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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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

Exploring Advanced Privileged Access Management (PAM) and Privileged Session Management (PSM)

Posted by Aditya Taneja on Mon, Sep 11, 2023


Privileged Access Management (PAM) and Privileged Session Management (PSM) are integral components of modern cybersecurity practices. Traditional Privileged Access Management (PAM) solutions have served their purpose for years, providing a good level of control and security. However, as threats become more sophisticated and organizations grow more and more complex with dynamic access management requirements, a transition to more fine-grained PAM solutions has become imperative. In this blog post, we'll explore why organizations should consider making this shift, alluding to the capabilities of cutting-edge solutions like EmpowerID.

The Limitations of Traditional PAM

Traditional PAM solutions, while effective in many aspects, have inherent limitations that hinder their ability to adapt to today's complex security challenges. These limitations include:

  1. Static Privileges: Traditional PAM often relies on static standing privileges that are assigned to users or accounts in advance. This approach poses a considerable security risk, as it means that users may have access to resources they don't need, potentially leading to misuse or unauthorized access.

  2. Limited Visibility: Traditional PAM solutions may provide limited visibility into privileged sessions, making it challenging to monitor user activities comprehensively. This lack of visibility can impede the detection of unusual or malicious behavior.

  3. Complex Approval Processes: The approval processes in traditional PAM solutions are often manual, time-consuming, and prone to human error. These processes can hinder operational efficiency and frustrate users seeking expedited access.

  4. Inefficient Rotation of Credentials: Password rotation in traditional PAM solutions can be cumbersome and may not fully prevent unauthorized access to sensitive systems. Frequent rotation also disrupts operations and can lead to service interruptions.

What is Advanced PAM?

Advanced Privileged Access Management (PAM) and Privileged Session Management (PSM) offer significant advantages over traditional PAM/PSM approaches. Unlike traditional methods that often rely on static, standing privileges, advanced PAM/PSM solutions provide dynamic, just-in-time access. This means users receive access only when needed and for specific tasks, minimizing the risk of unauthorized access.

Additionally, advanced PAM/PSM solutions incorporate robust approval workflows, ensuring that access requests undergo a structured validation process. Furthermore, these modern solutions offer a higher level of visibility and auditability, tracking all activities during privileged sessions. With advanced PAM/PSM, organizations can enhance security, reduce standing privileges, and streamline access management in a more efficient and controlled manner. Here are some of the key benefits that Advanced PAM solutions provide over traditional PAM:

1. Better Credential Management:

When it comes to PSM sessions, credential management is crucial. With Advanced PAM, you have the option to manage credentials efficiently. Users initiating PSM sessions can automatically associate credentials with their target computer, simplifying the login process. Alternatively, they can manually select specific credentials if needed.

2. Just-In-Time Credential Provisioning:

Just-in-Time provisioning for credentials is a dynamic approach that offers real-time account creation during user access. This feature generates user accounts in real-time as users access target computers. These accounts are automatically placed in relevant administrative groups, ensuring that only authorized individuals have access. Importantly, these accounts are automatically deleted upon user logout, mitigating the risks associated with standing privileges.

3. Secure Non-JIT Provisioning:

Even without Just-in-Time (JIT) access provisioning, you can leverage advanced PAM and PSM features. By preassigning accounts and linking them to specific computers, a concept known as "standing credentials," you can ensure controlled access to designated resources.

4. Efficient Approval Workflow:

A robust approval workflow is essential for managing privileged access. Users must undergo an approval process to gain access. While pre-approved access is an option, specific eligibility criteria must be met to request access. Administrators have the authority to grant access ahead of time to specific users or groups, ensuring controlled and secure access management.

5. Elevated Access Levels:

Granting varying levels of elevated access during PSM sessions is essential for security. Users can request access levels based on their eligibility, minimizing over-privileged accounts and enhancing overall security.

6. Multiple Ways to Access:

There are three primary approaches to Privileged Access Management:

  1. JIT Access Provisioning: This approach dynamically creates and deletes accounts as needed, reducing standing privileges.

