The AI Revolution in Identity: Insights from Patrick Parker at EIC 2024

Posted by Aditya Taneja on Mon, Jul 08, 2024

At the European Identity and Cloud Conference (EIC) 2024, Patrick Parker, the CEO and co-founder of EmpowerID, shared his visionary insights on the future of identity and access management (IAM).

In this compelling interview with KuppingerCole, Parker discussed the transformative impact of artificial intelligence (AI) and large language models (LLMs) on IAM, highlighting how AI is set to revolutionize the industry and reshape the way we approach identity governance and administration.


Patrick Parker boldly stated, "The AI LLM revolution will redesign software and even society entirely. In my whole career, I haven't seen anything as big as this." Parker's statement underscores the profound impact AI is set to have on IAM. Unlike any previous technological advancement, AI and LLMs are poised to overhaul how we interact with software’s as a whole, not just identity.

From Static to Conversational User Interfaces

One of the most significant shifts Parker highlighted is the move from static user interfaces to conversational ones. "The user interface will be a conversational user interface. Instead of static interfaces, you'll interact through a chat interface," he explained. This change means that instead of clicking buttons and navigating through complex menus, users will be able to accomplish tasks by simply conversing with AI-driven systems. Which is a move we’ve seen a lot of organizations push towards since the release of OpenAI for Business, there has been a push for AI assistants for accomplishing tasks beyond just customer support.

AI Chatbot

The Rise of Autonomous Agents

Patrick emphasized the role of LLMs as autonomous agents, capable of planning and executing tasks based on user queries. "You will be providing tools to the LLM agent. The user will query to ask it to accomplish a task, and it will plan which of those tools to use, in which sequence, to accomplish a task," he described. This deconstruction of traditional software into tool-based capabilities will revolutionize IAM processes like onboarding, risk assessment, and access recertification.

Implications for Business Operations and Security

The integration of AI into IAM is set to level the playing field between small startups and large corporations. "Small startups will have the same impact and power as large global corporations, completely tilting the landscape," Parker noted. However, this shift brings new security challenges. Organizations will need to implement fine-grained, dynamic authorization to control access to tools and data in this new, fluid environment.

Policy as Natural Language (PaNL): The Future of Authorization

Imagine a world where business users can define and update authorization policies using everyday language, without needing to rely on developers. This is the revolutionary potential of Policy as Natural Language (PaNL). By leveraging the advanced capabilities of Large Language Models (LLMs), PaNL transforms the way we handle authorization, making it more intuitive, transparent, and agile.

"Verifiable credentials in the wallet will drive the adoption of non-human entities, enabling digital twins and autonomous agents to perform actions," Parker explained. With PaNL, administrators can create and modify policies in a conversational manner, enabling faster and more accurate policy management. This breakthrough not only enhances security and compliance but also empowers organizations to respond swiftly to changing business needs, paving the way for a more dynamic and secure future in identity governance.

Governance and Oversight: A New Necessity

As AI becomes more integrated into enterprise systems, proper governance and oversight are crucial. "Instead of having shadow AI, you're going to have to provide a channel for properly governed enterprise AI," Parker advised. Establishing enterprise AI facilities with oversight on data usage and model training is essential to prevent unauthorized use and ensure compliance.

Looking ahead, Parker envisions a future where "whole departments where 80% of the workforce are non-human agents, and 20% are humans driving the process." This dramatic shift in workforce composition underscores the need for organizations to adapt quickly to AI-driven environments. The ability to harness the power of AI will become a competitive differentiator in the years to come.

Conclusion

Patrick's insights at EIC 2024 really excites us towards the transformative potential of AI and LLMs in identity and access management. The shift towards conversational user interfaces, autonomous agents, and a new workforce composition heralds a new era for IAM. The future of identity is bright, and those who leverage AI effectively will lead the way in this exciting new frontier.

Building Resilience: Risk Management in Hybrid Multi-Cloud Environments

Posted by Aditya Taneja on Wed, Jun 26, 2024

In 2008, a rogue trader at Société Générale, one of France's largest banks, caused a staggering €4.9 billion loss due to unchecked trading activities. This shocking event highlighted a critical gap in the bank’s risk management framework, leading to significant financial and reputational damage.

Such incidents underscore the urgent need for robust risk management systems in organizations of all sizes. Effective risk management is not just about avoiding financial disasters—it's about safeguarding your organization’s assets, data, and reputation. In this blog post, we will delve into the complexities of risk management, offering insights and strategies to help you create a resilient risk management system tailored to your organization’s needs.

Understanding Risk

Risk isn't binary (risky or not); it's multi-faceted and depends on the context of the business.

It involves identifying and addressing a wide array of potential threats that can impact various aspects of a business. Here are some key categories of risks that organizations need to consider:

  1. Technical Risks: These risks arise from the technical aspects of an organization's operations. For example, the ability to create new admin users in a cloud environment like Azure can lead to significant security vulnerabilities if not properly managed.
  2. Data Access Risks: Unauthorized access to sensitive data poses a substantial risk. If critical information is compromised, it can lead to data breaches, financial losses, and damage to an organization's reputation.
  3. Traditional GRC Risks: Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC) risks are often financial in nature. They include scenarios such as unauthorized financial transactions or fraudulent activities within ERP systems, which can result in substantial financial and legal repercussions.

