If users never have bad experiences with convoluted security practices, they will be more responsive to evolving security practices put in place to protect the organisation.

Privileged User Monitoring and Auditing

Why Continuous Monitoring is Critical for Enterprise Compliance and Security

Foreword

Recording the detailed actions of privileged users is more critical in today’s business environment that is driving cost efficiencies through IT outsourcing, offshoring and augmenting IT staff with external staff. Third Parties such as, Cloud Providers, Service Providers and ISVs also have security and compliance issues, which need to be addressed. Additionally, every significant compliance regulation requires organisations to document the activities and actions of what users do with privileges and rights granted to them. Conventional approaches, such as log files, cannot fully meet these compliance obligations. Log files are suitable for aggregating and connecting events and management data for alerting and reporting purposes. However, for capturing of specific actions that were taken on a specific system, at a specific time, by a particular user, there is no replacement for a high-reliability capturing of single user activities. By capturing all privileged user activity (screen actions, events and metadata) a complete picture of intentions and impacts can be accomplished. Organisations need to ensure that every privileged user can be monitored and inspected across their dispersed infrastructure creating a high level of visibility on UNIX, Linux and Windows systems whether in the on-premise data centre or cloud infrastructure. Furthermore, the auditing approach should scale up to meet organisations growing needs without interruptions and with minimal administrative resources. The solution should be realised with a verified architectural approach that is fault tolerant, reliable and highly scalable across a vast number of systems and users.

INTRODUCTION

Organisations are facing escalating complexity in every aspect of their IT operations including the data centre, IAM infrastructure, cross-platform systems and staffing. Setting up and maintaining a security and compliance presence, in what is often an unrelated and continually changing environment, is frequently cited as the top concern of IT leaders who have responsibility for addressing risks and defending the information assets of their companies. Moreover, companies of all sizes are cutting costs through outsourcing, off-shoring and short-term personnel and progressively depend on cloud service providers and ISVs to manage crucial parts of their information systems. How do assiduous IT leaders create culpability, inspect this multifaceted environment and protect against unintended and destructive actions of privileged users which may lead to a system failure or data breach?.

In this article, I provide guidance on choosing solutions that solve the security, compliance and third-party access challenges organisations face when auditing and monitoring UNIX, Linux and Windows systems, and why traditional approaches, like log rollup tools, alone cannot meet the requirements of today’s demanding IT settings. There is a compelling case for organisations to implement solutions that capture high fidelity video and associated events and metadata, which give organisations the missing user-centric background they require to prove compliance, secure against internal threats and monitor third-party access by a variety of privileged users.

Traditional Approaches Alone Has Failed to Tackle Requirements

Log files produced by systems and applications present an incomplete picture because they contain vast amounts of an insignificant event and management data and are often not accurate enough to conclude which user carried out specific actions on a system that resulted in a system crash or compromise. Besides, interpreting log files is time-consuming and requires specialised skills held by only a minimal subset of people in the organisation. Log information is helpful for important warning and notification of likely issues but logged activities are not tied to the actions of a particular user so troubleshooting and root-cause analysis cannot provide the accountability that security best practices and compliance regulations demand.

Additional mission-critical factor organisations must consider, is lack of visibility because some applications have little or no internal auditing. It can often be the case with bespoke software solutions where auditing capabilities may not be the top priority and software developers may not know the organisation’s audit needs plus the level of detail required and importance of protecting access to log information itself. Additionally, many enterprise applications that are highly customised may not be logging critical events.

To increase visibility and gain a clearer understanding of the intents, actions and results of privileged user activity on systems higher-level alerts should point to more detailed data on actions, events and commands that the user performed on the system that leads up to the alert being triggered and captured. This metadata can only be collected by capturing the critical user-centric data (events and screen video) and cannot be reconstructed from log data generated by systems and applications.

This new, user-centric way to privileged auditing systems can address the security, compliance and third-party challenges organisations face.

User Activity Auditing Can Address Critical Compliance Challenges

Compliance Demands

The numerous compliance regulations create ongoing difficulties for businesses in every industry, and many businesses must meet multiple requirements for internal controls (SOX), payment cards security (PCI-DSS), and other industry-specific requirements. A Commonality to every first compliance regulation and industry mandate are requirements to ensure users authenticate with a unique identity, privileges are limited to only ones needed to perform job functions, and user activity is audited with enough detail to determine what events occurred, who performed them and what the the outcome was.

Table 1-1 Sample of major user activity auditing compliance requirements

Compliance RuleDescription
Sarbanes-Oxley Section 404 (2)…contain an assessment… of the effectiveness of the internal control structure and procedures of the issuer for financial reporting.
PCI DSS 10.2.1-210.2 Implement automated audit trails to reconstruct the [user activity], for all system components. 1. Verify all individual access to cardholder data 2. Verify actions taken by any individual with root or administrative privileges.
​NIST SP 800-53 (AU-14)The information system provides the capability to: a.       Capture/record and log all content related to a user session; and b.      Remotely view all content related to an established user session in real time.
NERC CIP -005-1 R3 (Monitoring Electronic Access)
Implement and document and electronic or manual process(es) for monitoring and logging access.

Compliance requirements often refer to “logging” or “record” when describing a specific audit control. To adequately address the compliance rule and satisfy auditors it often requires organisations to offer more information than application, and system log files can provide – this had caused an audit hole. Privileged user activity auditing provides the detailed metadata and visual record of actions that meet the strictest interpretation of the regulation.

The absence of sufficient and comprehensive user activity auditing can result in higher costs due to slower compliance reporting, increased staff time and essentially fines for non-compliance. Users are tracked through system logs when they sign-in and sign-out but fails to capture activity with sufficient details to address compliance requirements.

Lessening Insider Compromises

Information Security Managers’ crucial worry remains the risk of insider compromise that can lead to a data breach or system outage. Several factors have led to an increase in insider incidents including the sharing account credentials, privileged users with too many credentials across systems and assignment of privileges that are too broad concerning the job responsibilities of the user. Because many organisations have privileged users that are geographically dispersed organisations be able to have visibility into their activities of local and remote administrators and users.