  2. Standing Credentials: Credentials assigned to specific computers facilitate controlled access to designated resources.

  3. Vaulted Credentials: Personal credentials that can be upgraded when necessary provide an added layer of security.


All of these features coalesce to provide a more fine-grained privileged account management experience, with PAM growing beyond just traditional credential management that integrates perfectly with your security policies, and is ready to face modern security challenges such as Pass-the-Hash (PtH) Attacks and much more. 

EmpowerID's advanced PAM and PSM capabilities offer a comprehensive solution for managing privileged access and sessions. With flexible credential provisioning methods, robust approval workflows, and varying access levels, organizations can effectively secure their systems and resources while minimizing the risks associated with standing privileges. EmpowerID empowers organizations to achieve controlled, secure, and efficient privileged access management.

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

Moving Beyond RBAC with Compliant Access Delivery

Posted by Aditya Taneja on Tue, Aug 29, 2023

In our previous article, we covered the benefits and drawbacks of different authorization models, namely:

  • Role-Based Access Control (RBAC)
  • Attribute-Based Access Control (ABAC)
  • Policy-Based Access Control (PBAC)

We summarized that each of them had its unique characteristics. However, for organizations aiming to scale and manage thousands of users, no single method covers all use cases and application technologies. This is because certain types of applications and use cases are better suited for a structured role-based approach, while others require real-time contextual decisions.

While there are overlapping qualities among these models, individually, none of them can address all the necessary aspects of access control. To meet the needs of these organizations, a combination of the benefits from all these authorization models is required to fully ensure the security requirements of enterprises from every possible angle.

This is where the need for a hybrid authorization model arises. With all these considerations, we at EmpowerID embarked on a journey to create a perfect authorization recipe – one that encompassed all aspects of authorization without the drawbacks associated with each model. The result of this endeavor is a unique hybrid approach that combines role and attribute compliance, which we aptly named "Compliant Access Delivery."

The overall goal of Compliant Access Delivery required using the best of each approach implemented following the principles of Zero Trust and Least Privilege. Based on RBAC relational modeling, it provides the backbone or
structure for defining an organization and its overall policies while leveraging the flexibility and real-time contextual nature of ABAC and PBAC to offer the most comprehensive access control solution. 

Compliant Access Delivery

“Compliant Access Delivery” is, first, the capability to map out in advance the position appropriate access for employees, partners, and customers and the risk policies that will measure and ensure continued compliance and to then monitor and enforce this compliant state through automation.

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The natural follow-up question to this is “What makes access compliant?” Compliant access is appropriate to the person to whom it is assigned in accordance with the organizational standards and business policies to minimize risk. Compliant Access Delivery synthesizes multiple Identity and Access Management (IAM) technologies with a business modeling approach to automate and maintain each user's appropriate access to IT systems while continuously minimizing risk. 

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Compliant Access is a well-defined target state against which the current state can be

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The key to Compliant Access are the words “appropriate” and compliant with “business policies.” With Compliant Access, the devil is in the details, and that is where traditional solutions miss the mark. Due to its distinct language, processes, and policies, Compliant Access cannot be delivered by an IAM system that doesn't bridge the divide between the technical system and the business. With its operating procedures, industry norms, and regulatory restrictions, the business defines which jobs are appropriate, what constitutes a risk, and what is considered non-compliant. To achieve this, EmpowerID leverages both the organization’s business model and its language to enforce and provision Compliant Access across Cloud and on-premises systems.

How Does Compliant Access Leverage Your Business Model? 

Defining business-appropriate access is a challenge for IT organizations using their existing IAM systems. These systems were designed to manage only the technical aspects of access control and universally lack a conceptual “bridge” to tie the technical entitlements to the business’s operating model and the activities or “Functions” performed by its participants. 