 

Crafting a Robust Risk Management Strategy

Creating an effective risk management system requires a structured approach that includes identifying, assessing, and mitigating risks. Here are some essential strategies that we at EmpowerID always keep in mind:

  1. Define Risk Functions and Policies:
    • Risk Functions: Identify and define the specific activities or tasks within your organization that pose potential risks. For instance, resetting admin passwords or creating purchase orders. This we further classify into Global vs Local Functions. Global functions define general activities, while local functions specify context-specific activities (e.g., resetting passwords in Azure vs. SAP).
    • Risk Policies: Develop policies that outline which combinations of activities are considered risky. This helps in preventing scenarios like the same individual being able to create and approve purchase orders, which can lead to fraud.
  2. Implement Comprehensive Mapping and Compilation:
    • Risk Mapping: Establish a system that identifies which users or roles have the ability to perform specific functions. This mapping should be regularly updated to ensure accurate risk assessment. A common risk policy used for defining this is called Segregation of Duties (SoD), where certain combinations of functions (e.g., creating and approving purchase orders) are restricted.
    • Compilation Process: Regularly compile and evaluate risk data to keep your risk management system up-to-date and responsive to new threats.

Risk Detection and Mitigation

Effective risk management involves both detecting potential risks and implementing measures to mitigate them. Here are two primary methods:

  1. Preventative Measures: These measures are implemented during access requests. By evaluating potential risks before granting access, you can block or flag risky combinations proactively.
  2. Detective Measures: Regular audits and checks help identify existing risky combinations. By generating alerts or reports, you can address these risks promptly.

Implementing Mitigating Controls

Mitigating controls are actions taken to reduce the likelihood or impact of a risk. These controls are essential for managing risks that cannot be completely eliminated. Examples include:

  • Regular Transaction Log Reviews: For activities like deleting domain controllers, regular reviews of transaction logs can help monitor and detect unauthorized actions.
  • Segregation of Duties (SoD): This principle ensures that no single individual has control over all aspects of a critical transaction. For instance, separating the roles of creating and approving purchase orders.

Advanced Features for Effective Risk Management

A robust risk management system leverages advanced features to provide more precise and comprehensive control. Here are some advanced strategies:

  1. Fine-Grained Permissions: In systems like SAP, permissions can be mapped down to individual actions and data levels. This granular control allows for more detailed risk management.
  2. Role Definitions and Inheritance: Support for complex role hierarchies and inherited permissions ensures that all potential risk sources are considered, making the system more resilient.
  3. User-Friendly Interfaces and Reporting: Implement interfaces that allow users to request access and view risk-related information easily. Digest emails and reports provide comprehensive views of risk violations and statuses, aiding in timely decision-making.

Practical Implementation: Use Cases and Examples

Implementing a risk management system involves real-world applications and scenarios. Here are some practical examples:

  1. Risk Policy Creation and Management: Develop and manage risk policies that map functions and set up mitigating controls. This includes creating segregation of duties policies to prevent fraud and unauthorized actions.
  2. Recertification Processes: Integrate risk information into access recertification workflows. This ensures that managers can understand and address potential risks during periodic reviews, enhancing overall security.

Conclusion

In conclusion, mastering risk management requires a comprehensive approach that encompasses the identification, assessment, and mitigation of various risks. By defining clear risk functions and policies, implementing robust mapping and compilation processes, and leveraging advanced features, organizations can create an effective risk management system. This proactive stance on risk management not only protects assets and data but also ensures long-term business success and resilience.

For organizations looking to enhance their risk management capabilities, it's essential to stay informed about best practices and continuously adapt to new challenges. By following the strategies outlined in this post, businesses can build a solid foundation for managing risks effectively.

 

Request a Free Risk Assessment from our Experts

Tags: Active Directory, IAM, Virtual Directory, Access Governance, cloud security

EmpowerID at the Forefront of AI-Driven Identity Solutions at EIC 2024 Berlin

Posted by Aditya Taneja on Wed, May 22, 2024

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The 2024 European Identity and Cloud Conference (EIC2024) in Berlin, Germany, features a series of insightful sessions by EmpowerID's Identity experts. This guide provides an overview of each session, along with links to their abstracts, to help you decide which ones pique your interests. 

Patrick Parker, CEO & Co-Founder EmpowerID

1. Unpacking Authorization Approaches: Policy as Code Versus Traditional Business Needs

  • Type: Pre-conference Event
  • Date & Time: Tuesday, June 04, 2024, 08:30—10:00
  • Location: A 05-06
  • Abstract: Session Details

In this session, Patrick Parker will delve into the differences between policy-as-code approaches and traditional business needs, exploring how each impacts authorization strategies.

2. Navigating the New IGA Frontier: Harnessing LLM AI Agents with Dynamic Authorization

  • Type: Keynote
  • Date & Time: Tuesday, June 04, 2024, 18:50—19:10
  • Location: C 01
  • Abstract: Session Details

Join Patrick Parker as he discusses the integration of Large Language Models (LLM) and AI agents in Identity Governance and Administration (IGA) for dynamic authorization.

3. Panel: Executive Alert: Navigating AI-Driven Security Threats for Boards and C-Suites

  • Type: Combined Session
  • Date & Time: Wednesday, June 05, 2024, 14:30—14:50
  • Location: B 09
  • Abstract: Session Details

This panel will cover AI-driven security threats, providing crucial insights for board members and C-suite executives.

4. Panel: Policy Engines in Practice

  • Type: Combined Session
  • Date & Time: Friday, June 07, 2024, 10:50—11:30
  • Location: A 03-04
  • Abstract: Session Details

Explore practical applications of policy engines in various business environments in this comprehensive panel discussion.

 

Anishma Mavuram, Product Manager

Trust, Transparency, and User Experience in AI-Driven Identity and Access Management

  • Type: Combined Session
  • Date & Time: Wednesday, June 05, 2024, 12:45—13:00
  • Location: B 07-08
  • Abstract: Session Details

Anishma Mahuvaram will discuss how AI-driven IAM solutions can balance trust, transparency, and user experience.

