Aujas US

An IDG Ventures Company

Data Governance – What We Need to Think About

These are some risk areas that you might want to think about when discussing Data Governance with your team: 

1. Disparate sources of data across the organization’s applications, producing incomplete and incorrect production data used in key decision making processes for capital investment. (Accuracy)

2. Trading ledger for risk management review is typically delayed because of multiple data feeds, the availability of which is impeded by network speed due to file size in two custom applications. (Availability)

3. Inability to solve data quality issues in the sales division because data is spread across multiple systems and owners, resulting in a blame game. (Agility)  

4. Customer service representatives are not presented a single view of a customer account, and have to use multiple programs to achieve unified profile presentation, requiring more time to solve issues, and increased call center costs. (Access)

A Data Governance Methodology That Works

Building Blocks for Success

Analyze

* Perform data governance readiness assessment

* Define guiding principles

* Identify decision making bodies

Design

* Determine focus of data governance program (security/privacy, data quality, architecture, etc.)

* Design data governance program (standards, policies, strategy)

* Determine cross functional teams and data stewards

* Define decision areas and decision rights

Transform

* Conduct employee training and awareness

* Enact data governance program

* Deploy data governance mechanisms and tools

Sustain

* Monitor and adjust key performance metrics

* Ensure accountability and ownership through periodic review

Need help with your company’s data governance programs? Contact Karl Kispert, Aujas VP of Sales, at karl.kispert@aujas.com.

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March 8, 2011 Posted by | Data governance, IT security | , , , | Leave a comment

More than Password Resets – Identity and Access Management’s Real Value

Security with single sign-onYou’ve probably heard enough about the benefits that an Identity and Access Management (IAM) program can bring to you. Most of the benefits pitched to customers from various vendors revolve around specific features of the products, and are generalizations at best.

For example, password reset is available as a feature, and the obvious benefit is reduced helpdesk costs. Plain and simple!  There is, however, much more to the story.

When you go ahead with an IAM program, this is what you are really setting out to do:

Streamline processes

Setting up an IAM solution forces one to optimize and define processes that carry no ambiguity, because automation cannot be achieved when there is ambiguity. Don’t count on the partner who is on keen to migrate your existing processes into the IAM system without questioning the need or sense behind that process.

Example: Quite a few customers insist on having the employee’s manager approve the request first, and then send it to a secondary owner for a final approval. When questioned, the response often is, “We don’t trust our managers. They may approve just about anything that someone requests, so we need someone else take a look at it.” The question we then pose is, “Why have the manager approve something when you don’t trust his judgement?” Or “Have the manager approve requests, but educate the users about the responsibility they carry when they approve something.” You get the idea.

Streamline data across systems

This is an opportunity to bring consistency to how data values are treated by applications across the organization.

Example: The location for a person maybe “SFO” in one application, “California” in another, and “Calif.” in yet another application.

Traditionally, each application owner is used to operating in a silo, and comes up with a naming convention designed to suit the needs of the hour and the application. Standardizing the values across applications lets the organization take charge by bringing in the ability to centrally manage various aspects of user properties, rights, etc.

This change often sees the greatest amount of inertia, but is the one that truly lets organizations leverage their IAM investment. The solution isn’t to avoid standardization. The solution (and opportunity) is to strengthen change management.

Build a platform for future application development

Traditional application development models cater to embedding the authentication and authorization into the core of the application itself. With an IAM program- in place, you have the luxury and comfort of asking application developers to develop just the business logic in their application. All authentication and authorization related decisions can then be delegated to the IAM platform, resulting in

a)      Application developers focused on core business functionality

b)      Having a secure, and proven mechanism for authentication and authorization decisions

c)       Achieving a complete view of who can do what in which application

In a nut shell, most IAM programs are about implementing a vision. It is an opportunity to question what has been done for years, to optimize, streamline and strengthen the way the organization functions, and to discard the legacy that has ceased to provide value.

To quote Sara Gates, former VP of Identity Management for Sun Microsystems, “Identity Management is like putting brakes on your car. Why do cars have brakes?” Everyone says, ‘So they can stop.’ But the real reason cars have brakes is so they can go faster.”

When you are looking for the partner to steer you in the right direction when it comes to such an important topic, Aujas can help.  Call me and learn more about how we have delivered IAM projects to clients globally.

December 20, 2010 Posted by | identity and access management, Risk management | , , | Leave a comment

Information Risk Management Concerns in Merger & Acquisition – A Point of View

Integrating Risk, Compliance and Security Components into the Post-Merger Integration Process

M+AOver last few years, the Merger and Acquisition space has witnessed high growth. However, as experience shows,  getting a deal executed is only half the job done. Capturing the actual value in M&A comes from appropriate and timely post-merger integration of people, operations, processes, information systems, and culture.