User activity auditing can create the accountability required for security and compliance including:

  • Capture and search historical user activity so that suspicious actions can be examined to determine if an attack is occurring – before the damage is done.
  • Alter privileged user behaviour through deterrents ensuring that trustworthy employees are not taking shortcuts and disgruntled employees know any malicious actions are recorded.
  • Set a clear, explicit record for evidence in legal proceedings and dispute resolution.

Moreover, insider threats are not going away anytime soon, according to the ca technologies 2018 insider report:

90% of organizations feel vulnerable to insider attacks. 37% of the respondents said, the main enabling risk factors include too many users with excessive access privileges, 36% of devices with access to sensitive data, and 35% said there is an increasing complexity of information technology.
53% confirmed insider attacks against their organization in the previous 12 months (typically less than five attacks). 27% of organizations surveyed for the report say insider attacks have become more frequent.
64% of organizations are shifting their focus on detection of insider threats, followed by 58% deterrence methods and analysis and 48% post breach forensics. The use of user behaviour monitoring is accelerating; 94% of organizations deploy some method of monitoring users and 93% monitor access to sensitive data.
The most popular technologies to deter insider threats are Data Loss Prevention (DLP), encryption, and identity and access management solutions. To better detect active insider threats, companies deploy Intrusion Detection and Prevention (IDS), log management and SIEM platforms.
86% of respondent organizations already have or are building an insider threat program. Thirty-six percent have a formal program in place to respond to insider attacks, while 50% are focused on developing their program.

Intermediary Access Review and Awareness Education

Today’s business environment is driving enterprises to find cost efficiencies at every level of their operations. Outsourcing, off-shoring and cloud computing are giving organisations agility, flexibility and the cost control they require to remain competitive but, organisations are still responsible for the security and compliance of their IT systems. This is made more explicit in newly revised compliance requirements that specifically call put the enterprise’s responsibility when contracting Independent Software Vendors, Service Providers and outsourcing firms.

Third-party user access creates even more stimulus to use thorough user activity inspection. In addition to the insider attacks and compliance demands already mentioned third-party access increases the pressure to quickly troubleshoot ailing systems, auto-document critical processes and create training procedures for personnel hand-offs, which occur more frequently with contractors and service providers.

Critical Requirements for User Activity Auditing

For enterprises to take complete advantage of the privileges that user activity auditing can provide they should contemplate the requirements that are vital to the smooth and efficient acquisition and collection of user activity; and thorough search with a full replay of user sessions. Also, any solution for privileged user auditing should fit into the enterprise environment integrating with existing infrastructure and ensuring that audit data is secure and can only be replayed by auditors, security managers and other authorised staff. Below is a list of requirements organisations should consider when deploying a user activity auditing solution.

Capture and Collection Requirements

Capture both remotely as well as locally initiated user sessions across Windows, UNIX and Linux Systems.
Ensure the solution can scale up from a single deployment to the growing demands of auditing user sessions on thousands of cross-platform systems.
Supports the ability to selectively capture sessions based on Active Directory users and groups.
High fidelity capture of session video with detailed capture of events and metadata.
Encryption and compression of all audit data in transit and at rest.

Search and Replay Requirements

Easy to use interface supporting granular queries across multiple user sessions and systems.
Support for ad-hoc, distributed searches for commands, applications and text independent of operating system.
Intuitive and fast session navigation, preview and replay.

Enterprise Ready and Integrated Requirements

Automated discovery and re-configuration of audit system components for reliability and fault-tolerance with minimal administrative personnel involvement.
Ensure only trusted components can participate in the auditing system.
Built-in integration support for existing SIEM, event and monitoring tools.

Security Management Requirements

Role-based control to user session replay so only authorised users can access audit data and replay sessions.
Delegated administration and management of all auditing system components.

IN CONCLUSION

Ultimately, the information security leaders and their companies need to determine the answers to the following strategic questions and decisions when it comes to privileged access security:

What should we do and when? (You can’t do it all at once!)
What is the best mix of controls? (Prevent and detect)
How much is enough? (Find the balance between “adequately secure” and “overly restrictive.”)

Powering Business Through Cloud-Based Identity and Access Management

Businesses of all sizes and types are increasingly using cloud computing services in production deployments for business-critical operations. Some of these organisations use cloud services to store and process their most sensitive business data. To gain the security advantages of simplicity and consistency, it is crucial to integrate the identity and access management (IAM) systems in use for cloud-based systems with the IAM protections used in-house. Let’s discuss critical considerations for that integration in this article.

Additionally, cloud technologies offer a promising platform for the deployment of IAM services themselves. When implemented well, cloud-based services for IAM can provide significant benefits, including:

Shorter deployment cycles: Traditional on-premises IAM implementation can run as long as several years. This is because some do not offer returns on investment quickly enough. IAM programs can lose momentum and face cancellation. With the advent of cloud computing, this has begun to change. A cloud-based IAM service deployment can slash implementation time to a matter of months., allowing the programs to demonstrate their benefits faster and meet the shorter datelines companies may have for access risk remediation and system improvements.
Elasticity and dynamic nature of services capacity: A cloud-based IAM service deployment enables an organisation to expand and contract services and right-size computing resources on demand, based on the organisation’s needs. For example, IAM processes such as “Access Review and Certification” can benefit from resource flexibility. There are typically only short periods of peak usage when organisations conduct their reviews and certification of individuals’ access. In a traditional on-premises IAM implementation, companies are forced to buy systems robust enough to handle that peak demand, even though they only need it for a short period. By comparison, cloud-based IAM services can dynamically adjust resources to accommodate these spikes.