 

Adeel Javaid, IAM Engineer

AI-Driven Identity Verification: Balancing Security and Privacy

  • Type: Combined Session
  • Date & Time: Wednesday, June 05, 2024, 14:50—15:10
  • Location: B 09
  • Abstract: Session Details

Adeel Javaid's session will focus on the challenges and solutions in balancing security and privacy during AI-driven identity verification.

 

Hammad Ul Haq, Solution Architect

Unlocking Identity Security with Behavioral Biometrics and AI

  • Type: Combined Session
  • Date & Time: Thursday, June 06, 2024, 15:45—16:00
  • Location: A 05-06
  • Abstract: Session Details

Hammad Ul Haq will present how behavioral biometrics and AI can enhance identity security.


We hope this guide helps you navigate the EmpowerID sessions at EIC2024. Be sure to click on the session abstracts for more detailed information. See you in Berlin!

Tags: Active Directory, IAM, Virtual Directory, Access Governance, cloud security

NIS2 Compliance: Empowering Your Cybersecurity

Posted by Aditya Taneja on Thu, Mar 07, 2024

 

The introduction of the Network and Information Security Directive 2 (NIS2) marks a significant step forward in the European Union's efforts to strengthen cybersecurity across a broader range of sectors and organizations. With a compliance deadline set for October 17, 2024, NIS2 extends the foundational cybersecurity risk management measures and reporting obligations established by its predecessor, aiming to mitigate cyber threats and enhance the overall cybersecurity posture within the EU. This directive introduces more rigorous accountability through enhanced reporting obligations and increased sanctions, positioning NIS2 as a critical milestone for organizations committed to maintaining a robust cybersecurity framework.

For enterprises, understanding NIS2's granular impact on daily operations is crucial for strategic planning and compliance. As a leader in the cybersecurity and identity management space, EmpowerID is uniquely positioned to guide and support organizations navigating the complexities of NIS2 compliance. This article delves into the specific changes brought about by NIS2 and how you can facilitate your organization's journey toward compliance and beyond. For business executives, download our NIS2 compliance checklist designed to offer strategic insights into the roles of personnel, planning processes, and collaborative partnerships essential for devising robust NIS2 compliance strategies.

A Closer Look at NIS2

NIS2, the successor to the original Network and Information Systems Directive, aims to fortify the cybersecurity framework across the EU. It introduces stringent requirements for a broader spectrum of sectors, demanding enhanced resilience against cyber-attacks. The directive's reach now extends to digital platforms, cloud computing services, and an expanded array of essential and important entities, signaling a comprehensive approach to cybersecurity.

One of the pivotal changes under NIS2 is the extension of its regulatory scope. Previously focused on critical sectors like energy, transport, and finance, NIS2 now encompasses a wider array of digital services, including social networks and data processing services. This broadened scope means that more enterprises will find themselves under the directive's purview, necessitating a reevaluation of their cybersecurity posture.

 

NIS2: A New Paradigm in Cybersecurity Regulation

NIS2 introduces several key enhancements designed to fortify the cybersecurity landscape for entities within the EU:

  • Broader Sectoral Coverage: Expanding beyond the original directive, NIS2 includes additional sectors and digital services, broadening its applicability and ensuring that a wide array of organizations are covered under its protective umbrella.
  • Advanced Cybersecurity Mandates: Organizations are now required to implement comprehensive risk assessments, multifactor authentication, secure protocols for sensitive data access, and robust supply chain security measures. Incident management and business continuity planning are also emphasized, representing a significant advancement from prior directives.
  • Streamlined Incident Reporting: The directive mandates a more efficient and effective reporting mechanism for cybersecurity incidents, enhancing communication with national authorities.
  • Stricter Penalties for Non-compliance: Reflecting the directive's commitment to cybersecurity, NIS2 establishes severe repercussions for non-compliance, including substantial fines and legal liabilities for organizational management

Strategic Implications for Daily Operations

For enterprise leaders, NIS2 introduces several strategic considerations that will influence day-to-day operations:

  1. Cybersecurity as a Continuous Process

The directive necessitates a shift towards continuous risk management and adaptation of cybersecurity measures. Enterprises must regularly update their risk assessments and security practices in response to evolving threats, integrating cybersecurity into the operational DNA of the organization.

  1. Enhanced Collaboration and Information Sharing

NIS2 encourages greater collaboration and information sharing among enterprises and between enterprises and national authorities. This requires establishing communication channels and protocols for sharing threat intelligence, which can enhance collective cybersecurity resilience but also demands careful handling of sensitive information.

  1. Operationalizing Compliance

Compliance with NIS2 is not a one-time effort but a continuous obligation. Enterprises must operationalize their compliance efforts, embedding them into daily workflows. This includes ongoing monitoring of cybersecurity practices, regular training for staff, and periodic audits to ensure adherence to the directive's requirements.

  1. Strategic Vendor Management

With the directive's focus on supply chain security, enterprises must scrutinize their vendors and partners more closely. This involves conducting cybersecurity assessments of third parties, renegotiating contracts to include cybersecurity clauses, and possibly reconfiguring supply chains to mitigate risks.

  1. Financial Planning and Resource Allocation

The financial implications of NIS2 compliance are significant. Enterprises must allocate resources not only for the initial implementation of required cybersecurity measures but also for their ongoing maintenance and the potential costs associated with incident response and recovery. Additionally, the risk of substantial fines for non-compliance necessitates a strategic approach to financial planning and risk management.

Preparing for NIS2 with EmpowerID

As the deadline for NIS2 compliance approaches, EmpowerID is ready to assist organizations in preparing for and achieving compliance. Our guiding principles for NIS2 readiness emphasize proactive defense, strategic planning, and the importance of leveraging the right partners and solutions. It's also important to consider how the principles of Zero Trust, a fundamental aspect of EmpowerID’s approach to security, naturally align with the objectives of NIS2 to bolster your organization’s defenses against evolving cyber threats.

