Blog posts by Martin Kuppinger

Firewalls Are Not So Dead

Martin Kuppinger talks about firewalls and the fact that they are not really dead.

Ping Identity Acquires UnboundID

Today, Ping Identity announced the acquisition of UnboundID. The two companies have been partnering already for a while, with a number of joint customers. After the recent acquisition of Ping Identity by Vista Equity Partners, a private equity firm, this first acquisition of Ping Identity can be seen as the result of the new setup of the company. The initial announcement by Vista Equity Partners already included the information that both organic and inorganic – as now has happened with UnboundID – growth is planned.

The acquisition of UnboundID is interesting from two perspectives. One concerns the capabilities of the UnboundID Platform in managing identity data at scale and to capture, store, sync, and aggregate data from a variety of sources such as directories, CRM systems, and others. The other involves the capabilities UnboundID provides for multi-channel customer engagement. This, for example, includes an analytics engine for analyzing customer behavior trends.

Combined with the proven strength of Ping Identity in the Identity Federation and Access Management market, this allows the companies to extend their offering particularly towards the currently massively growing market of CIAM (Customer Identity and Access Management). Furthermore, the technical platform that Ping Identity provides is complemented with an underlying large scale directory and synchronization service.

Due to the fact that both companies have been working closely together for a while, we expect that existing and new customers will benefit rapidly from Ping Identity’s expanded offering.

Not So Dead Yet: Why Passwords Will Survive All of Us

There is probably no single thing in Information Security that has been claimed being dead as frequent as the password. Unfortunately, it isn’t yet dead and far from dying. Far from it! The password will survive all of us.

That thesis seems standing in stark contrast to the rise of strong online identities. Also, weak online identities such as device IDs or the identifiers of things as an alternative to username and password will not make the password obsolete.

We all know that passwords aren’t really save. Weak passwords such as the one used by Mark Zuckerberg – it’s said being “Dadada” – are commonly used. Passwords either are complex and hard to keep in mind, or they are long and annoying to type, or they are short, easy to type, and weak.

However, what are the alternatives? We can use biometrics. But even with upcoming standards such as the FIDO Alliance standards, there still are many scenarios where biometrics do not work well, aside of the fact that most also aren’t perfectly save. Then there are these approaches where you have to pick known faces from a number of photos. Takes longer than typing in a password, thus it adds inconvenience.

Yes, we are becoming more flexible in choosing the authenticator which works best for us. Both in Enterprise IAM and Consumer IAM, adaptive authentication and the support of a broad variety of authenticators is on the rise. But even there, the password remains a simple and convenient option. Other options such as OTP hardware tokens (One Time Password) are not that convenient, they are expensive, logistics is complex and in case we lose a device or a token or whatever else, we still might come back to the password (or some password-like constructs such as security questions).

Using many weak authenticators also is an option. But again: What is our fallback in case that there aren’t sufficient authenticators available for a certain interaction or transaction? Not enough proof for the associated risk?

There is no doubt that we can construct scenarios where we do not need passwords at all. There is also no doubt that we will see more such scenarios in future. But we will not get fully rid of passwords. Starting with access to legacy systems that don’t support anything else than passwords (oh, and even if you put something in front, there then will be the username and password of the functional account); with the passwords used for identifying us when calling our mobile phone providers; with the passphrases and security questions; with all the websites and services that still don’t support anything else than passwords: There are too many scenarios where passwords will further exist. For many, many years.

We will observe an uptake of alternative, strong authenticators as well as the use of a combination of weak authenticators e.g. for continuous authentication. But we will not get rid of passwords. Not in one year, not in five years, not in ten years.

Hopefully, we will be able to use better approaches than username and passwords for all the websites we access and the services we use. Today, we are far from that. But even then, the username and password will be a supported approach in most scenarios, sometimes combined e.g. with an out-of-band OTP or whatever else. Why? Simply, because vendors rarely will lock out customers. When you raise the bar too high for strong authentication, this will cost you business. Username and password aren’t a good, secure approach. But we all are used to it, thus they aren’t an inhibitor.

Cloud IAM is more than CSSO

Martin Kuppinger talks about Cloud IAM and that it is more than CSSO

A Good Day for US Cloud Service Providers. And for Their Customers.

Back in 2014, a US court decision ordered Microsoft to turn over a customer’s emails stored in Ireland to an US government agency. The order had been temporarily suspended from taking effect to allow Microsoft time to appeal to the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals.