Lower total cost of ownership: In a cloud-based IAM deployment, ongoing service support maintenance is handled by a trusted service provider, allowing your organisation to focus your resources on initiatives that support your core business. Cloud licensing models will enable you to only pay for what you use; so, costs are based on your usage of the service. Additionally, the cloud-based model in a hosted arrangement may eliminate the need to procure hardware, facilities, and other core IT infrastructure that is often needed to support the solution.When considering cloud for IAM services, the organisation should carefully determine cloud strategies that are aligned with business needs. These strategies typically involve the following:

IAM cloud deployment models (on-premises/hosted, private, public, or hybrid)
IAM service models (IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS)
IAM cloud security and risk management.

IAM CLOUD DEPLOYMENT MODELS

1. Private cloud

Private cloud refers to a form of deployment in which a cloud environment is set up exclusively for a given entity or organisation. As shown in Figure 1.1, this cloud environment may be on premises, meaning that the private cloud deployed within the organisation or may be hosted off-premises at a cloud service provider (CSF) with a dedicated environment for the organisation (resources are not shared with any other entity). Private cloud deployment can fit a wide range of business models. They are an efficient solution when setting up a shared pool of IAM services for a large organisation with several separate business units. It allows a delegation of IAM provisioning and other tasks that are better performed closer to each business unit’s end users. Private clouds are ideal when you need to accelerate innovation and have some large compute requirements with strict control, security, and compliance needs.

2. Private cloud

In a public cloud deployment, applications, infrastructure, and platforms are shared across multiple organisations, and a public medium such as the internet is used to access the cloud service. Amazon EC2 would be an example of a public cloud service. It provides a virtual compute environment over the internet, enabling an organisation to use web service interfaces to launch instances with a variety of operating systems, load them with a custom application environment, manage network access permissions, and run the compute image using as many or few systems as the organisation requires. Public cloud can all or some select layers of enterprise architecture, from storage to user interface. As shown above, in Figure 1-1, public cloud IAM deployments provide an IAM service shared across multiple tenants. A tenant is any application either inside or outside the organisation that requires its own exclusive virtual computing environment. In public clouds, multi-tenants are interactive applications with multiple enterprise end users. The main benefit of public cloud IAM services is the cost savings. Resources are shared with many users, and the hardware the CSP provides is built on a system that makes the most efficient use of it. The organisation doesn’t have some upfront costs or time for IAM implementation for basic functionality as the traditional IAM deployment.

3. Hybrid cloud

Hybrid cloud deployment model is composed of two or more clouds, public or private; or on-premises IAM solutions in combination with off-premises public or private clouds. In both scenarios, at least two unique entities are set up and connected (under common management) by standardised technology that provides data and application between the two.

One of the benefits of a hybrid cloud model is that for organisations that are sceptical about the move to the cloud, it offers a “safer” deployment environment to move IAM services to the private cloud. As the first step in combination with their on-premises IAM services and eventually scale to a public cloud for excellent IAM services once the organisation has a higher degree of confidence in the cloud model. This is especially true for IAM as service processes that involve sensitive identity and access data such as provisioning and certification. Use of a hybrid approach enables organisations to continue to use on-premises solutions while beginning to implement security in the cloud and have the flexibility to move to the cloud on their schedule, instead of adopting an “all or nothing” approach.

There is a common misconception that IAM cloud computing implies an “external” cloud, based on public cloud services. IAM cloud computing is a way of computing, not a physical destination. Most enterprises will benefit from IAM cloud computing within their own data centres, building “private clouds,” and getting there in an iterative process through their existing virtualisation initiatives. When considering cloud deployment models, organisations should choose after careful consideration of business needs and goals. There are three common deployment models:

  1. Employ a public to offload time-consuming maintenance tasks
  2. Establish a private cloud to become an IAM service provider to your business units
  3. Move non-revenue generating functions out of your datacentres

Figure 1-2 depicts the select attributes of the deployment options to summarise the fundamental differences of the models. In the next section of this article, I describe the cloud services models that are typically used in conjunction with these deployments help organisations achieve their business goals.

IAM CLOUD SERVICE MODELS

Cloud-based IAM services can be categorised into three distinct types of cloud service models:

1. Software as a service (SaaS)

SaaS refers to a means of providing business functionality through applications typically running on an externally hosted environment in which the purchaser/consumer pays by usage fee or a monthly fee. These software services usually delivered through the web and require a web browser to access applications (g., web-based CRM). The purchaser does not manage or control the underlying cloud infrastructure, network, servers, operating systems, storage, or even individual application maintenance, with the possible exception of limited user-specific application configuration settings. Hosted IAM services are often provided through the SaaS model. For example, within the IAM process domain, “Enforcement” and “Review and Certification” domains provide additional benefits based on the predictable nature of resource usage. A cloud-based IAM solution for these process domains can provide resource flexibility by adjusting resources to accommodate anticipated peak usage demand (e.g., annual or quarterly review cycles).

2. Platform as a Service (PaaS)

According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), PaaS is “the capability provided to the consumer to deploy onto the cloud infrastructure consumer-created or acquired applications created using programming languages and tools supported by the provider. The consumer does not manage or control the underlying cloud infrastructure including network, servers, operating systems, or storage but has control over the deployed applications by possibly application hosting environment configurations. PaaS focuses on everything underneath the application layer, including the underlying platform and some components of infrastructure. IAM deployments in the PaaS model will seek to share resources at the software platform level will have more transparency and control in comparison to the SaaS model.

3. Infrastructure as a service (IaaS)

IaaS refers to a service model that provides a hosted environment wherein a buyer can purchase infrastructure capacity that can be rapidly provisioned and deployed according to need. This may be useful in IAM deployments where the organisation seeks more control and transparency over security and availability of capabilities.
A cloud-based IAM service model should be aligned with your organisation’s target state business scenario and IAM process, protected resources and type of targeted user population. Common business scenarios within these IAM process domains are the following:
Employee access to external applications (both traditional hosted and cloud-based hosted business applications)
Employee access to internal applications
Business to business partner access
Consumer access to internally hosted and externally hosted services.

As shown in Figure 1-4, for each of these scenarios, protected resources can include SaaS applications (Google Apps, Office 365, etc.), and traditional on-premises applications.

