Cloud Password Management
A very obvious trend over the past few years has been organizations moving their business applications to the cloud. This trend has been talked about over and over again, including the benefits, drawbacks, implementation hurdles, etc. So what is the next step or advancement in cloud hosted applications?
The next step is ensuring that password management in cloud applications is just as efficient for users as it is for in-house applications. Many solutions are widely available with the use of in house applications in the organization’s network to help with ensuring that password management is secure and efficient, but what about cloud applications? Shouldn’t users of cloud applications receive the same benefits and ease of use as consumers of in-house applications?
So what are some of the password issues that cloud users are having and is your organization experiencing any of these?
Working Remotely — Cloud applications, though used by all, are most commonly used by remote employees, or employees who are working on the go. According to a recent study, 83 percent of hiring managers say telecommuting will be “more prevalent in the next five years.”
Many organizations have seen the many benefits of this, such as reduced overhead and a greater pool of talent, but there are some issues that come with remote employees. Unlike on-site employees, telecommuters need to quickly access their applications from wherever and whenever possible. Remote employees who are using cloud applications all the time have the same password issues as employees working on site, so they need similar solutions.
Different Devices — If you are a remote employee, you probably aren’t only using a desktop computer or laptop. Using many different smart devices with cloud applications for work creates many password issues. The organization might have a password solution for desktop computers but then what about your tablet or your smart phone? Employees nowadays need access to work applications from several different devices, with password management solutions working seamlessly with all of them.
When the helpdesk has stepped out — So what do employees do when they can’t contact the helpdesk about their password issue? Either they are trying to access their cloud applications after hours or they are traveling and are in a different time zone.
What if you are an employee who is in and out of your car all day? Are you supposed to stop and make a call to the organization’s helpdesk about a password problem? What if you are at a client’s site and need to access the network to complete a sales order and are locked out because of a password issue? Employees cannot rely on a helpdesk since this can lead to them not being able to access the applications they need if it is after working hours for the helpdesk.
The many passwords of an employee — Throughout the average career of an employee at any organization, they often incur many different passwords for the numerous systems and applications that they need to access. The organization often requires the passwords to follow a certain set of guidelines in the hope of ensuring security for the organization. For some reason, leaders often don’t realize that these processes makes it extremely difficult for the employee, and often hinders security. Credentials to cloud applications are no different, though, since many password solutions are only set up to work with in-house applications.
Password Management Solutions In Addition To The Cloud
The most popular fix to these issues is to implement password management solutions. Many of these solutions in the past have been intended for in-house applications, so how can password management solutions help with cloud applications?
Solutions, such as a self-service password reset software, have been adapted to be helpful to remote employees or those using cloud applications. This type of solution allows end users to reset their own passwords without having to contact the helpdesk. Employees can reset their passwords at any time, from any location — even from their smart devices.
Single sign-on solutions have also been adapted to work in conjunction with cloud applications. This allows users to login in once with a single set of credentials and thereafter gain access to all other applications they are authorized for, easily resolving the issue of needing to remember multiple passwords.
However, what about remote employees who are not in the company’s network and are using a variety of devices for their work? Newer advancements can assist with their needs also.
Cloud SSO Add On — A newer development has been a single sign-on (SSO) solution that can be added as a plug-in to the browser of the employee’s computer. The employee simply enters their credentials one time when they access their computer. Then when the browser detects any work website, the user will automatically be authenticated without having to again enter access credentials. This is extremely beneficial for remote employees who are on the go since they don’t need to enter several sets of credentials each time they are meeting with a client or going to a location.
SSO Application for Mobile Devices — Another recent development has been to aid in the use of different mobile devices. Since remote employees, as well as employees who are traveling, are often using more than a laptop, how do they handle password issues on their phones, tablets or other devices? Several SSO providers now offer the ability for employees to download a secure SSO application on their device. When they access the app it will ask them for a single set of credentials, after which the user will have access to the portal on the application with all of their organization’s applications. They are able to access any of these applications without needing to enter credentials. This is extremely efficient for employees who are on the go.
Overall, as the needs of the organization and cloud applications have changed, password management solutions also have changed to meet these needs. This ensures that employees in the company network or working remotely; as well as with using in-house or cloud applications all receive that same password benefits.
By Dean Wiech
Dean Wiech is managing director at Tools4ever US. Tools4ever supplies a variety of software products and integrated consultancy services involving identity management, such as user provisioning, role-based access control, password management, single sign on and access management solutions.