I wrote a post on that issue back then and described the pending decision as a Sword of Damocles hanging atop of all of the US Cloud Service Providers (CSPs). While that decision raised massive awareness back then in the press, the news that hit my desk few days ago didn’t get much attention. In the so-called “search warrant case”, the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Microsoft, overturning an earlier ruling from a lower court.

The blog post Brad Smith, President and Chief Legal Officer at Microsoft, published is very well worth reading, particularly the part about the support Microsoft has experienced from other parties and the section that points out that legislation needs to be updated to reflect the world that exists today. The latter is currently on its way in the EU, with the upcoming EU GDPR, becoming effective in 2018.

From the perspective of US CSPs and their customers, the court decision is definitely good news. Despite the fact that it is “only” a court decision and updated legislation is still missing, it mitigates some of the risk particularly EU, but also, e.g., APAC customers perceived when relying on US CSPs. This helps US CSPs with their business, by removing barriers for rapid cloud adoption. It helps customers, because the risk for data being requested by US governmental agencies while being held in non-US data centers is reduced significantly. So it’s not a Sword of Damocles hanging around. Maybe it’s still a knife, so to speak, but the risk is far lower now.

What I definitely find interesting to observe is the rather low attention the good news received. But that’s not too surprising. Bad news always sells better than good news.

The decision, from my perspective, can have a significant impact on further speeding up the shift of customers from on-premise solutions to the cloud. Most are on their way anyway. Each risk that is mitigated eases customer’s decisions. Anyway, the next challenge to solve for US CSPs (and all other CSPs that do any business with the EU) will by to comply with EU GDPR. But there at least we have the legislation and do not rise or fall with court decisions.

Blockchains go mainstream – IBM and Crédit Mutuel Arkéa blockchain implementation for KYC

IBM and the French Crédit Mutuel Arkéa recently launched the completion of a blockchain project that helps the bank verifying customer identities and remain compliant with KYC (Know Your Customer) requirements.

In contrast to common, transaction-focused use cases for blockchain implementations, the focus in that case is on having a tamper-resistant, time-stamped ledger that supports the bank in identifying their 3.6 million customers. Customers, even more in banks with a lot of branch offices, have a variety of systems for managing customer identities.

With the blockchain implementation based on IBM technology and the open-source Hyperledger project, the bank has realized a solution that federates information from various existing banking systems and delivers a (logically) centralized ledger that supports the consistency, traceability, and privacy requirements.

Blockchains are by nature ideal for such use cases, given that they create a tamper-resistant, time-stamped, and distributed ledger. In that implementation, a permissioned ledger is used, given that it is a bank-internal project that does not have to deal with specific requirements for anonymous users and public use cases such as e.g. the Bitcoin-Blockchain.

The ledger provides all information about e.g. all relevant identifying documents customers have signed with the bank. Thus, customers don’t need to re-sign when using other services or in different branch offices – plus the advantage, that the bank has a unique view on the customer, which is relevant from both a compliance and a customer service perspective.

The project has been implemented in rather short time. From my perspective, it is a great example for the breadth of use cases blockchains can serve. Blockchain will increasingly become a standard infrastructure element, as e.g. relational databases are today. This is greatly demonstrated by that particular project. Crédit Mutuel Arkéa has further plans for expanding the capabilities, e.g. by providing verification services to 3rd parties.

I strongly recommend analyzing the potential of blockchains for your business. There are many interesting use cases in virtually every industry. Blockchains will not solve everything, and it needs a thorough understanding of blockchain technology to identify the right blockchain type with the appropriate consensus model, depending on use cases and specific requirements. But clearly, there are far more use cases for blockchains than just cryptocurrency and smart contracts. Start analyzing the business potential of blockchains now. There is plenty of KuppingerCole research available, with a number of new reports to be published within the next few days – and you also can rely on KuppingerCole advisory services when starting to look at blockchains.

Know and Serve Your Customer: Why KYC is not enough

Know and Serve Your Customer: Why KYC is not enough

Today’s connected businesses need to communicate, collaborate and interact with their customers in a way that’s more flexible than ever before. Knowing and, based on that knowledge, optimally serving the customer is key to success in the Digital transformation.

Customer-facing IAM needed

With the accelerating digital transformation, we intrude deeper into the subject of customer identity management than ever before. Several external drivers change economic partnerships, such as a different competitive landscape, ever-changing regulation and at the same time an increasing number of cyber-attacks. There are also internal drivers such as the need for more agile, innovative and flexible organizations. Both internal and external drivers are encompassed in overarching core topics like smart manufacturing, the Internet of Things (IoT) and Know Your Customer (KYC). To be successful in digital transformation we need to change our customer contacts. For this we need to deploy a string of key enabling technologies, e.g. identity relationship management, security and privacy, big data, right up to blockchain and distributed ledgers.

