Blockchain Technology: Finding A Counter To Identity Theft

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Beyond the military, no other industry has a greater need for strong multistep processes for security than the sector of identity and access management (IAM). As globalisation ushers in a new age where services across different geographies and domains are required to be integrated, IAM software has to constantly innovate itself and keep up to the current trends of cybersecurity.

With many operations and business requiring users to pass along their most sensitive data, it is crucial for IAM systems to ensure that any number of the centralised databases being used will not be compromised. Identity theft has been a major thorn in the side of the digital security sector. With theft of identity and cases of fraud and data breaches threatening to increase in frequency and number, IT security departments have to work against the clock to constantly update and fortify their existing security systems.

But with the advent of blockchain security, the digital security world may finally be able put an end to identity theft. With blockchain technology, self-sovereign identity can finally be materialised. What does self-sovereign identity mean, you may ask? It refers to individuals being able to control their personal data, regardless of where they are. Through the ability to regulate information and prevent duplication, blockchain security will be able to nip the problem of identity fraud in the bud. Incorporating a blockchain ledger to store and manage identities makes it harder for hackers to access and steal information without leaving a clear digital trail.

How does the blockchain technology work? It is simple. Using modern cryptography, each block is built upon the previous block along the blockchain. The nature of this ledge is therefore immutable, as every change to information that has been stored in the existing blocks is logged and associated to an individual. This makes it difficult for malicious attacks to occur, preventing identity theft from happening.

As a result of the immutability afforded by the blockchain ledger, every individual involved and participating in the database is empowered and holds complete control over their personal data. Because of the decentralised nature of databases under blockchain security, individuals can be assured that their identities will be far out of reach from external third-party hands, managed only by the most trustworthy.

For most organisations, the credentials and identities of existing employees are entrusted to custodians and servers that are external or owned by employers. However, corporate hacks are common occurrences, especially for giant corporations. In recent times, many major businesses have had their servers hacked, exposing their customers and employees to serious breaches of data.

This has proven the need for a decentralised database. Why? When the database is no longer managed as a central entity, login credentials are now filtered through blockchain permissions, making the process for verification and login authorisation more stringent. In addition, the individual will be able to ensure the accuracy of their personal details and update them in real time.

Blockchain technology has begun to revolutionise the way identity is managed and secured nowadays. Organisations should be motivated to invest in blockchain, to protect their businesses.

The Influence Of Blockchain Technology In IAM Systems

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A technology that is still quite nascent, Blockchain is a decentralised database in which all managing systems store an identical replica of all the data. Like a chain, each block of information is inseparably linked to the previous one, forming a chain of information blocks that keeps on growing. The blocks on the block chain can never be changed. They are secured and bound to each other through cryptographic principles. This results in Blockchain being ideal for serving as a distributed ledger.

It is the best scenario for storing and archiving information that is shared and managed by a cluster of parties that do not fully trust one another. Its immutable manner of storing data ensures that all data cannot be deleted or modified. In addition, it offers transparency and visibility, with a record of time-stamps.

It is precisely this form of data-sharing that enables cryptocurrency to exist, as it is not controlled by a government or a nation-state. In today’s era of technology and information sharing, it is not a revelation that blockchain for business is being applied and used for its efficiency. With its capacity to support pseudo-anonymous transactions, it is also versatile that it can be used in a wide range of industries.

The role of Blockchain in IAM

Blockchain technology has gradually been harnessed into the sector of identity and access management (IAM). As it can be used to create a platform that secures individual identities from being stolen or becoming victims to fraudulent activities, businesses have enlisted the help of blockchain technology to deal with issues of authentication and authorisation.

Under blockchain technology, individuals are granted the freedom to create digital identities that are encrypted. Not only does this means that multiple usernames and passwords will be replaced, but it also offers more comprehensive security features that will be able to save time and resources for customers and institutions alike.

Individuals can create identities that are fully controlled and personally maintained by them and no one else. With such self-sovereignty, it becomes much more difficult for identity theft to happen, which is a common obstacle for traditional IAM systems. As authority is decentralised, the use of blockchains allows for a decentralised method of registration. As a result, their identity cannot be tampered or controlled by an external party without the individual’s permission.

Furthermore, given that blockchain technology is based on the concept of decentralisation and distribution, the cost and management of external identities can be eliminated. It has been proven that automating the synchronisation of centralised identity data within and without the organisation is not cost efficient. The impracticality rises when one has to take into consideration the external identities and users.

Moving towards a future of blockchain, digital identity issues and hurdles faced by existing IAM systems can be overcome. One current option is the implementation of a hybrid blockchain. Better suited for commercial sectors or highly regulated environments (e.g. enterprises and governments), hybrid blockchain ensures flexibility and control over data. As blockchain technology continues to emerge, the future of identity is sure to be revolutionised.