EmpowerID's comprehensive suite of identity management and cybersecurity solutions offers a path to not just compliance but enhanced security and operational efficiency. By choosing EmpowerID, organizations can navigate the complexities of NIS2 with confidence, ensuring a secure, compliant, and resilient cybersecurity framework.

Don’t forget to grab your free copy of the NIS2 compliance checklist to make your compliance journey easier with our strategic insights.

Tags: Governance and Regulatory Compliance, GDPR, dataprivacy

EmpowerID at the Forefront of Identity Management and Cybersecurity Events in 2024!

Posted by Aditya Taneja on Wed, Feb 14, 2024

 

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As we step into another innovative year for Identity, EmpowerID is excited to announce its participation in a series of prestigious events and conferences dedicated to Identity Management (IAM), Cybersecurity, AI, and Cloud technologies. Whether you're an industry veteran or a rising star in the field, these events are a golden opportunity to network, learn, and discover more about the Industry and how you can propel your enterprise forward. Here's your guide to where we'll be in 2024, discussing the latest innovations in IAM to the cutting-edge of cloud security.

Here's where you can find us in 2024: 

EmpowerID 2024 Event Calendar 

Innovate Cybersecurity Summit
Date: February 25-27 
Location: Nashville, TN, USA 
Description: CISOs from Fortune 2000 converge to discuss security innovation at Innovate. 

RSA Conference 2024 
Date: May 6-9, 2024 
Location: San Francisco, CA, USA 
Description: EmpowerID discusses next-gen cybersecurity at RSA, connecting with global security professionals. 

European Cloud Summit 
Date: May 14-16, 2024 
Location: Wiesbaden, Germany 
Description: EmpowerID discusses its solutions for Entra, Identity and Security amongst the biggest cloud technology providers in the world.

Identiverse 
Date: May 28-31, 2024 
Location: Las Vegas, NV, USA 
Description: EmpowerID demonstrates robust IAM solutions for businesses ranging from SMBs to Fortune 500. 

KuppingerCole European Identity and Cloud Conference (EIC) 
Date: June 4-7, 2024 
Location: Berlin, Germany 
Description: Experience the synergy of Identity & Cloud with EmpowerID at the KuppingerCole Conference. Catch 3 Live Speakers from EmpowerID discussing the latest in AI and Identity. 

IT SA - The IT Security Expo and Congress
Date: October 22-24, 2024 
Location: Nuremberg, Germany 
Description: Join EmpowerID at IT SA, the pinnacle event for security expertise in the German market. 

Microsoft Ignite
Date: TBA
Location: TBA

Gartner IAM Summit
Date: December 9-11, 2024 
Location: Dallas 
Description: Fortune 500 companies connect to discuss the latest in IAM/IGA/PAM at Gartner IAM. 

Tags: Active Directory, IAM, Virtual Directory, Access Governance, cloud security

Exchange Online Management: Delegated Mailbox Management Redefined

Posted by Aditya Taneja on Fri, Jan 12, 2024

Managing the vast array of mailboxes within a growing organization with new Joiners, Leavers, Movers every single month has become an increasingly complex task for IT Teams, especially with the widespread adoption of Microsoft's Exchange Online as part of the Office 365 suite.

Traditionally, IT teams have managed organizational mailboxes through manual setup and maintenance processes. This involves creating mailboxes for new users, setting permissions, and deleting accounts for those who left the company, all this is done using on-premises servers and software. Heavily relying on in-house IT staff to monitor, update, and enforce security policies and access controls, often using scripts or native tools provided by the email platform. As the organizations grow though, these methods start becoming increasingly cumbersome and less efficient, lacking the agility and security demanded by modern digital workplaces.

Traditional mailbox management methods presented several challenges:

  1. Manual Processes: Time-consuming and error-prone manual administration.
  2. Lack of Scalability: Difficulty managing large volumes of mailbox requests.
  3. Inconsistent Policy Enforcement: Security policies were not always uniformly applied.
  4. Auditing Challenges: Complicated and labor-intensive auditing and reporting for compliance.
  5. Basic Access Controls: Inadequate controls led to excessive user permissions.
  6. Slow Incident Response: Delayed action in addressing security incidents.
  7. Inefficient User Lifecycle Management: Cumbersome onboarding and offboarding processes.
  8. Dependence on Legacy Systems: Difficulties in updating integrated legacy infrastructures.

This task, often referred to as delegated mailbox management, has undergone a significant transformation, thanks to innovative approaches and technologies that redefine its execution and oversight.

The New Era of Mailbox Management

The legacy methods of mailbox management often involved tedious, manual processes that not only consumed valuable time but also left room for errors and security vulnerabilities. The shift to cloud-based email services like Exchange Online promised efficiency and scalability, yet it also demanded a new level of expertise in managing permissions, access controls, and governance policies.

Modern mailbox management requires a solution that not only simplifies these tasks but does so with a stringent focus on security. This is where advanced identity governance and administration (IGA) platforms come into play. They offer a transformative approach that aligns with the principle of least privilege and the Zero Trust model — the idea that no one is trusted by default from inside or outside the network, and verification is required from everyone trying to gain access to resources on the network.

EmpowerID: The Vanguard of Delegated Mailbox Administration

EmpowerID's Exchange Online Manager offers a transformative approach to mailbox governance in Microsoft 365. It serves as a comprehensive solution for CISOs and IT Heads who are grappling with the complexities of mailbox governance in the cloud era. Leveraging the Jellybeans Zero Trust model, it delivers precision, security, and ease in delegated mailbox administration tasks.

