Keeping You Safe in the Cloud is a Full-Time Job

Identity is at the center of cloud security. As a result, cloud identity and access management (IAM) is one of the most interesting – and critical – challenges in IT today. The rapid evolution of enterprise IT to the cloud has rendered on-premise identity solutions ineffective. With the acceleration of mobile device access, cloud business apps and extensive online collaboration with customers and partners, identity has migrated beyond the firewall. The new challenge is securing and managing these identities and controlling access to IT systems from any device, anytime, anywhere.

As an information and security executive, I’ve long since been exposed to the challenges of cloud-based IAM. High reliability, scalability and security are the three essential features of an enterprise-ready cloud identity solution. And, as evidenced by recent AWS outages and sophisticated data breaches like the one at CloudFlare, this is exceedingly hard to do.

You may have seen the press release issued earlier today about my appointment as Okta’s Chief Security Officer, or CSO. One of the reasons I am so excited to join the team here is because they’ve built a cloud IAM solution that has already taken a leadership position in the industry by focusing on all three of these critical factors. Okta has invested a tremendous amount of engineering effort in building a platform that enables the necessary reliability, security and scalability vigilance at cloud scale – proving that SaaS is not only a viable enterprise option, but also the superior one. Protecting the identities of Okta’s customers is a non-stop effort – and it’s this commitment to ongoing security excellence that attracted me to the company.

Take, for example, multifactor authentication. Two recent security events have poked holes in the assurance of some second-factor components. First, there was the CloudFlare security breach in June, when a hacker gained access to company data through the CEO’s personal Gmail account. Then, a group of scientists designed an attack that would take only minutes to access the numbers generated on the second factor authentication tokens from governments and corporations’ user, allowing for a far easier attack on the user credentials.

The takeaway? Hackers persistently find ways around security controls. At Okta, the team has taken this reality very seriously and offers a great multifactor authentication solution that is agnostic to that second factor component (on your phone, key fob, etc.). Hackers are vigilant. Security focused companies, like Okta, need to be even more vigilant. Okta is successful because when a customer implements the Okta solution and moves their IAM platform to the cloud, that customer extends productivity, saves money and increases security around their managed identities and the apps those identities are accessing that have already moved beyond the firewall.

As breach techniques evolve, part of my responsibility as Okta’s first CSO will be to continue thinking of the best ways to protect our customer’s identities moving forward, and I look forward to addressing cloud security and Okta’s role in cloud IAM here on the blog. Constantly looking to the future – staying on top of emerging threats, as well as emerging techniques – will help continuously evolve Okta to remain as the number-one cloud identity and access management service.