The Differences Between IAM And Customer IAM

Is customer identity access management (IAM) really all that different from traditional IAM? Such a question has become very contentious. Vendors and solutions providers around the globe have marketed their products to be on either side of the IAM vs CIAM debate. There is also a party of solutions providers who believe that the whole debate between IAM and customer IAM is purely semantic, as they posit that IAM solutions that are comprehensive can have customer IAM functions and uses. Needless to say, both traditional IAM and customer IAM are so similar that their distinctions have become blurry and reason for debate.

Such controversy has risen out of the fact that both traditional IAM and customer IAM share many similarities in terms of technological structure and capabilities as cyber security software. Some examples include single sign on (SSO), multifactor authentication (MFA), universal centralised directories, federation, authorisation mechanisms, identity lifecycle management and monitoring of identity behaviour. In addition, both solutions fall under the domain of privacy regulations such as the EU General Data Protection Regulation, as the usage and storage of employee and customer data are equally protected under the rules.

On the other hand, customer IAM solutions utilise features that IAM solutions normally do not possess. These tools include customer consent management, the control of branding, user registration as well as personalisation tools for profiles. Moreover, customer IAM is expected to be more accessible than traditional IAM (which is itself already very accessible for it to function) due to the fact that the e-commerce of the company will be affected by any issues. Scalability is a crucial factor for any customer IAM solution in order to accommodate to large amounts of traffic and identities of customers. The irregular and unpredictable access patterns of user behaviour can be easily overcome with the elastic nature of customer IAM solutions.

While the main goal of traditional IAM is to secure the identities of users, they are best suited for in-house solutions and to prevent any threats (either internal or external) leading to a data compromise or a security breach. Traditional IAM would usually use a user portal to manage employee access for on-premises applications and systems, thus requiring multiple logins to ensure comprehensive security. For customer IAM however, the company’s brand is expected to interact with potential customers, through a plethora of channels, be it through browser or mobile applications, or through registered devices. As a result of using different access tools, employees may find themselves having to go beyond the corporate firewall. Customer IAM solutions are able to facilitate this accommodation between the consumer and the company. At the same time, personalisation of user interfaces and convenience is maintained with great priority, which is extremely important for any industry that is driven by customer loyalty.

This major benefit of customer IAM cannot be simply overlooked. Compared to traditional IAM, customer IAM solutions have a great emphasis on convenience. This is vital to ensuring a smooth and seamless user experience for customers that will encourage future transactions.

 

The Differences Between Customer IAM & Traditional IAM

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Nowadays, having good business is all about ensuring a great experience for potential customers. No one enjoys having to go through a cumbersome and tedious process of signing on when they wish to access websites and online applications. While this is not a new phenomenon per se, it is due to the hyper-connected state of technology and the Internet that has catapulted online shopping and the rising trends of consumers conducting transactions with services and brands across the world wide web. As a result, the current century has observed the advent of self-service web portals, kiosks and networks of connected devices. In order to stay relevant and competitive within the market, Organisations have to maintain a high standard of customer experience throughout various channels and platforms.

As businesses implement new ways of connecting with their customers across various platforms, the applications and services that run them are no longer inside the firewall exclusively. Coupled with the fact that some applications and services are provided by third party developers and vendors, enterprises run the risk of encountering a whole set of identity and access management(IAM) concerns and challenges. The need for relevant cyber security softwares becomes increasingly pertinent for businesses then.

Traditional IAM was created for the management of employee access to on-premises systems and applications. When it comes to the management of customer identity, traditional IAM lacks the features and the tools to address and overcome those issues. Customers therefore had to deal with clunky login processes, when security was prioritised over agility and business. In this day and age, customers now have the choice to ditch an inconvenient and clunky application in favour of another one that is far more seamless and secured. This in turns causes businesses to start paying more attention to their applications and services so as to become ahead of the competition. By adopting a customer IAM solution, such competitive advantage is offered. At the same time, organisations can still maintain the integrity and the privacy of their existing networks and security infrastructure, as well as, be able to adapt to any new IAM obstacles that may pop up along the way.   

How do customer IAM solutions work differently from traditional IAM?

1. Scalability

Although traditional IAM solutions may be equipped to support thousands of employees at relatively predictable patterns of access behaviour, customer IAM has the capability to scale up in accordance to increasing traffic. Unpredictable and irregular patterns of usage are likewise not an issue for customer IAM due to its elastic nature.