For example, an organisation may choose to implement a shared authentication service for its cloud-based applications and on-premises applications to provide its employees with a seamless user experience across applications. Another example would be that an organisation can provide an access review and certification process as a cloud-based IAM service and the results of the review and certification may feed into an internal access de-provisioning process.

IAM CLOUD SECURITY AND RISK MANAGEMENT

A primary inhibitor of widespread adoption of cloud-based IAM service models is a concern for the security of applications and sensitive data that may need to reside in the cloud. For cloud-based IAM services to become a vital part of the IT enterprise portfolio, providers need to implement adequate security controls for sensitive enterprise data and applications. Cloud-based IAM service providers have made significant strides in addressing these concerns through their internal controls and service provisioning strategies. The purchasing organisation’s internal controls must augment the service provider’s security and privacy protections and validated further by that organisation’s third-party risk management program.

The fundamentals of protecting the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information are not different in cloud-based services. When using a cloud environment, organisations must understand the risks to their systems and data. Asking some fundamental questions to your organisation’s CSP is a good starting point. Typical questions to ask:
Where will the organisation’s data be located?
Who will have access to the organisation’s assets and data? How will the organisation’s systems and data be secured?
What is being monitored and logged?
What evidentiary reporting will the CSP provide to enable compliance?

Regardless of the deployment and service model used, cloud computing creates new IAM challenges that must be addressed. Management of virtual machines within the cloud requires elevated rights that when compromised may give attackers the ability to gain control of the most valuable targets in the cloud. Such rights also provide the attackers with the ability to create sophisticated data intercept capabilities that may be difficult for cloud providers to detect promptly. The risk of undetected data loss, tampering, and resultant fraud can be magnified unless controls are in place.

CSPs should have documented processes for their IAM practices. This includes both physical and logical access environments. Traditional vendor risk management practices will apply for physical access to the hosting environments (background checks, employment status, hosting company location, roles and responsibilities, etc.) On the logical access side, the flexible and dynamic nature of virtual environments introduce new challenges as virtual machines can be moved, copied, or important configuration settings can be modified easily. For this reason, automated security controls at the hypervisor level are necessary. For example, CSPs must implement privileged access management (PAM) solution at the hypervisor level. Organisations should take steps required to understand the controls CSPs have implemented around each hypervisor administrator identity. Organisations considering a cloud-based IAM service model should tailor security controls to the type of cloud deployment, service model, security requirements for IAM service, and confirm that CSP can meet these requirements. Can the cloud service provider security controls in compliance with the organisation’s security policies for on-premises solutions? Can the organisation still operate its IAM security process if one or more parts of the cloud-based IAM service become unavailable?

CONCLUSION

Both my research and experience working for large enterprise organisations indicate that organisations that turn IAM into an explicit business enabler rather than a cost centre will create competitive advantage. By offering cloud-based IAM services around the six IAM processes of request and approval, provisioning, enforcement, (authentication and authorisation), review and certification, reconciliation, and reporting and auditing, the IT security organisation become and IAM CSPM to the rest of the enterprise.

How DNS-Based Attacks work from the Inside Out, and How to DEFEND Against Them?

The first and foremost thing is to know what DNS is and how it works? Let me explain to you in simple words. The Domain Name System (DNS) has a secure link with modern network connectivity. Internet users can access content online through domain names like twitter.com. As we know, Web browsers interact through IP (Internet protocol) addresses. DNS translates domain names to IP addresses so browsers can load Internet resources. Many DNS related cyber-attacks involve malware/ransomware, which steals and transfers data out of organizations.

Unfortunately, Cyber-criminals use DNS to carry out attacks and take advantage of vulnerabilities in the domain name system. There are many ways cybercriminals exploit the unique properties of DNS and damage the organization’s reputation and profitability. DNS attacks can cripple an organization due to failures in DNS security. To prevent these attacks, you need to understand how DNS attacks work from Inside Out and Outside-in attack. Both are different from each other. The focus in this article is how to defend against inside out DNS attacks.

1. How DNS-Based Attacks Work from the Inside Out

Hackers use bugs and plant them on an organization’s servers to send information out via DNS query responses. Malware exploits are the most common example of DNS attacks. Malware exploits are inside-out threats that usually commit a crime for money by criminal groups that combine the hierarchical organization of legal business with the terrorist networks. These criminals also used exfiltrating data malware to get confidential information such as customer credit card numbers and market it to lesser criminals. Therefore, it is essential to take proactive actions to prevent attacks that harm the organization’s brand reputation and violate criminal law. Now, I am going to share how to defend against these DNS attacks.

2. How to Defend Against DNS Attacks

Indeed, DNS attacks are not suitable for an organization’s growth. Most targeted sectors of DNS-based Inside Out attacks are the financial sector, telecom sector, and media. Mostly these sectors are hit by the highest number of brand damage. Due to the theft of sensitive information, companies bear the highest costs of an attack. Therefore, it is very much essential to fight back against these attacks to protect the organization. Whenever these attacks hit companies, they turn off affected processes, disable affected applications, and shut down the business services for a while. Companies must take proactive approaches to prevent these attacks or predict the attacks before they happen. There are specific ways by which you can avoid the DNS attacks.

3. Keep DNS resolver private and protected

Organizations that are running their resolver, they should keep ‘their usage restricted to the users only on their network. By doing this, you can prevent your cache from being poisoned by hackers. By using the measurement Factory’s online tool, you can check for open resolvers on your network.

4. Build Protections into your DNS software

To prevent the DNS attacks, you must build protection into the DNS software to protect the cache poisoning. For example, add variability to outgoing requests that make it harder for a hacker to get the bogus response accepted. Popular ways of doing this are; using a random source port instead of UDP port 53. You can also randomize the query ID. It is randomizing the casing of the letters of the domain names that are sent out for resolution.

5. Implement internal threat intelligence

It is essential to implement internal threat intelligence to protect an organization’s services and confidential data. The matter of the fact is Real-time DNS analytics helps to detect and prevent advanced attacks like DGA (Domain generation algorithm) malware and zero-day malicious domains.

