October means that National Cybersecurity Awareness Month is back, and it’s always interesting to see what’s new in the security landscape from year to year. One thing that’s changed since last October is that the global Infrastructure as a Service market grew another 29.5 percent, to $23.5 billion, according to Gartner. And when we mark this occasion in 2019, Gartner predicts that IaaS and other public cloud services will have collectively grown another 21.4 percent.

The more your organization uses the cloud, the more it needs a solid identity and access management (IAM) strategy. Capabilities such as single sign-on (SSO) and multifactor authentication (MFA) enable a layered security approach, which is key because even the strongest usernames and passwords could be susceptible to risk.

By working with a cloud access security broker (CASB), IAM tools can thwart a variety of breaches. Suppose that a login has the right credentials, but it’s coming from an unexpected place or device — say, a PC in Russia when the associated employee works in New York. The CASB throws up a red flag, which prompts the IAM solution to send a text message to that employee’s phone. If the person logging in can’t provide the one-time code in that text, the IAM platform knows to deny access and to alert IT.

Maintain Security Amid Staff Changes

From phishing to keyloggers and other types of malware, attackers have numerous ways to steal credentials. IAM solutions protect your organization if hackers get hold of not only your employees’ credentials but also those of authorized outsiders — an important consideration for organizations that work with contractors who require remote or onsite network access. The range of individuals who may need such access is likely to increase as organizations incorporate more connected devices into the network, devices that may need management or occasional troubleshooting (for example, digital signage and HVAC systems). In fact, 81 percent of restaurant breaches stem from the theft of credentials at point-of-sale service providers, which then become a back door into the restaurant’s network.

As Gartner puts it, IAM tools enable “the right individuals to access the right resources at the right times for the right reasons.” So what about a person who’s right today but wrong tomorrow? Suppose an employee is fired or quits. IAM solutions make it quick and easy for IT to revoke that employee’s access to resources. IAM tools also streamline the process of provisioning new employees.

Those are a couple of examples of how IAM solutions reduce not only vulnerabilities but also IT workloads. IAM vendor Okta, for which Cisco provides a CloudLock add-on, says its customers save an average of more than $1.6 million annually.

As with other IT solutions, developing a successful IAM strategy includes understanding how it fits in with your industry’s unique regulations and best practices. For example, CDW has extensive experience with organizations that seek to deploy IAM solutions in environments that are heavily regulated by HIPAA and the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. One recent client, a biopharmaceutical company rolling out Office 365, wanted to layer on SSO and MFA. It chose Okta because of its capabilities and ease of use.

That quality, ease of use, is a big one to consider when selecting an IAM solution. If employees don’t find something intuitive and user-friendly, they’ll inevitably look for ways around it, and that can create even more security risks.

Visit CDW.com/DataCenter to learn more about IaaS solutions and securing the cloud.

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