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The Case for Securing your B2B Connections

James Flores, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Okta
James Flores
Senior Product Marketing Manager

Whether you’re a clothing company integrating with an online shopping platform, a kitchen appliance manufacturer offering smart interfaces, or a nutritional supplement provider releasing a health app, these days every company is a technology company.

In this new business landscape, innovation goes hand-in-hand with collaboration, as more and more companies partner and integrate with third-party solutions. Pairing these technologies seamlessly while maintaining privacy and security across B2B connections is a must for every forward-thinking company wanting to stay competitive.

Building partner trust: Where the old way falls short

If you think about the people or organizations that you trust the most, chances are that you’ve built that trust over a long period of time, across various interactions. While the day-to-day process of building trust is still important, the fast-moving world of modern business requires ensuring a potential partner is trustworthy without the foundation of an extensive relationship.

A partnership built on shared processes for privacy and security should be able to protect both parties, and by working within modern security practices, organizations can take their time building trustworthy partnerships without having to worry.

Password sharing

Historically, when organizations would share resources, one party would create an account for an employee at their partner organization, and then email the account password to the user. This is a huge red flag.

Emailing passwords—or even having someone other than the primary end user know the password—is a major security risk. However, it’s common for employees to share passwords, with 23% of surveyed employees saying that one or more colleagues had their login credentials. What’s more, 52% of employees in the US and UK don’t see a problem with sharing login credentials with others in their organization. Sharing credentials in such a high-risk manner erodes the foundation of automatic trust between organizations.

Lack of lifecycle visibility and management

When an employee at your partner’s organization leaves their company, who terminates their account access to your organization? Is your organization even aware that the employee has left? A lack of user lifecycle management is another red flag for B2B partnerships.

If you fail to account for the comings and goings of your partners’ employees, rogue accounts that still retain access to sensitive data could persist long after the user leaves—and 87% of employees surveyed have admitted to taking company data with them when they left one job for another. On top of that, trusted insiders often account for security breaches, with 50% of employers saying insiders have attacked their systems in the last year. Not only is each rogue account its own point of vulnerability, but this lack of centralized lifecycle management creates unnecessary reconciliation work on both ends of the partnership.

Why not custom-build authentication?

To account for these shortcomings, many organizations opt to build their own authentication methods and connections to third-party entities, ones that support enterprise-class identity solutions. While this may sound like a good idea at first, many organizations find that it is not as simple as they expected.

Complex development

Building authentication can get very complex. It starts with credential and profile storage, then quickly moves into account recovery flows, legacy integrations for on-prem identity solutions, inbound SAML support for federation, and beyond. These complicated, layer-by-layer projects add up in both developer time and resources, and management costs.

High risk of coding error

Most companies don’t have developers who specialize in security, and have to pull developers off their core product to have them build a security product. A recent study revealed that 93% of app vulnerabilities come from custom code—a direct result of non-security-driven developers creating a security product.

Costly maintenance

Let’s imagine a best case scenario in which your development team is staffed and experienced enough to build an adequate authentication layer. You still have to factor in the ongoing maintenance costs needed to keep the system up-to-date with the latest security requirements. For the average organization, maintenance costs add up to 75% of the total cost of ownership of the software every year. Not ideal.

How Okta can help

The solution to all of this is infrastructure. Implementing Okta as the identity layer of your technology stack provides secure authentication and support for the technologies needed to foster your B2B relationships.

The Okta impact

  • Have a trusted partner in Okta—our enhanced security provides ground-floor trust
  • We’re not subject to the high-risk of coding errors that often lead to security problems
  • High customizability—make flows that suit the needs of your teams
  • Delegate administration to your IT teams to offboard work
  • Easily roll out new features (MFA, SSO, etc)
  • Reporting and analytics from Okta so you can understand the data
  • Enhanced user experience—we provide frictionless login and transition from your old systems
  • High level of branding—custom email templates and landing pages keep your brand front-and-centre

Integrating with Okta gives you security from the start. Our highly customizable platform allows you to build for any use-case, making partner connections a breeze. Build connections that are secure, trustworthy, and can be deactivated in an instant.

What’s more, Okta provides access via an API, which allows you to code into the system while simultaneously allowing your security and IT helpdesk teams to take ownership over the day-to-day maintenance of security tracking and account management.

Since Okta handles the secure identity layer, you can stop worrying about potentially outdated and vulnerable code and keep focused on your core products. Security enhancements are also simplified, in that rolling out MFA or SSO happens at the tick of a few boxes—no need to have your developers build out an MFA product to support a vast array of MFA providers.

Teamwork makes the dream (and security) work

Even if you consider yourself a DIY person—or company—you wouldn’t build the lock on your office door without at least consulting a locksmith. The same goes for cybersecurity. That’s why you should look to trusted partners to provide the layer of security you need.

By collaborating with Okta you build trust with partner organizations who can rest easy knowing their data is safe, and you free up your team to focus on what they do best.

Let Okta handle security. It’s what we do best. Check out our native B2B Integration solution to see if it’s right for your organization.

James Flores Okta Headshot
James Flores
Senior Product Marketing Manager

After 12 years as a systems administrator, James Flores joined Okta in early 2016. As a Product Marketer for Okta, James focuses on Okta + Microsoft integration, as well as Okta for B2B. In his spare time, James enjoys building construction, working to understand new technologies, and digital filmmaking and production.

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