EmpowerID Named Overall Leader in IAM / IAG Suites

Posted by Patrick Parker on Thu, Feb 05, 2015

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EmpowerID has been recognized as a three time leader in a recent KuppingerCole report evaluating Identity and Access Management (IAM) / Identity Access Governance (IAG) Product Suites.

The IAM/IAG Leadership Compass “focuses on complete IAM/IAG (Identity Access Management/Governance) suites that ideally cover all major areas of IAM/IAG as a fully integrated offering,” Martin Kuppinger wrote in the report.

KuppingerCole, a respected global analyst focused on Information Security, examined Identity and Access Management / Governance Suites for this report. They specifically evaluated products that are integrated solutions with a broader scope than single-purpose products. Martin Kuppinger concluded in the report, “With their Windows-based product they [EmpowerID] offer one of the best integrated IAM Suites. All components have been built by EmpowerID, allowing for tight integration into a well thought-out architecture. This integrated approach is a clear strength of EmpowerID."

To request an unabridged copy of the the KuppingerCole report on IAM/IAG Suites, please visit http://info.empowerid.com/download-the-free-kuppingercole-iam-suites-leadership-compass.

Tags: Role Based Access Control (RBAC), GRC, authentication, IAG, IAM, Group Management, Governance and Regulatory Compliance, Identity Management, Federation, User provisioning, Attestation, Separation of Duties, Identity and Access Management (IAM), Access Governance

Innovation and Productivity Gains From Identity and Access Management

Posted by Bradford Mandell on Tue, Jul 15, 2014

IAM Innovation

 

Security for identities.  Managing user access to applications.  Auditing user access.

“Ugh”, you might think, “That sounds like more cost, more time, and more responsibility for IT”.

But a platform approach to Identity and Access Management (IAM) that is rich in innovation can result in lower costs, better productivity, and reduced demands for IT resources, while providing managers with better and more timely information.

Take for example a home healthcare provider with $2 billion in revenue and 40,000 employees in 40 states facing constant pressure to reduce costs as a result of declining government reimbursements for their services.  This organization had already used their considerable size advantage to create efficiencies and reduce costs wherever possible.  Then their Chief Security Officer (CSO) conducted a review of IAM technology and presented his management with a plan that would improve the productivity of their employees, reduce the workload on IT, improve the security for patient data and assist their organization in continuing to be a leader in the quality of patient services.

Built from a series of acquisitions in an industry that experiences high turnover, this organization lacked an efficient process for provisioning home healthcare workers into the many web applications they need to perform their work.  The process began with HR creating a manual request for IT to provision a new user into the apps they require, and once this was completed, the new user had to register themselves and create a password in each application. This process was complex and required too much effort for the home healthcare employees to learn and to maintain.

The CSO’s experience with several of the oldest and most installed IAM platforms made him wary of starting a new project with one of them because of their high licensing costs and the difficulty in customizing them to meet an enterprise’s specific needs.  He wanted a solution that would be easier to implement and easier to mantain.

After evaluating multiple products, he chose the EmpowerID platform for its different and innovative approach to Identity and Access Management.  Built on a single codebase with a workflow core and shipping with hundreds of ready to deploy workflows, the CSO was impressed with EmpowerID's broad functionality and its ability to easily design and to automate complex IAM processes with its visual Workflow Designer. 

The CSO determined during a software trial that EmpowerID’s powerful Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) engine could create effective roles based on both an employee’s place in the organizational hierarchy and their location, and it could scale easily for the size of their staff. EmpowerID proved itself to be flexible in also offering Attribute-Based Access Control (ABAC) for their scenarios where the use of contextual policies to govern access is more appropriate. 

He also discovered that EmpowerID’s integrated Single Sign-On (SSO) module federates not only with more recent web applications that natively support SAML authentication, but also with legacy applications that lack SAML capabilities.  Thus he could accommodate all of his user scenarios end to end, from provisioning to access, using EmpowerID, rather than having to integrate two or more applications. 