6. Ensure security Compliance

To combat DNS attacks, a user needs to integrate DNS with IPAM (IP address management). In network security composition processes that can help to automate the management security policies, keep the system consistent, and auditable.

7. Control DNS Unique traffic visibility in your network security ecosystem

To prevent DNS attacks, implement real-time behavioural threat detection over DNS traffic. It ensures that qualified security events sent to your Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) software. It helps SOCs accelerate remediation.

8. Manage your DNS server securely

When it comes to user’s authoritative servers, the organization needs to decide whether to host them or have them hosted at a third-party service provider. Most organizations prefer to organize and manage their DNS by themselves. Because they fully understand that their security interest is more reliable internally, rather than with a third-party provider. If your organization has skills to host and manage its DNS, then you do not need to engage the services of a third-party DNS provider. However, if your organization lacks internal DNS skills, then it is ok to seek the services of a reliable DNS provider. If this is the case, perform due diligence on the potential providers before engaging their services.

9. If you host yourDNS servers

Mitigate the risk of a DDoS attack: The DNS servers are vulnerable to a DDoS attack that affects system availability, which thwarts one of the core tenets of cybersecurity CIA (Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability). It is essential to ensure that a DDoS mitigation service protects the server. It helps to eliminate the unwanted traffic and provide bandwidth to ensure that your DNS servers remain reachable or not.

Avoid Known vulnerabilities: whenit comes to running your name servers, then it is essential to keep them up to date to prevent known vulnerabilities. One of the most used security tools is a patch management system. You know what? A hacker can send DNS requests with spoofed sources to your servers by which your servers respond by sending unwanted traffic to the spoofed source. Therefore, it is essential to keep them updated to prevent your name servers from being used in reflection attacks on third parties.

DNS software used a technique called Response Rate limiting to avoid the extensive responses to the same spoofed source in a limited time. Using this technique makes your server secure from hackers.

Restrict Zone transfers: To prevent hacker attacks, you need to use a hidden primary master name server. Often slave name servers request a zone transfer, which is a copy of part of the master server’s DNS database. The zone contains a ton of information that could help a hacker to understand the topology of your network. Therefore, you need to ensure that your name servers are configured only to carry out zone transfers to the specific IP address of your slave DNS servers.

Keep monitoring your name servers: You should actively monitor the visibility of your server, what are the status and any changes made or not. Keep watching unusual behaviour in your DNS activity log. The quicker you detect the unfamiliar or suspicious activity, there are chances that you may be able to thwart the potential hack of your Domain for nefarious acts.

Use PKI to protect your DNS server. You need to use a digital certificate to authenticate your Secure Shell (SSH) session whenever you log on to your DNS server to make changes. This communication is encrypted as it traverses your network, and the chance of interception is zero.

Apply specialist DNS appliance: To minimize attacks on your DNS servers, shutdown unwanted services, or unneeded ports. It is essential to know that DNS appliances offer hardened operating systems with automatic updates that help the organization to protect it from denial of service attacks.

10. If Your Domain managed by a registrar?

Whenever a third party manages your Domain, then it is essential to satisfy yourself that your online operations and security measures work efficiently and appropriately.

Use Multi-factor authentication. The use of MFA further strengthens any authentication to your DNS servers, which will require a second authentication factor such as a token, mobile device for OTP, etc.

DNS change locking. Most registrars enforce specific security processes before changes are carried out on the DNS settings. Let me give an example; a registrar may call a particular number to get verification from your organization before carrying changes to its DNS servers. It provides some assurance that no changes can be made to the servers unless someone in the organization authorizes it.

IP-dependent logs in Registrars offer a range of IP addresses from which you can log in to your systems. It does not protect insider threats, but it helps to keep you safe from outside-In attacks.

Use DNSSEC technology: DNSSEC allows your record signing at the authoritative DNS server with public-key cryptography. It is designed to protect applications from using manipulating DNS data like hackers’ created DNS cache poisoning. DNSSEC signs all confidential information within its protected zone.

11. The Defense Strategies of DNS

In this segment, I am going to elaborate further on DNS defence strategies by which an organization can protect their DNS server(s) from attacks includes;

Water Torture: It is also called pseudo-random subdomain attacks. It bombards DNS resolvers with legitimate domains followed by random labels that force the DNS to work harder or challenging. Therefore, you need to block fake zone query, Limit FQDN structure, Limit FQDN query rate. Examples: attackers sending non-existent subdomain requests to an Authoritative Name Server for a specific domain. These malicious requests consume the resources on the name server and significantly slow down the responses for legitimate claims. Ultimately, users are not able to reach your web application. Therefore, Authorities need to install Advanced Firewall Manager (AFM), which helps to detect and prevent system DoS and DDoS attacks. 

NXDomain: By consistent request of Non-existent domains (NXDomains), the hacker affects DNS resolvers and servers to become overwhelmed. So, you need to limit the Xdomain response to prevent the attacks.

Query Flood. A multitude of queries flood either attack on the DNS resolver or the authentication servers. DNS Query Flood is a kind of DDoS attack that belongs to application attacks. Example: the attacker sends a succession of User Datagram Protocol (UDP) packets to a DNS server to exhaust server-side assets such as memory or CPU. By this, the attack prevents the server from direct legitimate requests to zone resources. Relying on UDP protocol makes the packet’s information accessible to spoofing (IP, data size, etc.). This attack hard to distinguish from legitimate one and hard to mitigate. To prevent the attacks, you should limit queries rate by source spoof check.

Malformed DNS query: This kind of queries force the DNS to complete additional processes and use other resources. In this case, you need to focus on the L3-L7 RFC check to prevent unwanted queries.