In order to reach a competitive advantage, we also have to improve our customer relationships and the way we handle data. We need to be able to deal with customers and their identities better than ever before. In times of the cloud advantages can’t be reached simply by better IT and lower costs any more. The cloud delivers equal services to everyone at an affordable price.

What’s needed is a customer-facing IAM (Identity & Access Management). While companies were traditionally only looking at employees and some external business partners in their IAM deployments, with focus on administrative efficiency and compliance, in recent times federation and the management of partners became more and more important as a B2B element. Now, finally, the customers play a role as well. And they should, obviously, given that the customer is where the money comes from. There are also, e.g., ecommerce processes that have to supported. In the future, we need to take all resources into focus. How can we, for instance, serve the customer better and safer in the cloud? How can we deal with the customer with ever-changing business partnerships and in new business models?

Besides cloud services and the access to them, we also need to manage mobile devices such as computers, tablets, smartphones and wearables as well as logins to social networks and, last but definitely not least, IoT and operational technologies (OT) in manufacturing environments. We also need ways to protect the ownership of customer data. This requires the further development and perfection of identity relationship management (IRM), as one important element. In a sense this is the advancement of IAM in the digital context. How can I still steer and control access in this much more complex world?

Holistic look at identity

Identity Relationship Management (IRM) means having a single identity model across different identities, from employees, customers, partners, but also services, things and devices. It needs to be scalable internet-wide, not only on an enterprise dimension. Most companies have many more customers than employees. Customers often deploy a number of various devices. This means other quantity structures and thus performance and scalability requirements. The people responsible for CRM (Customer Relationship Management) need to see their system in a context of IAM, since this is the biggest identity store in most companies. It provides a whole customer history. This is actually a point I already wrote about ten years ago. Other IAM sources are, for instance, ERP, Finance (credit history) and Governance. We need to add and understand context information, social logins and access paths. What is really happening there? What does the customer look like and how can he get access? Is he at the same time an employee of the company? Are there any conflicts arising out of this, e.g. when employees manage their own customer data sets?

Instead of information silos, a cross-system approach for IAM is necessary, along with an improved customer experience, faster time to market and context-sensitive, adaptive security measurements. If someone wants to get access via a relatively weak social login, another risk evaluation is needed than if she or he gets authorization via a registered account or an ID card. We need to understand the respective risk and context and adapt our evaluations accordingly. The more information we have the more precise will be each risk evaluation.

Daily breaches show that passwords are not enough anymore, especially not the same across various services. However, access has to remain user friendly to be accepted by customers. One useful additional security feature could be, for example, adaptive push authentication and notification. A new KuppingerCole Webinar provides more information about this method (in German).

KYC goes beyond CIAM

How can you know and optimally serve your customer during the whole lifecycle? Important elements here are customer self-service and integration of customer data. KYC (Know Your Customer) goes even further than CIAM (Customer Identity & Access Management). It encompasses Customer Tracking & Marketing Automation as well as Analytics (Big Data) and Privacy & Information Protection. The customer needs to give his consent about what’s being done with his data and for which reason it might be used. He must be able to withdraw this consent any time. This brings the concept of Life Management Platforms closer to reality than ever before.

KYC can best be seen as the intersection between CRM (and Marketing automation), IAM and Privacy, i.e. the marketing view of the customer, the technical or identity view of the customer and the (not only) legal perspective. Active interaction plays an important role here as well as governance. The question is: Who in the company may do what in which form with the customer? Drivers of this development are compliance topics such as anti-money laundering (AML). Technologies such as IRM are really helpful in this context to understand how different identities are connected to each other.

The term KYC is also not really accurate, since it is not only about knowing the customer, but also optimally serving him. Thus I’d prefer the term KSYC, Know & Serve Your Customer, an appropriate evolutionary step of doing CRM. If enterprises in addition finally start looking at their employees as a special kind of customers, who are granted access to more applications than others, it will improve enterprise IAM as well, bring different business divisions smoothly under one roof and help getting rid of unnecessary discussions about special applications for the management of consumer identities.

CIAM - Customer IAM explained

Martin Kuppinger talks about CIAM and explains what Customer IAM means.

Blockchain is more than Bitcoin

Martin Kuppinger about Blockchain and that it is more than just a part of the Bitcoin cryptocurrency.