Enhanced Mailbox Control

  • Comprehensive Mailbox Management: Supports diverse mailbox types, with a policy-driven setup that aligns with compliance and governance from the start.
  • Governance-Focused Onboarding: Initiate governance controls with a wizard-driven process that ensures proper assignment of ownership, access approvals, and licensing from the moment of mailbox creation.
  • Policy-Based Mailbox Provisioning: Automate mailbox provisioning in cloud-only and hybrid modes, ensuring compliance and efficiency.
  • Delegated Mailbox Administration: Apply granular delegated administration to all mailbox tasks without granting elevated native system access, embodying the principles of Zero Trust within your organization.

Security and Compliance at the Forefront

  • Robust Auditing Capabilities: Maintain a robust audit trail with configurable settings that support stringent compliance standards like GDPR and HIPAA.
  • Seamless Permission Synchronization: Automate the synchronization of mailbox permissions, reflecting changes in real-time and simplifying access management.

User-Centric Functionality

  • Intuitive Administrative Experience: EmpowerID provides a user-friendly interface that simplifies complex tasks into wizard-based workflows, ensuring a smooth user experience for administrators.
  • Self-Service Empowerment: End-users can safely request access to necessary resources, fostering autonomy within a secure, monitored framework.

Integration and Scalability

  • Seamless System Integration: EmpowerID harmonizes with existing directory services and ITSM processes, enhancing the organization's existing investment in Microsoft 365.
  • Designed for Scale: Manage large volumes of mailboxes with no performance trade-offs, thanks to an architecture optimized for high demand and complex organizational structures.

Complementing Exchange Online's Security Features

Reinforced Security Controls: EmpowerID enhances the existing security features of Exchange Online by adding robust management and access control layers. This integration helps to strengthen the overall security posture without duplicating or replacing Exchange Online's native security functionalities.

Conclusion: The Strategic Edge

EmpowerID's Exchange Online Manager is not just a solution—it is a strategic enhancement to your organization's email management. It merges security, compliance, and efficiency, providing a centralized, streamlined, and secure mailbox management system. Experience the future of mailbox administration with EmpowerID, where advanced governance meets intuitive design.

 

Tags: Active Directory, IAM, Virtual Directory, Access Governance, cloud security

Revolutionizing Azure integration with EmpowerID's SCIM Virtual Directory!

Posted by Aditya Taneja on Tue, Dec 19, 2023

In today's "work from anywhere" model, cloud-based identity management solutions are quickly becoming the norm. To enable interoperable cloud provisioning, Microsoft has embraced the System for Cross Domain Identity Management (SCIM) protocol in Azure. SCIM was created as a powerful means of standardizing, simplifying, and automating identity management for users, groups, and devices across cloud-based applications and services, and Microsoft is betting big on it.

The challenge with SCIM is that it has yet to become widely adopted, and many applications simply do not support it. If you have custom applications with repositories of identity information or use an on-premise or cloud application like SAP S/4 HANA or SAP Ariba, or even a major HR system like UltiPro, you will not be able to integrate those systems with Azure unless you or the vendor builds a SCIM interface for each. This is no small task because, while the protocol is simple, building the interface is not.

EmpowerID stepped into the gap and designed a Workflow-Driven SCIM Virtual Directory Server (VDS) that can sit between Azure and your non-SCIM applications. You simply connect those applications to EmpowerID and register the EmpowerID SCIM VDS in Azure. There is no need to wait for vendors or put in the time and effort needed to build a SCIM interface; EmpowerID takes care of everything for you.

 

 

Authentication Challenges: Unraveling the Complexity

  1. Diverse Directory Systems: Organizations often deploy their directory systems, each with its set of permissions and administration controls. However, these systems fail to provide the granular level of access required, turning into additional entities for IT systems to manage.

  2. Privilege Abuse and Security Risks: The adoption of multiple directory systems increases the surface area of attacks through privilege abuse. Without comprehensive controls, organizations face heightened security risks, leaving their systems vulnerable to exploitation.

  3. Slow Adoption of SCIM: Despite the promise of standardization and simplification, the System for Cross Domain Identity Management (SCIM) has experienced slow adoption. Many applications lack support for SCIM, leaving organizations unable to leverage its benefits fully.

Why SCIM?

Enjoy all the Advantages of SCIM without the Effort – Created in 2011 as an open standard, lightweight provisioning protocol for the "Cloud age," SCIM provides a uniform way for applications to communicate identity information with each other. Although the adoption of SCIM has been slow, it is the way forward. With EmpowerID’s SCIM VDS, organizations can convert their applications to SCIM without waiting for vendors to come onboard or doing the heavy lifting of converting their legacy proprietary applications to SCIM.
 
Seamlessly Integrate All Your Applications with Azure Provisioning Services – The EmpowerID SCIM Virtual Directory is a microservice and a SCIM server that can be deployed as an App Service in any Azure tenant. Simply plug the VDS into any Azure environment, secure it with an Azure managed identity, and then register as many of your enterprise applications as needed. If the VDS knows about these applications, it will pass Azure provisioning commands to that system, SCIM compliant or not.
 
Workflow-Driven Virtual Directory Services – More than just a "SCIM gateway," which is more than just an application that simply passes identity lifecycle commands like "provision this user" or "add this user to that group" from one system to another, the EmpowerID VDS treats everything as a workflow. This keeps your business logic in the process. Commands are evaluated by the VDS, which can trigger policies, invoke naming conventions, generate strong passwords, and send policy violations for human approval before any final provisioning action occurs. You determine what needs to happen when Azure makes a provisioning call.
 
 

HOW DOES THIS WORK?

The SCIM Virtual Directory is a microservice and a SCIM server created by EmpowerID that can be deployed as an App Service in Azure tenants. This makes the SCIM VDS the intermediary between Azure and any applications registered in EmpowerID. Provisioning calls are made to the EmpowerID SCIM VDS, and the call is then directed to the appropriate system.
 
