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Inadequate identity practices are exposing many businesses to risks

LastPass by LogMeIn has announced the results of a new study conducted by Vanson Bourne to offer businesses insights into the state of identity and access management (IAM) and actionable steps to improve their IAM programme. The study, ‘The Guide to Modern Identity’, surveyed 700 global IT and security professionals at organizations ranging from 250 to 2,999 employees and found that 92 percent are experiencing at least one challenge when it comes to identity management, with 47 percent citing ease of use with security as the biggest challenge. 

Data from the report reveals that IT professionals overwhelmingly (82 percent) agree that poor identity practices have exposed their business to risks, citing incorrect access controls (41 percent), loss of employee data (36 percent) and loss of customer data (33 percent) as the biggest consequences. Despite this, many have not implemented an adequate identity management solution.

Additional key findings include:

Passwords continue to cause frustration and risk
IT teams continue to spend valuable time and resources dealing with tickets for password-related problems. On average, IT security teams spend 4 hours per week on password management-related issues alone and receive 96 password-related requests per month. Given the ongoing resource drain that passwords pose to organizations, almost all (95 percent) of IT security professionals surveyed report that their organization should place more emphasis on the importance of strong password behaviour.

Single Sign-On serves a crucial role – but leaves critical gaps in isolation
Given the risks and resource drain associated with passwords, SSO solutions offer the benefits of eliminating passwords for IT-supported apps and simplifying the login process for employees accessing key apps in the cloud and behind the firewall. However, many apps aren’t integrated into an SSO solution – whether because they don’t support SSO, they’re not high enough priority for IT to configure SSO or IT doesn’t even know they’re being used. Although our research shows that 80 percent of IT professionals agree that relying on SSO alone is not enough, as it still leaves a variety of cloud apps and privileged accounts unsecured.

Upgrading identity capabilities is a top priority 
98 percent of IT professionals surveyed see room for improvement in the general security behaviour of their employees (creating strong passwords, ensuring secure sharing and collaboration). Due to competing priorities, IT teams are struggling to address their security needs. When asked about next year’s IT security objectives, 65 percent agree that upgrading their identity and access management capabilities is a priority. When asked for ideal features in an identity solution, respondents noted multi-factor authentication (55 percent), integration with current infrastructure (52 percent), a built-in password generator (44 percent), support for both legacy and cloud apps (44 percent) and an integrated system for managing, monitoring and setting policies (44 percent).

Strengthening user authentication with MFA is critical
Among the key priorities for improving identity capabilities, 59 percent of IT professionals agree that strengthening user authentication with MFA technology is critical. IT security professionals from organizations that have invested in or plan to invest in MFA see the most likely benefits as greater organizational security (60 percent), fewer instances of incorrect access to confidential information (48 percent) and decreased risk of credential/ password theft (47 percent). Additionally, 36 percent of respondents see implementing biometric MFA as a priority.

Balancing ease of use and security is a challenge when implementing an identity solution
Given that security is a high priority for most businesses, it’s no surprise that many are investing in identity solutions. Less than one percent of IT professionals believe that managing user access is unimportant to the overall security of the organization. Unfortunately, 92 percent of organizations also say they are experiencing at least one challenge when it comes to identity management. The average organization struggles with three identity-related challenges: 47 percent of respondents said balancing ease of use with increased security was a hurdle, 40 percent cite the general security of their solutions and 37 percent are facing demands from employees for a solution that’s easy to use.

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