Security & Privacy by Design is Agility by Design – time to rethink Banking IT

81 million dollars, that was the sum hackers stole from the central bank of Bangladesh this year in April by breaching the international payment system SWIFT. Three other SWIFT hacks followed quickly in other banks. SWIFT reacted by announcing security improvements, including two-factor authorization, after first remarks that the reasons for the successful attacks lie with the robbed banks and their compromised systems.

Whoever has made a mistake here, maybe all involved parties, the growing number of cyberattacks against banks is not really surprising, since hackers tend to go where the money is. And even if the Bangladesh case might have been the biggest assault so far, it is just one in a long chain of attempts and conducts of online bank robberies. Cybercrime has become the biggest risk for financial institutes today. The reason behind this are – besides the money - often the heterogeneous legacy systems of many institutes, which simply weren’t originally built for the cyber world. They open huge doors for successful attacks. What does that mean for financial institutes? First, they urgently need to consider a huge paradigm shift concerning IT and information security.

For years the last bastion against digitalization, many banks successfully withstood the cloud and all later developments like IoT without their business models having to suffer. They maintained their own infrastructures in secluded data center silos and kept running their own monolithic systems for core banking applications. Customers, both B2B and B2C, accepted this. It seemed to be safe and normal. (It had also to do a lot with regulatory requirements, of course.)

This initial situation has however changed dramatically: More and more young and dynamic competitors enter the market. Most of these fintechs specialize in a certain aspect of financial services and use the latest technologies to communicate and deal with clients when needed everywhere in real-time. Traditional banks already notice the heavy winds of change through a decreasing number of younger customers, “millennials”, who like to bank mobile “on the go” and put more trust into peers than into classic institutions.

To stay relevant by becoming more agile and satisfying the needs of connected consumers, banks have, at least partly, begun to integrate the new world into their business models. However, this also demands rethinking of information security questions. In a hyperconnected world the old perimeters like firewalls are not of much use any more, if at all. With IT being anytime everywhere and more and more people, devices and things becoming connected with each other, the attack surface grows exponentially. New threats arise in these internal and external relationships, elaborated phishing and privileged user attacks just being two examples.

The perimeter shifts to the identities of people, KYC (Know your customer) compliance being one example, but also devices and billions of ever new things. In this context the further development of blockchain technology with advanced identity and access management prospects promises a huge leap for worldwide secure and transparent financial transactions (unforgeable records of identity, no double spending possible, automated verification, self-executing contracts, encryption, data integrity through time-stamps, hashing etc.), even though certain limits to this innovative technology still

need to be addressed. Could they e. g. better be solved with permissioned, private ledgers, where only known users are enabled to participate? SWIFT seems to be already experimenting on this.

Whatever the solution(s), Security and Privacy may not be an afterthought anymore. Both need to start right with the development of products and solutions. Many industries have already understood that. It’s time for the digital finance world to internalize the concept of security and privacy by design too. I can almost hear those who say that this will hinder and agility and slow processes down. In fact, it is clearly the other way round and cannot be emphasized enough: Security and Privacy by Design help any business to become even more agile than ever before. They’re actually the foundation of successful and economic Agility by Design.

Of course many banks already considered “security by design” even in their old mainframe infrastructures. In fact, they were often really good and quite progressive at it, with dynamic authorization (ABAC) and so forth. Sadly, these efforts don’t count much in a highly dynamic and digitalized world. Agility by design can today only be reached by thinking security by design anew and by also realizing the regulatory demands of privacy by design. If they do both aspects right, financial institutes stand a good chance to persist also in completely new competitive and risk environments. This won’t work with the old core banking IT however, since it is neither agile nor secure enough and it also doesn’t fulfil modern privacy requirements.

Discover KuppingerCole

KuppingerCole Select

Register now for KuppingerCole Select and get your free 30-day access to a great selection of KuppingerCole research materials and to live trainings.

Stay Connected

Blog

Spotlight

AI for the Future of your Business Learn more

AI for the Future of your Business

AI for the Future of your Business: Effective, Safe, Secure & Ethical Everything we admire, love, need to survive, and that brings us further in creating a better future with a human face is and will be a result of intelligence. Synthesizing and amplifying our human intelligence have therefore the potential of leading us into a new era of prosperity like we have not seen before, if we succeed keeping AI Safe, Secure and Ethical. Since the very beginning of industrialization, and even before, we have been striving at structuring our work in a way that it becomes accessible for [...]

Latest Insights

How can we help you

Send an inquiry

Call Us +49 211 2370770

Mo – Fr 8:00 – 17:00