2. Consistency

As traditional IAM is best tailored for in-house solutions, employees may have to use different access tools when they find themselves going beyond the enterprise firewall. Through customer IAM, the company’s brand is able to interact with customers across many platforms and channels, be it through a mobile or web browser, a mobile app, or a connected device.

3. Technology

Customer IAM differs from traditional IAM in terms of their technological structure. These technologies include: user registration, user profile management, social sign on, consent management and branding control.

These features are what differentiates customer IAM from traditional IAM.

Why Banks Need Customer IAM

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In the recent years, the industry of banking and financial services have been going through a paradigm shift as a result of digital transformation. A report has evidence to prove that omnichannel availability has been thus surpassed by the preference for digitalised interactions. And this makes sense given that the average financial services customer does not frequently go to a physical bank branch, now that people are able to transfer money and deposit cheques through their smartphones at the tip of their fingers.

With the adoption of a customer identity and access management (IAM) solution, financial services companies and banks can easily take maximum advantage of their applications and digital platforms to enhance customer experience with added cyber security which will in turn boost trust and loyalty. Customer IAM further ensures the secured access to digital channels and platforms, as well as, making sure that all sensitive and valuable data that the customers provide is entrusted and stored safely.

In today’s day and age, everything can be done through one’s mobile devices and smart technology. Statistics have seen an increasing number of banking customers using their personal handheld devices to access financial services and conduct online transactions. In order to remain relevant and competitive, financial services firms and banking companies are therefore compelled to ensure the ease of access across different channels and mobile devices. It has been made clear that customers actively using mobile devices are setting the agenda and banks must therefore listen to their demands and needs.

To enhance customer experience, banking and financial services institutions are required to provide seamless user experiences for a range of applications, channels and devices. With the single sign on (SSO) feature offered by most customer IAM solutions, logging in across various channels has never been made more seamless than now. Through the leveraging of SSO capabilities, customers are able to log in to numerous applications and websites with just a single set of login credentials. With federated SSO, the same set of customer credentials can be used for third party services and domains.

With digital banking platforms, financial services and banking companies can collect data about every unique customer, including the applications and tools that they use and how they use them according to their needs. As a result, banks and financial services companies can be better equipped with the knowledge to offer personalised advice and services to their customers based on financial goals, activity trends and personal preferences. Higher levels of personalized experiences are more likely to increase customer loyalty, as a result of customer service building loyalty and trust in the financial industry. Customer IAM solutions with customer profiling capabilities collects multiple data points and stores all these information regarding customers in a centralised database. This enables companies to have a comprehensive view of each and every customer, thus gaining valuable marketing insights.

Aside from that, customer IAM ensures that banks and financial institutions meet strict industrial regulations. Data privacy is key to industrial success and maintaining customer trust. Without customer IAM, banks would run into many security challenges.

Why Banks Need IAM

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Banks must already satisfy many regulatory requirements with regards to the privacy and security of customer data. Such regulatory compliance is only set to become ever more stringent with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation having been put into effect. It is with no doubt for good reasons that these regulations have been in place across various industries and markets. Banks are the trusted keepers of sensitive and confidential information given by the customers. Furthermore, as cybercriminals and hackers look towards getting their hands on such valuable information, banks are the institutions standing in their way against those who wish to steal data to make a huge profit.

Identity and access management (IAM) is a key element of any bank’s strategy in protecting and securing customer data and privacy. Using this IT security software, the IT administrators of banks will be able to centralise authentication and access control points in the digital environment. IAM also helps to mitigate the security risks and effects of breaches as well as assisting them in the swift recovery from any insider attacks.

What is Identity and Access Management?

Banks should essentially run their operations on the principle of least privilege, which is to say, the access rights for users (namely employees and business units) should be the bare minimum of permissions that is required for them to perform their job scope efficiently. IAM enables banks to monitor and regulate these access privileges.

IAM solutions include several critical elements, including multifactor authentication, single sign on (SSO), password management and provisioning, and maintenance of a privileged identity. With a modern and robust IAM solution in place, banks will be empowered in the fight to reduce security breaches and decreasing the attack surface. By letting banks consolidate the identities of customers and employees, deliver least-privilege omnichannel access, and controlling shared accounts, a good IAM solution will be able to achieve secured remote access and have all privileged sessions audited.

What are the benefits of Identity and Access Management?

Having an IAM solution up and running on the grounds essentially allow banks to create security zones that can shut down attacks. Often times, breaches and compromising of security happens as a result of privilege escalation which is when the attacker makes use of bugs to gain elevated access to critical networks and systems, all through using a user account with low level privileges. This step up to a higher level of access privilege is what allowed the attackers to fly under the radar of existing security controls and take over the IT environment.

