Don't let economic turmoil deter you from prioritizing digital identity

When scaling back spending during an economic downturn, don’t sacrifice your IAM budgets. If anything, identity-related security risks increase in times of economic turmoil, and you’ll need strong cybersecurity to protect against breaches.

Identity-related data breaches have been a threat for years, with the number of victims effected increasing by over 40% in 2022 to 422.1 million. So, while it may be tempting to reduce IT and cybersecurity budgets during times of economic uncertainty, when it comes to identity and access management (IAM), cuts are counterproductive to your reputation, productivity, and bottom line.

When we speak with IT leaders, we always stress the importance of continued investment in digital identity and cybersecurity. After all, it’s better to invest in a winning strategy than it is to lose big by not having one.

Economic uncertainty increases cybersecurity risk

Now is the time to fortify your IAM strategy. Identity risks only increase in times of economic turmoil. Here are some things to consider.

Fraudsters get busy in hard times

Your organization needs proper IAM security standards in place to combat the increase in data breaches that accompany hard times. Bad actors feel the pain of inflation and the fear of scarcity like anyone else, and it makes them more likely to hack, con, and defraud individuals and organizations.

The risks of temporary and contract workers

True, contract and temporary workers are a lower-cost option you can scale down more easily than full-time employees when needed. However, this type of workforce also brings increased risk. For one, temporary workers are typically less loyal to their employers than full-time workers. They may not comply with company guidelines as thoroughly or be as likely to report suspect activity. They also often work using personal devices, which introduces another set of IT risks.

Furthermore, temporary and contracted workers tend to have a much higher turnover rate. For organizations that currently on- and off-board users manually to provide access, temporary workers may not have their credentials fully or promptly de-provisioned upon termination, or they may be granted more access than is needed to do their job. Organizations with temporary and third-party users need to be vigilant about properly and efficiently on- and off-boarding workers to protect against unauthorized access.

As organizations rely more heavily on temporary and contract workers, it’s critical to have third-party access and provisioning and de-provisioning solutions in place.

Fear of layoffs puts employees on edge

In challenging economic times, full-time employees may also contribute to risk. LinkedIn feeds and business publications are packed with news of recent layoffs these days. Naturally, this makes employees nervous. Some employees may consider stealing, mining, or destroying critical data when under such pressure. To protect against these actions, organizations need a dynamic approach to identity and access management, with automated monitoring of access to systems, applications, and data.

Manual IAM processes break down under stress

Manual IAM processes are vulnerable to human error, and that vulnerability naturally increases during times of stress. This puts organizations at greater security risk, especially when economic challenges lead to reduced resources and shrinking budgets. Manually provisioning and deprovisioning users becomes unwieldy and increasingly difficult to support in that environment. The very attempts to reduce spending by scaling back resources can easily lead to increased inefficiencies and spending as organizations contend with errors, security holes, compliance issues, fees, and remediation.

Preserving IAM budgets is essential

When the time comes to cut budgets, you simply can't afford to cut IAM. Not only will you need it more than ever, IAM security will actually reduce costs in the long term. These days, protecting your organization’s cybersecurity is equivalent to protecting your bottom line. Globally, the average cost of a data breach is $4.35 million. That cost is even higher in the U.S., at $9.44 million.

A strong IAM strategy also improves your financial outlook by:

  • Maximizing IT and security investments
  • Alleviating the strain on IT teams from unwieldy and inefficient manual IAM processes
  • Reducing workforce burdens through IAM automation, while avoiding the increased risk linked to error prone, manual processes
  • Improving productivity by automating user and de-provisioning, providing employees with access to all needed systems and applications within a day versus up to three weeks
  • Improving productivity by streamlining logins and reducing security friction
  • Lowering call center costs due to fewer help desk calls for access- and password-related issues
  • Providing clear audits of user access, which lowers mitigation costs in case of data compromise
  • Warning of suspicious behavior before it can lead to a serious breach
  • Ensuring cybersecurity compliance to avoid fees and penalties
  • Enabling vendor consolidation for better discounts and operational efficiency

IAM is mission-critical technology

Without the right IAM strategy, you open your organization up to hackers and limit the potential of your workforce. IAM must be viewed as critical infrastructure, not just another application. IAM is a means to Zero Trust architecture, which is quickly becoming a cybersecurity standard across industries. Taking an identity-centric approach to cybersecurity will allow you to balance the need for convenient, on-demand access with secure, targeted authorization.

An IAM strategy is built to thwart cyberattacks, while improving efficiency, reducing operational costs, and securing your workforce. It improves on- and off-boarding of temporary, internal, and third-party employees, and is a cost-effective way to mitigate new risks caused by an uneasy economic climate, and achieve Zero Trust.

An integrated IAM strategy adds value across the IT environment, enhancing productivity of both IT security teams and end-users. Your organization will enjoy less IAM stress thanks to automated processes, fewer administrative costs, better identity hygiene, and more visibility over the entire organization.

Explore the broad scope of IAM benefits

Implementing a digital identity strategy is critical for security. In addition, it can facilitate greater economies of scale, providing greater return on your investments. To learn more about the benefits of vendor consolidation, check out our blog post, Emerging from the multi-vendor quagmire.