20th July, 2023
TABLE OF CONTENTS
In a centralized access management model, users are allowed to access various SaaS apps, data, websites, or other systems with the same set of credentials. Meanwhile, in decentralized access management, users have to use different sets of credentials to access any SaaS apps or other organizational resources.
To find out the difference between centralized access management and decentralized access management, you, as an IT manager, need to understand how they function.
For instance, in a centralized access management model, employees use the same username/user ID or password to verify their identity and access multiple SaaS apps and data, which offers convenience but poses a higher security risk if the credentials are compromised.
On the other hand, in decentralized access management, employees need to use different sets of credentials or authentication methods for access to any apps, providing enhanced security by reducing the impact of a credential breach but requiring users to manage multiple logins.
This was a brief overview of both centralized and decentralized access management models. However, to gain a comprehensive understanding, you need to thoroughly look into each model's capabilities. By doing so, you will be able to uncover the distinct characteristics that set them apart from each other.
Below, we have listed out a few key points and explained in detail that will help you understand the difference between both IT models.
Both centralized access management and decentralized access management function in a unique way while allowing users to access apps, data, or services. So let's find out how exactly these IT models streamline the process.
The centralized access management model brings all SaaS apps together, allowing users to access a variety of services and infrastructure through a single console. With a single sign-on (SSO) solution in place, users can access necessary apps without the hassle of signing in to multiple accounts. This is made possible by a trusting relationship between the user, enterprise, and partner sites, streamlining access and enhancing data security while minimizing password fatigue and frustration among users.
Whereas in a decentralized access management model, users receive identity credentials from various issuers, such as employers and government agencies, storing them securely in their digital wallets.
These wallets enable users to generate a private and public key pair, allowing them to share only the necessary information for specific transactions. When asked for identity verification, users can present their proofs to companies, who can then verify their validity through a blockchain-based ledger.
Issuers, which include institutions like universities, credit bureaus, and pharmacies, serve as official sources of verified data about individuals. Users can conveniently add this verified data, represented as cards, to their digital wallets by clicking a link or scanning a QR code provided by the issuers.
Within this system, users have complete control over their identity data, as it is solely stored within their digital wallets, ensuring that personal information is never manipulated or deleted without their consent.
To verify someone's identity, businesses or individuals act as verifiers. By scanning a QR code, users can effortlessly share up-to-date, verified data about themselves with these verifiers, facilitating secure and efficient identity confirmation processes.
Each IT model has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. By carefully examining the strengths and weaknesses of each approach, you will be able to determine which one is better.
Centralized access management offers less user friction, making it easier for individuals to access multiple apps and data with only one set of credentials. Furthermore, it enables your IT team to identify which users have access to which all apps, providing them with more control. Also, this allows them to manage user access more efficiently. However, if a centralized AM solution is deployed poorly, it can become a single point of failure, making the entire system vulnerable to security risks.
On the other hand, decentralized access management helps your IT team overcome the single point of failure concern by distributing data and enhancing trust. It relies on emerging Web3 technologies like blockchain and user-owned decentralized identifiers (DID). DIDs provide users control over their data and grant a convenient way to authenticate across various SaaS apps, while blockchain's decentralized ledger ensures secure cryptographic storage.
Decentralized solutions are often more cost-effective since they don't require consensus across a large network. However, they may lack the granular administrative control that centralized AM offers organizations. Moreover, the decentralized approach may result in reduced visibility into user behavior and system resources, making it harder to detect and address potential security threats.
Another difference between centralized and decentralized access management is how trust is established. What is widely deployed today is OAuth and SAML; there is a two-way trust relationship between two known parties. They agree to connect and share information about the user, like authentication and authorization details.
However, the trust concept in decentralized identification systems is one-way. Although the issuer may not be familiar with the verifier, the verifier trusts the issuer. The wallet is essential to accomplish this securely and ensure one-way privacy. The wallet uses robust cryptographic capabilities to function as an independent entity with connections to the issuer and verifier.
Decentralized identification goes beyond some existing methods by utilizing cutting-edge cryptography, such as zero-knowledge proofs and anonymous signature techniques. Decentralized identification systems have the advantage of incorporating these newer security technologies more easily and effectively as they advance. These technologies have subtle but significant effects.
When we talk about IT security, it's crucial to be concerned about the weakest link. For instance, if a department hasn't undergone an IT audit, there may be higher risks that are not properly managed. Let's set aside the centralized vs. decentralized debate for a moment to make access management effective. Instead, let's focus on a different question: how can we achieve robust IT security?
The answer is simple: every individual in the company plays a role in supporting adequate IT security. When each person plays their part without fail, the company will become better protected.