The CSO concluded that EmpowerID’s “all in one” approach could create the solution they needed in a shorter timeframe with fewer professional services and less risk to their project timeline and budget. The ability to show his management faster ROI helped him to obtain funding for the project. 

EmpowerID’s User, Group and SSO Manager modules were then deployed to provision and to manage federated identity for the application portal, allowing new users to be added within hours, instead of days, and enabling the use of one login by a healthcare provider to access all of their applications. 

New user onboarding was further simplified by creating a feed from the organization’s PeopleSoft HR application to EmpowerID, which in turn creates all the user accounts and access privileges in the applications they need, based on their business role. New users require less training and are ready to go to work as soon as they claim their identity upon first logging into the application portal.

The home healthcare staff appreciate EmpowerID's friendly HTML5 user interfaces that adapt to the screen size of any device they use, whether a tablet or a smartphone, and the reduction in effort to get to their clinical applications, while patients are pleased that less time is consumed by administrative tasks during their scheduled visits. 

EmpowerID’s multi-factor authentication capability (using an OATH token and SMS one time password) was implemented to strengthen system access security and to better protect the privacy of patient data, which is important in meeting regulatory and audit requirements.

EmpowerID also assists the organization’s auditors with data governance – the discipline of ensuring that access to corporate and patient data is secure and is subject to the proper controls. EmpowerID not only improves the quality of data, is also supports configurable Separation of Duties (SOD) policies, attestation procedures and system dashboards for quick visibility of pending tasks and system statistics. EmpowerID provides dozens of reports out of the box and it supports Microsoft’s SQL Reporting Services to quickly provide the information that different users need.

As a result of successfully automating their new user provisioning process and providing a seamless single-sign on experience for its home healthcare staff, this organization is realizing substantial productivity savings that will pay for EmpowerID in a period of just eighteen to twenty-four months. 

The CSO’s vision for a single, flexible platform that could be implemented on-time and within budget to automate and to securely manage multiple aspects of the enterprise, creating new efficiencies and cost-savings, has been fully realized with EmpowerID's deployment.

Ranked by KuppingerCole as a Product Leader, Innovation Leader and Overall Leader in their recent Leadership Compass for Identity Provisioning, EmpowerID helps diverse organizations across the globe improve identity security and access governance, increase productivity, lower costs, and improve service delivery through its innovative and cost-effective approach to IAM. 

 

Learn More about IAM Cost Savings with EmpowerID

Tags: Single Sign-on (SSO), Active Directory, GRC, Group Management, Governance and Regulatory Compliance, Identity Management, User provisioning, Data Governance, Attestation, Separation of Duties, Password management, Identity and Access Management (IAM), Access Governance

Active Directory group management....what about other groups?

Posted by Edward Killeen on Fri, Oct 18, 2013

I have a long history with Active Directory group management and as much as I fundamentally believe that roles are better for access control, sometimes you have to bite the bullet and use groups.  The reason is that some applications use groups, Microsoft loves groups, and it's a concept everyone gets.

active directory group managementThere are basically two types of group management: delegated group management and dynamic group management.  Each has its place. There is a third facet to group management where you manage resources and what groups have access to the resource but that is slightly out of scope of our discussion here.

In delegated group management, group owners are able to manage the membership of their groups and users are able to request membership in groups.  A helpful user interface is presented to make it easy for users to get themselves into groups.

Dynamic group management is all behind the scenes.  Based on what you know about your user(s) from any number of identity stores, you build rules that dynamically place users in the group.  For example, every user who is a manager in Marketing (based on title in Active Directory and department in HRIS) will be dynamically and automatically placed in the Marketing manager group.  Once they no long fit that equation (promotion or department change), they are removed from the group automatically.

There are two types of dynamic groups: hierarchies and standalone.  In a hierarchical group, you don't have to create each one, you set up the rules from the top.  For example, every department needs its own group, it would take forever to individually configure each, so you create a hiearchical dynamic group (like a family tree or org chart) that creates and manages membership for every department and title.  With EmpowerID, these attributes can be from any identity store.  Standalone are like the Marketing Manager example above.

