Why Unified Identity Management Is Essential for the Modern Business


The modern cybersecurity professional’s job is harder than ever. Technology is advancing faster than ever, attack rates are increasing by the day, and the threat landscape is perpetually evolving. It’s no wonder that so many cyber-pros are feeling stressed and burnt out, discusses Alan Radford, regional CTO at One Identity, as he explores the need for unified identity management in the modern business setting.

The number of security controls, tools, and identities for security pros to manage has swelled almost beyond belief. As the dust begins to settle on a tumultuous few years, many professionals have recognized the need for simplification and consolidation – as opposed to adding more weapons to an already overstocked arsenal. 

But why, exactly, is this needed? 

Identity sprawl has fast become endemic to the contemporary digital landscape, with enterprise identity silos – and the user information, attributes, and credentials that come with them – growing at an extraordinary rate. This typically results in multiple accounts for each user, as well as an insufficient and fragmented understanding of an organization’s identity assets. A recent global surveyOpens a new window even revealed that more than half of all large organizations maintain 25 separate silos of user data, with 20% having to maintain and secure more than 100 systems. 

The dawn of remote working was a key driver of identity sprawl. Overnight, security professionals were forced to deal with their perimeters expanding and fragmenting on an unprecedented scale. The glory days of securing only on-site devices had ended dramatically, and the era of accounting for countless employees, devices, and identities – all operating off-site – had begun. 

What’s more, remote working – and the problems it causes – appear to be sticking around. As the world returned to a semblance of normality, many employees and their companies were reluctant to give up the benefits that remote working afforded. Decreased travel costs, the opportunity to downsize premises and the ability to work from anywhere are proving too much to turn down. 

Now that we better understand the need for unified identity management platforms, we can dive into their technicalities and benefits. 

A unified identity platform combines the four previously distinct processes of identity management – identity governance and administration (IGA), privileged access management (PAM), AD management (AD Mgmt), and access management (AM). This allows security professionals to take a holistic approach to managing users and access permissions, privileged access, authentication and verification, as well as analytics and compliance metrics. 

See More: The Digital Identity System Is Broken: How You Can Fix It

The Key Benefits of Unified Identity Platforms

To be specific, the practical benefits of the platforms mentioned above are five-fold: 

    1. Helps to secure organizations: As methods such as building adaptive Zero Trust frameworks, Cloud Infrastructure Entitlement Management (CIEM), privileged remote access, endpoint privilege management, and password vaulting are controlled through a single platform, security professionals are better able to keep track of and manage their security controls. 
    2. Boosts operational efficiencies: This is arguably the key benefit of unified identity management platforms. By centralizing security processes, cyber professionals are able to adopt fast, secure, and flexible security practices – all from one control center. 
    3. Aids in compliance and auditing: Modern enterprise landscapes being as complex as they are, carrying out auditing and ensuring compliance can be a mammoth task. A unified identity management platform means security pros don’t need to audit each distinct security process – everything is in one place. 
    4. Drives and supports digital transformation: As organizations expand in the physical and digital realms, identity sprawl expands with it. By consolidating identity management processes, security professionals are able to mitigate identity sprawl and more effectively manage their organization’s ever-expanding identity portfolio, allowing for safe and efficient digital transformation. 
    5. Improves log management: Knowledge, vision and perspective are essential for ensuring an organization’s security. Log data is the manifestation of that. However, log data management can be an overwhelming task – especially when that data isn’t all coming from the same place. Unified identity management platforms ease the pain of logging data collection, filtering, distributing and archiving because the data comes from one place. 

Unified identity management is useful because it frees time for cybersecurity professionals and their organizations to focus on bolstering security. Time previously spent managing multiple vendor relationships, sending multiple invoices, or shopping around for new products can improve efficiency and ensure an organization is completely protected. 

It’s worth noting here that it isn’t only identity management that’s crying out for consolidation. The market at large is screaming for it. CISOs and buyers economy-wide are both overwhelmed and exasperated by the extraordinary number of offerings available to them, wasting time – which is at a premium in the cyber-sphere – wading through the huge number of options. And that number will only continue to grow. Venture capital and private equity firms poured almost $30 billionOpens a new window into cybersecurity startups this year, nearly doubling 2021’s total. 

Consolidating the Future

With new cybersecurity organizations cropping up seemingly every day, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for companies to stand out. The ones that do, consolidate. The fact of the matter is if cyber companies want to survive in today’s ultra-competitive environment, they need to offer more than a single tool. They need to consolidate wherever possible. 

But that doesn’t mean consolidation should be absolute – far from it. It’s unlikely that a single organization would be able to provide everything a customer needs to protect themselves. Therefore, identity management is a prime candidate for unification. It packages a number of hugely important tools from within a single sub-section of cybersecurity. It’s the best of both worlds, wide-ranging enough to reap the benefits of consolidation but focused enough to deliver specialized, effective security. 

What’s more, with an economic downturn looming, consolidating identity management tools is a surefire way of freeing up some much-needed space in the budget. Paying one vendor is always going to be cheaper than paying multiple ones. 

In short, unified identity management platforms provide precisely what the cybersecurity industry is in dire need of – simplification. If nothing else, this kind of consolidation makes the lives of cybersecurity professionals easier, which in turn reduces the risk of human error, decreases feelings of stress and burnout, and even goes some way to closing the cyber skills gap. 

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