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Identity Sprawl Slams the Brakes on Zero Trust—Here’s How to Accelerate Your Rollout

Identity sprawl is an issue for most organizations these days. It happens when companies have identity information spread across many locations, including legacy, hybrid, and multi-cloud systems. It’s often the result of mergers and acquisitions, when the new organization attempts to create a secure path forward, using resources from two already-complex systems. However, slow M&A integrations are not the only cause.

Identity sprawl can occur as a company grows over time, or after digital transformation efforts. When new systems are implemented alongside older systems still in use, the complexity of the infrastructure and the scale of the problem both grow exponentially. It can also become worse when a company transitions to having more employees working remotely—a challenge we’ve all become all-too familiar with during the pandemic.

Sprawl is more than just messy data; it also means your data doesn’t function as it should. The disparate systems and different identity records can’t be easily correlated, creating multiple stores featuring duplicative—or conflicting!—identity information, with no easy way to know which attributes are up-to-date and authoritative. To help combat the issue of sprawl, as well as make the best use of IT resources, businesses are increasingly relying on third-party Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) solutions and cloud-hosted microservices.

PaaS can help manage some of the problems with identity sprawl. However, it introduces its own challenges. Every system—whether cloud, enterprise, or legacy—has its own user data that it maintains in a different way. This decentralization creates a larger “attack surface” within the system, making your organization’s identity data more vulnerable to attack. In addition, existing infrastructure and identity access management (IAM) tools can be inflexible, and won’t always keep up with your changing business needs.

To overcome these issues, organizations often turn to manual processes to bridge systems, though this practice should be viewed as a stop-gap measure. There are many reasons why manual processes are not viable solutions in the long run, including:

  • Manual customizations are time and money consuming
  • They must be repeated for every initiative
  • They break or fail easily

Any new initiatives in your organization expect a single source of identity data, and your users expect single sign-on. However, when you are adding cloud applications controlled by another party, this becomes even more difficult and complex.

Enabling Zero Trust with an Identity Data Fabric

In today’s increasingly perimeter-free world, companies need a way to ensure that only authorized and approved subjects can access the proper resources. They need a comprehensive net or security fence to protect their data. The solution must be scalable and have no set boundaries. It also can’t put all the work on the end-user.

That’s where the Zero Trust model comes in. Zero Trust is the newest approach to the challenge of data security, designed to protect your company from advanced cybersecurity threats and data breaches, ensure compliance with increasingly stringent data security laws (think HIPAA, CCPA, and GDPR), and securely connecting subjects to the resources they need. The goal of Zero Trust security is to protect the company from advanced cybersecurity threats and data breaches, while helping the company achieve compliance with FISMA, HIPAA, PCI, GDPR, CCPA, and any future data privacy and security laws. At the heart of Zero Trust is data security.

An organization adopting a Zero Trust Architecture approach should take these key functions into account:

  • Authenticate all users
  • Authorize all users based on data from many endpoints or domains
  • Give a complete view of information gathered from these various sources
  • Extend Zero Trust Architecture to your entire infrastructure
  • Provide a better user experience (or at least don’t annoy users TOO much)

While those goals seem straightforward enough, there are challenges to implementing Zero Trust that keep organizations from jumping on board with it right away. Zero Trust is complex to implement. It can be costly. It also requires the ability to deliver the right identity data, gathered from across a multitude of sources, at the right time.

In other words, Zero Trust requires a unified source of identity data and that’s where an Identity Data Fabric comes in. You need real-time access to all identity sources—consolidated into a single source of identity truth—to make Zero Trust a reality.

RadiantOne Addresses the Need for Identity Integration

Identity is the core of modern cybersecurity. But, in most organizations, identity data is currently fragmented across physical and logical distribution sites. This may include data located on-prem or in the cloud, across platforms such as Microsoft or Unix, or across sources like Active Directory domains and legacy systems.

As highlighted by increasingly common multi-cloud deployments, identity data needs to be made available in the format requested, no matter where that is. RadiantOne ensures the right identity can be securely accessed by anything, anywhere, no matter where or how the identity data is stored.

Organizations can improve both security AND user experience, all at once, by managing identity data with a thoughtful approach. RadiantOne Intelligent Identity Data Platform unifies disparate identity data, safely connects subjects and resources, and bridges identity needs across platforms and protocols for a seamless experience. It lets you harness unified identity data and make it a driver of Zero Trust architecture.

Protect your data by extending digital security across the shared cloud. Contact us today to see how we can help you say no to identity data sprawl.

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