Through modern IAM, security zones can be instituted by banking companies which will limit how much access a user account can have between various systems and applications. By limiting the privileged access of a user account and with an IAM solution running in the background, the attacker has only a limited set of commands to execute. Furthermore, IAM solutions enhance investigation and recovery against insider attackers by providing session auditing and assisting forensics investigations. With numerous security solutions to consider, banks should make IAM their number one priority.

Benefits Of 2FA In Finance

The scrutiny of financial services companies and banks has been growing in intensity over the past few years, as customers and industrial regulators start to have higher and stricter demands. This should come as no surprise, however, given that banking and financial services companies hold some of the most valuable data in the world. These institutions in the financial sector are major prime targets for criminals and hackers who desire to make hefty sums of profit from the sensitive information being stored in critical systems and applications. As a result, there is mounting legal and social pressure from consumers and the authorities such as the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation. No corporation, be it big or small, can escape these tight laws and the watchful eyes of the general public who have entrusted their personal information over.

But, business owners of banking and financial services firms need not lose sleep over these circumstances. One simple yet efficient step into ensuring the digital security of the organisation and its services is through the use of two factor authentication (2FA). What 2FA provides is an extra step to the process of logging in and acts as another door of security. Even if hackers and identity thieves somehow manage to break past the first layer of security, 2FA is present to stop them as well as buy time for the IT administrators to activate countermeasures and shut down all malicious attacks. Usually, any competent and modern identity and access management solution will come along with 2FA capabilities.

Traditionally, there are three factors during the authentication process. The first factor is something the user knows such as the password they have created for themselves. The following factor is something the user has. This could be a mobile phone or any other device that is connected. The third factor is something that can be used to verify the user’s identity. Simply put it, this could range from the fingerprints of the user or even their facial features. How 2FA enhances IT security is that it utilises two of these three factors.

Applications and systems that have 2FA in place will require the user to provide an additional piece of information such as an email address or a mobile phone number, which will be accompanied by a password or PIN number. The most common approach is to use a time based one time password algorithm. A password is generated from a secret key which only works for a short amount of time. The user must therefore enter this generated PIN as they are logging in with their credentials before the time limit runs out. Once the PIN has expired, they have no choice but to repeat the whole process again. Other alternative methods can include prompting the user to provide a fingerprint or scanning of eye and/or facial features for recognition. Such methods are also known as biometric authentication.

The presence of 2FA methods can easily shut down repetitive attacks from hackers. It is no surprise that the top IAM solutions provide 2FA.

CIAM: The Key To Success

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As of now, the migration towards the cloud has been increasingly fast. Companies and businesses of all sizes are accelerating towards cloud based technologies and solutions, with even the giant corporations racing to keep up with the times.

Every business wants to be more agile and more innovative, in order to maintain a competitive advantage over potential rivals. They also want to ensure that their digital security game is constantly strong. Customer relations have therefore become the best area for enterprises to invest effort and time into improvements and developments. With a strong customer identity and access management (IAM) solution, the organisation will have a crucial cornerstone for business success.

Customer IAM empowers organisations to form innovative and targeted strategies moving forward to be able to meet the needs of consumers in better ways. Additionally, customer IAM strategies make sure that regulatory compliance is met, in accordance to strict industrial standards. In doing so, it is easier to forge trust and respect within the customers once they observe that the company has passed through stringent vetting. Besides that, customer IAM helps companies to organise all sensitive and confidential data that pertains to their customers in a single storage point. Furthermore, businesses that are on their pathway to digital transformation can continue to keep their sales on track, while maintaining consistent customer engagement all the way through the challenging process. 

How does a customer IAM solution provide the benefits that are springboards for digital success? Read on to find out!

First of all, customer IAM is the stepping stone towards single view. As markets grow more competitive, catering to the interests and needs of potential customers has become much more relevant than before. Storing all information with regards to customers who have signed on and utilised the brand’s services within a single point not only ensures data security, but it also assists the marketing side of organisations. How so? Customer IAM solutions empower the marketing team with the creation of extensive customer profiles that can be accessed through a single view. All information that is related to login activity, devices and even purchase histories can be accessed. This in turn provides valuable business insight into each customer and enables the company to tailor their services to enhance customer user experiences. Personalised engagements is very critical to ensuring that sales leads will be converted to business transactions, thus generating more stable revenue for the business from customers who are more likely to continue using their services and products. In this era of social media, developing relationships between the company and the consumer is a gateway towards marketing and retail success.

Customer retention can be made much easier and more efficient when the user experience is seamless and frictionless. Customer IAM provides features such as registration management and single sign on (SSO) which streamlines the process of logging on and remembering passwords for different channels. Customers enjoy enhanced experiences, knowing that their data is in secured hands.

