According to The Identity Theft Research Center, the number of data breaches this year has already surpassed the total number in 2020 by 17%, making it a record-breaking year for data compromises. So far in 2021, nearly 281.5 million people have been affected by some sort of data breach. Even as new advances in identity security come to market, the newly distributed workforce has opened more entry points for hackers and left more room for mistakes than ever before.
It’s not all bad news, though. As we get better adjusted to our increasingly remote working environments, we’re starting to see new processes and innovations in identity governance. In fact, some could say we’re starting to approach enterprise security more like the consumer tech we know and love. With improvements to user experience, advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), and baking identity security into existing systems, we can start to build more secure and efficient workplace technology. Here’s how these areas will affect identity security in the new year:
UX Will Come to the Forefront
We are finally crossing the chasm and recognizing that user experience (UX) for partners, developers, administrators, and, most importantly, end-users is paramount. Not only is this important for usability, but thinking further into the future, it’s a way to reduce “context switching.” Employees spend far too much time switching from one app to another, each one with a different user experience, contexts for hot-keys or function keys, help systems, and more. Businesses are adding more and more software to their tech stacks in order to keep pace with business and technology, but in actuality, it’s doing the opposite. We’re forcing constant context switching and it’s killing productivity.
While having an arsenal of best-of-breed solutions may seem like the answer, leaders need to ensure that they can work together in harmony to provide real value. A streamlined user experience can achieve this by taking the guesswork out of different IT functions. Think of Microsoft Office, but for a much broader group of capabilities with a common interface. Or better yet, a platform like ServiceNow, where you can integrate applications into your existing system with minimal disruption to systems and virtually no learning curve. In 2022 we’ll see a greater emphasis on identity solutions that bridge the gap between disparate systems and enable people to work productively and securely.
Machine Learning Will Make Its Mark
Machine learning is far superior to humans when it comes to pattern recognition and understanding normal and anomalous activity, enabling better, lower-friction security. While all-encompassing AI solutions are in the works, development takes time – in some cases, a long time. But in the meantime, ML can span big data and large data sets, and identify patterns that a human cannot. Through pattern recognition, ML can be used to learn how to “auto-approve” many administrative tasks given enough data. For example, ML can identify which people from what departments in an organization have access to certain data. This ensures operations are consistent across the business, with little room for error.
This becomes even more important when you consider outside factors like COVID-19 and the job market. Enabling employees’ remote and hybrid functionality requires new systems and new security measures. Without IT over their shoulders, many employees default to unsanctioned apps to get their job done or are working from a location without secure WiFi. With employee retention down, companies also need to worry about what data or permissions employees are taking with them when they go. With enough historical data, it’s possible to begin to cut down on some of this administrative overhead, not only allowing employees to focus on higher-value priorities but also making sure sensitive information remains safe in the process.
A Part of the Platform – Not Apart from the Platform
In 2022 we are going to see more recognition that identity isn’t the center of security, but rather the center of a company’s business platform or system of delivery. As more companies opt for workforce management platforms like ServiceNow, Atlassian, and Salesforce, identity is already baked in. When identity is ingrained in a platform from the start, it becomes part of the company’s “system of action.” As such, it has benefits for the overall goals of such platforms like hyper-automation, broad integration capabilities, a common business data plane, and more.
Far too often, identity is an afterthought. While it’s never going to be the star of the show, it’s an important player in productivity and overall security posture. While we hear about data breaches and cyber attacks from the Russian government or hacker groups in headline news, most compromises come from avoidable mishandling of data from within – often unintentionally. The best way to get ahead of these mistakes and oversights is to make sure they never happen. And the best way to achieve this is through already-existing features within your company’s workforce management platform.
By improving UX, taking advantage of ML and automation tools, and finding a workforce management system that has identity security built into its offering, we will start to see increased productivity, less mismanaged data, and better business operations overall in the new year.