Mobility is an expectation in the modern workplace. While organizations have long embraced the bring your own device (BYOD) trend, simply providing access from any device to your mobile workforce is not enough. Your employees want a seamless experience from anywhere, at any time—accessing all applications and resources dependably without impacting productivity.

For organizations, this change raises an important question: How do you enable secure adoption of mobile technologies while managing risk? The enterprise must ensure that only authorized users can access sensitive applications and data on their mobile devices. This is a challenge when team members join, move, and leave, new devices enter the workplace continuously, and new technologies push the boundaries of the work environment.

Managing the risks in mobile workspaces requires better visibility into and control of the access privileges you grant users. Mobile identities and your mobile identity management strategy must be part of a unified identity and access management (IAM) program. This type of approach is not only more efficient but also enables you to enforce policies across your environment.

Multi-factor authentication

Passwords don’t provide adequate protection to data that resides on mobile devices or is accessed from them, which is why it’s critical to use multi-factor authentication (MFA). MFA adds at least one other factor, such as biometrics or device-based information, to confirm the user’s identity.

One way to achieve MFA is by integrating a mobile device management (MDM) solution with your IAM. These two solutions will work in tandem to mandate MFA both for corporate-owned and personal mobile devices that team members use to access resources. Integrating MDM and IAM solutions also allows you to adapt MFA across all platforms so you can unify access policies and apply them consistently.

Federated identity

With employees creating profiles and logins across multiple platforms, identity data can become siloed and scattered across different sources. Using federated identity gives you one source of truth for identity data and makes identity management more effective. The federated identity service acts as the integration engine for building a reference source for the IAM solution.

Federated identity management improves security with the ability to implement access policies to data and applications across all platforms, including mobile. One component of federated identity is single sign-on (SSO), which simplifies both the user experience and the management of credentials.

Zero trust security and mobile IAM

When you have a mobile, remote and distributed workforce, you can’t rely on traditional perimeter security—the digital identity is the new security perimeter. Because you’re dynamically authenticating and authorizing access, a zero trust security approach fits well in the mobile environment.

Zero trust is a model based on the idea that you can’t trust any user, device or connection. You’re securing IT resources, assets and users rather than the network. A zero trust framework requires every connection request to be continuously and dynamically authenticated.

In the context of mobile identity management, the concept of zero trust allows for consistent policy enforcement regardless of the user’s location. You can restrict access based on risk, like denying access to sensitive data over unsecure Wi-Fi. Zero trust and IAM work together to validate devices, establish user context, verify security posture, and check data and application authorizations.

The integration of a zero trust concept into the IAM solution ensures you can detect and remediate threats before you grant secure access.

Building a mobile identity management strategy

Your mobile identity management strategy is not a stand-alone approach but rather part of a holistic, multifaceted security strategy. Without end-to-end identity management, you will not have complete visibility and controls of your hybrid environment, resulting in security weaknesses.

Start by creating a strategic roadmap that outlines your organization’s goals and vision for identity management and governance. This roadmap not only guides your teams through implementation but also provides a framework for addressing new challenges and opportunities.

And, rather than patching together a series of identity control systems—including for mobile identity management—consider implementing an integrated identity platform. An integrated solution allows you to monitor and control all data, users, apps and access rights from one central location, ensuring you’re not leaving any gaps.

To give the right users the right access, take a user-centric view of security. Understanding users and their needs will provide the context of known relationships between people, accounts, data and privileges and serve as the engine for your identity management.

An ongoing journey

Effective mobile identity management is an ongoing journey. To support your mobile workforce, you need to start by adopting fundamental processes and best practices—then continuously iterating to ensure your program maintains alignment with changing business needs.

The evolution of the mobile workplace will continue to test your security approach. However, those foundational processes and practices, along with your strategic roadmap, will help you successfully adapt to the new challenges.

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