How Partners Can Leverage Access Controls to Secure Customers’ Changing Workforces

By Fortinet | April 17, 2020

This is a summary of an article written for Channel Futures. The entire article can be accessed here.

Digital transformation is changing the way your customers’ organizations function. With more digital natives entering the workforce each year, competition for the best and brightest among them has intensified. For this reason, companies are implementing technology in the workplace to both enhance productivity and improve job satisfaction.

A prime example of this is businesses encouraging remote work. Not only are remote workers more productive, but they also help employers save on office equipment, energy costs, and other fixed overhead associated with brick and mortar workspace. Providing the option to work remotely can also make recruiting top talent easier.

Risks That Come with a Remote Workforce

Though it has its benefits, the rise of remote work also poses significant security challenges for customers. Employees who work at home tend to have less access to technical support, not only leaving them vulnerable to cyberattacks, but also suffering from additional downtime as IT teams try to troubleshoot issues remotely. Additionally, remote workers are more likely to use personal devices as well as from unsecured locations, which can result in additional security concerns. For instance, an employee working from an unsecured internet cafe on their personal tablet or laptop can put valuable business data or intellectual property at risk if they are unprepared. 

Remote Work Requires Identity and Access Management Solutions

In the past, employees had to visit their office building to gain access to online company resources. Now that critical workloads reside in the cloud, policies and technologies that manage digital identities are becoming essential to the security of an organization’s most critical business assets. 

Without proper identity and access management controls in place, employees can gain access to more files, systems, or applications than they need to fulfill their responsibilities. In this all-too-common scenario, the compromise of a single user’s password or device can result in a devastating data breach. Outdated, poorly configured, or absent access management controls can also make it difficult for employees to access the applications they need to do their jobs. If roles are not clearly defined, system administrators will have to implement authorization and approval procedures to ensure that remote workers can remain productive. 

What Customers Need in an Identity and Access Management Solution

For nearly every worker, controlled access to business resources is essential for doing their job. With this in mind, the goal for the authentication solutions you offer to your customers should be to balance productivity with risk management.

Historically, access management systems require end-users to enter a username and password to verify their identities. The problem is that passwords tend to be the weakest link in an organization’s security strategy, especially as more digital devices get added to the network. Users end up with easy to remember (and easy to guess) passwords. And when it’s too challenging to remember passwords because of the number of devices and access points they need to manage, many employees will also re-use those passwords, thereby increasing their risk of being compromised. For this reason, credential compromise remains the most common vector for hacking-related attacks. 

Increased administrative complexity and an end user’s inability to remember the variety of passwords they are in charge of highlights why today’s organizations need identity and access management solutions. These include Single Sign-On and Multi-Factor Authentication services:

Single Sign-On

Single sign-on (SSO) can reduce the difficulties associated with password fatigue by allowing employees to use one set of login credentials to access multiple business applications. With SSO, customers can ensure that their employees are granted the appropriate access to web applications, as well as cloud and network resources. Security administrators also retain centralized control over deployments, thereby streamlining the management processes. 

Though SSO can also improve end-user experience. The fact is, many organizations suffer from a single point of failure in their authentication systems. To compensate for this potential weakness, partners should also implement multi-factor authentication (MFA) in conjunction with their customers’ SSO identity policies.

Multi-Factor Authentication

Multi-factor authentication involves asking users to confirm their identities by supplying two or more personal identifiers – usually a combination of something you have (such as a hardware token or fingerprint scan) with something you know (such as a password, phrase, or answer to a series of questions.) With multi-factor authentication solutions in place, customers can securely confirm the identity of users and devices as they enter the network. This not only bolsters overall network security, but also safeguards employee data from being stolen. 

Securing Your Customers with Fortinet

Fortinet Identity and Access Management solutions enable partners to support a variety of user identification and authentication methods.

FortiAuthenticator enables single sign-on, and can be integrated into a pre-existing Active Directory or other user database systems. FortiAuthenticator also seamlessly integrates with the FortiGate Next Generator Firewalls, making it easy for partners to extend the benefits of centralized authentication services across a Security Fabric.

Adding FortiToken Cloud to your customers’ network environments will enable them to enforce two-factor authentication through a mobile app. FortiToken Cloud also provides secure access to a VPN, protecting your remote workers when they are connected to a public wireless network.

And finally, the Security Fabric approach enables Fortinet partners to offer comprehensive administrative controls for identity and access management and implement advanced access strategies such as Zero Trust Network Access. Leveraging Fortinet solutions gives your customers access to a full range of highly versatile and customizable identity and access management solutions and dashboards.

Final Thoughts

As customers continue to move to the cloud, identity and access management are critical to network security. Partners must have the expertise to evaluate customer needs based on network configuration and be able to accurately position the tools needed to secure usage across distributed environments.

Learn more about deploying effective identity access management tools and policies on the partner portal.

Learn more about how to maintain business continuity through broad, integrated, and automated Fortinet Teleworker Solutions.