Everything we cover in this blog can be explored further in our whitepaper “A Guide to Authorization”. You can find that whitepaper here: 

Business Processes and Functions

Businesses are composed of processes for producing and delivering goods or services. These processes involve tasks performed by internal and external participants. Each task can be divided into functions needed for its completion. For instance, creating a purchase order is a function within a purchasing process. While a purchase order is recognizable and its creation straightforward, not all employees should have this ability. During access reviews, managers can easily identify authorized users. This simplicity contrasts with technical entitlements that grant system access, often named confusingly. Functions bridge the gap between technical access and business understanding, ensuring a clear separation between business and IT.

Risk Policies

Compliant Access must be "appropriate" and align with an organization's "business policies." These policies are specific to the organization and cater to its operations, industry, processes, and regulations. Notably, these policies are distinct from the organization's IT systems. For example, the customer acquisition process's risks remain consistent across different Customer Relationship Managers (CRMs) like SalesForce.com or HubSpot. Users' end-to-end functions can be defined before any IT system interaction. Identifying higher-risk functions and potential fraud combinations empowers threat mitigation. Crucially, establishing risk policies at the function level ensures core business activities are monitored effectively. Business users often face confusion when risk policies are tied to technical entitlements instead of familiar business concepts, hindering visibility into actual actions.

Bridging the Gap between Business and Technology

To align business-appropriate access and risk policies, focusing on functions is crucial. This requires bridging them to IT systems, where business specialists play a key role. They map out business processes, activities, and roles involved (Figure 41). Collaborating with IT experts, they convert functions into task-based application roles within specific systems (Figure 42). EmpowerID supports mapping roles to functions and even mapping fine-grained permissions to functions. This clarifies which IT entitlements enable functions, who can perform them, and how access is assigned. Functions enhance business clarity in your IT landscape.

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In conclusion, the evolution of access control has led us to recognize the limitations of traditional models like RBAC. The new era demands a dynamic approach that bridges the gap between technical intricacies and real-world business needs. Compliant Access Delivery emerges as the answer, offering a comprehensive solution that combines the strengths of RBAC, ABAC, and PBAC. 
This hybrid approach ensures that access remains not just efficient, but also "appropriate" and aligned with an organization's specific "business policies." It leverages the expertise of both business and IT specialists to map out functions and roles, transforming them into practical, task-based application roles within IT systems. 
By embracing Compliant Access Delivery, organizations can confidently manage thousands of users, diverse application technologies, and industry-specific regulations. The complexity of modern enterprises is tamed through a holistic framework that leverages the power of functions – the essential building blocks of business processes. With this innovative approach, organizations can strike the balance between stringent security and operational efficiency, ensuring that access is not only controlled but also relevant and compliant.


Learn How CAD can evolve your Authorization Model

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

RBAC vs ABAC vs PBAC: A Practical Guide for Enterprises

Posted by Aditya Taneja on Mon, Aug 21, 2023

It is easy to see how the fragmentation of the modern IT landscape caused by the adoption of a Cloud-first model has increased the importance of a having well-managed authorization strategy and the complexity of achieving this goal. 

To help you choose the best access control model for your organization or application, we compare the most popular options, we'll also analyze and discuss the various attribute-based and role-based approaches for application authorization, including their applicability, strengths, and weaknesses: 

  • Role-Based Access Control (RBAC)
  • Attribute-Based Access Control (ABAC)
  • Policy-Based Access Control (PBAC)
  • Hybrid Role and Attribute-Compliant Access

A well-designed authorization system is essential for managing the day-to-day activities to control who has access to what and enable organizations to safely undergo a digital transformation moving more of their business online and into the Cloud.

Understanding the differences between different authorization models is critical for choosing an appropriate access control method for your organization or application. 

Role-Based Access Control (RBAC)

Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) is a security and authorization model for securing access to computer
resources used by almost all enterprises to secure their systems. RBAC access is based on roles defined by the business using them. In the RBAC model, roles are created, and then sets of permissions for resources are assigned to the role. Users are then granted one or more roles to receive access to resources. 

