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Mika Käck Digital Trust

How does your company rate in digital identity? Start by tackling these 3 common challenges

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80% of data breaches happen by tricking people into clicking a link; it’s no wonder that digital identity has become a hot potato in most companies. Too often, however, it is considered merely a constraint when it really should be seen as a catalyst that enables secure collaboration and generates value. How do we change this?

Gaining full control of digital identity is easier said than done. Most companies struggle with a few common pain points. Once you solve these key issues, digital identity will help you generate more value without compromising compliance and security.

1. Third-party access

All companies need to share information, such as contracts or working spaces, with third parties, such as customers or partners. Sharing should be safe and simple, but that’s often not the case.

Depending on the tools in use, it may be complicated to keep track of what has been shared in different parts of the company. Another problem is that access is often perpetual. It should not be: access should have an expiration date whenever possible, considering the business needs.

Third-party access should follow the exact same principles as the identity and access management of the company’s own employees. The different user groups should be identified and granted access according to their needs. The company, and sometimes the third party as well, should be able to audit and manage these access rights easily.

By following these principles, you can reduce the risk of information leaks through third parties. The good news is that the technology is available, and your company may already have it. You just need the expertise to make the most of the solutions.

2. Zero Trust

Traditionally, IT security has been created by building a fortress with thick walls and allowing more trust within them. Today, this seldom works.

The concept of Zero Trust offers an alternative. It is built around minimums: access rights are not given “just in case.” With a Zero Trust solution, whenever someone wants to access an application, interface, or network, the company ensures that they have the right to do so. This happens in the background: if access is granted, the user does not notice anything.

To implement a Zero Trust solution, the company must know its assets and devices, as well as personal identities, privileged access, and application identities. Once these are mapped out, the access rights can be defined and, later on, maintained and controlled efficiently.

Zero Trust is hot topic on the market, and there is a whole host of product vendors claiming to provide the right solution. However, there really is no silver bullet that you can just buy from the nearest shop.

Implementing Zero Trust requires proper planning and phasing; it is really a change of paradigm. When you are planning to implement Zero Trust, it is important to figure out how you can maintain and manage it after the initial implementation. Identity management and governance are at the very center of this.

3. Data protection

Companies collect data for a reason: this data is valuable to their business. Thus, such data should be controlled in order to stay on top of who is using it and how. This is also necessary for legal reasons, for example, when collecting personal or other sensitive data.

Data should be secured both at rest as in transit. The platforms should be controlled and secured, the data should have an owner, and the guidelines for data processing should be clearly defined. It is especially important to define the basis for collecting personal data, as the data can only be used according to that basis. And it is crucial for a business to know the limits: otherwise, a company may end up with huge amount of data that it cannot actually use for business.

From the identity management point of view, access to data should be limited and controlled by strong authentication and strong authorization processes. However, this should not cause friction for users; everything should be at least as fluent as before.

Data protection is not often a top priority for data teams, which are more interested in the use of data to build new services. Traditionally, all members of the data team work with the same platform, each with similar rights. To ensure data protection, these rights should be assigned according to what’s needed in each specific role.

Data has great value, and jeopardizing it may have shocking consequences for the company and its business. Thus, security should always be an integral part of the data work of any company.

Are you interested in using digital identity to create more value? Take a look at our services.

Author: Mika Käck works as Principal Consultant at Enfo’s Digital Trust team in Finland, building new Digital Identity services for our customers.