For example, if you have connected EmpowerID to Salesforce and an HR system, and a new user is provisioned in Azure AD, EmpowerID intercepts the call to provision the new user and directs it to the appropriate systems in EmpowerID.
 
This allows for any policies and other business logic to be evaluated first. Once your business logic completes, the account is provisioned in the appropriate systems, and everything is kept up to sync. The natural question arises as to how EmpowerID knows what system to update. The answer to the question is the URL you set for your applications in EmpowerID. Without going into detail, you simply specify the path to the application registered in EmpowerID. The image below depicts this.
 
 
The last part of the path points to the application in the image. This is how EmpowerID knows where to direct the call made by Azure.
 
This allows you to SCIM-enable any system connected to EmpowerID without needing to create a specific SCIM connector for that system. EmpowerID does it for you, helping you leverage Azure AD provisioning quickly and easily for many systems with some advanced features.
 

WORKFLOW-DRIVEN VIRTUAL DIRECTORY SERVICES

Traditional SCIM connectors operate on a "fire and forget" principle. They simply pass commands from one system to another without any intermediate layer of logic. In essence, they function more as a SCIM gateway. The EmpowerID SCIM VDS, on the other hand, takes a different approach. It not only passes commands from one system to another but also evaluates your business processes in the process.
 
We refer to this approach as "everything is a workflow," and it is at the core of the EmpowerID paradigm. Organizations need to inject their business logic into the process to maintain complete control.
 
 
The image above illustrates the difference between the two approaches. In the first flow, Azure AD Provisioning Service sends commands to the EmpowerID SCIM VDS. EmpowerID then invokes the appropriate workflow for the command, allowing business processes to be executed before forwarding those commands downstream to a connected system. In the second, lower flow, Azure sends the same commands directly to a connected system, where they simply occur in that system with no control over the transactions. With EmpowerID acting as an intermediary, the entire process can be evaluated and interrupted if necessary.
 

Tags: Active Directory, IAM, Virtual Directory, Access Governance, cloud security

EmpowerID and ServiceNow: Elevating Service Management and Identity Governance

Posted by Aditya Taneja on Tue, Oct 31, 2023

ServiceNow is a powerful platform for IT service management (ITSM) and enterprise service management (ESM), helping organizations streamline their business processes, automate workflows, and provide efficient services to employees and customers. But what if you could take your ServiceNow experience to the next level by integrating it with Identity and Access Management (IAM) capabilities?

For ServiceNow experts seeking to enhance their service management capabilities while addressing the complexities of Identity and Access Management (IAM), the integration of EmpowerID with ServiceNow offers a powerful best-of-breed solution, bridging the gap between IAM and service management. Let's delve into the key aspects of how EmpowerID enhances your ServiceNow experience.

5

Identity Lifecycle for ServiceNow

The EmpowerID Identity Lifecycle for ServiceNow automates account provisioning and access assignments, making it a game-changer for organizations. By implementing policy-based "Compliant Access," one can effectively eliminate security challenges and human errors commonly associated with manual user creation and access assignment within ServiceNow.

1

One significant advantage is the ability to detect changes originating from your HR system, which trigger manual lifecycle events. EmpowerID can efficiently handles these changes, automating the provisioning and deprovisioning of user accounts across various environments and tenants. During the deprovisioning process, it ensures a graceful handover of responsibilities and the transfer of data ownership, all in adherence to your pre-defined business policies.

ServiceCatalog and ServiceDesk Enhancements

EmpowerID’s integration with the ServiceNow service desk allows the identity management tasks and self-service actions performed or initiated within EmpowerID to be integrated with the ServiceNow ticket tracking system. This ensures that all requests have a ticket in ServiceNow. Approvals can optionally be performed in ServiceNow, but the actions that happen in EmpowerID keep you updated, ensuring that you never lose visibility of what's happening in your EmpowerID system. Tickets reflect all those changes within ServiceNow.

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Integrating with the ServiceCatalog further allows access requests initiated from within the ServiceNow interface to be fulfilled by EmpowerID. EmpowerID has numerous IT connectors, extending the reach of ServiceNow requests to allow them to be fully automated with fulfillment.

Zero Trust Delegated Administration for ServiceNow

The concept of Zero Trust is a cornerstone of modern security strategies. However, out-of-the-box, ServiceNow's security model do not align with the principles of Zero Trust, as it involves granting users permanent unproxied access to systems. Permanent privileged access is challenging to monitor and may expose organizations to security risks.

This is where EmpowerID's unique approach shines. EmpowerID overlays a unified security model on top of native applications or systems, such as ServiceNow. This overlay effectively integrates EmpowerID's granular security model with the native system, allowing for fine-grained delegated administrative privileges. In essence, EmpowerID transforms ServiceNow into a Zero Trust-capable system.

With EmpowerID, granular administrative control can be delegated to users within specific business units or partner organizations. This level of fine-grained delegation supports even the most complex global organizations and multitenancy scenarios, all without the need to grant native administrative privileges.

ServiceNow Compliance and Recertification

EmpowerID brings granularity, control, and functionality to ServiceNow, simplifying the audit process and compliance management. Auditing ServiceNow environments can be challenging, particularly in proving who has access to specific applications and roles.

EmpowerID solves this by maintaining an up-to-date audit and providing complete control over access across all your ServiceNow tenants. This transparency streamlines the certification process and almost automatically produces the necessary proof for audits.

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EmpowerID also includes built-in attestation policies that allow for rapid periodic recertification of ServiceNow group and role assignments, eliminating the hassle of auditing this critical infrastructure. The categorization of external users and risk-based Separation of Duties policies further enhance the compliance and governance capabilities within ServiceNow.