Fig: RBAC PDP Flow Determining Access to Bob’s X-Ray for Alice

RBAC Benefits
In the RBAC model, since access is not directly assigned to users but bundled into assignments made to roles, the correct assumption is that controlling and maintaining access is easier. Moreover, because roles and access management can be centralized, it is evident who has a role and access to the role grants. There are fewer assignments to be managed, which decreases the cost of security management and compliance auditing. Furthermore, according to a 2010 NIST study, correct RBAC implementation and efficient provisioning can also reduce employee downtime resulting in significant ROI.

  • RBAC is deterministic. An RBAC approach makes it easy to know who has access to what at any moment in time.
  • RBAC is more direct and easier to visualize. Security admins can visualize the actors and resources they will affect when creating or modifying a policy.
  • RBAC is inherently auditable. With RBAC assignments, as the consequences of that access are visible, it is simple for business owners to certify or attest to access granted. This visibility contrasts with ABAC where a “before the fact audit" is impossible and the effects of a rule are difficult to ascertain.
  • RBAC can be simpler than ABAC. For example, with RBAC, bundles of access can be directly assigned to a user. To do this in ABAC requires the creation of a new rule.

RBAC Weaknesses

Unfortunately, the precise nature of the RBAC model can also be considered the source of many of its weaknesses:

  • RBAC requires advanced knowledge of the Subjects and Resources and, typically, does not support making on-the-fly contextual decisions.
  • An RBAC-only approach can result in an enormous number of roles to accomplish fine-grained authorization.
  • Resource owners must know something about the roles and their intended purpose to grant access to those roles accurately.
  • Resources must be organized into collections to facilitate delegation.
  • Probably the most well-known problem with RBAC is “role explosion.”  Organizations often end up with large numbers of roles to accommodate people performing the same job function within different geographical or functional areas within the company. Given a substantial number of roles and collections of resources, a correspondingly large number of delegations would need to be created and managed. 


Attribute-Based Access Control (ABAC): An access control method where the subject requests to perform operations on objects are granted or denied based on assigned attributes of the subject, assigned attributes of the object, environment conditions, and a set of policies that are specified in terms of those attributes and conditions.

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The policies that can be implemented in an ABAC model are limited only to the degree imposed by the computational language and the richness of the available attributes.

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Essentially, the more decision data at your disposal at runtime, the more sophisticated your ABAC policies can be. 

ABAC relies on user attributes for authorization decisions. ABAC policies are rules that evaluate access based upon the following four sets of attributes:

  • Subject – the attributes concerning the person or actor being evaluated.
  • Resource – the attributes of the target or object being affected.
  • Action – describe the action to be performed on the Resource
  • Environment – includes attributes such as the time of the day, IP subnet, and others that do not relate to
    either the Subject or the Resource. 


Fig: NIST SP 800-162 ABAC Definition

ABAC Benefits

The key advantage of ABAC is that it does not allow application developers to hardcode a static list of roles and oversimplify their authorization source code. Rather, ABAC forces them to centralize all authorization decisions and call out at runtime to decide based on the Subject, Resource, Action, and Environment request attributes. Another key benefit is ABAC’s sometimes simpler nature. This simplicity can make it easier to understand how a rule grants access to a resource when dealing with a small number of rules. In contrast, RBAC does seem foreign to many users, and, especially during the early phase of its adoption, the levels of abstraction can be challenging for an IT team.

One other added advantage of ABAC is its flexibility. With ABAC, as long as the necessary data is available, almost anything can be represented as a rule-based query. For example, a rule evaluated at runtime in a login session can use contextual information—even information passed in via SAML claims or JWT tokens. In contrast, when delivering the role membership for a user to the application, a standard RBAC engine would not evaluate this type of information.

Everything we cover in this blog can be explored further in our whitepaper “A Guide to Authorization”. You can find that whitepaper here: 

ABAC Primary Benefits

  • ABAC enforces centralized management of authorization policies
  • ABAC makes it easy to specify access rules as simple queries.
  • ABAC rules can be extraordinarily fine-grained and contextual.
  • ABAC rules can evaluate attributes of Subjects and Resources that are not inventoried by the authorization system.
  • ABAC rules need less maintenance and overhead because they do not require the creation or maintenance of the structure on which an RBAC model depends, e.g., roles and resource locations.


