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Why IAM Technology is Critical to Your Vulnerability Management Program

In previous blogs, we discussed Attack Surface Management (ASM) and explained how ASM is critical to your overall Vulnerability Management Program. In this blog, we will cover why Identity Access Management is critical to your VM Program. 

Enterprises today are facing a paradigm shift following their digital transformation and continued accelerated adoption of remote work. IT operations and cybersecurity requirements continue to become more complex as more users and devices are constantly connected to the network. As a result, organizations need to be much more agile than ever before and drive higher operational efficiency by reducing manual tasks across departments. This concept needs to be cross-functional and expand across multiple interlocking aspects of cybersecurity, including protecting critical information from those who should not have access to it, whether through an exposed credential or exploited vulnerability. 

What is IAM?

“Identity and Access Management (IAM) is the security discipline that enables the right individuals to access the right resources at the right times for the right reasons.” – Gartner

All enterprise security teams will attest to the increasingly fundamental role of IAM technology, systems, tools, and processes in protecting organizational assets. This does not come as a surprise, with 15.6% growth and spending exceeding $13 billion (Source: Gartner). 

A New Frontier Means New Challenges

With the dissolution of the perimeter, IAM takes on a new security significance. With the worldwide transition to hybrid cloud architecture, the IAM becomes the primary control for access to resources, replacing the firewall. Cybercriminals no longer have an initial hurdle in the form of packet filtering or application-level policy enforcement in a firewall; the new arrangement requires that access to the cloud gateway to be permitted for publicly hosted resources. IAM is now the new gatekeeper to the crown jewels; a new responsibility security teams are not taking lightly. 

As organizations scale cloud infrastructures, identity management has to be a component of that growth strategy. Unfortunately, scarce resources and strict business requirements do not always create the best environment for this concept to thrive. This is where security teams can overlook critical best practices. If there are too many overlapping policies, this can increase vulnerabilities, and provisioning teams can create a more attack surface. 

Many Ways In

Compromised credentials were the most common initial attack vector followed by vulnerabilities in third-party software as another “top 5” attack vector. Once an account takeover has occurred, an attacker has breached the corporate infrastructure and then will have the ability to persist in the environment, often undetected for weeks to months, and move laterally in the organization. 

As organizations become more vigilant with their cybersecurity maturity and posture, threat actors have moved up the chain to exploit vulnerabilities in the supply chain. By exploiting a vulnerability in an IAM product, especially a zero-day exploit, the impact could be multiplied across hundreds to thousands of organizations.  

IBM Cost of a Data Breach Report 2021

Implementing the Best Approach 

  1. Limit the impact of any IAM failures 
  2. Respond immediately to IAM incidents (automate where possible)
  3. Establish least-privilege access 
  4. Monitor, detect and respond with a fully integrated vulnerability management solution 

Automation is key to mitigating the overall financial impact of a cybersecurity incident. By reducing the time it takes to identify and contain a breach over 80% of the costs can be mitigated. 

Source: IBM Cost of a Data Breach Report 2021

Looking Forward

IAM and Vulnerability Management will always have their own individual place in the security world, and they will always overlap. Being able to balance this in harmony in a programmatic environment will maximize success.

The future of IAM and VM is becoming more evident. It involves continued integration into cloud infrastructure focused on simplifying administration and ease of use, while moving towards a more secure, decentralized storage and management of credentials. 

By using NopSec, the only solution in the industry to combine IAM with Vulnerability Assessment and prioritization – your organization can reduce your IAM attack surface while elevating your vulnerability management maturity. Combining IAM and VM into a single automated platform gives you real-time visibility and analytics to continuously manage your cybersecurity exposure. 

Learn how to manage your exposure to threats and request a demo today.

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