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How COVID-19 changed digital, physical identity and access management

How COVID-19 changed digital, physical identity and access management
Businesses are dealing with the ramifications of weak identity and access management (IAM) solutions as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Now, they must figure out how to adapt to the new norm and make sure their IAM is prepared for these changes.
The coronavirus pandemic threw a lot of new, unexpected things at businesses very suddenly. One of the most obvious changes was the switch to remote working, which put a spotlight on the need for better identity and access management (IAM) solutions.

Better identity and access management is a must

Genetec Sharon Jung
Sharon Jung,
Product Line Manager, Genetec
At the start of the pandemic countries around the world went on lockdown and businesses were forced to have employees work from home. However, many companies were unprepared for such a move and hackers took advantage of this.

“With multiple people accessing a network from various locations, the attack surface and risk for businesses increases,” explained Chris Harris, Technical Director for EMEA at Thales. According to Harris, the pattern of cyberattacks has matched the worldwide spread of COVID-19 — with major attacks reported first in Asia, then in Central, Eastern and Western Europe as the virus spread.

The increase in the number of remote workers and cyberattacks has highlighted the need to not only strengthen networks, but IAM. Many IAM providers saw an increase in demand at the start of the pandemic and believe this trend will continue even after.

One reason is because the pandemic has changed the way businesses work. According to a poll conducted by HID Global, on average 67 percent of respondents expect the future of work to be a hybrid of what it was before the pandemic — meaning that employees, where possible, will have the flexibility to choose the days that they come into the office. A recent Gallup poll also shows that nearly two-thirds of workers in the US currently working from home would like to continue to do so. Since it seems remote working is here to stay, it is important that companies buff up their IAM solutions.

Need for converged cyber-physical identity and access management

The word “convergence” has been overused for many years in the security industry, but for many, the pandemic has forced companies to make good on this promise. In terms of identity and access management, interest in converged cyber-physical IAM solutions has grown.

“Convergence is not just about two disparate technologies coming together to solve a market’s challenges,” said Ian Lowe, Director of Product Marketing for Identity and Access Management at HID Global. “Convergence is about combining technology, process and people to deliver a truly seamless user experience.”

Sharon Jung, Product Line Manager at Genetec, noted the company has seen a shift from customers wanting to just efficiently manage the flow of people within an organization to now needing to have control and awareness of who is physically walking into their organizations.

“Due to today’s reality of dealing with COVID-19, other emerging threats such as cyberattacks, and insider breaches, the importance of managing the flow of people within an organization of utmost importance,” Jung said.

As organizations reassess how they manage workspace access and exposure risk of their workforce, they are realizing “the urgency to embrace digital transformation, and identity is at the center of this change,” according to Willem Ryan, VP of Marketing and Communications at AlertEnterprise.

“Every part of the digital landscape has to work together across IT/cyber, physical security and operational technology (OT) systems to reduce risk, close security gaps and actively enforce COVID-19 policies and compliance,” Ryan added.

A recent Gartner report predicts 75-percent of CEOs will be personally liable for cyber-physical security incidents by 2024. Ryan noted that as digital systems control more of our critical systems, security convergence connects IT, physical security, OT and IoT, all rolled-up into a cyber-physical platform. A converged physical identity and access management (PIAM) platform can help address security across an entire enterprise.

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