Authored by: Peter Löfling, General Manager APAC, Varnish Software
Authentication and authorisation policies exist in companies of all types and sizes to govern access control and who can see what data. People are one of the biggest security vulnerabilities in organisations. Being able to control access at a granular level is one of the most important means of securing your sites, apps and your business as a whole, particularly at a time when ransomware and other attacks are on the rise.
Security vulnerabilities inevitably arise the greater the number of people who have access to data or programs. A key to staying safe is securing your authentication and authorisation policies and backing them up with software solutions that support robust identity management.
What is authentication and authorisation?
Authentication and authorisation are often mentioned as though they are interchangeable concepts, but they are two different processes.
Authentication is the process through which an individual’s identity is confirmed, or authenticated, that is, the person signing in is who they say they are. Authorisation is the process that links that identity with the access rights and permissions to which the identity is entitled.
Often the two concepts go hand in hand when discussing them from a policy perspective, but clearly, they represent two different concepts, particularly as they are discrete, separate processes in terms of how they work.
How does an authentication and authorisation solution help keep my data secure?
No single solution on its own keeps data secure. But a secure-by-design approach to architecting all of your systems weaves security into every layer. For example, you will probably have implemented TLS encryption for all of your HTTP traffic; you will likely have a web application firewall (WAF) keeping bad traffic from infiltrating; maybe you will even encrypt cached data, so that even in the event of a data leak, the data will be useless.
Introducing a clear authentication and authorisation policy in your organisation is simply another layer of protection. You have these processes in place already but should customise them alongside a thorough security review. You can make sure the right people have the right level of access to the data they need while simultaneously keeping bad actors out, and more broadly, making employees in your organisation more aware of guarding sensitive information overall.
Why authentication and authorisation for security?
You will already have different levels of auth/auth in place in your organisation, but re-examining the place of these processes, the policies you enforce and the software you use to deliver these processes can deliver a number of benefits beyond just user convenience, such as:
another layer of security
compliance with regulatory initiatives
better data privacy/protection handling and transparency
clearer compliance with frequently requested point for vendor-customer SLA discussions
It’s time to think about cybersecurity as more than just the network perimeter and endpoints. It’s a way of thinking about virtually every networked touchpoint and continuously optimising authentication and authorisation protocols and technologies as one level of this new multilevel security landscape.