Once everyone in the organization actively participates in access management, it's a cause for celebration as it's a significant success. However, it's important not to become complacent. IT security success requires constant vigilance. To keep your company safe from IT security incidents, here are some areas you can focus on improving:
Simplify IT Security for End-Users: Business users want to focus on their work while still caring about security. Implementing a single sign-on software solution can make their lives easier, as they will have fewer passwords to remember.
Improve Password Training: Passwords are crucial for security, but many people still use easy-to-guess passwords. Providing password training can significantly reduce this problem and enhance security.
Use an IT Security Chatbot: Employ an IT security chatbot to handle routine tasks like password resets. This empowers end-users to get new passwords whenever needed, creating a positive impression of the IT department.
To enhance your organization’s IT security posture, it's crucial to adopt an effective solution that enables your IT team to seamlessly manage and govern user access. Though there are numerous tools available in the market, but there is one modern identity and governance solution- Zluri that stands out from the competition. But what exactly is Zluri, and how does it work? Here’s a quick guide.
In today's world, as more companies adopt cloud-based applications and remote work becomes common, managing and reviewing user access has become challenging for IT teams. They struggle with visibility into user access, which poses security risks to sensitive data stored in these applications. Fortunately, there is a solution that can help address these challenges: Zluri.
Zluri is a modern identity governance and administration (IGA) platform that prioritizes identity governance by focusing on data security and compliance, addressing the concerns of many organizations. It offers various features, like a data discovery engine, automated access reviews, and auto-remediation, to provide IT teams with complete visibility into access. This enables them to define policies for reviews, remediate access after review completion, and ensure effective access governance.
One of the prime benefits of Zluri is its identity administration features, which allow IT teams to manage access requests and automate provisioning and deprovisioning processes. This automation improves both IT team and employee productivity by eliminating manual work.
For example, in the past, IT teams could easily manage access when the number of users and applications was small. However, with the increased adoption of SaaS applications and remote work, visibility into the access environment became challenging, leading to potential data breaches.
Zluri addresses this by providing unified access through its data discovery engine, helping IT teams monitor who has access to which SaaS apps. With these insights, they can detect threats and promptly remediate them through automation or manual intervention for critical data.
This is just a glimpse of how Zluri works. There are more exclusive capabilities to explore, making Zluri stand out from its competitors and providing an unmatched solution for effective access governance. Let's dive deeper into these capabilities to understand how Zluri offers a comprehensive solution for secure access management.
Zluri is better than competitors at discovering data since it is primarily a SaaS management platform. This background has given Zluri a distinct advantage, making it highly effective and proficient in identifying SaaS app data. One area where this expertise proves exceptionally valuable is in the area of user access data identification.
With Zluri’s five discovery methods, i.e., SSO or IDP, finance systems, direct integrations, browser extensions (optional), and desktop agents (optional), your IT team gains the ability to explore and unveil essential details. They can seamlessly identify which users have access to particular SaaS apps, what all access rights are granted to them, identify the user status (active or inactive), and more.
These insights are a game-changer for user access management and SaaS app data security. Armed with such granular knowledge, your IT team finds it easier to conduct access reviews. Also, the process becomes streamlined, efficient, and less prone to oversight, ensuring that access privileges are aligned with user role and compliance requirements.
From the moment a new employee starts working at the company, it's essential for the IT team to manage access properly. They need to make sure that the employee has the right permissions to use the necessary applications from the very beginning.
However, if the IT team handles this process manually, there is a higher chance of mistakes, leading to reduced productivity and efficiency.
So, it's important to have an automated solution that enables your IT team to manage access seamlessly from day one. How does Zluri do that?
Zluri simplifies onboarding by connecting user profiles with their digital identities during the onboarding phase. When your IT team verifies a user's identity for access, they can cross-check details from a centralized dashboard and accurately assign access based on their job role.
But that's not all – Zluri goes a step further by automating the entire provisioning process. With just a few clicks, your team can grant new employees access, ensuring they have the right permissions to necessary apps. This boosts productivity, allowing employees to start working from day one.
How does Zluri automate the process? Well, your IT team can create onboarding workflows. All they need to do is, select users, whom they want to grant access to or onboard, and apps (you can even choose from recommended apps option), which all apps they want the users to have access to.
Then, your team can take necessary actions easily by clicking "add an action." Here, they can schedule the workflow and more.
Zluri even provides in-app suggestions, allowing your team to add employees to different channels, groups, or projects or send automated welcome messages.
The actions can vary for different applications and are mentioned under recommended actions. Once all the actions are set, you can directly run the workflow or save it as a playbook for future use.
For added efficiency, Zluri offers automated playbooks (i.e. collections of recommended applications for automation) that can be customized for different roles, departments, and designations. This feature streamlines the onboarding of new employees, making it as easy as a few clicks to set up their access.
Note- Apart from that, your team can set automation actions, such as by triggering if and but conditions, they can grant Kissflow access to all the employees of the finance department.