Historic data indicates that most M&A deals failed to realize value due to ineffective post-merger integration. This has forced companies to look at post M&A integration activity as a program with set milestones. Companies today create separate integration teams with a Project Management Office and clear reporting structure. While companies look at retaining customers and key employees, integrating finance and IT functions, and addressing tax and other operational issues, they often fail to identify and address the risk and control environment. This can affect a company’s security and internal control environment.  Appropriately addressing security, risk and control issues can save time and compliance cost while minimizing business and legal risk for the combined entity.

Key Security, Risk and Control Challenges

1.       How to address compliance requirements and create an effective risk and control environment

When two companies merge, their separate compliance requirements need to be integrated. With different structures, processes, geographies and separate applicability, it becomes difficult to remain compliant, especially during post-merger integration.  Further, the risk profile of the merged entity might be different from the pre-merger entities, as there are significant changes in materiality, processes, supporting technology, and control owners.

Implications- Non compliance, ineffective and inefficient internal audit functions, lack of key risk and control owners, and a higher cost of compliance are some of the common implications.

2.       How to manage access rights for employees, customers, affiliates and third parties in an integrated environment

Mergers bring new users, applications and legacy systems to be integrated for simple, faster and secure access to data.  Therefore managing appropriate access to data is critical from both risk and compliance perspectives.  Inappropriate access to confidential data can lead to information leakage and loss in competitiveness along with non –compliance penalties.

Implications- Failure to manage access rights to business critical applications and data can lead to a) Unauthorized access to critical business data; b) No access to authorized users; c) Excess privileges to some/all users; d) Fewer privileges to authorized user; e) Operational ineffectiveness due to inappropriate access management.

3.       How to address privacy requirements of the combined entity

Two companies storing Personally Identifiable Information (PII) for employees, business partners and customers are managed through separate privacy programs, processes and systems. 

Implications– Disclosure of private information to unauthorized users can lead to regulatory and legal implications.

4.       How to manage business continuity during transition phase while integrating different IT systems, operations and people

Consolidating ERP, CRM, and other business, combining complex infrastructures of two organizations and changing how people access organization data and critical business applications warrants a robust and updated business continuity plan for recovery and continuity in the event of any disaster or malfunction of IT system or access infrastructure.

Implications- Unavailability of business critical applications preventing access to business data.

Next Week – Part 2 – Approach

November 15, 2010 Posted by | identity and access management, IT security, Mergers and Acquisitions, Risk management | , , , , | Leave a comment

Converged Identity and Access Management – Final

Final in the series “Converged Identity and Access Management”

ID and access managementThe IT infrastructure is the backbone of a converged solution, allowing key business data to be shared across systems. For example, a company’s physical security system typically does not have critical business data such as employee status, whereas the HR department’s IT system has such knowledge.

Converging physical security with IT security isn’t easy, but the extra effort it requires can be beneficial, especially for financial, healthcare, and defense organizations. Convergence affords organizations the opportunity to align security with overall business goals, streamline business processes such as provisioning and investigations, and centralize security operations and policies.

Developing common protocols for managing access to company assets and data enables more efficient provisioning and management. Different physical and logical security systems should leverage extendable interfaces of identity management solutions and thus stay in sync. The key benefit is that security personnel continue to use tools best suited to their jobs and HR personnel continue using HR tools. Converged security systems therefore allow users to improve Return on Investment (ROI).

Key Steps for Convergence

To bridge the organizational gap, the physical security department should work directly with the IT security team to identify:

  1. Authoritative sources of key data used to determine whether a person has permissions to use a resource or access an area.
  2. Compliance or audit needs.
  3. Any business or security concerns that are unique or are especially important to an organization.
  4. Various business processes such as on-boarding, off-boarding and the responsibilities of different systems.
  5. Policies for managing employees who doesn’t have any logical accounts, e.g., cleaning staff, caterers, etc.
  6. Privacy and security policies that clearly define what personal information is to be collected, how the information will be used, who can access the information, how the information will be protected, and how the individual will control its use and provide updates to the information over time.

Effective Convergence through Events Correlation

With converged access control, organizations can correlate disparate physical and IT security events. For example, it may not seem suspicious for an employee to use a computer. However, physical/logical correlation might ensure the employee is able to access logical resources, only after he has swiped his ID card at the entry door. Or, some of the logical resources can get locked for a user as soon as he leaves the premises by using his card at the door.

Conclusion

The convergence of Identity and Access control systems is helping enterprises better protect their intellectual property, monitor the access to restricted areas and comply with regulations. It improves the operational efficiency of existing physical security systems and resources. How organizations choose to implement this is should be aligned with their business strategy and security and compliance requirements.

November 8, 2010 Posted by | identity and access management, IT security, Risk management | , , , | Leave a comment

Understanding the Need for Converged Access Control

Access managementAccording to a study conducted by Carnegie Mellon University – critical system disruptions, loss of information of customers and partners, loss of confidential intellectual property,  brute-force attacks, fraud, reputation risk, etc. were mostly attributed to actions by insiders.

