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Speed Your Identity Maturity Journey into Zero Trust with an Identity Data Fabric

The security front line for today’s enterprises is always shifting as business workloads, data, and people continue to move more often than they used to. From on-premises applications to cloud services, the enterprise digital environment is always evolving. The same goes for cybercriminals who continue to steal resources and cause chaos in a race to outdo each other. Yet, a recent survey of IT leaders and decision-makers shows that 80% don’t have a uniform approach to controlling user access to their corporate networks.

Meanwhile, your enterprise continues to generate more and more data; onboard more employees, users, and devices; and move more workloads to the cloud. And with more than half of all enterprises using public cloud environments by 2023, it’s clear that the traditional perimeter-based security model will struggle to keep pace.

To combat this, many companies have started moving toward a Zero Trust (ZT) security strategy. Zero Trust can overcome today’s porous networks by offering additional security levels with identity-based security policies and infrastructure. It’s all about who users are, rather than their location.

Deploying Zero Trust is not a quick fix, however. It takes a multiphased, long-term approach to do it properly, which many companies are unwilling to do. As Radiant Logic’s Wade Ellery said of Zero Trust in a recent webinar, “It’s a journey, not a project. It won’t be bought and implemented in one quarter.”

One way to speed your identity maturity process as you work on the long-term project that is ZT is by using an Identity Data Fabric. It’ll optimize your preparations for ZT, close the identity gaps many companies have, and make your cybersecurity strategy more dynamic—something many companies are looking for.

Why Your Current Approach to Identity Complicates the Move to Zero Trust 

The traditional perimeter security approach depends a lot on location and static identity data. But today’s workloads and employees often exist outside the traditional perimeter and use multiple applications and systems to get their work done. Each new system or application fragments your identity stores and introduces new attack surfaces to your network. So, you bolt on new technologies to help integrate the most at-risk systems and cobble new security processes to include them.

Yet, it still isn’t working. Adding to your tech stack has only complicated your security strategy and increased your identity sprawl. Why is that?

The Problem: Your Existing Identity Data

Identity in today’s digital era goes beyond location and static information. It encompasses an array of contextual data for more precision. Instead of knowing that you have 50 employees at one location, identity in the ZT world includes role and group data. ZT has a list of the applications each role needs to use, the training this role needs to have, a list of the training employees in this role have already undertaken, when their certifications expire, and so on. Zero Trust security uses this contextual data to identify, analyze, and assess each user and request they make so that authorized users are granted the appropriate access to systems, applications, and data.

Traditional security approaches aren’t set up to handle all that information, nor do they even know where to find it. Simply adding new applications or technologies to your identity management solution won’t fix your ZT journey challenges. That’s because you’re dealing with fragmented and decentralized identity data. It’s the classic tech problem of “garbage in, garbage out.”

The Solution? Your Unified Identity Data 

Your identity data is also the solution to speeding your journey to a truly ZT approach. The two main foundations of a Zero Trust security approach, as outlined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST,) are:

  1. The functional components of identity: technology, data, and processes
  2. The engines that make the decisions based on the information from the functional components

Most companies have the engines covered, so they know how their security policies should be set up. But many companies struggle with the functional components of identity because they don’t always integrate nicely or work well in a ZT framework. This is where you try to bolt on new applications, spend your entire IT budget on “fixing” database connections, or move workloads to the cloud. In reality, all you’re doing is shifting the problem around and creating an even more fragmented identity framework.

To combat the tangled mess of identity sprawl and get your dream of ZT security back on track, consider implementing an Identity Data Fabric. It’s a solution that enhances your existing data and infrastructure, making it more robust and adaptive to the ever-changing business environment, no matter where you are with your ZT implementation.

How an Identity Data Fabric Accelerates Your Zero Trust Journey

An Identity Data Fabric can move your company further and more efficiently into your ZT security journey in three main ways: by finding and identifying all of your identity data, helping you define and shape the relevant attributes for ZT, and fostering a dynamic security ecosystem that evolves efficiently as your needs change.

1: Efficiently Unifies Your Identity Data 

It starts by knowing where your identity data is within your company’s entire ecosystem. That means finding all of the AD and legacy LDAP directories, databases, accounts, user groups, third-party systems, cloud applications, and anything else that stores identity data for your organization so you can see what you have and where you have it.

You’ll use this diverse data to quickly create your Identity Data Fabric. By knowing where all the data is, you can start building the governance rules, policies, and guidelines for your ZT security system. Then, back them up with rich and accurate identity data drawn from all your diverse sources.

2: Effectively Integrates with Your Data Governance Tools

ZT security works by applying policy-based analysis and decision-making to your identity data. Most companies fail at this point as they try to implement the decision and analysis portion of ZT using fragmented identity infrastructure, so it never works properly, efficiently, or accurately.

Your Identity Data Fabric feeds the relevant identity data to the appropriate ZT-powered technology for analysis. The ZT decision-making components can quickly connect with a single unified identity resource to get all the data they need and apply the relevant policies and guidelines to a 360° identity set.

3: Quickly Delivers Contextual Identity Data—When, Where, and How It’s Needed

The Identity Data Fabric is built to support the dynamic and changing nature of the ZT security approach. When one thing changes in the network, it seamlessly updates the relevant systems, so everything works as configured. The Identity Data Fabric always knows where the relevant identity data is found. The ZT control and policy components don’t have to search for needed data, and any integrated process or workflow suffers minimal, if any, downtime.

Being able to handle identity changes dynamically within the ZT security approach also means increasing your security levels exponentially. Each rigorously updated identity attribute that flows through to the relevant security policy and associated decision-making systems increases your security protections since you’re relying on exactly the right identity context to grant or block access to systems, data, and other sensitive information.

Weave an Identity Data Fabric to Jumpstart Your Zero Trust Architecture

An Identity Data Fabric is the bridge between all your disparate identity data and a successful Zero Trust security roll-out. It unifies and contextualizes your identity data, so it’s consumable at scale right when and where your systems need it. With an Identity Data Fabric, your identity data works harder, so your systems can make smarter decisions.

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