Zluri doesn’t stop there, it securely revokes access from departing employees when they resign, get terminated, or retire or those who no longer require certain application access.
Zluri understands that even a single oversight in this process can potentially lead to security breaches, jeopardizing data security. So to overcome this concern, it offers a solution, i.e. to automate the deprovisioning process. With a simple click, your IT team can easily remove access from employees, ensuring that all necessary steps are taken. This automation ensures that access is revoked in a timely and comprehensive manner, protecting SaaS app data from security risks like unauthorized access.
Furthermore, to automate the process, your team can simply create an offboarding workflow. All they need to do is select the users from whom they want to revoke app access and then they will come across a list of recommended actions (such as signing out users, removing them from org units, and more).
Your team can choose one or multiple actions at once from the list; a point to note is that these actions will be executed post the deprovisioning process. Once all desired actions are added, your team can run the workflow instantly or save it as a playbook for future use.
One critical phase where the risk of access mismanagement arises is when an employee undergoes mid-life cycle changes. There can be a change in their role, departments, position, or they may simply require access to certain apps for specific tasks. Thus, their access requirements keep on changing.
Previously, employees had to wait for days to get their app access requests approved because the manual method involved multiple steps. But now, with Zluri's automation, this time-consuming process is eliminated.
Firstly, Zluri integrates with HRSM to keep track of employee data. This integration automatically updates and displays employee details on a centralized dashboard. This way, your IT team can easily access and verify employee information without any manual effort.
This streamlined process ensures that access permissions are always up-to-date and aligned with each employee's current role and responsibilities. Whether granting or revoking access, your team can efficiently manage user privileges based on the most current and accurate information available.
Furthermore, Zluri streamlines the access request process by making it ticketless. It offers an Employee App Store (EAS), a self-serve model, which is a collection of applications pre-approved by your IT team. With this self-serve model, employees enjoy the flexibility of choosing any application from the app store and gaining quick access in no time.
All they need to do is raise a request, and the IT team will verify and review their identity before providing access to the requested application. If approved, employees gain access right away. If access is declined, they receive prompt notifications along with reasons for the decision, any modifications made, or suggested alternatives for the application, all viewable in the "Changelogs."
Now comes the most critical aspect of access management: access reviewing. Ensuring that each user has the appropriate level of access permissions to apps and data is quite important to maintain the safety of data. Manual access reviewing can be time-consuming and inefficient, requiring IT teams to gather user lists, user statuses, access patterns, and all the apps to which users have access.
For instance, a user previously had admin-level access to a specific application, but their access permissions were revoked by your IT team two months ago since they no longer required such high privileges. To ensure that user access remains appropriate, your team needs to review their permissions periodically and check if they still have the right level of access or have been granted admin-level permissions again. If they have been granted admin-level access again what is the reason? Manually handling this process would be a significant waste of time.
To streamline access reviewing, Zluri comes to the rescue with automated solutions. Zluri automates the entire access review process, gathering all user access-related data in a centralized place. This simplifies the reviewing process for your team/reviewers, eliminating the hassle and making it more efficient.
This was just an overview, Zluri is not only restricted to these few access review capabilities, it has more to offer, which is exclusive and sets it apart from the competitors. So, let’s explore them one by one.
Zluri’s unified access review feature provides your IT team with the ability to identify which users have access to all SaaS apps and data. Where does Zluri get all these insights from? Well, it has an access directory where all the user access-related data is stored in one central place.
Further, with the help of these insights, including whether the users are admins, regular users, which departments they belong to, and more, your IT team can examine the access privileges of users and ensure their access aligns with the roles.
Additionally, to keep things running smoothly, Zluri’s activity & alert capabilities come into play. This feature provides real-time information about the last activities users performed and notifies IT teams about any new logins. With the help of these insights, reviewers can make quick and informed decisions during access reviews, ensuring the right people have the right access at all times.
No more manual headaches with spreadsheets and JSONs! Zluri takes the hassle out of access reviews by automating the entire process. Just head to Zluri, create a certification, and select the apps and users you want to review, and the rest of the reviewers will review and update you about the compilation via email.
So, by automating this process, you get 10 x better results than manual methods and save your IT team's efforts by 70%. Now let’s move ahead and see how it works.
Once you have gained access to contextual data through Zluri’s unified access feature, you can step further by creating access rules around these insights. For example, if someone is an admin on Salesforce, you can easily set up a review policy specifically tailored to that scenario.
Next comes the schedule certification feature, where you can create certifications based on the gathered information. This allows you to take action based on the insights you've gained. For instance, you can use data like last login, departments, user status (active or inactive) and more to make informed decisions during the review process such as whether the user can carry on with the existing access or need any modification.
With Zluri's context-rich information, your team can confidently take actions that align with your access management policies. It's a smarter, more efficient way to ensure the right access for the right users, all while keeping your data secure. Zluri's automated access reviews and access rules are the key to simplifying your access governance process.