ABAC Weaknesses
The first challenge we encounter with implementing policies like this is the information needs to be obtained and evaluated at runtime. In our policy example, if we needed to know if the user’s nationality was Swiss, then this information would likely reside in either the corporate Active Directory or HR system. Moreover, if we needed to know if the company was in Emergency Mode or not, this essential information might be difficult to obtain in a live corporate environment. Likewise, if we needed to as certain their out-of-office status, this would reside in a corporate email system such as Microsoft 365. Furthermore, to attain information for network login sessions or the MFA status would require a query to an Identity Provider such as Ping Federate. 


ABAC’s Primary Weaknesses

  • ABAC makes it extremely difficult to perform a “before the fact audit” and determine the permissions available to a specific user. To successfully determine access, not only might a considerable number of rules need to be executed, but they must also be done in the same order in which the system applies them. As a result, this could make it impossible to assess risk exposure for any given employee position.
  • In a comparable manner to how a “Role Explosion” can occur with RBAC, an explosion can also occur with ABAC where a system with N number of attributes would have 2N possible rule combinations.
  • Unless rules are kept extremely simple and do not access data from various source systems, ABAC systems with complex rules from multiple attribute sources can be unacceptably slow to answer authorization queries. 

RBAC Versus ABAC: Tradeoffs and Balance
As shown in Figure 28, the decision between ABAC and RBAC is a trade-off. On the one hand, you can have fast, simple, and other RBAC related benefits and, on the other, you can have extensible, scalable, and other ABAC-related advantages. To date, the challenge has been to find the right balance for your own organization’s needs. This is where Policy-Based Access Control (PBAC) helps. 




Policy-Based Access Control (PBAC) is not a formally defined standard but rather describes an authorization model that combines RBAC and ABAC concepts and eliminates some of their shortcomings. The key concept behind PBAC is that policies are expressed as assignment relationships that can be visualized and manipulated graphically. Access rights to perform operations against resources or objects are acquired through relationships referred to as associations. This includes the ability to define complex hierarchical relationships with inheritance, which is overly cumbersome in ABAC. One might consider PBAC as “relational ABAC.” PBAC is best used for real time enforcement of authorization decisions where a well-developed role model can be leveraged for policy assignment.

PBAC policies are inherently more efficient than ABAC policies because authorization decisions are not based on multiple computed and then combined local decisions. Instead, they are based on the net result of multiple policies based on relationships existing within a single database. This aspect also allows PBAC to enforce dynamic Segregation of Duties (SOD) rules, which are not entirely achievable with ABAC. A last key feature mentioned is PBAC support for “before the fact audit,” which is the ability to see who has access to a resource at any time, and not just during the real-time evaluation of a policy set.



Defining and maintaining compliant access for a large organization can be a daunting task. Some types of applications and use cases are better suited to a more structured role-based approach, whereas others require real-time contextual decisions. RBAC, ABAC, and PBAC are three ways of managing authorization policies. Moreover, while both have overlapping qualities, individually, each one cannot cover all the necessary aspects of access control. However, for optimal, dynamic support of an IT organization’s needs, EmpowerID supports RBAC relational modeling. RBAC relational modeling provides the backbone or structure for defining an organization and its overall policies while leveraging the flexibility and real-time contextual nature of ABAC and PBAC to offer the best comprehensive solution. 

EmpowerID’s sophisticated role and relationship modeling allow security architects to model the organization and its structure and policies, including segregation of duties policies to prevent undesired combinations of access. As illustrated above, flexible attribute-based ABAC or PBAC policies support the centralized real-time decision point for applications that can call the EmpowerID API for authorization decisions. The ABAC/PBAC engine enhances or modifies the powerful RBAC engine's decisions, allowing their use only when greater flexibility or contextual information such as risk, location, and MFA type is required. By including the pre-calculated access results that the engine derives from complex RBAC policies that account for inheritance and even attribute-based queries, ABAC/PBAC policies are made much more potent. The end-goal of leveraging each approach's best is to deliver what EmpowerID calls “Compliant Access Delivery.” 

