The best word to describe the current situation in the world of digital identity is… puzzling.
The game is all about finding the ever-changing balance between making users more secure and keeping the UX of apps and services as smooth as possible. If you’re a regular reader here, you’re already aware that we created IPification to provide the best solution to this challenge.
And in these shifting sands, a new type of ID management technology is gaining prominence. It’s called Identity as a Service — IDaaS for short — and I believe it creates an important shift in how digital identity is being protected. Furthermore, this new type of identity and access management (IAM) service plays extremely well with IPification!
So, let’s explore what IDaaS brings to the table…
Utilizing IDaaS in a Zero-Trust Security Environment
The identity and access management space are filled with diverse solutions, including password management tools, provisioning software, and security-policy enforcement applications… and, like IDaaS, they can be installed on-premises or used from the cloud.
As with many other aaS offerings, these solutions allow companies to integrate specific tools into their products for a monthly or annual fee — in this case, identity features they can integrate into their apps and services.
When integrated into the zero-trust concept, IDaaS is a perfect fit. The term zero-trust security was coined in 2010 to describe a security concept that companies and organizations should not trust anyone outside, or even inside, the organization perimeter.
With IDaaS solutions, companies no longer need to debate whom to trust. Instant verification of every user and device trying to access at each attempt takes a fraction of a second, thanks to IDaaS features.
Identity Governance and Administration (IGA)
This is a core aspect of IDaaS and encompasses all the necessary aspects of managing user identities. This includes password management (including password reset functionality); access requests, permits, provisioning, and role-based management; directory integrations; and analytics and reporting.
Single Sign-On (SSO)
Customers, company employees, and authorized associates alike get fast and easy access with the Single Sign-On (SSO) option.
The user needs to log in only once to gain access to multiple resources within a single organization. When they switch between apps in the same system, they do not have to enter their credentials again. Think of the Microsoft Office 365 login, which means you’re also logged in for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneDrive, and many other apps.
To strengthen and streamline the authentication process, SSO uses Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML), a highly flexible open standard for communication between identity providers and service providers. Simply put — it is an encrypted link between the user ID authentication and the authorization to access the resource or a service.
Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) boosts the security levels with every authentication step added. This can include biometrics, SMS OTP, passwords, hardware tokens, etc. Each additional factor enhances security but drastically diminishes the UX — so two-factor authentication (2FA) is the simplest and most popular choice in active usage.
But as hackers manage to get around many types of authentication factors — just read about SIM swap attacks and biometrics failures — combining several factors becomes a must. To find the balance, modern solutions go a step further and provide adaptive MFA.
This kind of MFA system estimates the risk level for each authentication request and instantly adapts to it, based on user behavior or situational changes. For example, when the system recognizes that an employee tries to log in from an unusual device or location or uses an odd typing pattern, it will verify their identity by prompting them to use additional factors.
This kind of instant fraud detection and real-time risk management is key to preventing further security issues and data leaks.
Cloud-Based IDaaS vs On-Premise IAM
Traditional IAM solutions were completely reliant on in-house infrastructure implementations and highly complex bundles of hardware and software. This means that each time a problem occurred, the company had to figure out what went wrong and deploy the internal IT department to resolve the issue as soon as possible.
It’s important to add that the problem being addressed wasn’t always end-users and security breaches. For example, if mobile phones are used for any kind of in-house verification (using the Bring Your Own Device principle), each time an employee changes phones, the identity verification system needs to adapt right away.
Handling sensitive security protocols this way was inefficient, expensive, and slow. Recently, enterprises have gotten the memo and started moving the infrastructure to centralized, cloud-based systems.
Delegating the Identity and Access Management to experienced third-party providers has proven beneficial for many reasons — including flexibility, security, swiftness, and cost-effectiveness.
Relieving in-house developer teams
Developers tend to prioritize UX and functionality in their work since it means the most to the end-users too. However, this goes only until they notice a security breach and suddenly remember how much safety matters. Besides, in-house developers often lack the time and resources to implement IAM features and build a safe identity infrastructure from scratch.
Once an enterprise opts for third-party IDaaS providers, developers can focus on product/service innovation and other high-value tasks. This increases their productivity where it matters the most.
As IDaaS works to detach the user ID from applications, developers need only think about a unique identifier — since user IDs aren’t stored in their own databases, and non-feature work such as CRUD goes away too.
Cost-effectiveness of the subscription IDaaS model
On-site IAM and identity provisioning are not only labor-intensive and tedious but expensive as well. Hardware maintenance, software purchases, implementations and upgrades, data back-ups, hosting fees, VPN set-ups… the list goes on and on. But the most expensive issues resolved by IDaaS solutions such as SSO are password resets, given that a single password reset may cost a company up to $70!
Employing IDaaS brings down all subscription fees and administration costs — and that’s the hard bottom line.
The flexibility of cloud identity service platforms
IDaaS solutions work across multiple platforms, systems, and devices, on-premises and outside, with employees and end-users alike.
Take Azure Active Directory B2C as an example. It can reach any user on any platform and support billions of authentication requests daily. All of this works while keeping the sign-in experience a simple, one-time thing.
These are the functionalities enabling maximum customized protection with minimum working requirements:
- Password-free authentication
- Customizable self-service password reset — without helpdesk or admin support (blocks weak passwords)
- MFA (with authentication method of choice)
- Integration of non-SaaS enterprise applications
The importance of a large-scale, flexible identity management solution comes into the right perspective when looking at considerably large industries. Take media and entertainment as an example, with an enormous number of fast-moving, transitory customers shift on a daily basis. Handling all of them on-premises would overload the infrastructure pretty fast — so IDaaS presents an ideal solution.
Stronger Security Standards
Identities are the central attack spot — so securing user ID needs to be a priority for any IAM solution.
As we already mentioned when discussing developers’ workloads, security often falls behind when we try to meet customer expectations in terms of the overall UX. Even biometrics sometimes fail, so enterprises need to try harder to find an impervious safety solution.
Looking into IDaaS is a step in the right direction — with an adaptive MFA contextual security assessment, SSO that decreases the chance of getting the password wrong, and reducing the number of people who have the access to the password to end-user only.
Customer point of view: UX without security breaches
The average customer moves swiftly through the market to find the optimal solution. It has to keep their data safe, but still give them what they want 24/7, at a consistently fast pace. Providers that fail to deliver will see skyrocketing cart abandonment rates.
The good news: the dilemma between UX and security is a fake one since both are equally important.
Pairing up with digital security experts provides a seamless customer experience that keeps hackers out. This kind of cooperation lets everybody within the team do what they do best. Additionally, you get a rare kind of outcome: a win-win-win for the enterprise and the end-user.
Get the final piece of the puzzle with IPification
Our mobile authentication solution works as an additional authentication factor, bringing security without increasing UX friction.
This enables service providers to authenticate users whenever they need to, and smoothly. Our solution was built to the highest industry standards and can fit into any IDaaS platform. This makes us a perfect addition to improve MFA implementation without alienating users.