Orchestration Pack – Entitlement Sync and Workflows

The Orchestration Pack for ServiceNow empowers process designers to leverage EmpowerID capabilities within their ServiceNow business processes. This pack introduces workflow activities, web services, and example workflows, offering unparalleled flexibility.

For example, it includes a job that synchronizes and maintains an up-to-date list of requestable groups and roles from the EmpowerID Identity Warehouse to custom tables in your ServiceNow tenants. These workflow activities permit users to request access to entitlements in any EmpowerID-connected system directly from the ServiceNow Service Catalog.

 

 

Notably, example workflows are fully customizable, with no restrictions on modifications. This flexibility allows ServiceNow process designers to incorporate these workflows into existing and future workflows, tailoring them to specific organizational needs.

AI-Powered Chat Bot Virtual Assistant

EmpowerID's AI-powered chat bot virtual assistant empowers users to perform self-service automation across various routine tasks, including password resets and unlocks. The chat bot offers users the convenience of self-service automation through their preferred communication channels, such as SMS, Teams, web, mobile, and the ServiceNow portal.

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Behind the scenes, the chat bot interacts with EmpowerID's visually designed workflows to securely automate Identity Governance and Administration (IGA) processes that interact with both Cloud and on-premise applications and systems. Users can perform tasks like password resets, application and group access requests, SAP role access requests, privileged credential management, mobile login to SSO applications, and more, streamlining routine tasks and improving user productivity.

 

Key Capabilities of EmpowerID in the ServiceNow Environment

  1. Single Sign-On (SSO): EmpowerID enables seamless SSO for ServiceNow, streamlining user access with one set of credentials and enhancing security.
  2. User Provisioning and Deprovisioning: EmpowerID automates user onboarding and offboarding, reducing administrative overhead during employee transitions.
  3. Role-Based Access Control (RBAC): EmpowerID extends granular RBAC policies to ServiceNow, ensuring users have appropriate access based on their job roles.
  4. Self-Service Capabilities: EmpowerID empowers users with self-service features for actions like password resets and profile updates, reducing IT support tickets.
  5. Governance and Compliance: EmpowerID offers access certification and compliance management, ensuring ServiceNow aligns with regulatory standards and internal policies.
  6. Workflow Orchestration: EmpowerID's workflow engine streamlines service requests, approvals, and other processes within ServiceNow.

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Enhancing IT Service Management with EmpowerID

  • Efficient User Onboarding: EmpowerID's user provisioning allows new employees to access ServiceNow immediately, improving IT issue resolution.
  • Service Desk Productivity: Self-service options reduce service desk tickets, enhancing productivity and allowing teams to focus on complex tasks.
  • Automated Access Requests: Streamlined access request workflows enable users to request specific ServiceNow functionalities, which are automatically approved and provisioned.

Strengthening Identity and Access Management with ServiceNow

  • Unified Identity Management: EmpowerID centralizes user identities within the broader IAM strategy, encompassing the entire enterprise.
  • Access Governance: EmpowerID's access certification and audit capabilities apply to ServiceNow, certifying access to functions and data, bolstering security and compliance.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the EmpowerID and ServiceNow integration delivers a comprehensive solution that seamlessly combines the capabilities of IAM with service management. This integration enhances identity lifecycle management, provides Zero Trust delegated administration, simplifies compliance and recertification, and offers flexible orchestration and automation through AI-powered chat bot virtual assistants. It's a powerful tool for ServiceNow experts looking to maximize the potential of their service management platform while addressing IAM challenges.

 

Bridge Your Security Gaps Today!

Tags: Active Directory, IAM, Virtual Directory, Access Governance, cloud security

Azure App Secrets Expiration: Avoiding Disruptions with Proactive Alerts

Posted by Aditya Taneja on Wed, Oct 25, 2023

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Azure Active Directory (now EntraID) plays a crucial role in managing user identities and controlling access to resources. Many applications rely on Azure AD to authenticate themselves, and this often involves the use of client secrets and certificates. However, the expiration of these credentials can lead to significant operational disruptions, making it vital for organizations to monitor and manage them effectively.

The Consequences of Ignoring Expiry

Replacing a client secret or certificate is a straightforward task when performed proactively. However, the real dilemma arises when these credentials expire unexpectedly. When an application suddenly stops working, organizations must scramble to identify the root cause, leading to downtime, loss of productivity, and potential financial implications.

One would imagine that a solution to this inevitable problem should exist out of the box within Azure Application Objects, but that is not the case. This seemingly insignificant problem can cause many failed application accesses, leading to unavoidable application downtime as the sync process basically stops working and users won't be able to sign in to their applications.

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The Problem of Credential Expiration

When applications use the client credential flow in Azure AD, they must present valid credentials to prove their identity when requesting access tokens. These credentials come in two forms:

  1. Client Secrets: These are essentially secret strings that serve as application passwords. They are used to authenticate the application and obtain access tokens.
  2. Certificates: Certificates function as cryptographic keys that verify the application's identity. They act as a form of public key authentication when requesting access tokens.

While using client secrets and certificates is essential for secure authentication, it also introduces a challenge – their expiration. When these credentials reach their expiration dates, applications face authentication failures, rendering them unable to access the resources they need. This can disrupt critical business processes and lead to frustration among users.

The Need for Proactive Monitoring

To sidestep the unwelcome consequences of credential expiration, the need for proactive monitoring of client secrets and certificates within Azure AD applications cannot be overstated. Organizations require a reliable system capable of diligently tracking the status of these credentials and notifying the relevant stakeholders well in advance of their impending expiration.

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Such proactive notifications grant organizations a crucial window of opportunity. This interval allows them to take pre-emptive corrective actions, thereby safeguarding the continuity of their operations and preserving seamless functionality.

