Feeds

Identity management is a pain in the backside

Do you work here? And other important questions

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Workshop Identity management in the corporate environment is complex - not to mention, at the coalface, a pain in the backside.

In the real world in which you work, password resets are one of the most commonly cited causes of help desk stress – and that’s an identity management problem. People leaving the company and still having access to corporate systems? An identity management problem. Users stumbling onto a fileshare and finding a salary spreadsheet? Careless exec lost a phone and needs a new one? Identity management problems, both of them.

We can debate what exactly identity is, but in corporate environments things are relatively mundane: any person working for a company needs access to systems and services, which should be provisioned accordingly. As the person changes roles, as systems change and new devices get deployed, access rights will need to be added, revoked and modified.

Given that none of these challenges are particularly new, it would be comforting to think it was all sorted by now. A few years ago we conducted some research into system access, password control and provisioning. The scale of the problem was starkly illustrated by Figure 1 below, which showed how many applications users needed to access.

Figure 1

We asked what identity management might look like by now. At the time we predicted how much easier it would be when we stopped using passwords and upgraded to multifactor techniques in general, and biometrics in particular (Figure 2).

Figure 2

Perhaps you have done this. If you have, tell us if it has solved your problems, because most organisations have not. Meanwhile the complexity of identity management has increased – organisations are more distributed, data volumes are rising, and users expect to access more applications in more places. It’s a brave new world we’re heading into, but we’re riding on the same old, creaky ship.

The first step towards successful provisioning is to know what should be provisioned, and to whom. There is a triangle of relationships between people, the roles they occupy, and the systems, information and assets they are authorised to access, because you cannot authorise anything without defining who should be authorised, and why.

In the real world, we make assumptions. Most organisations have more assets in use than they formally know about; many deployments take place under the radar, without the IT department being aware of them. If you are not on top of this, you can't reap the benefits of provisioning.

Second, provisioning is, by its nature, event-driven. From the "people" perspective, someone joins or leaves the company, or a changes role; meanwhile, from a systems-and-service perspective, this require modification to who needs access, and to what.

Third, provisioning is a process, not a one-off operation. You need someone who is responsible for putting reporting lines in place, conducting regular reviews, revisiting and even culling old access rights if you want a sustainable, process-driven approach.

It would be ideal if these problems could be automated away, but they can't. Tools can help, but not if you don't take into account best practice principles such as these. The goal posts never stop moving, and identity management becomes more complex - so if you want to slay your provisioning demons, be prepared for a long battle. Otherwise, back in the real world, they will just return to bite you on the backside. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
That dreaded syncing feeling: Will Microsoft EVER fix OneDrive?
Microsoft's long history of broken Windows sync
Mozilla, EFF, Cisco back free-as-in-FREE-BEER SSL cert authority
Let’s Encrypt to give HTTPS-everywhere a boost in 2015
SLURP! Flick your TONGUE around our LOLLIPOP – Google
Android 5 is coming – IF you're lucky enough to have the right gadget
Nokia's N1 fondleslab's HIDDEN BRILLIANCE: The 'Z Launcher'
Sugarcoating Android's Lollipop makes tab easier to swallow
Bug fixes! Get your APPLE BUG FIXES! iOS and OS X updates right here!
Yosemite fixes Wi-Fi hiccup, older iOS devices get performance boost
Facebook, working on Facebook at Work, works on Facebook. At Work
You don't want your cat or drunk pics at the office
Soz, web devs: Google snatches its Wallet off the table
Killing off web service in 3 months... but app-happy bonkers are fine
Meet Windows 10's new UI for OneDrive – also known as File Explorer
New preview build continues Redmond's retreat to the desktop
Microsoft: Your Linux Docker containers are now OURS to command
New tool lets admins wrangle Linux apps from Windows
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Simplify SSL certificate management across the enterprise
Simple steps to take control of SSL across the enterprise, and recommendations for a management platform for full visibility and single-point of control for these Certificates.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.