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In summary, we learned that no single method covers all use cases and application technologies. The overall goal of Compliant Access Delivery requires using the best of each approach implemented following the principles of Zero Trust and Least Privilege. When executed correctly, this automates access assignments and reduces an organization’s attack surface, making it harder for attackers to find privileged credentials and offers them fewer capabilities to perform malicious activities when they compromise a privileged account. 


Bridge Your Security Gaps Today!

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

How Enterprises can Bridge Security Gaps using Low-Code Platforms

Posted by Aditya Taneja on Fri, Aug 11, 2023



Bridge Your Security Gaps Today!

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

Enhancing Identity Governance in Zero Trust Environments: The Power of Proxy Models and Workflows

Posted by Aditya Taneja on Mon, Jun 19, 2023

In the realm of cybersecurity, the Zero Trust model has emerged as a robust framework for enhancing security. A key aspect of this model is effective identity governance, which can be significantly streamlined and made more efficient through the use of proxy models and workflows.

Today we'll be exploring how these tools can be leveraged to bolster security and efficiency in identity governance within Zero Trust environments.

What are Proxy Models?

Proxy Models in identity governance can be likened to gatekeepers in a business organization, ensuring that only authorized individuals gain access to sensitive resources. Just as a gatekeeper verifies the identity and permissions of individuals before granting entry, proxy models act as intermediaries between users and the systems they wish to access. They authenticate and validate user identities, ensuring that only authorized personnel are granted appropriate access privileges.


The Power of Proxy Models

Proxy models provide a powerful tool for managing identities in a Zero Trust environment. By acting as an intermediary between users and resources, proxy models can enforce strict access controls, ensuring that users only have access to the resources they need. This approach significantly reduces the attack surface and helps to prevent unauthorized access.

Moreover, proxy models can help to alleviate some of the challenges of the cybersecurity labor shortage and skills gap. By reducing the need for costly IT staff with specific knowledge and training in each of the proxied systems, proxy models can help organizations to manage their resources more efficiently.

By implementing proxy models, businesses can establish a robust and secure system where user actions are monitored and controlled, mitigating the risk of unauthorized access and potential data breaches. Think of proxy models as vigilant guards, protecting your business assets and maintaining the integrity of your identity governance framework.

The Efficiency of Workflows

Workflows, particularly those that are automated, can greatly enhance efficiency in identity governance. By automating routine tasks, workflows can reduce the time and effort required to manage identities, freeing up IT staff to focus on more strategic tasks.

For instance, consider the process of onboarding a new employee. An automated workflow could streamline this process, ensuring that the new employee's identity is properly set up across all necessary systems. This not only saves time but also reduces the risk of errors that could lead to security vulnerabilities.

Practical Strategies for Implementation

Implementing proxy models and workflows in identity governance involves several key steps. First, organizations need to identify the resources that need to be managed and the users who will need access to these resources. Next, they need to define the access controls that will be enforced by the proxy models.

Once the proxy models are in place, organizations can then develop workflows to automate routine identity governance tasks. These workflows should be designed to be flexible and adaptable, allowing for changes in the organization's needs and circumstances.

Today, most modern Identity Governance Platforms such as EmpowerID, are equipped with the requisite toolsets to implement these robust policy frameworks. Developing and integrating these systems separately might require significant planning, resources, and expertise for most organizations; instead opting for a modern Identity Platform that easily integrates with your enterprise's existing applications might be the way to go forward. The flexibility to easily handle on-prem, cloud, and even hybrid workflows paired with the ability to integrate with Microsoft 365, SAP, ServiceNow, SalesForce, etc creates an extremely compelling offering for any organization looking to manage their identities. 


Proxy models and workflows offer powerful tools for enhancing security and efficiency in identity governance, particularly within Zero Trust environments. By implementing these tools and techniques, organizations can streamline their identity governance processes, improve their security posture, and better manage their resources. As the cybersecurity landscape continues to evolve, such strategies will be crucial for maintaining robust security.