Here’s how you can create access certification in Zluri:
Step 1: From Zluri’s main interface, click on the ‘Access Certification’ module.
Step 2: Now select the option ‘create new certification.’ You have to assign a certification name and designate a responsive owner to oversee the review.
Step 3: Under Set Up Certification, choose the ‘Application’ option. Proceed further by selecting the desired application for which you want to conduct the review and choose a reviewer (generally the primary reviewers are the app owners) accountable for reviewing access to that particular application.
After that you need to select the fallback owner/reviewer, if the primary reviewer is unavailable the fallback owner can review the user access (you can select anyone for the fallback reviewer, whom you think is responsible enough). Also, the reviewers will get notified through the mail that they will conduct a review.
Once you are done selecting the reviewers, you can click on Next.
Step 4: Select Users for Review; choose the users whom you want to review for the selected application. Once you are done selecting the users, click on next. You will be able to view all the information related to the users. Then you need to specify the criteria or parameters such as user department, job title, usage, and more. Now click on update and then click on next.
Note: Select those relevant data points only that you wish your reviewers to see while reviewing the access. By filtering the criteria appropriately, you enable your reviewers to make swift and well-informed decisions, streamlining the review process and ensuring efficiency.
Step 5: Now the Configure Action page will appear, basically, here you have to choose actions. These actions will run post the review.
There are three actions:
Approved- once reviewers approve the user access, Zluri won't run any action, the users can continue with their same access without any interruption.
Rejected- when the reviewer declines or doesn’t approve the user access, you have to run a deprovisioning playbook to revoke the access of that application from the user. If the user has access to critical apps then you can request the assigned reviewer to manually deprovision the user access or else Zluri will auto-remediate if it’s not critical access.
Modify- In this last case; you again need to create a playbook to modify the user access. However, you need to state whether the access permission needs to be upgraded or degraded.
Step 6: Additionally, you can even schedule the actions by setting up the start date and within what time span you want the review to be completed.
Step 7: Lastly you can keep track of the automated access review process by clicking on the ‘Review Status’ and view whether the review is still pending, modified, declined, or approved.
Also, you can add multiple applications and follow the same process for each selected application.
Zluri also provides the owner access to a snapshot view of the entire certification process status. Also, they can get an overview of the pending reviews and monitor the status of each app’s review, including their assigned reviewers and their completion status.
You can even send reviewers who have yet to complete their reviews.
Further, to streamline the process for reviewers, Zluri provides reviewers with all the user access data in a single screen, i.e. reviewer screen. For the same screen, reviewers can approve, modify, and decline access by verifying the data, and they also have to add relevant comments on the same.
Now, you will be able to view the entire status of the review process on the chart once the process is completed and the owner (assigned reviewer of the certification process) is fine with the review. You can click on conclude, and it will straight away send the reports to the reviewers' email.
After completing the access review, necessary changes will take place as per the set actions during certification creation, so all these actions like access modification or removal are part of secure access orchestration. It's the seamless process that ensures access is managed securely and efficiently, safeguarding your organization's data and resources.
For example, while creating a new certification in Zluri your team will come across configuration action under which they need to create deprovisioning playbooks and modification playbooks. If the reviewers decline the access permissions, then automatically, the deprovisioning playbook will run, and the same goes for the modification playbook. Also, for both scenarios, the reviewers need to provide relevant reasons stating why the access permission is declined or modified.
Point-to-note actions will take place automatically after the review; that's why this process is also known as the auto-remediation process.
Apart from that Zluri also offers integration features that are quite beneficial at the time of gathering access data. Though Zluri already has data within its platform, integration allows it to gather even more valuable insights. Leveraging these integrations, further enhances your access review process and strengthens the overall security posture of the organization.
For example, the top priority for the company is to review the Identity System and core applications, as they pose the highest risk. The Identity System, which stores crucial employee data, requires timely and thorough reviews to ensure security. So what Zluri does is it integrates with Salesforce, Okta, Azure, and other applications. Further, these integrations play a crucial role in gathering identity system and SaaS app data, providing valuable insights and streamlining the review process.
Additionally, Zluri generates reports that are commonly associated with audit logs or audit trails. These audit reports serve as valuable documentation to share with auditors or keep as a reference for future reviews. And audit trails act as roadmaps, showcasing the changes made during previous reviews.
For instance, if an employee's admin-level permissions were changed to user-level, it becomes essential to review and ensure that the access remains appropriate or if there were further changes back to admin. Understanding the reasons behind any upgrades is crucial for maintaining proper access control.
So Zluri automatically generates reports on such changes, which further helps in the reviewing process.
So why wait? Book a demo now and witness how Zluri enables your GRC team to streamline identity governance.
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