Why Identity Security Is Essential to Cybersecurity Strategy

March 8, 2024 Claudio Neiva

Cybersecurity Strategy

In the modern digital landscape, cybersecurity isn’t just a technical challenge – it’s a business imperative. At the heart of cybersecurity is identity security – the principle that the right people have the right access at the right time. As we venture further into the digital world, protecting the business from modern threats is crucial, which inherently adds complexity, making smart privilege controls a must-have step toward an identity-first strategy.

The cost of bypassing identity security can be high – data breaches, loss of customer trust and financial penalties are only part of the leadership issues in digital service management. For example, a simple case of an employee having excessive access rights can lead to data theft or sabotage.

Identity security is not just about authentication and authorization but also visibility, governance and compliance. For instance, the insurance industry increasingly recognizes identity security as a foundational element of effective cyber insurance, highlighting the need for robust identity and access management (IAM) practices to mitigate cyber risks. These criteria demonstrate the insurance industry’s commitment to elevating identity security as the foundation of cyber resilience, ensuring that organizations are well-equipped to protect against and respond to cyber threats.

Identity security is the source of trust and security for all other security controls and policies. In this blog post, I’ll explain why security-first identity is essential to your cybersecurity strategy, and organizations can leverage identity as a key enabler of security in the digital age.

Why Identity is the Future of Security

Identity is the core of cybersecurity, as it defines what constitutes good or bad, legitimate actions – and what’s considered malicious behavior. Identity is the primary way organizations can determine and manage who has access to which resources – and under what conditions – and ensure that those access privileges are used appropriately. Identity is how organizations can monitor and audit their users, devices, applications, activities and behaviors and detect and respond to anomalies or incidents.

With identity security, you can know who’s accessing data and systems, why they’re accessing it and what they’re doing with it. Without identity security, you cannot enforce security policies and compliance requirements, and your organization cannot hold users and partners accountable for their actions. Identity security is especially critical in today’s context of digital transformation, cloud migration, remote work and mobile devices. These trends have increased the complexity and diversity of identities, the attack surface and the potential for identity compromise.

Your security strategy must accommodate many identities, such as employees, customers, partners, contractors, vendors, devices, applications and services, each with distinct levels of trust and access requirements. You must also deal with various identity-related challenges, such as identity sprawl, orphaned accounts, privileged access abuse, credential theft, password reuse, shadow IT and identity fraud. To address these challenges, you can take a security-first identity approach, which means that identity security is not an afterthought or a definitive solution but rather a creation of principles that guide the construction of your cybersecurity strategy. A security-first identity approach means implementing security controls and policies based on the identity context and risk profile of your users, devices and applications.

How to Cultivate Identity as a Key Security Enabler

To establish identity as a key security enabler, you must adopt an identity security framework that covers the following:

  • Identity lifecycle management – involves creating, provisioning, updating and de-provisioning identities and access privileges for all users, devices and applications based on their roles and responsibilities within the organization. It also ensures that identities and access privileges are accurate, up-to-date and compliant with the organization’s policies and regulations.
  • Identity and access management – involves verifying and validating the identities and access privileges of all users, devices and applications based on their context, behavior and risk level. Identity and access management also involves enforcing granular and dynamic access policies and rules, such as least privilege, multi-factor authentication (MFA) and conditional access.
  • Identity protection and intelligence – involves detecting and preventing threats and attacks that target the identities and access privileges of all users, devices and applications. Identity protection and intelligence also include analyzing and correlating the data and insights from the identity security framework and applying advanced analytics, machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) to identify and respond to anomalies, incidents and risks.

The Benefits of Prioritizing Identity Security

By implementing an identity security framework, you can achieve the following benefits:

  1. Improved security posture. Organizations can reduce the attack surface and the potential for identity compromise by ensuring that only the right people have access to the right resources under the right conditions and use their access privileges appropriately. Organizations can also improve their visibility and control over their data and systems by monitoring and auditing the activities and behaviors of their users, devices and applications – and detecting and responding to any anomalies or incidents.
  2. Improved compliance and governance. Organizations can comply with security and privacy regulations and standards that apply to the industry and region, ensuring that their identities and access privileges are accurate, up to date and compliant with their policies and requirements. Organizations can also demonstrate their accountability and transparency by generating reports and alerts for their internal and external stakeholders and providing evidence and proof of their compliance and security efforts.
  3. Increased productivity and efficiency. Organizations can streamline and automate their identity security processes and workflows, eliminating manual and error-prone tasks such as password resets, access requests and approvals. Organizations can also optimize their resources and costs by reducing the complexity and overhead of managing and maintaining multiple and different identity security solutions.
  4. Improved user experience and satisfaction. You can provide your users and partners with a seamless and secure access experience, allowing them to access the resources they need. When needed. from any device and location. Organizations can also empower their users and partners with self-service capabilities and delegated administration, allowing them to manage their identities, access privileges and request and approve access changes.

Identity security is foundational to robust cybersecurity programs and critical for managing related controls and policies. By prioritizing identity security in cybersecurity strategies, organizations can effectively determine and manage who has access to which resources under what conditions and ensure that these access privileges are used appropriately. This approach is critical to establishing a robust and effective cybersecurity framework, considering it relies on identity as a key security enabler.

Claudio Neiva is CyberArk’s Field Technology Director (LATAM), PAM and Identity Security.

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