Tags: IAM, Group Management, Virtual Directory, Access Governance, cloud security, iga

Say Goodbye to ActiveRoles - Upgrade Your Identity Management with EmpowerID

Posted by Aditya Taneja on Wed, Apr 05, 2023

If you are an ActiveRoles user, you know the value of a powerful and flexible Active Directory management solution. But as IT environments become more complex and diverse, managing identities and access across multiple systems and platforms requires a more comprehensive approach.

A modern Identity Governance solution provides more diverse features that understand the growing complexities of modern IT environments enabling deeper use cases than what you'd be limited by Quest Active Roles. While it provides many useful features for managing AD, it has quite a few limitations compared to other AD and identity governance platforms.

One of the biggest game-breakers with Active Roles is that it offers very limited functionality for Cloud users. While in theory, Quest can manage cloud users, but only to an extremely limited extent. The tool allows you to create and provision an AD user to a cloud system. However, the cloud system objects aren't inventoried and managed in the user interface, and you always need to have an AD user as your starting point for management.

This limitation can be problematic for organizations that rely heavily on cloud-based systems, as it creates an additional layer of complexity that may not be necessary. Without proper inventory and management of cloud-based users, organizations may struggle to maintain security and compliance standards.


Aside from this, here's a list of a few more of these limitations for Quest ActiveRoles:
  1. Restrictive reporting and analytics capabilities:

    Quest ActiveRoles provides limited reporting and analytics capabilities, limited to just Users and Groups, as compared to other IGA Platforms that can provide in-depth and comprehensive analytics on every single AD Attribute. This severely limits you from getting a complete picture of your identity and access management activities.

  2. Neglible support for non-Microsoft platforms:

    Quest Active Roles is designed to work only with Microsoft Active Directory environments and does not support other directory services. This can be a significant limitation for your organization if you use a mix of different platforms, such as Unix or Linux. 

  3. Limited integration with other Systems and IAM solutions:

    Quest ActiveRoles does not integrate well with other IAM solutions, making it difficult for organizations to implement a comprehensive identity governance program. Active Roles also is limited to just being able to manage only your Active Directory, providing no way to manage users on other Systems and Applications. 

  4. Finite automation capabilities:

    Quest ActiveRoles does not provide extensive automation capabilities, which can make it difficult for organizations to automate repetitive tasks and workflows. Users will have to rely on writing scripting to complete tasks, which, when managing directories with millions of groups, objects, and users, can make even small tasks take exponentially longer and more expensive.

  5. Lacking Cloud readiness:

    ActiveRoles Server was designed to work with on-premises Active Directory environments, which is not ideal for organizations that are moving to the cloud or adopting hybrid environments. A modern Identity Management solution offers better cloud-ready features, such as support for multi-cloud environments and identity as a service (IDaaS) capabilities, reported missing in Quest ActiveRoles. 

  6. Lacking essential Identity features:

    ActiveRoles Server lacks advanced features like identity governance, access certification, risk-based access control, and identity analytics that are essential for modern organizations to manage identity and access in complex environments. Self Service features such as Access Requests and Password Resets are shown to have saved organizations millions of dollars in helpdesk costs and are seen as a must for any good IGA platform.

EmpowerID offers a modern, web-based solution that goes beyond Active Directory management to provide full Identity Governance and Administration, Access Management, and Privileged Access Management capabilities. With EmpowerID, you can manage identities and access across on-premises and cloud-based systems, applications, and platforms, including Microsoft Azure, SAP, Oracle, and more.

EmpowerID's True Zero Trust administration for Azure and other platforms allows for fine-grained access controls and risk management, and its low-code identity orchestration engine allows for easy automation of complex business processes. EmpowerID's powerful RBAC and PBAC hybrid authorization engine provides efficient and flexible administration and runtime policy enforcement.

