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Overcoming identity and access management challenges during a pandemic

Overcoming identity and access management challenges during a pandemic
The coronavirus pandemic has created challenges for identity and access management (IAM). From remote working obstacles to simply being able to meet customer demands quickly enough, solution providers are working hard to adapt to the new normal.
Businesses are dealing with a number of challenges brought on by the coronavirus pandemic when it comes to both digital and physical identity and access management. With demand growing for identity and access management (IAM) and physical identity and access management (PIAM), solution providers are doing what they can to overcome challenges and meet new expectations.

Integrating legacy systems

Ian Lowe HID Global
Ian Lowe, Director,
Product Marketing, IAM,
HID Global
One of the main challenges is understanding the limitations of the legacy IAM. Increased adoption of the cloud requires scalability that legacy IAM doesn’t have. This problem has been highlighted during the pandemic, as businesses increase their needs to access applications and services outside of the company perimeter.

Chris Harris, Technical Director for EMEA at Thales, expects this to be a growing issue even in a potentially more normalized world next year, as employees will continue to want the option to access networks from wherever they are.

Stronger authentication methods

Another challenge is trying to move businesses away from using basic authentication methods, like username and passwords, according to Harris. During the pandemic, many companies have witnessed an increased demand for multi-factor authentication, mostly as a result of the move to home working.

“Many new small to medium enterprise customers looked to adopt multi-factor authentication to enable secure home working for their employees, and existing customers needed to rapidly increase the number of multi-factor authentication licenses as they moved all employees to a remote working model,” explained Ian Lowe, Director of Product Marketing for Identity and Access Management at HID Global.

Unfortunately, Harris believes the use of basic authentication methods are also likely to increase. Despite these outdated protection measures enhancing the security exposure of businesses to credential stuffing and phishing attacks, he notes that companies are also battling to provide employees with both security and convenience in this remote working world. Multi-factor authentication, sadly, is not always convenient.

Easier ways of managing identities

The pandemic has resulted in organizations having to re-structure and furlough employees. Because of this, Sharon Jung, Product Line Manager at Genetec, noted that the importance of being able to use workflows to grant or revoke access through logical access control is unequivocally as important as physically limiting people to areas through physical access control.

Identity management comes into play here by programming the provisioning policies so that the employees’ access rights are automated. “This is essential in ensuring a safe and secure environment and taking away the manual effort,” Jung said.

Lowe also acknowledged the difficulties of identity management, especially when that move is to a more converged and unified IAM environment across thousands of users.

“There’s a myriad of different identity stores that need to be integrated and seamlessly managed IT identity (Active Directory, Azure AD) and physical access identity (typically held in the physical access control system),” Lowe explained. This is where strong physical identity and access management solutions come into their own. They provide a central solution for unifying the management of identities across both physical access control systems and Active Directory/Azure AD.

Ready to beat the challenges

As IAM/PIAM providers work hard to develop quickly enough to meet the demands of customers and the market in general, they are also evolving their products and finding solutions to problems.

By increasing education with IT and business leaders and offering services to businesses, IAM/PIAM providers are doing their part to prepare for a future beyond COVID-19.

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