Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Changing business landscape makes identity and access management key to IT security

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Read complete transcript of the discussion.

In an age of significant layoffs and corporate restructuring, the burgeoning problem of identity and access management for IT operations and data centers has escalated into a critical security issue. Managing who gets access to which resources for how long -- and under what circumstances -- has become a huge and thorny problem.

Improper and overextended access to sensitive data and powerful applications can cause massive risk as many employees find themselves in flux.

To learn more about how enterprises can begin coordinated identity and access management strategies, BriefingsDirect's Dana Gardner spoke with Dan Rueckert, worldwide practice director for security and risk management in HP’s Consulting and Integration group; Archie Reed, distinguished technologist in HP’s security office in the Enterprise Storage and Server Group, and Mark Tice, vice president of identity management at Oracle.

Here are some excerpts:
When we look at identity and access management (IAM), we are really saying that the speed of business is increasing, and with that the rate of change of organizations to support their business. You see it everyday in mergers and acquisitions that are going on right now. As a result of that, you see consolidation.

All these different factors are going on. We are also driving regulations and compliance to those regulations on an ongoing basis. When you start to go with these regulations, the ability to have people access their data, or have access to the tools, applications, and data that they need at the right time is key.

The reality in the market is that many things impact that security posture, internally, every time a new system is installed, any product or service defined, or even when a new employee joins. Externally, we're impacted by new regulations, new partnerships, new business ventures, whatever form they may take. All those things can impact our ability, or our security posture.

Security is much like business. That is, it’s impacted by many, many factors, and the problem today is trying to manage that situation. When we get down to tools and requirements around such things as identity management, we are dealing with people who have access to systems. The criticality there is that there have been so many public breaches that we have become aware of recently that security again is a high concern.

When we start thinking about security, one of the first things that people look at generally is some sort of risk analysis. As an example, HP has an analysis toolkit that we offer as a service to help folks decide what is critical to them. It takes all sorts of inputs, the regulations that are impacting your business, the internal drivers to ensure that your business not only is secured, but also moving in the right direction that you wanted to move.

Within this toolkit, called the Information Security Service Management (ISSM) reference model, is a set of tools where we can interview all of the participants, all of the stakeholders in that policy or process, and then look at the other inputs that are predefined, such as the regulations.

[The solution] is definitely people, process, and technology coming together. In some cases, it’s situational, as far as working with customers that have legacy systems, or more modern systems. That starts to dictate how much of that process, how much of that consulting they need, or how much technology?

When we talk about the HP-Oracle relationship, it’s about having that strong foundation as far as IAM, but also the ability to open up to the other areas that it's tied into, in this case enterprise architecture, the middleware pieces that we want for databases, and other applications that they have.

You start to put that thread with IAM, combined with an infrastructure and that opens this up as a whole, which is key. And, enablement, as far as depending on the size and complexity or localization or globalization, tends to play into those attributes, as far as people process and technology.

Even in the virtualization space, where everybody is trying to get more from the same hardware, you cannot ignore things such as access control. When you bring up who has access to that core system, when you bring up who has access to the operating system within the virtual environment, all of those things need to be considered and maintained with the right business and access controls in place.

The only way to do that is by having the right IAM processes and tools that allow an organization to define who gets access to these things, because important processing is happening on the one box. You are no longer just securing the box physically. You're securing the various applications that are stacked on top of all of that.

One of the things that we really work hard to do is make sure that first off, before breaking ground on one of these projects, customers put in place a complete framework, or architecture for their security in identity management, so that they really have a complete design that addresses all of their needs. We then encourage them to take things on one piece at a time. We design for the big bang, but actually recommend implementing on a piece by piece basis.

By having these things that are predefined, not only in terms of being more prescriptive for companies, which helps them a lot, but also being more accessible in terms of how quickly they can decide what's important, allows them to move on and decide in which order they’re going to implement their security strategy.

Those sorts of things allow a company to get up to speed quickly and analyze where they’re at. You may have a security review every year, but a lot of companies need to do it more often in more isolated ways. Having the right tools come out of these sorts of things allows them to do ongoing assessments of where they’re at, as well.
Read complete transcript of the discussion.

Listen to the podcast. Download the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod. Learn more. Sponsor: Hewlett-Packard.

For more information on HP and Oracle Identity and Access Management.

For more information on HP Secure Advantage.

For more information on HP Adaptive Infrastructure.