DNS reflected Amplification: DNS is all about the queries that possibly makes it an ideal target for reflected attacks. The attacker leverages the functionality of open DNS resolvers to overwhelm a target server with an amplified amount of traffic, rendering the server and its surrounding infrastructure inaccessible. Due to the high amount of traffic generated, the infrastructure surrounding the server feels the impact. The Internet Service Provider or any other upstream infrastructure providers may not be able to handle the incoming traffic without becoming overwhelmed. As a result, the ISP may blackhole all traffic to the targeted victim’s IP address. Protective services like Cloudflare DDoS protection, are mostly preventative infrastructure solutions. Therefore, you need to block the weaponized DNS resolver list, Drop UDP fragments, and restrict UDP pack size over 53.

Spoofing:  It is a hacker attack in which a program successfully identifies as another server or Domain by falsifying data, to gain an illegitimate advantage. An attacker spoofs the IP address DNS entries for the target website and replaces them with the unauthorized IP address under their control. They create files on the server with names matching those on the target server. So, to prevent this attack, users need to focus on UDP and force to TCP challenge. 

CONCLUSION

DNS-Based Attacks from the Inside Out are a common issue that organizations face; therefore, it is essential to know How to DEFEND Against Them. DNS security is critical because failure in DNS can harm the organization. The attackers actively find ways to exploit the DNS protocol and the company’s DNS infrastructure for multiple benefits. These attacks are prevalent, but they are not getting the attention they deserve. This article offers practical ways by which an organization can prevent Inside-Out DNS attacks to limit the disruption to business services and curtail financial losses.

Identity Management in the Era of AI -How to deal with non-human identities

In today’s business environment, where everything is highly interconnected and globalized, the chances of cyber threats are also exceptionally high. By pressing a single button, we can get access to a vast range of information or get connected. Isn’t it interesting? No one has any barrier while collaborating. But do not forget, With the increase in globalization, cyber threats also increase. To prevent these cyber-attacks, organizations need to take proactive actions like implement Artificial Intelligence or Machine learning strategies. AI plays the most significant role in every field of life. Fortunately, it is no longer part of science-fiction; it is now all around us.

Al has significant importance in Cybersecurity and Identity and Access Management (IAM). One of the biggest challenges for an organization is to decide who should have access to what data set. Ironically, it leaves their systems vulnerable. Therefore, the importance of a mature Identity & Access Management (IAM) strategy cannot be over-emphasized. Keep in mind; smart IAM tactics indicate an instant correlation to minimize security risk, improvise productivity, highly privileged activity management, and extensively reduces loss over the organization’s less mature counterparts. This article plans to help you understand identity management in the Era of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and how to deal with non-human identities.

1. What Identity management exactly is?

It is the organizational process for identifying, verifying, and authorizing a person or group of people to have access to particular applications, systems, or networks.These are associated with user rights and limitations with established identities. Identity and Access Management solution vendors see AI and Machine learning approached as significant opportunities that make clear business sense. Sometimes it is difficult to determine the fraudulent activities in large organizations, but AI can identify unusual activities, outliers, or deviant cases that require additional investigations. AI helps managers to detect problems early in the cycle. Fraud detection is one-wayAI very useful in financial systems.

2. Identity & Access Management (IAM) Tools

In organizations, IAM systems allow administrators to change an employee’s role with IAM tools and technologies. They can track user activities, create reports on employees’ activities, and enforce policies on an ongoing basis. These systems specially designed to provide a means of user access across the enterprise and ensure agreements with corporate policies and government regulations. Identity and management technologies come with multiple tools, which include password-management tools, security -policy enforcement applications, provisioning software, reporting, and monitoring apps, and identity repositories. In this segment of the article, I would like to share a few identity management tools for better understanding. These IAM technologies come with low maturity, but have high current business value;

Customer Identity and Access Management (CIAM): This tool allows “comprehensive management and authentication of users; self-service and profile management, integration with customer relationship management (CRM), ERP, and other customer management systems and databases,” based on the report.

Identity as a Service (IDaas) – This tool includes “software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions that provide Single sign-on (SSO) from a portal to web applications and native mobile applications, and user account provisioning and access request management.”

API security: It is a widely used tool that provides high security to the database. Therefore, it enables IAM to secure access. It has been used in B2B commerce, integration with the cloud, and microservices-based IAM architectures. API security solutions used for Single sign-on (SSO) between mobile applications or user-managed access. It allows the security team to manage various device authorization and personally identifiable data.

Identity analytics (IA) -This tool allows security teams to detect and prevent risky identity behaviors,  using rules, machine learning, and other statistical algorithms for security purposes.

Identity Management and Governance (IMG): It provides automated ways to govern the identity life cycle. It is essential when it comes to acquiescence with identity and privacy regulations.

Risk Base authentication (RBA): It takes in the context of a user session and authentication and establishes a risk score. Then organizations prompt high-risk users for 2FA and allow low-risk users to authenticate with single factor identifications.

3. IAM face challenging situations

As we know, an IAM system manages user identities. It ensures that users have access to the particular applications and data that they need. For example, IAM prevents junior sales representative access to information related to customers that are not assigned to them. Only Vice President of sales has access to examine the entire customer list. In real-time, IAM is becoming an increasing issue in every organization. One issue with IAM is that enterprises give access privileges to the employees based on their role in an organization, but employees rarely fit into single roles. They need exclusive one-time access or each worker that performs the same role might need different types of access on the database. By which very complicated situations occur that often require collaboration between many departments. Whenever management involves many employees across all layers of the organization, then people might suffer from “security fatigue.” The reason is that employees have to deal with a high amount of technical data and complicated decision-making processes in day-to-day Job activities. Terrible situations occur in the business when the administration is poorly managed in the IAM infrastructure.

4. How AI deal with challenging situations of IAM?

Well, the above mention situation is common in various organizations. It does not mean there is no solution to this issue. AI and Machine learning technologies significantly help to improve the IAM of any organization and conquer much frustration. Both technologies facilitate an organization’s technical access management. Analytics, combined with an AI system, offers focus and addresses insights so each worker, whether he/she is a technical or non-technical worker, works with ease. These technologies provide different ways to get new insights and automate processes and speed up the IAM system effectively. They detect variances and potential threats and prompt the security consultants to take immediate actions to prevent threats. This whole system provides each technical and non-technical worker appropriate knowledge. So, workers can make correct choices. AI and machine learning have been used in the area of anti-money laundering and fraud detection. These also fight against business executive threats. It leads the organizations to perform up to the mark with a continuous secure system for IAM. Therefore, IAM experts suggest that the IAM system must be strong enough to face the complexities of today’s challenging virtual world.

