Protecting Your Data: 5 IAM Trends to Watch

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Read more about author Jackson Shaw.

In our increasingly digital world, organizations recognize the importance of securing their data. As cloud-based technologies proliferate, the need for a robust identity and access management (IAM) strategy is more critical than ever. IAM serves as the gatekeeper to an organization’s sensitive information, ensuring that only authorized individuals have an appropriate level of access. With cyber threats becoming more sophisticated, this is no longer just a protective measure, but a necessity.

So what can businesses do to future-proof their IAM programs to keep up with evolving security paradigms, shifting IT environments, and user identities? From the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), decentralization and Web3, changing regulatory considerations, and more, there are several trends defining IAM in 2024. Here are the five you need to know to stay ahead of today’s threat landscape.

1. Balancing Security and Experience

IAM is about ensuring the right people have access to the right resources at the right time for the right reason. After all, the vast majority of breaches happen via social engineering or phishing emails. This means the best protection against the next data breach or ransomware attack is to focus on identity, which includes ensuring that employees only have access to the entitlements they need to do their jobs. Alternatively, employees need a productive working environment to succeed. To strike the balance, leaders must treat data security as a business problem, not just an IT problem. As a result, expanding data security responsibilities cross-functionally will become more common.

    2. Work from Anywhere

    “Work from Anywhere (WFA)” is the new normal for many organizations. With an increasingly mobile, app-reliant workforce, enterprises can no longer depend on a single factor, such as location or a device ID, to enable authentication. Securing identity from anywhere is simply the latest iteration of an age-old problem, and with new compute models come new attack surfaces. As a result, implementing a strong IAM strategy across your IT environment is crucial to promoting a culture of flexibility and efficiency, while still guarding the gates. 

    3. Security and Privacy Regulations Ramp Up 

    Privacy regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) were created to protect user data. As more stringent regulations come to light – NIS2, The Cyber Resilience Act, the AI Act in Europe, and Biden’s Executive Order on AI in the U.S., to name a few – businesses need to be prepared. IAM systems in place must comply or evolve to meet new standards. Otherwise, the cost may not just be financial, but legal. As a result, IAM will move beyond efficiency and security to become an integral part of data privacy and regulatory compliance. Automating IAM can help ensure access and permissions stay current. 

    4. Decentralized Identity Becomes a Reality

    User IDs, passwords, physical and digital tokens, and social log-ins are the common means for authentication. In a Web3 world, users would have their identity stored on a public blockchain, privately held on a computer, or a wallet on their mobile device. In this scenario, user authentication changes drastically in a sense that governance and risk lie with the user, not their company. A shift to “Bring Your Own ID” (BYOID) means an individual would have their own wallet to store all of their digital identities. While this is great in theory, there are scalability, interoperability, and compliance roadblocks to address before decentralized identity becomes widely used. 

    5. It’s Still Early for Transformative AI

    AI has the power to meet critical business needs and its applications in security and UX are no exception. Take compliance – IAM solutions can automatically assess who has access to what, auto-approve permissions that look right, and flag anything for review that doesn’t. This is a valuable time saver that replaces a manual, labor-intensive process. What AI can’t provide is important insight into potential vulnerabilities associated with access, whether it’s outdated policies or an unknown security threat. There are simply data limitations that even the most advanced algorithms can’t bypass. For now, the role of support agent is the most valuable application of AI in IAM – an efficiency tool to save time and money that will mature to more complex use cases with time.

    In the era of digital connectivity, the success of IAM hinges on the ability to strike a balance between strong security and a positive UX. As technology advances, IAM will witness further innovations and challenges. As such, the journey toward creating an adaptive IAM program is an ongoing, and very important one. The organizations that remain vigilant will not only fortify their defenses but also pave the way for a secure and resilient digital future.