Since the earliest days of computing, passwords have been the method we’ve used to access our accounts. Whether we’re home, at work, using personal devices or professional; passwords are ubiquitous.
But how secure are passwords really? Let’s admit it: we’ve all used simple passwords that are easy to remember, or used the same passwords for multiple accounts.
The problem is, when passwords are easy to remember, they’re easy to guess. If you’re reusing passwords, cyber criminals can compromise one account, and then gain access to multiple others.
This is a massive problem for organizations around the world. Most companies use services like Salesforce, HubSpot, Office 365 and MailChimp, that can hold large amounts of company and customer data. Passwords for these accounts are like gold to cyber criminals and without strong protection in place, your organization could be at risk.
But what if there was a way you could make sure every single password your employees use was unique and secure? And what if there was a way you could securely log-in, without pulling your hair out trying to remember a 14 character password with 8 special characters and a number?
That’s where identity management platforms like LastPass come in. LastPass is a popular password manager that simplifies access to apps, with the ability to securely store and fill passwords for any login. In July 2019, LastPass launched single sign-on, with access to over 1,200 applications, and biometric multi-factor authentication.
We interviewed Dan DeMichele, Vice President of Product Management for Identity and Access Management at LastPass, to talk about why businesses need strong identity management in place, and how the future may be entirely passwordless.
Why is Managing Identity so Important?
As the number of security breaches we see continues to grow, it’s more important than ever that organizations are managing their users’ identity and account access.
“It’s very important for an organization to manage their employees’ identity,” DeMichele says. “It’s really all about the end-user – ensuring that the right person can seamlessly access the right application at the right time.”
Identity management can present a serious risk for IT teams. According to the recent Verizon Data Break Report, 80% of data breaches start with account credentials being stolen, lost, or compromised.
“Without strong Identity Management in place, businesses are at risk of compromise.”
DeMichele tells us that without strong identity management in place, businesses are always at risk of compromise. “If the wrong users have access to your systems, there is always a risk of leaking sensitive data or information,” he says.
How You Can Solve Identity Management Challenges
As the challenges around identity management continue to grow, many organizations are
looking for a way to “increase their security posture without sacrificing end-user satisfaction and ease of use,” DeMichele says.
An important process to implement in a strong identity management platform is single sign-on (SSO). Single sign-on allows users to access all their applications with one single set of account credentials.
“The main benefit of single sign-on is that it creates a more seamless access experience for end-users,” says DeMichele. “Once users are authenticated, they can access all their supported applications.”
Single sign-on also provides IT teams with greater security controls to manage who has access to accounts. “For IT teams, employing a single-sign on solution provides visibility into which users have access to which applications, and makes it easy to provision and deprovision applications,” DeMichele says.
This means that your admins can easily control which users can access which accounts, without no complicated set-up or need to change passwords.
However, while single sign-on goes a long way to remove the need for users to remember countless passwords, DeMichele argues that having a strong password manager in place is still important.
“Single sign-on is a great first step at managing identity, but does not cover all applications or passwords”, he explains. “Many applications are not optimized for SSO, or IT might not even know their employees are using them. In fact, research shows that 77% of employees are using a 3rd party application without the approval or knowledge of IT.”
“77% of employees are using a 3rd party application without the approval or knowledge of IT.”
“Therefore, if an organization only relies on single sign-on to solve their access challenges, there will be many more passwords that are unmanaged, and significant gaps in security.”
DeMichele recommends that all IT teams should look for a holistic solution that provides both single sign-on and password management, to ensure they have a security solution for a variety of access challenges.
Alongside a strong access solution, DeMichele suggests that businesses should also implement adaptive multi-factor authentication (MFA). Having MFA in place ensures that every user is properly verified and mitigates the risk of account compromise from stolen passwords.
“Organizations looking for an authentication solution need a product that increases their overall security without adding any additional friction to the employee login process,” he says. “By adding multi-factor authentication, you can decrease your risk of attack, while limiting the impact on the end-user experience.”
Implementing MFA makes accounts much more secure. Not only will a user need to have something they know, like their username and password, they will also need something they have, like a mobile device, or a fingerprint to scan. “It’s very unlikely that a cybercriminal will have a username and password, as well as an individual’s phone and biometric data,” DeMichele says.
Is the future completely passwordless?
Using single sign-on, password management, and multi-factor authentication creates a seamless password experience for users. You never have to know the account password, let alone remember it. So, are we heading towards a passwordless future?
“To eliminate the password problem, there have been significant shifts in identity and access management platforms to reduce the use of passwords, specifically in the form of biometric authentication and single sign-on,” says DeMichele.
He argues that eliminating the use of passwords results in an “improved user experience for employees and makes logging into accounts more seamless and secure than a traditional username and password.”
For organizations looking for a passwordless experience, they need look no further than LastPass. “LastPass is the only identity solution on the market that can create a passwordless experience for employees, while managing every single password in use with the highest levels of IT visibility and control,” DeMichele says.
How LastPass Can Solve Your Identity Challenges
LastPass makes it easy for users to manage their passwords and account credentials.
Through a unified admin portal, LastPass allows IT teams to set-up single sign-on, provision users to shared folders, create password policies, and determine authentication methods. This simplification of identity management means that all teams can achieve enterprise-level security for their professional accounts with ease.
DeMichele argues that LastPass is the best identity solution for customers because of their holistic approach to identity security.
“LastPass is the only all-in-one solution for password management, single sign-on and multi-factor authentication,” he explains. “By including 100+ security policies, providing access to 1,200+ pre-integrated single sign-on applications, and by offering biometric, adaptive authentication, LastPass solves customers’ security needs in a unique fashion.”
Considering LastPass as an Identity Management Solution?
If you’re considering using LastPass to implement a seamless password experience for your employees, DeMichele’s advice is to get started with a free trial.
“The best way to see how well LastPass works for your organization is to try it for yourself,” he says. “We offer a free 14-day trial of LastPass Identity, which is very easy to set up and lets you try out the full identity management platform.”
“With this free trial, you can instantly start to simplify your end-users’ login experience and improve your identity security.”