5. How to deal with fraud or non-human identities

An enterprise’s computing environment mainly used on-premises, and identity management systems authenticated and tracked users as they worked on-premises. IAM system enables an organization’s network to authenticate the identity of an employee against a set of pre-prescribed identifications. The system can range from simple username and password to digital certification and physical tokens, it depends on the system that is accessed. Most organizations used biometric ID and passwords that can range from fingerprints, iris scans, and facial recognition, or even authentication based on heartbeats. In this advanced world of technology, identity fraud is a growing menace.

Whenever data breaches occur, it is not the management that transfers identification to an unknown party. Artificial intelligence is the best solution that glue to bind them together to mitigate the effects. Move toward biometric passwords, AI could identify a user securely by using sight and sound. Now, machines have an AI system that makes them able to understand and confirm a user whom they claimed to be. These identification machines know when to grant access and act accordingly. They permit access based on machine learning. The hacker and fraudsters are actively looking for a weak IAM system and cybersecurity system of the organizations. To prevent hackersor threats, the enterprise needs to implement robust ID scanning solutions. They need to install reliable software that performs excellently and ensures that an ID is not fake. Artificial intelligence and machine learning makes it possible to appropriately process, verify, and authenticate users’ identities at scale.

6. Scale ID authentication with Machine Learning

Machine learning is a better processing system than an untrained human to look at the identity documents. Identity documents like driving licenses, passports, are scanned to verify multiple elements of an ID. For example, confirmation of original microprint text and security threads, barcodes, magnetic strips, data validity tests, biometrics to link the user to the ID identification. Machine Learning is a subset of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Using machine learning organizations can create an efficient and accurate process of user identification. The ML system contains tones of internal data mechanisms that can store information about the operations and software. The data is automatically transmitted to the user’s information and identifies them regularly. This entire process saves time and efficiently secure your crown jewels from an unauthorized person(s).

7. Multiple models of ID authentication

New datasets are fed into the algorithm to test outcomes. The process is called a feedback loop. By which organizations can test the results are consistent and improving or not. Then results are fed into the algorithm so that the software continuously learns and adjusts new data. There are various models of ID authentication include

Regression analysis: This ID authentication approach continually tests and analyses the results to improvise the algorithm.

Semi-supervised learning: Completely relying on automated machine learning can result in “failing” documents that have manufacturing errors.

Data mining: Investigating large databases to transform raw data into useful information. For efficiency, extract clean data to save time with this process.

8. Use Biometrics for Identity management

To strengthen the identity verification process, organizations implement Biometric identity verification methods such as facial or voice recognition. It is only possible if you installed proper AI or machine learning in your system. The biometric identification approach is not only right for the customer, but it is also making security protocol rigorous. A biometric security system mimics exactly as human neurons process and understand difficult information such as faces and language and identify a person. Correspondingly, deep learning technology software, understand a large amount of complex data. Facial-recognition technology is another approach that uses deep learning to learn to match the image on the ID to a user’s face. The algorithm looks for specific patterns, whether it is a basic shape (eyes. Mouth, nose) or complex shapes (Complete faces and distinctive shapes).

CONCLUSION

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) play an essential role in Identity and Access Management (IAM) in any organization. Some vendors already deployed AI and ML for IAM. In this article, I comprehensively described how AI has a significant impact on the Identity management system of an organization and how to deal with non-human identities. The fact is, AI is uniquely suited for cybersecurity and the IAM system because these have multiple connections.And a wide array of activities to monitor to prevent the threats earlier before the problem reaches danger level and challenging to overcome.

AI-Powered Smart Cybersecurity: Helping Security Operations to Stay Ahead.

In the field of technology, artificial intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) play a vital role. Both are ways to solve the problems in different applications and industries like reduce street traffic, improve online shopping. It makes life easier with voice-activated digital assistants, prevents hacker attacks, and much more. The role of AI and machine learning is increasing in the real world, where the threat to Cybersecurity is a big issue. Therefore, it is essential to understand what artificial intelligence exactly is? How are they helping security operations to stay ahead of hacker attacks? In this article, I answer these questions so that you clearly understand the impact of AI on Cybersecurity.

1. What Artificial Intelligence and Machine learning exactly is?

Artificial Intelligence is a field of science that has a significant focus on finding solutions to resolve complex issues. By taking artificial intelligent decisions similar to or equal to human decision making. The Artificial decisions based on Algorithms and related mathematical calculations that assist the software to make real human decisions. Initially, it is complicated to replace the human brain with software. Machine Learning is a scientific study of algorithms and statistical models by which computer systems perform a specific task. It is the application of artificial intelligence (AI) that provides the ability to the system to automatically learn the programs. The primary focus of ML is to develop computer programs that can access data and use it to learn for themselves. It is closely related to computational statistical models and algorithms that focus on making predictions about using computers. My main objective is to tell you about the role of AI in Cybersecurity and how to stay ahead.

2. What is the role of AI in Cybersecurity?

Let me tell you first what Cyber Security is? It is the security measures taken to prevent cyber-attacks in the virtual world. Cybersecurity is all about protecting online data from attacks. In short, it is a shield on sensitive networks to protect the data and restrict unauthorized access. It is also the confidential data under the protection of Cybersecurity teams in large-scale financial institutions and government. The sensitive data needs cybersecurity protection from cyber-attacks. The Ransomware, Phishing, Malware, Data breach, and Spying are some of the top cyber threats that hackers used to steal sensitive and valuable data from the network. To prevent these attacks, users adopt proactive approaches like Artificial Intelligence systems. AI provides innovative ways to enhance Cybersecurity and technologies designed to protect the networks from hackers or unauthorized access and prevent damages to the information present in the network.

