Identity and access management (IAM) is more complicated in our connected, fast-changing world. As IT environments, workplace demands and compliance requirements change, identity management trends must evolve to keep up with new security risks.

To address this transformation and the growing complexity that comes with it, organizations will need to adopt new technologies. The IAM market is innovating to meet not only the current challenges but also future ones. Here are some of the emerging identity management trends that are shaping what’s next.

Evolution of artificial intelligence.

Keeping pace with the dynamic changes in the IT environment is overwhelming for IT and security teams. A hybrid architecture—along with a distributed network of employees, partners and contractors—means more access points to data and applications that are now everywhere. With the tremendous amount of activity and data generated, it is no longer effective to scale a human-driven approach to maintaining controls of who has access to what, where and how.

Artificial intelligence (AI) can improve operational efficiencies by automating processes. AI and machine learning enable your IAM solution to continually model and adapt access as your business needs and environment evolve. Already, many organizations are adopting AI-based solutions to reduce risk. The future of identity will rely on AI and machine learning to solve problems that are beyond human ability.

Future of single sign-on systems.

Single sign-on (SSO) is becoming a core IAM requirement for many organizations. Employees log into a growing number of systems and applications, and SSO simplifies the user experience while eliminating the need to manage multiple credentials. The move to the cloud is one of the drivers behind SSO adoption because organizations view it as a way to reduce security risks.

While SSO simplifies password management, it does more for user convenience than it does for security. That’s because the solution design does not provide granular controls and automation for ensuring appropriate user access to IT resources, nor does it address governance and compliance specifications.

If you’re looking to achieve an agile IAM infrastructure, you will need to consider your SSO deployment projects in the context of both current and future needs. Think beyond the functional, tactical goal of SSO, and ensure it fits within your changing IAM needs.

Self-sovereign identity.

In the physical world, individuals control how they authenticate their identities, instead of relying on a centralized, third-party provider. What if they could do the same in the digital world, using instantly verifiable authentication methods they choose themselves? This idea is the premise behind self-sovereign identity, an emerging concept that could reshape identity management trends.

Self-sovereign identity (SSI) is a set of technologies that eliminates the need for organizations to store users’ identity data. It decentralizes identity creation, attestation and verification—and as champions of the idea say—is the future of secure, user-controlled identity management. While implementation is years away, several leading technology companies, as well as financial institutions, are working on practical applications. Various aspects need to be addressed before widespread adoption, including the development of universal standards and an interoperable ecosystem.

Blockchain technology.

As a distributed ledger technology, blockchain has several use cases in IAM, including identity proofing (confirming the relationship between a real person and a digital identity) and identity governance.

One specific area that could benefit from blockchain is audit logging. When an identity governance service receives a provisioning request, the audit record is written into an internal log. With blockchain, the record of the approved request could be published, in the form of a hash, in the shared ledger instead of the provider’s private database. Among other things, a decentralized, shared log for provisioning could help prevent fraud.

Blockchain is a work-in-progress in the IAM space but it shows great promise. Overcoming a variety of technical limitations and other challenges will be the key to this identity management trend going mainstream.

Behavioral biometrics.

Biometric identification plays an important role in IAM and many organizations see it as replacement for passwords. But traditional, static biometric data presents three core challenges:

  • While biometric data is more difficult to copy than passwords, biometric databases are vulnerable to breaches nonetheless, and replications can mislead even advanced sensors.
  • The scans can negatively impact the user experience, especially when there are numerous authentication requests.
  • It’s a one-time process, and if an error or subtle change takes place, the user’s access is revoked, and direct input from the user is required for reauthentication.

Adaptive biometrics solves these challenges by integrating biometric identifiers into a continuous authentication model. Instead of static data such as a fingerprint or face scan, the IAM solution uses behavioral biometrics—dynamic data such as finger pressure, swipe speed, vocal inflections, grip strength and eye-movement patterns. The system collects the biometric data passively, in the background, without interrupting the session or prompting user for action. Behavioral biometrics data is much more difficult to reproduce because it’s unique to each digital identity.

Expansion of the cloud.

As digital transformation initiatives result in the expansion of cloud computing, traditional IAM will continue to evolve and adapt to the complexities of the hybrid environment. One of the growing trends is cloud-based IAM, or identity-as-a-service (IDaaS). Similar to SaaS, IDaaS uses an application delivery model for connecting users to IAM services from the cloud.

Cloud-based identity governance provides several advantages over traditional IAM, including faster deployment, greater agility, lower total cost of ownership and improved visibility across multiple clouds. It also simplifies identity management because you don’t have to maintain and upgrade an on-premises infrastructure.

Final thoughts: The future of IAM.

The scope and scale of access management will continue to grow, impacting next-generation identity management trends. Continued adoption of technologies such as cloud computing and the Internet of Things will further reshape the future of IAM.

As digital identities become increasingly more important, so is protecting them. Successful organizations must adapt to growing demands, and that includes implementing identity management solutions that align with their current business needs and enable them for future changes.

An AI-driven platform can help your organization stay ahead of the security curve by proactively spotting risky users and access that pose potential threats. Find out how SailPoint Predictive Identity provides the power of AI to learn and adapt as your organization changes and can ensure that every user has the access they need when they need it.

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