Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Perimeter

9/21/2012
11:57 AM
Gunnar Peterson
Gunnar Peterson
Commentary
50%
50%

Launching An IAM Project: Where To Start

How to think architecture-centric, not audit-centric, in identity and access

In my last blog post, we looked at some of the hazards in identity and access management (IAM) projects. Specifically, most IAM project initiatives are created from a very dangerous place -- the auditor's spreadsheet.

Audit plays an important role, but blindly following an audit report into large-scale IAM "suite" (in name only) deployment, can result in seven-figure disappointment and hinder career upside.

IAM efforts should be architecture-centric, not audit-centric. Audit is an input to architecture, but IAM architecture focuses on assets, risk, standards, and integration -- how to deliver on the requirements in a real-world system, not simply completing the audit Checkbox Olympics.

The value of an architecture-centric approach to IAM is clear, but the next question becomes: What processes can be used to get there? Outside of specialty consulting groups, there are limited options for industry-standard IAM design, development, and deployment processes.

As IAM matures, this will likely change much the same way secure coding has been progressively baked into the Software Development Lifecycle. Enterprises now have a number of choices, such as BSIMM and Microsoft's SDL, that offer concrete ideas, guidance, and sequencing on improving security in code.

IAM faces similar challenges to those who drove the movement to BSIMM and SDL, but the IAM space lacks a "you go in A, you come out Z" cohesive approach to delivering IAM in real-world systems.

So while there is not a fully baked IAM process out and available, there are some starting points to consider. Taking an architecture-centric approach to IAM means starting with, wait for it, architecture. There are several sources to consider, including The Open Group Enterprise Security Architecture, which covers much of the core territory for IAM architects to design and plan for.

Delivering on architecture is the next pressing challenge, and here the work from BSIMM on software security is instructive. BSIMM's framework has four main categories: Governance, Intelligence, SSDL Touchpoints, and Deployment. Each of these has a direct implications for the IAM project life cycle:

  • Governance: As previously discussed, compliance is one of the main drivers of IAM efforts, but an architecture cannot live by compliance alone. Strategy is required to make sure the IAM efforts align with enterprise goals and priorities, and that long-term impacts of new teams for IAM design and ops are factored in.

  • Intelligence: In BSIMM terms, IAM is a "security feature," but the standards and security behind these features require very careful design and testing. Mistakes made here cascade across the system.

  • SSDL: This part covers architecture analysis, code review, and testing. Most IAM efforts are a mix of buy and build, but this step should not be skipped. It's the key to achieving integration

  • Deployment: Penetration testing, vulnerability management, and related deployment concerns are likewise of paramount importance for IAM efforts. IAM vendors' PowerPoint does not crash, but their implementations do. This process step closes the loop from concept to reality.

In conclusion, BSIMM's focus on software security is not a one-for-one for IAM's top concerns; it's missing some areas, such as operations that are important for IAM efforts. BSIMM requires some adaptation to be useful in IAM, but most of the core bits required to get a successful IAM project up and running are present in BSIMM. Hybrids are the strongest plants in nature. If you're starting an IAM project now and need a framework to adapt for IAM, I would recommend starting with BSIMM.

Gunnar Peterson is a Managing Principal at Arctec Group Gunnar Peterson (@oneraindrop) works on AppSec - Cloud, Mobile and Identity. He maintains a blog at http://1raindrop.typepad.com. View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Oldest First  |  Newest First  |  Threaded View
Jay O'Donnell
50%
50%
Jay O'Donnell,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/9/2012 | 8:06:05 PM
re: Launching An IAM Project: Where To Start


Thanks
Gunnar for the great read - It is true that compliance plays a leading role in
IAM efforts. IAM has evolved from an IT mandate to an enterprise imperative. N8
Identity's Employee Lifecycle Manager-(ELMG) ensures compliance by tracking employees
from their first day to their last day, including any changes in responsibility
that happen in between. The compliance module of ELM makes compliance reporting
simple and straightforward. Learn more here: http://n8id.com/our-offering/e...
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 10/27/2020
6 Ways Passwords Fail Basic Security Tests
Curtis Franklin Jr., Senior Editor at Dark Reading,  10/28/2020
'Act of War' Clause Could Nix Cyber Insurance Payouts
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  10/29/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
How to Measure and Reduce Cybersecurity Risk in Your Organization
In this Tech Digest, we examine the difficult practice of measuring cyber-risk that has long been an elusive target for enterprises. Download it today!
Flash Poll
How IT Security Organizations are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
How IT Security Organizations are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
The COVID-19 pandemic turned the world -- and enterprise computing -- on end. Here's a look at how cybersecurity teams are retrenching their defense strategies, rebuilding their teams, and selecting new technologies to stop the oncoming rise of online attacks.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-27014
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-30
Trend Micro Antivirus for Mac 2020 (Consumer) contains a race condition vulnerability in the Web Threat Protection Blocklist component, that if exploited, could allow an attacker to case a kernel panic or crash. An attacker must first obtain the ability to execute high-privileged code on the targ...
CVE-2020-27015
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-30
Trend Micro Antivirus for Mac 2020 (Consumer) contains an Error Message Information Disclosure vulnerability that if exploited, could allow kernel pointers and debug messages to leak to userland. An attacker must first obtain the ability to execute high-privi...
CVE-2020-27885
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-29
Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) vulnerability on WSO2 API Manager 3.1.0. By exploiting a Cross-site scripting vulnerability the attacker can hijack a logged-in user’s session by stealing cookies which means that a malicious hacker can change the logged-in user’s pass...
CVE-2020-25646
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-29
A flaw was found in Ansible Collection community.crypto. openssl_privatekey_info exposes private key in logs. This directly impacts confidentiality
CVE-2020-26205
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-29
Sal is a multi-tenanted reporting dashboard for Munki with the ability to display information from Facter. In Sal through version 4.1.6 there is an XSS vulnerability on the machine_list view.