In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies have been left with no choice but to reinvent themselves digitally. To survive and grow, businesses who are newly remote must sharpen their focus on cybersecurity and reinforce existing infrastructure to meet immediate risks.

A large-scale work-from-home (WFH) transition in the face of a public health emergency leaves plenty of room for mistakes to be made, offering cyberattackers an unprecedented opportunity to infiltrate your core systems.

In the midst of an extraordinary event like a worldwide viral outbreak, cybersecurity and employee access concerns are more pressing than ever before. What measures has your company taken to protect itself?

What’s Identity Access Management and Why Is It More Important Than Ever During COVID-19?
Identity access management (IAM) describes organizations’ actions to ensure that the appropriate people have the appropriate access to resources. Processes such as identification, authentication, and authorization fall under IAM. Government response plans to COVID-19 rely on secure IAM to see to it that emergency benefits, loans, and wage subsidies end up in the right hands.

IAM has always been essential for day-to-day business operations. Digital verification technology automatically grants or denies certain privileges for employees and customers accessing company equipment on company property—presenting unique challenges in the current remote climate.

Every business right now feels a sense of urgency. Following an all-around reset, companies are doing their best to get back up to speed and ahead of competitors. But staying alive and relevant should never compromise cybersecurity and privacy policies.

Companies forgoing risk management for productivity is exactly what cyber attackers are counting on. The large-scale digital shift we’ve witnessed in recent months has left employees accessing core business systems across endpoints and on home networks. Seemingly overnight, carefully crafted IAM policies and controls went up in smoke, revealing openings for cybercriminals to gain access to sensitive information.

Given that 70 percent of breaches are caused by mismanaged credentials, proper IAM reduces risk—which, at the moment, is at an all-time high.

As unprotected devices leave companies more exposed than ever to data leaks and systems being held at ransom, we’ve noticed an uptick in cyber attacks. For instance, the number of malicious email campaigns has skyrocketed, with cyber criminals impersonating WHO and government agencies. Every week, Gmail alone is blocking up to 18 million malware and phishing emails related to COVID-19, on top of 240 million daily COVID-related spam messages.

What Should Companies Do to Secure Their Identity Management Systems?
Uncertain times create unprecedented opportunities, and not just for cyber attackers. Companies that complete the digital transition without any major hitches to damage customer trust will gain a tremendous advantage over competitors in the long run. For those that can pull it off, handling sensitive information properly during times of crisis wins customer trust and loyalty like nothing else.

But pulling it off is difficult. Businesses have been hit in more than one area, and extending security operations may not seem like an immediate necessity—until it is. As more employees are encouraged to work from home, proactive measures must be taken, including:

• Multi-factor authentication (MFA)
• Sliding-scale of authentication that depends on the level of access requested
• Policies outlining in detail what actions to take to identify, prevent, and eradicate orphaned accounts

Now is an opportune time to implement 24/7 incident response for companies that don’t already have it. To continue work-from-home operations smoothly and securely, remote infrastructure needs to accommodate more sensitive threat detection and response. As the threat landscape expands, IAM systems must evolve to improve protection.

The Future of Identity Access Management
The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the world as we know it. Its effects have been felt in all aspects of life, united only by the common thread of technological innovation. Times like these are opportunities to rethink our standards and strengthen existing systems to support these innovative shifts such as the work-from-home movement and the rise of telehealth, among other digital transformations.

Organizations now face the challenges of responding quickly and strategically to the unique demands of a remote workforce, pinpointing cyber weaknesses before attackers, and training employees to be aware of risks. But crisis management is an opportunity for growth. Through handling unprecedented threats, organizations uncover network exposures and use unique approaches to tackle unique problems.

Are you interested in learning more about IAM solutions, or do you want to see if your organization is prepared to handle an extended work from home environment? Get in touch with the Indigo Consulting team today to learn more.

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