Guest Post by Julian Lovelock, Vice President, Global Business Segment, Identity and Access Management Solutions, HID Global

Corporate real estate (CRE) decision-makers know that the workplace, for many, is more than just one office, building, or facility. Some employees spend their entire workday out in the field or on the road. Regardless, there is one thing that everyone needs: an identity and an identity-based access credential.

Identity is the new perimeter, and it defines how people access workplaces and applications for doing their jobs. Organizations must learn how to digitally transform the management of identities and associated digital and physical access credentials. This requires an understanding of the differences in technologies used for authentication as well as identification, and emerging trends that are here to stay.

Even before the pandemic there was a shift in workplaces. Secure access was becoming less defined by the physical perimeter of the workplace. Identity became the new – and often only – perimeter. This perimeter must be protected through a new approach that unifies both physical and cyber/IT access. To establish identity management for a secure, safe, and productive workforce, organizations should deploy solutions that combine credential management, multi-factor authentication and secure visitor management.

Secure Visitor Management

A hybrid workforce must handle multiple types of visitors including contractors and employees as well as customers, suppliers, and partners. Today’s unified physical identity and access management solutions accomplish this while improving the visitor experience through pre-registration and automated check-ins/outs that reduce wait times, and the ability to customize the visitor experience and security measures while benefitting from automated policy compliance.

These solutions were used in the workplace during the global pandemic to welcome visitors back and go touchless with self-service visitor badging kiosks and automated wellness and other screening questionnaires. The same capabilities are important for contractors, vendors, and employees, too. Organizations can also now monitor and analyze the activity of everyone on the premises should there be a COVID-19 outbreak, and quickly generate a timeline of who was in the workplace, where, and at what time. They also can ensure evolving safety and security steps, and regulations are consistently followed by everyone, across all offices at any time.

Key features to consider include a single dashboard of visitor insights, and compliance with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and other privacy regulations. The solution should notify hosts when guests arrive, request a visit, check in and out, and more, via SMS text message or email. Look for configurable workflows to support all specific screening and registration requirements and trigger additional workflows when needed. Finally, the solution should streamline subsequent visits by capturing, storing, and editing an unlimited number of identities in a centralized database, and checking visitors against internal and/or external watchlists.

Remote work must also be flexibly supported. This requires an enterprise-grade, cloud-based authentication solution that makes it easy to support employees who need to access enterprise resources, whether they are in the office or not.

Easy-to-Deploy Authentication

Improving remote work security by adding multi-factor authentication to a unified physical identity and access management system should be fast and easy to deploy, and intuitive for end-users. Several authentication form factors and methods should be supported to ensure an organization’s unique security needs are met.

Authentication solutions protect networks, applications and data by requiring a second validation via, for example, a mobile app to verify user identity before granting access. Push authentication is particularly useful: with a simple swipe of their phone, employees can quickly prove their identity before accessing protected applications or decline access to stop malicious attempts to access company apps and data.

Other authentication options include biometrics, or cards and USB keys enabled with standard security technologies such as FIDO, PKI, and OTP, to provide a seamless experience without requiring passwords. The inclusion of a centrally managed bundled Certificate Authority (CA) gives organizations a choice of a publicly trusted or private dedicated CA for strengthened security.

Credential Management

Credential management solutions enable the workforce and contractors to safely operate inside and outside the physical workplace. Today’s physical access credential management services automate and simplify the badge issuance process for everyone while eliminating inefficient, manual processes. Their capabilities can be delivered in a multi-tenant cloud environment, enabling organizations to begin issuing and managing credentials for both physical and digital access in just a few hours. They have immediate access to detailed insights about issued credentials including who has them, in any location, what they are for, why they have been credentialed, and for how long. Credential revocation is also automated, reducing the risk of insider security threats.

The services should be delivered through ISO27001-certified platforms that simplify employee access to the physical and digital workplace while solving administrative issues, regulatory compliance, and other business challenges in today’s dynamic hybrid work environments. They also should include unified authentication back-end functionality that allows organizations to choose the optimal security protocol for each use case while maintaining consistent rules and audit management capabilities.

Simplifying Access, Security and Compliance Today’s ever-expanding set of cloud-based workforce, contractor, and visitor management applications work together on a common platform to transform how organizations address cyber and physical security, compliance, and business challenges. They unify, automate, and simplify identity access and management at a single facility, distributed offices, or remote work locations, while reducing risk and removing the complexity of installing, configuring, or supporting on-premises software. The result is an enhanced user experience, scalability, and the elimination of manual processes for adapting to new challenges in today’s dynamic work environment.

Julian Lovelock is Vice President, Global Business Segment, Identity and Access Management Solutions at HID Global