Tag Archives: Identity Management

Add Some Architecture to RSA 2010

Once again the RSA Conference is giving Dan Houser and I the opportunity to provide a one-day Identity Management Architecture tutorial. One-day tutorials can be added to your RSA Conference registration for a small fee. These sessions are designed to provide more depth and detail on particular important topics.

This year’s program is titled “Foundations for Success: Enterprise Identity Management Architecture”, and the content follows the successful pattern of past years. The morning will focus on establishing a base of understanding, and the afternoon will be spent covering modules selected by the attendees (the description from the RSA website is attached below).

This year I am especially excited as I am leading a major Information Security infrastructure initiative that involves the complete build out of the Information Security stack for a new company (actually a $2.4B spin-off). I have just completed full requirements, RFP, and the product selection cycle for an Identity Management solution. At the time of the class, I will be at the mid-point of the provisioning system’s deployment, and will have Password Vaulting in production. This project has been a source of great challenges and new insights, all of which I hope to bring with me on March 1st (well, the insights anyway).

Identity Management is at the core of a successful Information Security program. In many ways, it is the primary technical control for policy enforcement and oversight. In addition to the important role Identity Management plays in risk management and oversight, many of your business partners think of Identity Management “as” Information Security. The question of “how do I get access to X” is a question near and dear to the heart of your business partners. Many of the security controls we all work with day to day are largely invisible to business partners, but password problems, access request delays, and audit findings are very visible to them.

Information about the tutorial is available form the RSA 1-Day Tutorials page, but here is a copy of the tutorial description:

Tutorial ID : TUT-M21

Foundations for Success: Enterprise Identity Management Architecture

Identity and Access Management is the foundation for access controls in the Enterprise, a mission-critical IT function that is both the lifeblood of your business, and a frustrating and difficult beast to tame. Your IdM infrastructure is more complicated, with more moving parts, and more partners across the enterprise, than any other security related service.

This interactive session, taught by experienced IdM veterans and practitioners, provides an architectural view to resolving identity challenges, and will provide detailed and informative discussions on directory services, web access management, Single Sign-on, federated identity, authorization, provisioning and more. The morning session will provide an overview of the foundations of IdM, while the afternoon will provide a customized, detailed and interactive session to focus on the specific identity disciplines they find most challenging.

This workshop will cover:

  • Principles of Identity and Access Management and implementation strategies
  • Infrastructure architecture — critical underlying processes to run a successful enterprise
  • Web-based authentication & Web Access Management
  • Selling Identity strategy in the C-suite
  • Directory Services – Enterprise, meta-directories and virtual directories
  • Provisioning – managing the processes of Identity and Access Management
  • Identity mapping and roll-up
  • Detailed Single Sign-on strategies: Getting off Identity islands
  • Detailed Federated Identity discussion and case studies
  • Gritty Reality of Federation SSO: Lessons learned from 14 major federation projects
  • Multi-factor authentication: biometrics, tokens & more
  • Functional IDs – real world considerations of this often forgotten access control
  • User Access Audit: Proving only authorized users have access
  • Auditing the identity systems

Key Learning Objectives:
Participants should have a basic background in Information Security, IT systems, and identity management. After the class, participants should feel well grounded in identity management, understand the broad landscape from both a technical as well as a business perspective, and have gained practical insight into the strategies which will enable them to meet identity challenges in their organization.

Cheers,
Erik

Risk ROI for –Some– Provisioning Solutions…

Today I ran into an interesting post on Matt Flynn’s Identity Management Blog entitled Extending the ROI on Provisioning in which he discusses the fact that, in addition to the “traditional” value propositions centered around increased efficiency and cost reduction, there are also significant risk management and oversight capabilities that can be had.

All provisioning solutions provide some facilities for:

  • Reduction of paper-based processes in favor of electronic requests and work flows
  • Reduction of manual updates in favor of automated entitlement updates

All provisioning solution providers strive to have a compelling story for these items. Additionally, these were the focus of the first generation of solutions which emerged in the ’90s.

For the Identity Management programs with which I have been involved, automation and risk management have been equally important. This is somewhat reflected in the definition I use for provisioning:

Provisioning is the processes and systems which:

  • Manage the entire Lifecycle of an Entitlement from request, through approval processes, onto issuance, and eventual revocation
  • Provide transparent views of the status and history of each step in the Entitlement Lifecycle through the creation of durable and detailed records, which include all the information required to provide non-repudiation and event reconstruction for each step in an Entitlement Lifecycle

Note: Fulfilling these objectives always involves a mix of manual and automated activities, technical and procedural controls.

Based on my experiences, having prepared several product selection scorecards in this space, there are two major approaches (philosophies), that provisioning products take in this space:

The provisioning system “sees itself as”…

  • Coordinating identity and entitlement activities among systems with the objective of providing automation

- – - OR – - -

  • Maintaining a single centralized record of reference for identity and entitlement, as well as providing tools to automate approval, issuance, revocation, and reconciliation

The “Centralized Record of Reference” concept is the watershed between these two. The systems that are designed purely for automation tend to focus on “Coordination” of external events. These systems often do not contain an internal store of entitlements. The systems that maintain a “Centralized Record of Reference” approach have the ability, through reconciliation, to validate that the entitlements in the “wild” (e.g., in AD, LDAP, within local applications, etc.) match the “official” state (which they maintain). This enables these systems to detect changes and take action (e.g., drop the privilege, report the discrepancy, trigger a follow-up work flow, etc.)

Which system is right for you?

This really depends on what percentage of your systems require tight oversight. If you are in an industry with low-IT regulation, and the data of your core business is low risk, then it may make more sense to invest in routine manual audits of a few systems, rather than monitoring your entire IT world. On the other hand, if you are in an industry that is highly regulated, with high-risk data, then the automated oversight and reconciliation capabilities are likely a good fit for you.

FYI, last week I co-taught a one-day class on Identity and Access Management Architecture at RSA 2008. For the last 3rd of the class, Dan Houser and I had a list of advanced topics for the class to vote on. I prepared a module on Provisioning, but alas it was number 4 out of 7 options, and we only had time to cover 3… As a result, a Provisioning slidecast is “coming soon” to the Art of Information Security podcast.

Cheers, Erik