With customer IAM, businesses can modernise for digital success.

Bank On Safely With IAM

As the twenty first century sees a new age of technological advancements and innovation, the world of banking and financial services has changed. Today, customers no longer have to make the trip down to a local bank just to settle their financial issues and needs. With the Internet and the state of our current technology, everything has become digitalised and mobile, creating a new wave of digitalised transactions. When it comes to online banking, the benefits are many. For banks and financial institutions, they are able to be cost effective when it comes to enhancing work productivity. For other business partners, customers and employees, everything is made more convenient as well as having each interaction with the company being a personalised experience.

However, not everything is a bed of roses. Online banking and financial services have their fair share of drawbacks. With the news of recent security breaches and major banking and financial services firms becoming a juicy target for hackers, customers and partners may start to grow wary of sharing their personal data online. With a modern financial grade identity and access management (IAM) systems, not all hope is lost for the modern banker. Compared to the traditional IAM systems, this new generation of off-the-shelf IAM software has emerged to provide sophisticated infrastructure and algorithms that will ensure cloud-based and mobility-based businesses remain secured. In addition, modern IAM ensures that the right people are authorised to access financial services and systems. IAM solutions also come equipped with multifactor authentication mechanisms to ensure that the users are who they claim to be. Moreover, modern IAM solutions are much easier to use and deploy. As they are developed with a mobile-first mindset, the extremely intuitive nature of such modern IAM solutions will make the experiences for both employee and customer very easy to learn and therefore, much more appealing. With the extra security features, such as single sign-on (SSO) functionality, customers are able to trust their shared data will be kept and stored in safe conditions. Not only does this contribute to increased brand loyalty in the financial institution, but it also spells out a raise in bottom-line savings for the organisation at large. Research has brought to light evidence that many financial services organisations end up making significant cost savings as a result of enjoying the new connectivity and security standards offered by modern IAM solutions. With password recovery and password management related issues greatly reduced, banks and financial services firms are able to better budget their IT security, who can now focus on executing large scale initiatives and projects. Another unique set of benefits that banks and financial services firms can obtain through the adoption of modern IAM is the reporting and analytical features that will empower the company with proactive monitoring and documenting of usage by customers. Through the extensive view of customer profiles, marketing teams will be able to analyse login activity and application utilisation. On top of that, IAM ensures regulatory compliance. With IAM, customers and financial institutions can bank on.

Dealing With Shadow IT In Finance

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Whether they realise it or not, organisations across various markets and industries have recently found themselves having to deal with the effects of shadow IT. Shadow IT refers to the technology that has been adopted and brought in by individual employees or business units to the office environment, without the consent or the knowledge of the organisation’s IT security teams. Due to the vibrant market of software-as-a-service (SaaS) services and applications rising in popularity, many business managers no longer feel the need to go through the corporate IT teams to obtain the application functionalities they need for their jobs. This as a result enables shadow IT, made more prevalent because of how accessible and convenient the market is. Just through superficial surveying, many corporate executives are not aware that there are shadow applications and services being in use within their workplace environment. Some of them may not even be familiar or informed about the concept of shadow IT. While the organisation may be infiltrated by the presence of these shadow applications and services, it does not spell doom and gloom for them. While these applications can serve to help business units and employees in their job scopes, there is however potential risks to IT and data security.

One such immediate concern is identity and access management (IAM). Employees may find themselves locked out of important applications and services should they fail to recall their passwords. On the other hand, there is the great risk of employees reusing the same passwords for different services and applications, from personal web sites to corporate accounts. This could open up organisations to vulnerabilities and expose them to attacks from hackers and cyber terrorists if these accounts and services end up becoming compromised. In addition, there is the issue of making sure that employees can only access features and data that is relevant to their duties and scope of work. It is also crucial for the timely removal of application access and other account privileges when employees leave an organisation. If the IT team is not aware or able to monitor the records of account and log-in details of a given cloud service or application, this deprovisioning of accounts will not be completed. Beyond that, given the nature of the shadow application or service, IT teams will not be able to track the usage of applications across the organisation. This is important for the criteria of cost control especially when paying for SaaS applications based on the number of employees and business units.

In the face of cloud based applications, how can IT departments get back control over IAM? One idea is to utilise single sign on (SSO) for all cloud based applications. Doing so will eliminate the issue of reusing passwords while adding extra layers of security. IT teams can also take a risk-based approach and edit security policies accordingly.

For financial services firms, shadow IT poses a serious risk to the security of organisations and could have major consequences for regulatory compliance and operations.