This need for delegated and dynamic groups does not stop at Active Directory groups (distribution and security groups).  Within your organization you are going to have various flavor of LDAP groups, SharePoint groups, roles masquerading as groups within applications, as well as the AD groups.

Your solution needs to support both delegated and dynamic groups of all kinds.  EmpowerID does this with a highly scalable metadirectory (managing its own groups and roles) and highly configurable connectors that can project these groups into any of the types of systems and applications you need.

In fact, you can manage a role in EmpowerID that is projected as a group in LDAP or AD giving you the best of both worlds.  This flexibility gives you more options for managing groups with less configuration and work.

EmpowerID can easily help you manage all of your groups, not just AD, not just LDAP, not just SharePoint...it is a complete group management solution that promotes the benefits of role based access control without losing the inherent need for group management as well.

A picture is always worth a thousand words, schedule a personalized demonstration and see how to manage all of your groups quickly and easily.

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Tags: Role Based Access Control (RBAC), Group Management

Roles vs. Groups with Microsoft Dynamics AX

Posted by Edward Killeen on Thu, Oct 10, 2013

You can manage access to Microsoft Dynamics AX with Active Directory security groups.  But you can only get so far.

A manufacturing client of ours has very specific and extensive needs for Dynamics AX.  Of course, they need to provide access to employees but they also need to have dealers, suppliers and other partners to have access.  Once in Dynamics AX they need to take advantage of the internal roles to ensure that the right users have the right permissions.

roles or groups in dynamics AXSecurity groups seem like the best fit from 30,000 feet...both AD and Dynamics AX are part of the Microsoft stack.  Microsoft has set it up so that if you are in a specific security group for Dynamics AX , you can authenticate and use Dynamics AX.  But they stopped there, close but not close enough to actually use the solution for our client's needs.

Two things in our client's use case preclude them from using groups: the external users and the specific roles within Dynamics AX.  They have absolutely no interest in maintaining AD users for these external dealers and suppliers.  And they want to take full advantage of Dynamics AX and have different roles within it.  The whole idea is to be automated, not have to go in and manually assign permissions once a user has been put into a group.

So, what do you do?  EmpowerID.  A full IAM suite will give you the three components you need to manage Dynamics AX access correctly. 

You need a flexible connector that speaks to Dynamics AX using AIF.  Microsoft Dynamics AX Application Integration Framework (AIF) enables companies to integrate and communicate with external business processes and partners through the exchange of XML over various transport media. AIF enables both business-to-business and application-to-application integration scenarios.

EmpowerID's metadirectory gives you an identity store for your external users separate from Active Directory.  These users can then be provisioned into Dynamics AX using the connector and given the appropriate permissions and roles.  These roles and user lifecycles are managed in EmpowerID.

EmpowerID's RBAC engine gives a flexible and powerful polyarchical role structure.  You can manage your roles dynamically and map them to Dynamics AX, giving the exact permissions you need.  All role assignments and Separation of Duties (SOD) is managed in EmpowerID so you can attest, certify and automate all of the processes you need to manage access.

So, when do you use groups?  When you want to give vanilla roles to a set of users that are all in AD.

When do you use roles?  When you want to manage a diverse set of users with a diverse set of access permissions in Dynamics AX.  And when you want to automate it without dedicating a help desk person to managing it manually.

Most organizations using Dynamics AX have business, compliance and auditing requirements.  They are using it because they need to manage critical business processes and business data.  Not using roles to grant correct permissions seems to work against the investment they have made in Dynamics AX.

Schedule a demo of Roles in Dynamics AX

Tags: Role Based Access Control (RBAC), Group Management

Active Directory group management....and more

Posted by Edward Killeen on Thu, Feb 07, 2013

A pride of lions. A gaggle of geese. A mob of wombats. An Active Directory Security group.  

It’s natural to group things and your users are no exception. Many organizations have more groups than users, a user can be a member of hundreds of groups. We’re talking AD security groups, distribution groups, LDAP groups, SharePoint group, and roles.

