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How Blockchain Is Changing Identity and Access Management

By: Craig Morrow

Blockchain technology offers promising solutions for a number of common identity and access management challenges.

One of the most buzzed-about technologies in today’s business landscape, blockchains are virtual distributed systems that serve as series of time-stamped, immutable data records.

Each “block” of information in a chain is stored across a wide array of networked computers — a full blockchain never exists in its entirety on any single device — making it nearly impossible to falsify information in a blockchain. That’s why Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies rely on blockchain to execute and record transactions, and why blockchain technology is increasingly being utilized for a wide range of applications in the privacy and information security spaces.

Identity and access management (IAM) — in short, all the processes and technologies an organization uses to identify, authenticate, and authorize users to access systems and information — is a particularly promising blockchain use case. In the digital age, the flow of information throughout an organization is critical to the organization’s success, but this flow mustn’t be unconstrained. IAM frameworks ensure that the right people — and only the right people — within an organization have access to the right information at the right time.

When IAM goes wrong, the consequences can be devastating: look no further than the 2018 Marriott breach, which exposed the passport numbers of more than 5 million people. However, IAM is often as difficult as it is important. For many organizations, striking an appropriate balance between facilitating information-sharing and maintaining airtight security is almost impossibly complex, but blockchain technology may offer a solution.

The Benefits of Blockchain in Identity and Access Management

Traditionally, effective IAM has been a challenge for large organizations for several reasons. Firstly, digital credentials are frequently a target of fraud and other cybercrime. Additionally, siloed data creates a high potential for error, unnecessary overhead, and increased vulnerability to fraud. These issues are only exacerbated by the fact that traditional IAM measures are incredibly difficult to scale.

It is essential for business leaders to understand that balancing easy information access with strong, scalable security measures requires a highly dynamic system — one that blockchain is ideally positioned to power. Blockchain offers four major advantages over traditional means of IAM:

  • Reliably secure, private authentication
  • Provable identification enterprise-wide
  • Easily traceable identification across the entire lifecycle of access
  • Incorruptible audit trails of events

Blockchain’s unique architecture is particularly well-suited to facilitating secure data exchange, recording the path of information, and ensuring interoperability across data silos. With a ratio of one digital identity to one individual, blockchain provides a way for organizations to increase agility and flexibility while simultaneously boosting security. This allows organizations that use blockchain technology for IAM to dismantle silos and effectively eliminate barriers to collaboration.

A Partner in Identity and Access Management

Keeping the right information in the right hands is invaluable to any organization’s operations, but finding a better, more secure way to do so can be overwhelming — especially while keeping day-to-day processes running smoothly. Ultimately, creating an IAM solution that addresses all your organization’s unique needs requires an in-depth understanding of your organization’s structure, culture, and goals.

At SEI, we understand that successful identity and access management — blockchain-driven or otherwise — begins with understanding the full breadth of a client’s resources and the data assets they safeguard. Our local model enables our consultants to develop a deep understanding of your organization, allowing us to craft bespoke solutions that speak directly to your needs. Backed by the resources of our national organization, our expert local teams take a holistic approach to each project, working side-by-side with clients to meet their short-term needs while laying the groundwork for long-term success.

Craig Morrow

Consultant

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