IT disaster recovery, cloud computing and information security news

Study quantifies the impact of effective identity and access management on cyber risk

A new Forrester study, commissioned by Centrify, has looked at the state of enterprise security and the impact of identity and access management maturity on breach levels.

The study found that two-thirds of organizations experienced an average of five or more security breaches in the past two years, and hackers compromised more than one billion identities in 2016 alone.

“Cybersecurity breaches are causing more havoc and affecting more industries than ever before,” said Tom Kemp, CEO of Centrify. “Despite over $75 billion spent on cybersecurity in 2016, the products and services from major security companies have failed to stop breaches from occurring, and in fact, the problem is getting worse. This clearly indicates that traditional approaches are flat out not working in this age of access.”

For years now, organizations have relied on a well-defined boundary, supported by digital walls and gatekeepers, to protect their assets. But today, with the rapid introduction of new technologies, platforms, applications and practices, that border has disintegrated, resulting in significant exposure for the global enterprise. With 90 percent of all enterprises moving to the cloud, and billions of users accessing data across millions of applications, enterprises face an increasingly complex digital canvas of identities. These identities live in and out of the enterprise, creating a new dimension in security. Most accessed by one simple permission: the password. 

“Organizations need to completely rethink their security approach, and in today’s world of access they must increase their identity and access management (IAM) maturity to more effectively reduce the likelihood of a data breach,” said Kemp.

In fact, the study concluded that 83 percent of organizations do not have a mature approach to identity and access management (IAM) resulting in two times more breaches and $5 million more in costs. The study further concluded that 91 percent of organizations with the most mature IAM stances gravitate toward integrated IAM platforms, rather than relying on multiple point solutions, and spend 40 percent less on technology. The more mature IAM approach showed direct correlation to reduced security risk, improved productivity, increased privileged activity management and greatly reduced financial loss over their less mature counterparts.

The impact of IAM maturity

The research study, which surveyed more than 200 enterprise IT security decision-makers in charge of identity and access management, revealed that:

  • Organizations with the highest IAM maturity experience half the number of breaches as the least mature. For instance, they are 46 percent less likely to suffer a server or application breach, 51 percent less likely to suffer a database breach and 63 percent less likely to suffer cloud infrastructure breach.
  • Organizations that secure both regular and privileged access are less likely to experience a breach compared to those organizations that adopt fewer best practices. Forrester estimates that 80 percent of security breaches involve privileged credentials that typically belong to the IT professionals who administer the systems, databases and networks of an organization.
  • Organizations with the least IAM maturity averaged over 12 breaches, more than twice the number of breaches of the most mature, and endure more than $5 million more in financial damage.
  • Mature companies spend more on overall IT security versus the least mature companies, but actually spend less on IAM technology as a percentage of their entire budget: 40 percent less.

In the study, Forrester concluded that a maturity hierarchy exists in the marketplace. The most mature groups employ more IAM approaches as well as use integrated IAM technology platforms to reduce security risk and may avoid millions in data breach costs over their less mature counterparts.

Download the full study here.


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