Identity Management and Risk Authentication: Core Zero-Trust Technologies for Any MSP

In a dynamic world, where user mobility impacts security almost 100 percent of the time, multi-factor authentication (MFA) has become imperative and key to deploying a zero-trust network. Why?

  • Users are connecting to company resources from different, unprotected networks
  • Working hours have become more flexible, so they could be working from early hours to late evenings
  • Devices could have been shared with other family members
  • And this all means attackers will try to exploit this new world of possibilities
Sam Manjarres, author, Watchguard
Author: Sam Manjarres, product marketing manager, WatchGuard Technologies.

MSPs can no longer rely on network perimeter-centric security structures. The increasing adoption of Cloud and remote access means that businesses need to enable secure access to their users (employees, contractors, partners) regardless of the location, network, or device.

MFA is not the only solution you need to deploy a zero-trust security structure as part of your portfolio stack, but identity and access management certainly are core technologies that your business needs to implement to get on the right path to embracing the “never trust, always verify” approach.

MFA and Risk Authentication Equal Optimized User Management

Risk-based authentication takes risk factors into account when performing an authentication decision. It goes beyond static authentication, allowing administrators to create rules that can modify the authentication behavior, sometimes making it easier if the risk is low; or asking for additional steps to ensure this is the right user, and blocking the access if the risk is too high, even if the user provided a correct one-time password (OTP).

Without risk policies in place, your company would need to enable the most secure authentication method at all times, for all users, potentially causing user friction for some segments. Risk authentication is a way to modernize your strategy by using the precise amount of security with customized risk protection that improves your ability to detect and respond to threats.

More Power to MSPs with Risk-Based Authentication

Risk policies give MSPs more control to mitigate risk and elevate the way they deploy MFA for their end users. With an advanced authentication framework, MSPs also get to solidify the foundation for a zero-trust architecture.

Here are five key reasons your MSP business needs to offer risk authentication as part of the MFA package:

  1. Tailor risk policies to your customer’s needs: Prioritize the type of risk policy by protecting specific resources and allowing user access based on your customer security needs. For example, a remote user can be prompted with authentication requirements that an onsite user might not need.
  2. Competitive advantage: Leveraging the advanced MFA solution not only becomes a market differentiator, but it also gives you the power to offer a full set of identity management features to your customers. This is quickly becoming a strong argument in the MSP security pitch to end users. If you don’t believe me, Google “identity management+ MSP.” Plus, depending on the vendor you work with, it won’t necessarily mean extra cost for MFA services.
  3. Embrace zero-trust adoption: This should sound obvious at this point, but one of the principles of the zero-trust approach is “Identifying Users and Devices.” MFA is the cornerstone for zero-trust implementation in that it provides the security structure for user and identity management and continuous authentication for any user to any resource.
  4. Simplified user experience: Risk-based authentication also improves user experience by removing extra authentication when enough security is verified. For example, if a user is accessing a resource from a known safe location, they won’t have to use MFA.
  5. Advanced security for remote access: A good portion of your customers are probably still either fully remote or managing a hybrid model in their organization. Risk-based authentication can help optimize security, especially for remote employees since they are accessing company data and networks from multiple locations. Not to mention, remote work has increased the use of Cloud services and platform as a service, which are key scenarios where having risk policies enabled can ensure allowing access only to authorized users, as well as detecting any unauthorized attempts.

The bottom line is, if your customers used to view identity protection as an option because most users and data were located within the network perimeter, those days are gone. From any angle you look it up, multi-factor authentication is an essential solution to protect user identity, Cloud applications, networks, and company data. If you are focusing on enabling a more sophisticated security approach, then you are already adjusting your stack to be zero-trust ready. If that’s the case, risk authentication is a core way to elevate your MFA offering.

Want to learn more about how businesses should assess risk? Check out the risk assessment guide.

Author Sam Manjarres is product marketing manager at WatchGuard Technologies. Read more WatchGuard guest blogs here