In the quest for such solutions, a journey into the labyrinth of the internet awaits. It's a landscape where countless DIY solutions emerge like chaotic fragments of a puzzle. Among these are the ingenious yet often complicated Macgyvered solutions, including the utilization of Azure Automation runbooks scripted in PowerShell to schedule scans for certificates and client secrets. While some may find these makeshift solutions intriguing, it's our firm belief that users should never find themselves dependent on such methods for managing their Certificate Renewals.

Solution: Monitoring with EmpowerID

With EmpowerID, the solution becomes as simple as a few clicks. Thanks to our library of out-of-the-box workflows, you can effortlessly trigger a No Code Workflow event. This ensures that, in the event of an impending certificate or secret expiration, you receive a timely reminder directly in your inbox.

EmpowerID's monitoring system maintains a vigilant watch over all applications, issuing timely alerts to application owners. These alerts are strategically sent out, typically 30, 14, and 7 days prior to the credentials' expiration. Notifications are conveniently delivered via email and Microsoft Teams, ensuring that application owners are promptly informed.

This proactive approach empowers organizations to stay ahead of credential expiration issues, preventing unexpected disruptions and safeguarding access to critical resources. Furthermore, EmpowerID's flexibility allows for customization, enabling organizations to tailor monitoring to their specific needs.

Taking Monitoring a Step Further

EmpowerID doesn't stop at just expiration reminders. It can also be configured to send alerts whenever a client secret or certificate is created for an app. This is critical because unauthorized application connections to your Azure AD could potentially be the first step in a security breach by an external entity. Achieving all of this with a straightforward Drag-and-Drop Workflow is a testament to the flexibility of EmpowerID's workflow engine.

Tags: Active Directory, IAM, Virtual Directory, Access Governance, cloud security

Exploring Microsoft EntraID: Features and Limitations

Posted by Aditya Taneja on Mon, Oct 09, 2023

Entra is the new name for Microsoft's family of identity and access technologies brought together in one place and under one portal.This marks Microsoft's foray into a full-suite Identity Management which began with the rebranding of its Azure Active Directory framework. 

However, like any other technology, it comes with its own set of limitations. In this comprehensive guide, we delve into the features of EntraID while simultaneously discussing the boundaries that organizations may encounter when implementing this platform.

Features & Drawbacks of Microsoft EntraID:

1. Access Packages:

One of the core features of EntraID is its "Access Packages." These packages function as an Identity Management (IM) shopping cart, allowing organizations to bundle access rights conveniently. This feature simplifies the process of granting permissions to users, especially in large enterprises with complex access requirements. However, it's essential to recognize that the scope of EntraID's access packages is not without limitations.

Limitation: EntraID's access packages are primarily designed for use within Azure AD. While they simplify access management for Azure resources, these Access Packages are limited to just the roles and objects within your Azure Active Directory. Managing access for users with roles beyond Azure AD, such as Salesforce, SAP, or ServiceNow, is not possible within Entra.

2. Governance Capabilities:

EntraID extends Azure AD's governance capabilities, enabling organizations to define access policies, manage user lifecycles, and enforce security policies. It aims to provide a comprehensive framework for identity governance, which is crucial for compliance and risk management.

 

 

Limitation: EntraID's governance capabilities might fall short when dealing with complex multi-system environments. The platform's primary focus is on governing objects within Azure AD, limiting its effectiveness in managing access across disparate directories and systems.

3. Conditional Access and MFA:

EntraID includes robust support for Conditional Access and Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). These security features play a pivotal role in protecting sensitive data and ensuring that only authorized users gain access to resources.

Limitation: While EntraID excels in securing Azure resources, it may not seamlessly integrate with all external applications and services. Organizations utilizing a diverse set of tools may face challenges in implementing uniform Conditional Access policies across their entire ecosystem.

4. Verified ID and Distributed Identity:

EntraID introduces the concept of "Verified ID," which aligns with the emerging trend of distributed identities and self-sovereign identities. This feature holds the promise of a decentralized, trust-based approach to identity management.

Limitation: The adoption of Verified ID and distributed identity models may require a shift in the way organizations approach identity. Achieving full interoperability and trust between different identity providers can be complex and time-consuming, potentially limiting the immediate practicality of this feature.

Addressing the Limitations:

While Microsoft EntraID offers a robust set of features for identity management and access control, it becomes inherently limited by its sole reliance on Azure AD as its only directory as its identity warehouse to manage all its identities (even across external systems). Thus limiting its management capabilities in various avenues.

  1. Integration with External Systems: For managing access to external systems, consider using identity management solutions that offer comprehensive connectors and integration capabilities. This allows you to extend governance beyond Azure AD.

  2. Recertification and Compliance: Implement a dedicated recertification solution or process to address the limitations of EntraID in recertifying access across various systems. This can help ensure compliance with security policies.

  3. Hybrid Identity Management: In complex multi-cloud or multi-system environments, consider a hybrid identity management approach that combines the strengths of EntraID with other IAM solutions to bridge the gap.

  4. Verified ID and Distributed Identity: Embrace the concept of verified and distributed identities gradually. Start by exploring use cases where these models align with your organization's goals and where trust relationships can be established.

Conclusion

Microsoft EntraID presents a compelling solution for identity and access management, particularly within the Azure ecosystem. Its features offer valuable tools for simplifying identity governance and enhancing security. However, organizations must be mindful of its limitations, especially when managing access to external systems and diverse environments.

While Azure AD is a single directory, EmpowerID takes a Meta-Directory approach, encompassing all objects, roles, and users from over 100 different external systems. This provides organizations with comprehensive governance, recertification, and risk management capabilities covering all aspects of identity management and extending well beyond Microsoft Entra.

 

Entra Vs EmpowerID: A Guided Demo

Tags: Active Directory, IAM, Virtual Directory, Access Governance, cloud security