We know that 81% of organizations manage these group memberships manually, expending an amazing amount of resources to keep them accurate. If they keep them accurate.

There is something that can be done about it…automate and delegate. Automate the group memberships with dynamic groups. Delegate to group owners the ability to manage their own memberships. Delegate to users the ability to join groups. And put workflow controls in place to keep it organized.

EmpowerID has two methods to manage Active Directory groups dynamically, by roles and by set groups.  The benefit of each is that they can be used across a wide variety of identity and access governance functions: from provisioning to SSO to access control.  And both methods can be used to manage Active Directory security groups dynamically.

Even using the more advanced method of managing permissions with roles, you will still need AD groups, both security and distribution.  And EmpowerID gives you both of these methods to keep your group membership accurate, dynamically. 

This first video explores how to use the roles that are pervasive throughout EmpowerID's Identity Management suite to keep group membership dynamically updated.

In addition to the role based method, set groups can be created in EmpowerID that will manage the group's membership.  As with roles, these set groups have additional functionality in all aspects of IAM from authorization to authentication.

Group management is only a part of EmpowerID's full Identity and Access Management capabilities. EmpowerID's robust IAM platform is built modularly, so you can solve the business problem of today while laying the foundation for future IAM capabilities. 

Take a look at the dynamic group videos and schedule a demo. Save money while improving security and productivity.

Schedule a demo of EmpowerID Group Manager

Tags: Active Directory, Group Management

Replacing Active Directory Users & Computers

Posted by Edward Killeen on Mon, Oct 15, 2012

replacing active directory users and computersDelegate and Automate.  The first two words of IT.  It is especially true with respect to managing Active Directory.  There are a lot of authoritative sources of identity information that Active Directory needs and not one of them is your help desk employees.

And that's one of the main issues with managing AD, it often falls into the help desks' hands.  They get an email from HR saying to create some users.  They get requests to add users to AD security groups.  They might get an email that Jane Doe got promoted to a new job in Operations.  And for all of these changes, they have to have access to Active Directory Users & Computers (ADUC).

Once you have access to ADUC, you have access to ADUC.  By that I mean that the help desk user can not only create a new user but delete an OU.  Not only can they add a member to a security group but they can make themselves a domain admin or member of the executive security group.  It just isn't that safe or secure.

So you want to be able to delegate and automate your Active Directory management.  Have end users have only the access they need to make changes.  Give them a self service portal that follows pretty strong workflow rules, giving field level security to changes on their profile or their users.  Give them the ability to request membership in some groups and not others.  Allow them to manage the membership of a group that they own.

By using rights based approval routing, anything that user is allowed to do is done instantly.  Anything that needs approval from another user is routed for their approval.  Anything that they shouldn't even see (the distribution group of users on steps of discipline for example) never appears before them.

EmpowerID allows this self service management with a level of granularity and security and role based access control that makes ADUC completely irrelevant.  Grant access only to make changes in AD that the user is allowed to.

But that doesn't cover everything.  Automation is your other big step.  Creating a user still shouldn't be done manually.  You probably have an authoritative source like HR that can be inventoried to see if a new employee exists or if an existing employee has changed.  Once the new user is inventoried, EmpowerID will provision the user into Active Directory or make changes to their job title or any other change.

These new or changed users will have a specific dynamic role and will be provisioned into the correct systems, given access to the right resources and be a productive member of the corporation immediately.

With the right combination of delegation and automation, you don't need to have ADUC access for any user.  You can manage all of the AD objects and attributes without the "everything" access that comes with native tools like ADUC.

Take a look at our whitepaper on replacing ADUC and schedule a demonstration of how we can help you delegate and automate.

