Jun 06 2024

3 Myths About Identity and Access Management

The longer IAM remains relevant, the more misconceptions arise. Here’s how to distinguish fact from fiction.

As the threat landscape continues to evolve, so does security. But amid all of the change is a constant: the importance of identity and access management.

IAM is a cornerstone of cyber resilience and security preparedness. But the longer it’s around, the more misconceptions about it arise. We investigated some of the biggest myths about IAM so that users can separate fact from fiction.

Click the banner to learn what it takes to build a cyber resilient K–12 environment.


Myth 1: IAM Is Only for Big Organizations

IAM solutions no longer require complex systems and large data centers, nor do they always come with a high price tag that only large school districts can afford. On the contrary, IAM is simple to use and effective, and it remains a smart investment for organizations of any size.

While most K–12 schools have single sign-on (SSO) capabilities and other IAM components internally, some are leveraging options such as Software as a Service–based models. This alternative has broadened the range of choices for IAM solutions.

According to CrowdStrike, “Others have turned to identity as a service (IDaaS), which is a cloud-based subscription model for IAM offered by a vendor. As with any as-a-service model, IDaaS is often a viable option because outsourcing IAM services can be more cost-effective, easier to implement, and more efficient to operate than implementing these services in-house.”

IDaaS is a particularly good IAM choice for small schools and districts.

A CDW article notes that “IAM is no longer a luxury reserved for the Fortune 500. Instead, it’s now a prerequisite for improving security and employee productivity in every organization, regardless of size.” 



Myth 2: IAM Reduces the Risk of Breaches Due to Human Error 

Think of IAM as human-proofing an organization’s endpoint security, much like a parent would childproof a home. It makes it harder for mistakes to happen, but it doesn’t eliminate the risk altogether. If vulnerabilities do emerge, however, the consequences are likely to be less severe because IAM has prevented a full-scale security breach.

According to Proofpoint, “Identity-centric attacks are a practical calculation by bad actors. Why would they invest their time and resources to build exploits to help them get in through a virtual back door when they can just walk through the front door?”

This is why stolen credentials and phishing are two of the top three ways that cybercriminals infiltrate organizations. In fact, 74 percent of all security breaches are caused by “human actions,” meaning that someone fell for a scam or social engineering tactic.

EXPLORE: How single sign-on improves educator efficiency and security.

This is also why IAM succeeds. By helping authenticate users’ true identities, IAM mitigates the risk of security breaches due to human error.

K–12 IT leaders looking to achieve cyber resilience should prioritize IAM practices and train employees to spot the signs of a phishing or quishing (QR phishing) scam before it escalates.

“Consider this example,” the CDW article offers. “An employee was out to dinner with his family and knew he was not attempting to access corporate assets, yet he still validated an access attempt through multifactor authentication (MFA) on his smartphone. Only training that increases individual awareness and accountability could have stopped this successful ransomware attack.”

RELATED: How to implement identity and access management in K–12 schools. 

Myth 3: Zero Trust for IAM Comes in a Single Solution 

IAM is a core tenet of the zero-trust philosophy. It’s an essential step for organizations on a journey toward achieving zero-trust maturity. But using IAM does not mean that a K–12 district has achieved zero trust.

Zero trust is more complicated. It requires that schools leverage multiple solutions for optimal security at every endpoint within an IT system. These include MFA, SSO, privileged access management, role-based access modeling, automatic account elevation, identity governance, continuous authentication, and user and entity behavior analytics.

“The current IAM marketplace includes multiple vendors and solutions that meet nearly every budget and delivery preference — cloud, hybrid or on-prem,” notes the CDW article.  “Don’t let IAM myths keep your organization from advancing your journey toward zero trust with identity security.”

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