In the world of technology, Artificial Intelligence used efficiently in analyzing an extensive range of data,provides timely solutions. The most exciting thing is with the rise of technological inventions, Artificial Intelligence (AI) earnsits place in Cybersecurity.

3. Prevent Cyber-attacks

Simple identification of a security threat has not enough capacity to help a website or a virtual platform to prevent cyber attackers. AI can be widely used to stop cyber-attacks in different ways. Anyone in charge of the website must think like a hacker to prevent a cyber-attack. AI think like hackers and acts to break the attacker codes. A group of hackers uses different techniques and methods totarget a website. They keep an eye on the target website and identify the weaker point to entry to launch an attack. Hacking use malware and hacking tools to hack a website or security codes. AI helps websites to keep away from Cyberattacks and hackers and phishing.

4. Real-Time Security mapping

AI works faster than the human brain when it comes to making calculations and making data-fed decisions. Compared to a Human-based security monitoring system, an Artificial Intelligence system is the best and efficient security system. AI statistically tells every 4.2 seconds when malware is present. It is hard work for humans to diagnose and eliminate cyber threats from bad actors. AI-powered Cybersecurity system monitors the websites in real-time and fights against threats as they occur.

5. Minimize human involvement in Cyber Security

Operationally critical websites need a high-security system to prevent Cyber-attacks from unauthorized bad actors. AI can detect and combat attackers without any human involvement. AI algorithms are designed by humans to analyze the micro-behaviors in a virtual world and monitor malicious activities to identify the attacks before it occurs in the system. Artificial Intelligence cybersecurity systems make predictive analytics that provides a practical approach to detect hacker activities. The AI-Powered system automatically changes preferences and remote networks that ensure data protection.

6. Help Security Operations to Stay Ahead of threats.

AI is all about the machine learning process in which software or the computing system collects data from the source for observation and learning. It is a fact that AI is under development stage and entirely rely on the cybersecurity system. But we also cannot ignore its potential of getting ahead of cyber threats. It prevents attackers from exploiting vulnerabilities that harm the systems. You can also use VPN to protect the data and strengthen the security system.

7. Assist Cybersecurity experts

Without any smart computing help, identifying cyber-attacks in real-time is an impossible task for security experts. AI takesa smart decision in the cybersecurity system by which professionals can understand the issue and make faster security decisions. The AI security system can scan a log of many entries for potential threats that’s impossible for a human team to understand.

8. Secure large-scale platforms

The AI system can is used for login and password-protected areas where biometric login is applied. You can strengthen the system by implementing an AI system based on scan fingerprints, retina image, and palm prints that provide secure biometric login access. Large cybersecurity firms strive hard to establish patterns through an AI-powered system to protect sensitive data. It can collect a vast range of data automatically from different studies, news, articles. After collecting data, you can use it with Natural Language processing that helps to detect threats and malicious activities. Large-Scale platforms implement an AI-powered system that can create a framework that allows access to global authentication and prevent cyber-attacks.

9. Types of AI applications used in Cybersecurity

AI application depends on the human imagination, and which kind of application it wants to examine. Below are AI application use cases that you can explore.

  • Fraud detection
  • Spam Filter Application
  • Cybersecurity Ratings
  • Botnet Detection
  • Network Intrusion Detection and prevention
  • Credit scoring and next-best offers
  • Secure user authentication
  • Hacking Incident Forecasting

10. Limitations of AI use in Cybersecurity

A critical issue that organizations need to understand, whether it is small or big, is AI/ML cannot do causation. That means It cannot tell you the reasons why something happened. As we know, the critical component of Cybersecurity is to understand the reasons why attacks frequently occur to damage the security code system. To build and maintain a Cybersecurity system, companies would require a considerable amount of resources like memory, data, and computing power. It is often not a cost-effective option to fully protect the data from hackers. AI are systems trained through a vast range of learning data sets. Therefore, cybersecurity experts need to get many different data sets of malware codes, non-malicious codes, and anomalies to obtain accurate data sets. This process requires time and resources that is harder for companies to afford.

11. Solutions to AI limitations

There are some solutions to AI limitations. The organization should follow these solutions as a cybersecurity strategy.

  • You should employ a cybersecurity firm with experts who have experience and skills to handle the security system efficiently and effectively.
  • Your cybersecurity team must test your systems and networks frequently for identifying any potential gaps and correct the issue(s) immediately.
  • You need to install a firewall and other malware scanners to protect your systems from hacker poisons and keep updating anti-virus scanners regularly.
  • Use filters for URLs to block the nasty links that carry potential viruses or malware.
  • You should monitor outgoing traffic and use exit filters to block this type of traffic.
  • Frequently monitor the cyber threats and security protocols to get information about risks that you should manage to develop robust security protocols accordingly.
  • Regularly audit both hardware and software to make sure the system is functioning correctly or not.

These points help to mitigate various risks associated with cyber-attacks. Organizations should work with the cybersecurity teams and make cost-effective recovery strategies to fight against hackers’ attacks.

CONCLUSION

As we know, every small or big organization has a massive amount of confidential data that organizations put on the networks and online systems for easy access. The data is stored in a system and restricted to unauthorized persons. Unfortunately, the data can be attacked by bad external actors. These bad actors can hack the system and extract sensitive information to harm the brand reputation and demand ransom money from your company. The amount of data could be personal or financial information, intellectual property, or any other significant data which if it is exposed, the consequences would be costly. This kind of situation only happens when a user has insufficient cybersecurity awareness training. The purpose of Cybersecurity is to detect data theft and cyber-attacks before data get exposed or stolen. Various agencies and organizations explore ways to deal with such kind of challenging situations by Implementing Artificial Intelligent (AI) in their cyber risk operations. The AI with Cybersecurity reduces pressure on humans by detecting interruptions promptly and help in mitigating the attacks. Yet, AI is a useful tool that combats against cyber attacks or threats; an AI is the best solution that enterprises widely used as security strategies.