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Tags: Active Directory, Group Management, User provisioning, Identity and Access Management (IAM)

Active Directory group management and RBAC

Posted by Edward Killeen on Wed, Oct 03, 2012

I am a strong proponent of RBAC -- managing roles effectively does an awful lot more for your enterprise than Active Directory groups.  However, you still need AD groups to be managed.  And, in my opinion, no IT admin should ever have to manage these groups.  What you can't automate then delegate.

active directory group managementActive Directory groups are essential for fileshare permissions, for email communications, a few GPOs, and just plain useful for some application permissions.  You can use them for SharePoint, though I recommend you utilize roles for that as well.  Either way, you still need to manage them without taking up your entire day adding and removing members from AD groups.

To keep from investing a full time person managing AD group membership, you need to do two things: 1) create dynamically maintained groups and 2) offer self service to your users to manage their groups.

Dynamic AD groups are exactly what they sound like.  You write a simple (or complex) query that can read attributes in Active Directory or your HRIS or some database with useful identity information.  Your group memberships dynamically change whenever any of this identity information changes. 

You will need dynamic groups for security groups and distribution groups.  Don't fall for the Exchange QBDL trap...you cannot manage permissions with those.  An application like EmpowerID Group Manager has an exceedingly simple interface to manage these dynamic groups for both security groups and DLs.

The only complication is GIGO, you need to ensure that your identity stores are accurate.  Having a metadirectory constantly inventorying these data stores will ensure accurate information on your users and keep the dynamic AD groups accurate.

Now for the fun part...delegating group management to your users.  Obviously, do not do this without solid workflow controls in place.  You will have group owners managing membership in their groups, this is usually a pretty solid practice.  If you trust them to own the group, you can trust them to manage the group membership.

But the piece you want to add to this equation is group membership attestation.  Either for regulatory or token bloat reasons, make the group owner attest to the membership and existence of this group periodically (bi-yearly for example).  If they don't need it, de-activate the group.  If the member should no longer be in the group, remove them.

There are also groups that your users know they want to join.  Give them a self service portal for joining or leaving groups.  Put workflow on it so that approvals are needed either from rules or approvals.  Make some groups unjoinable (such as the 10K report team) and some wide open (like the book club).  For the rest, have the owner approve membership or allow anyone within a certain division of the company to join it but disallow others.

Which brings us to separation of duties.  Make sure that separation of duties are enforced with AD groups the same way they are with roles.  If your users is on the investment banking side of the house, they should not be able to join any groups in retail banking.  If they are in the invoice approval group, they cannot be in the sign a check group.  These SOD rules have to be built into Active Directory group management the same way they are in your RBAC rules.

It is pretty clear that AD group management is important.  It is also a vital part of your IAM strategy.  If the need is to knock off one piece of ROI-producing identity management quickly, consider group management.  Just think of all of your helpdesk time spent keeping those groups accurate.  Take that money saved and move on to RBAC managing ALL access and permissions!

Download whitepaper Active Directory Management

Schedule a demo AD Group Management

Tags: Active Directory, Group Management

Identity, group and user attestation

Posted by Edward Killeen on Thu, Sep 20, 2012

I often think of Gartner's quote on identity and access management: "the right people have access to the right systems at the right time" and think how do you know if they are the right people or the right systems or the right access?  We work with organizations with hundreds of thousands of users, does Bob in IT know all of them?

right access to the right resourcesI'm being facetious of course, there's nobody in IT named Bob usually.  But that's where your identity and access management platform comes in.  It is busy giving people access to systems and you need to make sure that you are inserting the "right" into that sentence & process.

Having trusted authoritative sources really helps.  If you know that HR and other systems know all of the employees, contractors, partners and customers, you can usually cover the "right person" aspect of all of this.  But, that isn't always the case, so you have your first attestation option right there to solve the "right people" issue.

There will be a departmental owner or manager or HR person who can attest periodically that that user is still an active employee.  Build a workflow where somebody has to approve the continuing existence of that user account.  Not just a network account, but application accounts too.  Think of the savings if you periodically have users attest that they still need that cloud application account for which you are paying a monthly fee.

If the account hasn't been used or accessed for a certain period (say, 90 days), bump up the attestation.  It's easy to build this into a BPM-based identity workflow.  Make more secure application accounts have a higher degree of attestation involving identity proofing or two factor authentication.

