How long does it take to do effective password management at your company?
As a critical line of defense in your company, passwords need to be managed well. You’re one weak password away from a major security incident. On the other hand, you are juggling different projects and activities in your cybersecurity program like incident response, training and identity management. That’s why you are going to learn how to speed up password management without cutting corners.
Faster Password Management In Four Steps
To deliver password management effectively in the least time possible, use these steps. The process begins with analyzing your current password management program.
1) Define Your Current Password Management Process
If a surgeon heard you were sick and wanted to start surgery immediately, you would probably be worried. After all, they are skipping so many steps! Without a precise diagnosis and medical history, the operation could end up causing more harm than good. The same principles apply to fine-tuning your password management.
Start by writing out the processes, people and technology involved in your current password management program. Start with the IT department and then keep going until you have identified all of the other relevant stakeholders. Next, collect the checklists, procedures and other documents that explain your password management program. You might find that there is incomplete or out-of-date documentation in some cases. That tells you that you will have plenty of opportunities to improve. Without clear documentation, you are more likely to have process failures like approving access changes without proper approval.
2) Identify Manual Password Administration Processes
Based on the material you collect in the first step, you need to ask a simple question. What are the manual processes involved in managing passwords? For example, include manual work effort to produce reports, help desk reporting, and oversight activities by managers. You may also want to look at “human integration” activities – cases where people have to cut and paste data between different systems to complete their work.
After you have a list of these manual activities, there are two ways to streamline the process. First, ask what can be eliminated from your password process. In some cases, you may be producing reports that nobody reads. Such reports are a good candidate for elimination. Once you have eliminated processes in part or whole, the remaining processes are candidates for automation.
4) Implement Modern Password Management Software
By this point, you have a detailed understanding of your current state. With that information in hand, the value password management software becomes clear. Here are some of the ways you can implement improvements using Avatier’s solutions.
- Increase End User Convenience. Your IT help desk probably works a traditional schedule. That leaves a gap for users who need password support after hours or while traveling. Use Apollo, an IT security chatbot, to provide policy-compliant password reset service 24 hours a day.
- Reduce The Number Of Passwords. Many business users have 5, 10 or even more passwords at work. That’s too much information to manage! To simplify your password administration, use a single sign-on solution. That will give employees one unique, robust password to remember at work rather than dozens of different passwords.
- Reduce Reliance On Traditional Passwords. Relying on traditional passwords is no longer necessary. You don’t have to force employees to memorize 20 character passwords. Instead, use multi-factor authentication (MFA) options like authenticating with a one-time passcode sent by SMS. By using MFA, you will reduce the number of password incidents.
Putting all of these solutions in place will speed up password management. Instead of spending hours on manual password tasks, your systems will handle that work for you. As a result, you can focus your efforts on IT security risk assessment, training and other strategic activities.
5) Monitor Your Password Management For Continuous Improvement Opportunities
After you implement password management software and related tools, your IT security experience will improve. Instead of spending most of your time on record keeping and user service, the software will manage those tasks for you. However, you still need to apply your expertise to monitor your overall IT security program.
The price of a successful IT security program is constant vigilance. To aid you in detecting areas for improvement in password management and related areas, use these monitoring questions.
- Password Expiration. Track password expiration over time and look for areas where you can optimize your approach. For example, you may propose to increase the frequency of password expiration for privileged users to reduce the risk of lost passwords.
- Password Change Patterns. Monitor how users are requesting password changes. For instance, if you see a steadily increasing pattern of password change requests, that may tell you that employees need more support.
- Multi-Factor Authentication. Review the coverage and usage patterns related to multi-factor authentication. If MFA usage is decreasing or holding steady, that trend presents a potential security risk.
- Qualitative Factors. Assess emails, phone calls and hallway chatter you hear about IT security. If employee complaints are increasing, that tells you that you should reach out to offer more support.
- IT Security Incidents, Audits And Assessments. When applicable, take note of recent IT security events (e.g. data breaches) and external reviews. Are there any problems related to password management? If so, develop an action plan to address these points.
Next Steps To Optimize Your IT Security Program
With a fast and efficient password management process in place, your security will improve. That means you will have more capacity to improve other aspects of your IT security. Throughout this process, you may have noticed a few mentions of employee support and outreach. That’s a valuable technique to use to reduce IT security risk. You might decide to run an annual password training workshop. Alternatively, reach out to human resources and discuss ways to improve the security training provided to new hires. These outreach efforts should focus on the most common IT security questions and where to get additional support as needed.