The Role of PIAM

The Role of PIAM

Addressing IT Pros’ physical security challenges

The proliferation of networked devices has increasingly brought IT to the table when discussing physical security. In many organizations, IT departments not only have a voice at the table, but are also responsible for deploying and managing physical security systems. According to a recent research report, IT professionals would like to have even greater involvement in the pre-deployment process—preferably from the very beginning— to ensure that any new physical security solutions will be compatible with existing infrastructure.

Best Practices

IT security best practices developed separately from physical security practices, and had a head start on addressing the kinds of electronic and cyber security issues that are at the forefront of today’s security landscape. Because of this, physical security system management practices, for example, could benefit by incorporating some of these learnings to move beyond the complex mix of tools and inefficient, error-prone manual processes that have been used in the past.

Among the key physical security challenges IT pros identified in the recent Spiceworks study conducted on behalf of Quantum Secure are cost, complexity, ease of deployment and integration. To address these issues, IT practitioners indicated they are looking for intuitive solutions that offer ease of use, seamless integration with other solutions, streamlined compliance processes and the ability to deploy the latest technologies to keep security at the forefront.

Physical identity and access management (PIAM) solutions provide the features and functions to meet these requirements and overcome IT professionals’ physical security challenges. For example, by using automation and the ability to collect, collate, store and analyze data from multiple disparate security and nonsecurity solutions, PIAM systems provide IT pros with a single user interface for centralized management and reporting. This approach is much more streamlined and efficient than working with these systems separately.

PIAM platforms can also bring logical access management into the physical security world to provide a 360-degree view of identities in a single, fully interoperable and integrated platform.

Using policy-driven software to seamlessly manage the entire lifecycle of all identities, these platforms provide a truly unified approach to physical and logical access control – helping IT pros manage identities, compliance and operations across multiple systems and sites. Managing the entire security infrastructure is simplified by automating formerly manual processes related to background checks, physical access privilege assignment and termination, visitor access control and management of audit and compliance with regulations.

PIAM systems are designed to help IT professionals deploy and manage a more sustainable, secure environment by providing a single policy-based platform that automates and simplifies physical identity and access management. These solutions provide a comprehensive range of functions for IT pros to streamline the entire process, including automated cardholder administration and role- or location-based provisioning, automated assignment of secure area stewardship to business owners, assured compliance with regulatory and environmental security requirements with real-time reporting, and more.

Security Convergence

By connecting their physical security operations closely to their IT infrastructure, IT practitioners are realizing the value of security convergence, lowering their overall risk and benefitting from sustainable cost savings. For IT pros, adopting this type of converged approach means extending the traditional identity and access management (IAM) concept to automate physical access and audit reports, and aligning facility badging processes with the IT network. This converged approach allows organizations to automate physical access to resources for employees and other identity types based on their business roles as defined in the IAM system and/or their location as managed by the PIAM system.

From an IT perspective, this integrated approach can eliminate labor-intensive, costly and error-prone processes of manually managing personnel information and access privileges across disparate, siloed, multi-vendor, multi-location physical access controls systems (PACS).

Policy Automation

Many of the challenges security professionals face can be overcome with a single capability: automation. Manual processes are costly, time-consuming and error-prone, which is hardly a recipe for physical security success. PIAM simplifies management of the entire security infrastructure by automating manual processes related to background checks, physical access privilege assignment/ termination, visitor access control, and management of audit and compliance regulations.

The process of provisioning and de-provisioning identities is a particular challenge that PIAM can help overcome. By integrating with logical security and other systems, PIAM ensures synchronized and policy-based on- and off-boarding of identities and their physical access privileges across multiple disparate security and non-security systems. The combination of a robust integration platform and policy and automation workflow automation allows PIAM solutions to manage critical rules across the infrastructure to enforce internal controls, reduce operational costs and corporate risks, and to automate compliance processes. Some solutions also include predefined policies that enable complete automation of the on-boarding and off-boarding of identities from an organization’s authoritative data source and its physical access into the PACS.

In addition to separate physical and logical security teams, the responsibility for authenticating identities and performing background checks also often includes an organization’s HR department. Without an automated, integrated approach, each of these three teams might duplicate or make assumptions about each other’s efforts, creating highly inefficient operations that also increase the likelihood of errors and additional risks and liabilities. With PIAM software, all of this integration is invisible as the solution works with existing hardware and infrastructure to create a single database.

Single, Organization-Wide Identity

PIAM solutions are capable of linking multiple PACS systems across multiple locations in real time with corporate IT systems, allowing PIAM to reconcile identity information and instantly establish a single version of each identity. This ensures that ghost accounts (those that consist of either blank cards with no assigned history or where cardholder validity has been terminated in the IT or HR system) are locked out immediately and that compliance requirements are quickly met. PIAM solutions also provide actionable intelligence for risk mitigation and threat prevention using robust reporting and analytics.

Return on Investment

Deploying a PIAM solution for managing physical security allows organizations to realize a better return on investment (ROI) by maintaining focus on their core competencies. Simultaneously, they can leverage their PIAM provider’s expertise and core competencies in the physical security space. Many solutions are designed to identify issues in current processes and close any loopholes or potential vulnerabilities in the way systems operate.

Many PIAM solutions not only allow organizations to manage the lifecycle of identities and their authorization for physical access, but also serve as a highly scalable platform that automates key processes and simplifies control of all identities across an enterprise – ensuring that each identity is assigned the right access to the right areas for the right length of time. By adopting a unified approach to physical security management, PIAM allows IT professionals to seamlessly manage identities, their physical access and their correlation with physical security events in a multistakeholder environment while delivering the added benefit of providing real-time compliance.

As more and more IT professionals find themselves responsible for deploying and managing physical security systems, the traditional challenges these practitioners identified in the recent Spiceworks study are certain to multiply. However, this does not have to be the case, as advanced PIAM solutions offer the features and functionality to overcome many of these obstacles. Automation, integration, ease of use and centralized identity management are just a few of the many PIAM capabilities that provide IT practitioners with the tools and processes to ensure the most effective and efficient protection of organizations’ digital and physical assets.

This article originally appeared in the May 2017 issue of Security Today.

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