Recent security breaches, and the issues and bad publicity they have caused, has financial CIOs reassessing their security and authentication protocols.
The wider acceptance of cloud services and mobile devices has complicated security issues and compliance.
Financial CIOs can look to centralized user authentication to address both issues.
Advantages of Centralized Authentication
While technically different, centralized authentication and single sign-on (SSO) have been used interchangeably when discussing authentication policies. Many developers implement both, and this combination is what we will be referring to when discussing centralized authentication in this article.
The advantages of centralized authentication for IT include:
- Scalability – Centralized authentication takes less effort and time in adjusting to the business growth.
- Easier Monitoring and Reporting – The growth of cloud, mobile, and BYOD (bring your own device) resources in the business place makes it difficult to comply with multiple regulations, including SOX. Centralized authentication provides a way to track access and privileges of a user easily over all the resources, making report creation for compliance less time consuming.
- Less Overhead - Password management is greatly simplified, so IT and help desk time is greatly reduced when SSO is in place. This saves time and money.
- Easier Management - With users only having one account, it is easier to manage provisioning and deprovisioning, and to implement centralized security measures.
- User Benefits - SSO/centralized authentication means only having to remember one set of credentials. User data is shared between applications, and there is no need to enter authentication information multiple times.
The flip side of centralized authentication is that if an unauthorized individual gets access to a user account, that attacker can access any application or host that user can access.
However, centralized authentication allows finer-grained control over user accounts, which can limit access the attacker may have. Moreover, that control makes it easier to minimize the damage and eliminate the access of an attacker.
Centralized User Authentication Makes Good Business Sense
There may be problems, such as integration with existing infrastructure, to overcome with implementation. However, the benefits gained from simplifying security and compliance, and the speed and efficiency gained for everyday processes, outweigh any disadvantages or implementation issues.
With security and compliance becoming such critical issues, a centralized user authentication system is less of a good idea, and more of a necessity for CIOs to consider today.
Do you feel that CIOs need to adopt centralized user authentication protocols? Why, or why not? Let us know your thoughts in the Comments box below.
And to follow-through on the tips introduced in this short article, be sure to download your free Financial Services CIO Guide to IT Security and Identity Management.