The grave dangers of insider threats, arising from employees retaining their system and/or having physical access even after job termination, can be understood from a shocking incident that took place recently. A US-based Water Service Company auditor, who resigned from his post, sneaked into the company’s building and accessed a former coworker’s computer to transfer $9 million from the company’s fund to his personal account. 

Insider threats, in which the disgruntled employees or ex-employees, gain access to computer systems or networks of the enterprise, is one of the cases of improper Identity Management!

Proliferating Disconnected Identities – Root Cause for Mismanagement of Identities!

In most organizations, it is seen that logical and physical identities often see excessive increase in numbers, making it difficult for the organization to track and manage all the identities effectively. 

On the logical side, an employee may have one identity within the enterprise HR system, such as a SAP system. That identity typically consists of salary, benefits, insurance and other specific employee details. Then there is a logical identity, for the same employee, within the information technology department’s directory software – such as those from Microsoft, Novell, CA, Sun Microsystems, or Oracle. This directory controls the permissions for network, database and software applications for the logical identity. Within the organizations’ Intranets, databases and applications, the user may have still more identities, in the form of different user IDs and passwords or PINs he/she uses to log into each logical resource of organization. This employee will have at least one more identity: a physical credential of some sort used for access to organization infrastructure –workstations, buildings, floors, parking garages, warehouses, research lab etc.

Then, there are cases of merger or acquisitions of organizations which often results in more than one brand of Physical Access Control System (PACS) in the organization. In enterprises with more than one brand of PACS and several facilities or areas users must enter, a user may have more than one physical access credential—and therefore, more than one physical identity.

Unconverged identity management systems either result in error-prone manual interventions or security issues!

Next: The Need for Converging Identities

November 4, 2010 Posted by | Access control, identity and access management, Risk management | , , , | Leave a comment

The Need for Converging Identities

Access managementPart 2 in the Converged Identity and Access Management Series

One of the most important reasons for converging identities is that logical and physical identities multiply when they are disconnected; it’s time-consuming, expensive and inefficient to manage them. And this applies across the organizations domain – IT, physical security, business units and risk managers.

Another equally pressing issue is that security can be more easily compromised when physical and logical identities are separated. A physical identity may appear legitimate to a standalone PACS but it might no longer be trusted by the enterprise network. That’s what happens when an employee is terminated in the logical systems and that information isn’t immediately relayed to a PACS. If the enterprise has more than one PACs, and they are not integrated with each other, it may take several more steps to ensure all PACs block the ex-employee’s credentials.

Physical or logical credentials that are kept alive even after an employee has left an enterprise can be the cause for compliance gap and, at worst, can leave the virtual or physical door open for fraudulent attacks.  The federal government has acknowledged the importance of converging technologies and has been a significant driver for the development of these technologies. For example, in 2004, the Homeland Security Presidential Directive -12 (HSPD-12) was passed, requiring all federal government employees and agencies to use a converged physical and logical ID badge. Standards were created for how the badge is designed, what identity elements are present inside the card, and how the card is used for physical and logical access. This policy is intended to enhance security, increase efficiency, reduce identity fraud, and protect personal privacy.

November 4, 2010 Posted by | identity and access management, Risk management | , , | Leave a comment

Converged Identity and Access Management

Access managementPart 3 in the Converged Identity and Access Management series

Converged IAM (Identity and Access Management) can be understood as a system which converges together disparate physical and logical access control system, to create a singular trusted identity and one credential to match rights and access them across the enterprise.

Converged IAM can’t exist without network connections – preferably automatic, software driven ones – between these logical and physical identity systems.

The most typical use-case right now involves the uses of a card reader integrated with an identity management or directory system such as Active Directory of LDAP. Users swipe the access card at the door and use that same access card to log on to network resources.

Logical identity integrations for a user usually begin with links between human resources systems, an IT network component and the enterprise directory. The directory software, such as Microsoft’s Active Directory or similar tools based on the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP), ensures that any employee has the network, software and database access — the virtual provisions — they’ll require to do their work.

Many large enterprises already use identity management tools from vendors like IBM, Novell, Oracle and Sun, to provision users from the HR system into the directory. That process is fairly well-automated. The disconnection between logical and physical identity usually appears when it’s time to provision a user’s physical access rights—at the most basic, where and when that person is allowed to be within the enterprise. In many enterprises, this task is typically still manual: A phone call, email or fax from HR alerts the physical security department to put the new employee into the PACS and create an access badge for him.

Integrating the PACS with the enterprise directory enables enterprises to address the issue of disconnected physical and logical identities. Here the value for the organization is that integration allows them to have a better understanding of who has rights to their network and their physical facilities. It allows them to manage access rights and people’s responsibilities within the organization more efficiently.

Next: The Importance of IT in Convergence

November 3, 2010 Posted by | Access control, Risk management | , | Leave a comment