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Product & Engineering

How to Evaluate the Best Access Management Solutions

In the ever-evolving cybersecurity world, organizations must adopt robust measures to safeguard sensitive data and critical systems. Access management solutions, including single sign-on (SSO), multi-factor authentication (MFA), and privileged access management (PAM), can offer a comprehensive defense against threats.

However, finding the strongest solutions to securing access is an equally dynamic landscape. In this article, we'll some address counter-proofing points to support a well-rounded perspective for technical buyers.

Strengthening authentication with single sign-on (SSO)

SSO simplifies user access by enabling them to log in once and access multiple applications seamlessly. By reducing login credentials and offering self-service, SSO helps save time and cost for onboarding to applications, password resets, device management and more.

When evaluating which single sign-on solution to go with, it's essential to consider the following counterpoints:

  1. Types of Application Protections: A strong SSO should come with several out-of-the-box integrations and the ability to easily protect SAML 2.0-based and mobile-first OpenID Connect (OIDC) applications. To enable and secure remote access, SSO should also allow your users to access on-premises websites, web applications, SSH servers, RDP and SMB/file server hosts without having to worry about managing VPN credentials.

  2. IdP Integration Complexities: Integrating SSO solutions with existing identity can be complex. Compatibility issues, custom development, or third-party dependencies may require additional technical expertise and resources during the implementation phase. There should not be a need to rip and replace any existing security architecture, and thorough documentation should be provided.

Graphic showing the out-of-the-box integrations offered by Duo

Bolstering security with multi-factor authentication (MFA)

MFA adds an extra layer of security by requiring users to provide multiple forms of identification—commonly between “something you know,” “something you have,” and “something you are.”

However, technical buyers looking at MFA should consider the following two counterarguments:

  1. User Experience Considerations: While stronger solutions provide a range of MFA options, organizations should carefully evaluate the impact on user experience. Balancing security needs with user convenience is crucial to maintain high adoption rates and minimize potential productivity disruptions. For example, supporting wearables as an authentication method or generating a time-based one-time passcode (TOTP) in places where a device does not have internet or cell service.

  2. User Training and Adoption: Adopting stronger MFA authenticators such as passwordless may require users to adjust to new authentication methods, such as biometrics or cryptographic keys. Proper user training, documentation and support are vital to ensure smooth user adoption and minimize disruptions during the transition period.

Collage showing authentication on wearable devices

Safeguarding critical resources with privileged access management (PAM)

PAM focuses on securing privileged accounts and provides granular control, session monitoring, and user accountability.

However, when considering PAM controls, technical buyers should address the following counterproofing points:

  1. Ease of Policy Set-Up: Granular access controls can help quickly onboard partners and contract employees, change application permissions and protect high-value information with stringent security policies. However, as application access shifts, it is critical that established policies also be easy to update and maintain – without potentially requiring additional headcount.

  2. Continuous Risk Assessment: Risk-based authentication relies on ongoing evaluation of contextual factors, such as user behavior, device health and network conditions when granting or denying access. This eases the authentication burden on users, only stepping up when risky changes are detected. Organizations should ensure that the risk assessment algorithms are accurately calibrated to prevent false positives or negatives, impacting user experience.

  3. Regulatory Compliance: Access management is a core security function often required by regulation and cyber liability insurance providers. Some industries or jurisdictions may have specific compliance requirements that organizations need to address when implementing MFA methods such as risk-based authentication. Ensuring alignment with relevant regulations is crucial to avoid penalties or legal consequences.

Graphic showing how risk-based authentication works


Technical buyers must consider the counter-proofing points raised to ensure successful implementation and adoption. With a comprehensive approach that combines innovative technologies, user education, and ongoing monitoring, organizations can build a resilient security infrastructure that protects critical resources from unauthorized access and mitigates cybersecurity risks effectively.

Duo’s access management solutions

Duo protects against breaches with a leading access management suite that provides strong multi-layered defenses and innovative capabilities that allow legitimate users in and keep bad actors out.

  • Cisco Duo’s MFA solutions offer various authentication factors, including push notifications, one-time passcodes and biometrics. Duo Security’s passwordless authentication enhances PAM by removing the reliance on traditional passwords.

  • Duo’s Single Sign-On supports on-premises Active Directory (AD) and cloud or on-premises SAML IdPs as identity sources, including pre-built common attributes. Duo provides the easiest passwordless SSO solution to deploy and manage.

  • With granular controls, Duo’s Risk-Based Authentication evaluates potential threat signals at each login attempt and adjusts security requirements, in real time, to protect trusted users and frustrate attackers. Additionally, Duo’s Wi-Fi Fingerprint technology can use anonymized Wi-Fi network data to determine if a user’s location has changed, enabling Duo to evaluate risk while protecting users’ privacy.

  • With the Admin Panel, you can set up detailed policies in minutes via a simple, intuitive administrator dashboard, and manage rules globally or for specific applications, devices, or user groups. Duo protects all your applications with one single policy enforcement which gives you consistent policy enforcement between both private and SaaS applications.

Organizations can strengthen their security posture and meet the demands of an evolving threat landscape by integrating Duo Security's unique access management authentication features. Learn more or try for yourself with a 30-day free trial.