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3 Quick Ways to Increase Customer Data Security

Krystal Wang
Krystal Wang
Senior Security Solutions Manager

Trust is the cornerstone of any successful customer relationship and organizations now have more opportunities than ever to gain that trust. In today’s interconnected world, companies are constantly handling sensitive customer data—and how they use and secure that data plays a huge role in determining the trust customers place in them.

A breach compromising your customer data could be devastating to your organization. Not only would it break the trust customers have placed in you, it could lead to severe financial loss and reputational harm. It is therefore in the best interest of your customers—and your entire organization—that you put the necessary measures in place to protect this data. It’s important to keep in mind that alongside implementing better technology, companies need to improve their processes and train their employees on how to best manage a comprehensive security solution.

Effective customer data security requires a multi-faceted approach

Effective data security is a multifaceted, interconnected system with three primary components: people, processes, and technology. A failure in any one of these components weakens security and could compromise your customer data. That’s why a multi-pronged approach is necessary. An effective technology solution should have controls in place to mitigate risks in people and processes. Likewise, processes (such as applying the principle of least privilege) should cover potential risks in technology and people. And the people element could bolster technology and processes with initiatives such as security awareness training.

1 – Centralize identity with strong authentication

To mitigate the risk of a breach, organizations need a centralized identity solution. Most organizations rely on multiple applications to form the solutions and services they provide to their customers. This application architecture typically contributes to increased security complexity as customer identities are dispersed across multiple accounts. This leads to an increase in the potential attack surface. By centralizing identity management through the implementation of a single credential store, you can provide system administrators with a single authentication point to better enforce standards and authentication requirements while making meeting these requirements easier on the user—thus improving security across the organization.

The Okta Identity Cloud allows you to modernize IT, build better customer experiences, and prevent data breaches through the provision of a suite of identity services, including Okta Universal Directory. This cloud-based directory service integrates into any app or directory and gives you the ability to manage all your users, groups, and devices in one central secure location. By deploying Okta Single Sign-On (SSO) with Universal Directory, you not only gain the benefits of a single credential store, you also provide your customers with an enhanced user management experience that reduces friction while improving the security of their data.

To further strengthen the security of your customer data, you can also enable Okta’s Adaptive Multi-Factor Authentication (Adaptive MFA). This solution reinforces password security by requiring customers to submit a second authentication factor and uses contextual awareness, taking information such as the user’s device and location into account, so users don’t have to be prompted for step-up authentication every time they log in. Thus, even if credentials are compromised, unauthorized access to customer data can still be prevented.

2 – Reduce the attack surface

A well-implemented identity management system will help you manage all users’ identity lifecycles, from employees to partners to customers. A major risk that amplifies the available attack surface area is over-provisioning of user privileges and neglecting to deprovision or update access when users change roles. This often results in users with access to sensitive data they don’t need or forgotten “zombie” accounts when users leave the organization, both of which can be exploited by attackers. Managing user identities with an automated lifecycle management process can significantly reduce this risk.

Okta’s Lifecycle Management solution seamlessly integrates into Universal Directory, SSO, and Adaptive MFA, providing sophisticated control of identities across lifecycle states with automation through rules, policies, workflows, and APIs. By focusing on access and ease of use, this enterprise identity and access solution can manage and provide visibility into who has access to what—limiting access to customer data to those who actually need it.

3 – Enable visibility and response

Real-time visibility into system events, incidents, and alerts are key to effectively managing security. Systems, people, and processes are dynamic entities that are constantly shifting and adapting to external factors. Without clarity and relevant insight into what is transpiring in real-time, organizations are unable to respond to any possible risks rapidly and efficiently. To effectively protect your customers, you need a consolidated view with complete visibility into all systems that store and process customer data.

Okta’s Centralized Reporting provides sophisticated search functionality of real-time system log information. This gives you the ability to respond to any threats as they happen. In addition, geolocation tracking, pre-built application access reports, and integration with SIEMs create a comprehensive solution that gives you the insight you need to properly secure your customer data. Paired with Okta’s ThreatInsight, which allows companies to use threat signals gathered from the Okta Integration Network and its diverse set of customers and partners to set risk-based authentication policies, companies can gain a full view of any authentication data as well as correlate it with other security events.

Greater than the sum of its parts

A comprehensive solution is needed to effectively protect customer data. A SSO solution provides a seamless customer authentication experience. However, to truly secure customer data, you need to harden authentication with adaptive MFA, reduce the attack surface through automated lifecycle management, and have clear visibility into events and incidents as they occur.

The Okta Identity Cloud gives you all the tools you need to provide your customers with a comprehensive solution. Return the trust your customers have placed in you by protecting their data with an identity management platform that binds people, processes, and technology into a single effective solution.

Find out more about privileged attacks and how to protect your customer data against data breaches.

Krystal Wang
Krystal Wang
Senior Security Solutions Manager

As a Senior Security Solutions Manager at Okta, Krystal works closely with customers and product teams to deliver security-focused identity solutions. Prior to Okta, Krystal worked in product and evangelist roles at leading cybersecurity firms in areas of threat prevention, email and web security, and network security. Krystal has over a decade of experience in the security space and holds a bachelors in Information Science.