So, with that user attestation process you solve the right systems and the right people but what about the right access?  Roles and group attestation helps solve this.  Have the role or group owner attest to the membership of the group and the group's rights and permissions on a quarterly or yearly basis.  Give them the audit reports to show what that role or group can do and who has been doing it.

This should all be built in to the identity workflows that come with your IAM platform, if not, take a look at EmpowerID.  Dont' just give access to people, give the right access to the right people.

See a demo of attestation in action!

Tags: Role Based Access Control (RBAC), Group Management, Identity and Access Management (IAM)

Identity management self service as part of an ecosystem

Posted by Edward Killeen on Thu, Sep 20, 2012

End users know their stuff.  I know this isn't a common refrain in IT but if you're talking about the users themselves when saying "their stuff" then there is no dispute.  So for some identity information, you actually need the user.  And to offer identity management self service.

identity management self serviceThe most obvious and important identity store to consider is Active Directory.  There is a lot of identity information within there to delegate: mobile phone, home address, and other personal information.  This is the sort of identity information your company needs and can only be provided by the users themselves.  In fact, once they enter it via your self service interface, take advantage of this and flow the information back to the HR system.

The items above you can usually trust your end users to provide.  There are a few items where you want to have control, put some sort of approval workflow on it.  Take for example, business phone, maybe you aren't flowing this from your telecom database and want your end user to update it but want the telecom guys to approve it, shoot a workflow request to them before committing it to AD.  I can't stress this enough, self service liberates IT but you need to have controls in place.

AD groups are a common delegated item.  End users should be able to join and leave groups but not all of them.  Using rights based approval routing, you can set specific groups to require group owner or admin approval before joining.  In fact, some groups should be completely off limits to self service (think financial reporting).

But Active Directory isn't the only identity store in your organization.  The benefit to a full Identity and Access Management platform is that you aren't limited to just AD.  By having a metadirectory in the middle of everything, you can create self service forms to the metadirectory or directly to any connected application. 

A great example is when you need to apply for a specific role in salesforce or your jive community.  Having a self service option allows you to apply for the role, enforce an approval workflow and using the IAM workflows, set a time limit on the access (temporary privileged access).  As you can see, self service is not limited to Active Directory at all but it can be in the exact same self service interface.

Of course, don't forget that self service identity management has to be part of an identity ecosystem.  Any attributes, roles or information that your users provide through self service should flow back into your identity stores and any appropriate applications.

Let us take you on a tour of how you can make this identity ecosystem more diverse and robust through self service.  With control.

Identity management self service demo

Tags: Group Management, Identity and Access Management (IAM)

Roles or Active Directory group management?

Posted by Edward Killeen on Thu, Jun 07, 2012

roles or active directory group managementIt's an age old question, do you want to go with roles or Active Directory group management?  The answer is, why do you have to choose?  Do both.  Roles and groups.

Let me explain.

Windows uses security groups, there is no getting around that.  You have probably accumulated a ton of these groups over the years (and that's a problem in and of itself, ahem, token bloat).  But, the best part is that roles and Active Directory groups can co-exist and even complement each other.

Roles, and especially dynamic roles, are invaluable.  They exist outside of AD so they can be applied to enterprise authorization for any system, they can be applied to file share permissions, they can be applied to any flavor of LDAP directory or even databases.  They can even determine who can do what to AD groups.

And here's the kicker, you can make a role equal an Active Directory group.  So if you have one specific group that you know is updated (or if you manage that group dynamically) and you want to assign rights and permissions outside of the Microsoft ecosystem, make the membersip of that role an AD group in your RBAC powered metadirectory and you suddenly have an Active Directory group granting permissions everywhere!

This is especially useful if you have invested heavily in Active Directory group management in the past and want to leverage all of that hard work.

Contact us for a demonstration of how to make roles and AD groups live peacefully together.

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Tags: Role Based Access Control (RBAC), Group Management