Traditionally, IT security focused on the network perimeter. In the age of wired networks and stationary desktop computers, the network perimeter was rigid and well-defined. Then came laptops, mobile devices and the cloud. The network was no longer confined to a physical space. Users are now capable of accessing business systems, applications and data from virtually any location and any device.

As a result, today’s network perimeter is defined by users as their identities are validated and network access is granted. These users could be in your organization’s primary location, a branch office, a home office, or any space with Wi-Fi connectivity. The challenge faced by IT is providing users with simple, reliable access to network resources based on access permissions that often change due to promotions, transfers, retirements, terminations and other factors.

Identity management is the process organizations follow to identify, authenticate and authorize users who attempt to access network resources. In other words, identity management determines who the user is, whether the user has legitimate credentials, and which systems, applications and data the user is authorized to access. User identities and governance policies are used to make these determinations.

Rather than managing security in siloes for various systems, identity management allows you to consolidate authentication and authorization into a single platform and process. This approach saves time and money by simplifying a critical component of IT security. It also makes it possible for users to log into a single platformfor any IT resources they need instead of using different credentials for different systems.

The first step to developing organizational policies and business policies around user identities involves taking inventory of all IT systems, including hardware, software and applications. Rank systems based upon how much sensitive data is contained within them and the risk that would be created if the data were to become compromised. Prioritize high-risk systems and work your way down to systems containing data that’s publicly available. Who needs to access these systems? Who needs remote access? The more clearly defined your user identities are, the more effective your identity management strategy will be.

Once you set up the framework for identity management, you need a means for collecting and managing identity data. The ArcID Identity Management Platform from Crossmatch uses an intelligent, modular architecture that allows you to address unique access control requirements. Modules can be independently deployed and seamlessly integrated with business processes, hardware and software to provide configuration flexibility and easy scalability.

Deployed on-premises or in the cloud, ArcID uses multiple biometric factors to create, track and manage user identities and associated transactions. This will ensure the highest level of identity assurance. By collecting and reporting on identity data and providing visibility throughout the entire identity lifecycle, the Arc ID Identity Management Platform delivers a comprehensive identity picture that helps you reduce the risk of unauthorized access to critical systems.

In the next post, we’ll discuss the role of biometrics in IT security and explain how biometrics makes the life of a cybercriminal much more difficult.