PIAM becomes a realistic security option for SMBs

Nov. 17, 2014
Availability of cloud-based solutions eliminates adoption hurdles for smaller businesses

Security technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace as video surveillance, access control and other hardware and software providers strive to add greater value to their solutions. Unfortunately, despite myriad innovations, even the most advanced solutions lack the intrinsic processing power and intelligence to potentially prevent impending events.

On the higher evolutionary scale, advanced physical identity and access management (PIAM) solutions are designed to do just that – provide predictive intelligence. PIAM software uses risk profiles to analyze data from diverse physical security and logical/IT systems across an enterprise. This is accomplished by detecting and identifying irregular behaviors based on set policies and parameters that have been predetermined by management. Once behavior anomalies are identified, PIAM solutions provide security management with the information they need to investigate perceived threats and potentially control outcomes.

For example, if an individual is using credentials to enter restricted areas they are not authorized to access, PIAM software can correlate these events and alert security to look for abnormal network activity. If the flagged physical and IT access activities are connected, security can immediately and automatically respond by deactivating the individual’s ID badge and access privileges to digital files, and/or have the individual removed from the premises. For a lesser infraction, an email alert can be sent automatically to a specified group of managers.

This advanced level of integration clearly moves security processes closer to achieving the ultimate goal of predictive intelligence. However, PIAM has long been thought of as a solution reserved solely for national or multinational corporations, universities and other large organizations. For mainstream small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs), the costs of on-site software and the related personnel and technology expenses required to support it placed PIAM’s advanced level of protection and situational awareness beyond their reach.

While this may have been a reality in the past, it is no longer the case. Like many new security solutions on the market today, PIAM software continues to evolve with new and enhanced capabilities and in the way it is deployed. Among the many recent developments is availability of cloud-based solutions, which make advanced PIAM capabilities more affordable and accessible for SMB applications. With cloud-based software, the up-front investment in PIAM and the need to implement additional technology and hire additional staff are virtually eliminated. As a result, PIAM is now a realistic option for SMBs, who can greatly benefit from a full-featured, fully secured and highly integrated enterprise-level solution to better manage identities.

A cloud-based PIAM solution can cost-efficiently solve many of the complex identity management challenges that SMBs frequently encounter. These include the ability to quickly and easily on-board and off-board personnel, establish and implement role-based physical access assignments across single or multiple systems, support regulatory governance and compliance, and conduct audits and generate reports. Like traditional on premise software solutions, cloud-based PIAM also enables complex collaboration among a variety of identity types, including employees, visitors, contractors, third-party vendors, suppliers and others. PIAM also allows SMBs to easily integrate their identity management with human resources, contractor management, training, physical access control and other systems across an organization. The business and operational benefits go well beyond conventional security software models.

The time and cost associated with implementation is also significantly lowered with a cloud-based PIAM solution, as SMBs can be up and running much more rapidly without the need for specialized personnel and system administrators, and without dedicated software and servers. In addition to providing a powerful solution for SMBs to improve physical and cyber security, cloud-based PIAM also lowers costs by automating a wide range of time-consuming manual processes. As a result, cloud-based PIAM solutions deliver exceptional return on investment (ROI), further increasing their value by reducing total cost of ownership (TCO) over time.

Given these benefits, it’s plain to see how moving PIAM to the cloud makes it a viable security solution for SMBs. However, in the face of the large-scale data breaches that are reported all too frequently, security breaches on the cloud are as much a concern for security management as they are for IT management. In fact, the thought of implementing a cloud-based security function often raises eyebrows. But unlike conventional public cloud-based software, best-in-breed cloud-based PIAM solutions are deployed on a virtual private cloud that can only be accessed by a specified client via a virtual private network (VPN). A virtual private cloud delivers computing power-as-a-service within a virtualized environment using an underlying pool of physical computing resources.

Unlike the public cloud model most people envision when discussing this concept, virtual private clouds do not share systems, data or virtual networks. This helps ensure that authenticated users have complete control and privacy. In addition, virtual private cloud environments are customizable to meet specific user requirements, with charges incurred on a usage basis, making these solutions much more affordable to implement and sustain.

By eliminating previous point-of-entry barriers, cloud-based PIAM solutions provide SMBs with a highly efficient and effective means to dramatically increase overall security and situational awareness with predictive intelligence. The measureable ROI and heightened security that cloud-based PIAM delivers will quickly transform this powerful solution from the mindset of “unachievable” to “must-have” status for SMBs.

About the Author

Ajay Jain

Ajay Jain is president and CEO of identity management solutions provider Quantum Secure.