Not only does EmpowerID offer advanced capabilities beyond Active Roles, but it also offers the convenience and scalability of a modern SaaS platform. EmpowerID's modular licensing allows you to add or remove features as your needs change easily, and its cloud-based deployment means you can manage your identities and access from anywhere.

Don't settle for less with ActiveRoles - Make the switch to EmpowerID and experience the power and flexibility of a modern, web-based Identity Governance and Administration solution that goes beyond Active Directory management.

If you'd like to read more about Cloud Ready Identity Governance Platforms, we'd recommend our Whitepapers on these subjects: Siemens Case Study, Cloud Infrastructure Entitlement Management (CIEM) Report


Upgrade from ActiveRoles Today!


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

2022 Gartner® Peer Insights Review Guide for EmpowerID’s Identity Governance and Administration

Posted by Aditya Taneja on Mon, Dec 26, 2022


Gartner Peer Insights is the market-leading peer-review platform by Gartner for comparing and rating enterprise technology solutions to ease decision-making making journeys for buyers.

We’re incredibly excited to share that EmpowerID ranks among the industry’s leading best-of-suite Identity Governance and Administration (IGA) providers on Gartner's Peer Insights.

More than 50% of our customers have given us a full 5 STAR recommendation on the peer-review website. Let’s see what they have to say about us!

"Simple and Easy to use Identity Management & Cloud Security Platform."


“EmpowerID - One of the Best Application Provisioning Platforms in the Market.”


"We have been able to accomplish more in 6 months with EmpowerID than in 2 years with our previous IAM platform."


“Flexible Pricing and Cost-effective


“Ahead of its competitors in many things like its Quick Customer Support.”

“I like that it has increased our Workflow Efficiency.”


Read on Gartner to see what other customers think about EmpowerID's low-code orchestration platform!Read the Reviews

EmpowerID has consistently emphasized our customers' needs in our products. We know that when they succeed with EmpowerID, we succeed. In this past year, as the vast majority of companies shifted towards remote work, EmpowerID was not only their partner to ensure a smooth and secure transition but also a guide in accelerating their digital transformation journey.

Our end-to-end support, starting from the platform itself and extending down the line to the entire Deployment support, is designed to ensure that our customers achieve the fastest time to value and grow their return on investment with EmpowerID right from Day One. Our products, such as Azure License Manager and Azure SCIM VDS, reflect all these ideals.

Identity Governance and Administration (IGA)

In Gartner’s Words, IGA or Identity Governance and Administration refers to managing Access rights for Individuals, Roles, Groups, and identity repositories within organizations, both on-premises and in the cloud. Ensuring appropriate access to resources across highly connected IT environments.

For an IGA platform, it is necessary to have a broad array of capabilities in order to meet the needs of the ever-growing complexities of modern organizations and IT Systems, these features that complete an IGA Suite are: Identity life cycle management, Entitlement management, Support for access requests; Workflow orchestration; Access certification Provisioning via automated connectors and service tickets; Analytics and reporting.

In 2020, Gartner chose to retire it’s incredibly viral Magic Quadrant for IGA. This was because the Magic Quadrant is designed to capture the most significant innovations in a particular market, but since IGA has already had it’s exponential growth phase, and has reached a state of maturity, it has made measuring improvements much more, but that doesn’t mean that growth has stopped. With the shifting of existing work models in the post-COVID world, IGA has seen growth and expansion to previously unimaginable heights.

IGA today has expanded and adapted to manage increasingly complex Identities spanning across different cloud platforms to provision access and entitlement of the vast repertoire of applications that modern enterprises use today in their ever-expanding workflows.

You can learn more about how EmpowerID competes in these ever-expanding domains in this all-new 2022 Leadership Compass Report by Kuppinger Cole, which examines the market for solutions that increase security in business application environments for managing cloud entitlements—measuring the growth of IGA and Access Management platforms beyond the traditional limit of imagination, taking a much more abstract and out-of-the-box approach to evaluate the needs of modern enterprises.

Check it out in the link below.



Tags: authentication, IAG, IAM, Identity Management, Identity and Access Management (IAM), cloud security, Magic Quadrant, Gartner