Classic access control is no longer sufficient in online business. Only Continuous Adaptive Trust creates the flexibility that companies need today: either to increase IT security or to improve the user experience.


Trust and security are the be-all and end-all for success in online business. This is particularly true in the financial sector. Passwords are an important element of any IT security infrastructure. But a password alone is far from secure enough. The bad news: Even multi-factor authentication (MFA) is no longer enough. Because modern hacking methods only take effect when the MFA hurdle has been successfully overcome.


One-time access authorization is no longer sufficient

Risk-based authentication is a first answer. It evaluates authentication attempts based on signals such as the IP address range or access location. The problem: risk-based authentication only works during log-in. It does not protect against attacks during an ongoing online session. As before a man-in-the-middle attack, in which hackers sneak into the communication between partners unnoticed. This is where Continuous Adaptive Trust (CAT), as Gartner calls the principle, comes into play: CAT continuously analyzes the risk during an ongoing session.


Check the trust level permanently

The first authentication in the log-in process is comparable to the driving test: Anyone driving a car needs a driver's license. People over the age of 75 must undergo a medical examination every two years: this is essentially risk-based authentication. However, to ensure that everyday traffic is safe, continuous measures such as speed checks are required. CAT assumes this role for online access. Does the browser or the IP address change? Do mouse movements or keystrokes vary? Is the trust given at login still justified? With the help of artificial intelligence and risk sensors such as safety gateways, CAT searches for anomalies in user behavior. From the first log-in to the end of a user session.


Security and user experience in harmony

More security measures often mean less user-friendliness. Complicated registration processes are a deterrent, and constant authentication disrupts the user journey. CAT balances usability and security. Re-authentication is only necessary if a user activity appears suspicious. Otherwise, users will not notice anything about the ongoing review.


Avoid attacks with CAT

Because hackers at CAT would have to deceive all risk sensors at the same time, many attacks can be prevented. This is particularly relevant for the popular (and convenient!) single sign-on: Users authenticate themselves once with supported online access and use it to access different accounts. Your identity and corresponding rights are permanently confirmed. CAT, on the other hand, keeps checking whether trust in users is still appropriate. It also perfectly complements the Zero Trust model: Each service checks directly at its interfaces whether access is permitted. While Zero Trust creates a defensive wall with many small strongholds, CAT ensures continuous internal controls.


CAT as a competitive advantage

In the technical implementation, CAT requires the integration of various components. It takes web application and API protection (WAAP) to measure risk signals. The adjustment of the trust level realizes an identity and access management. Since these components rarely come from the same provider, the implementation is more complex. It is therefore important to have a provider that brings together and evaluates the signals from all subsystems: a managed security service such as Ergon's Airlock Secure Access Hub.

Multi-factor authentication alone is no longer enough today.

Michael Doujak, Product Manager, Airlock.

Continuous Adaptive Trust is a paradigm shift in IT security.

Marc Bütikofer, Head of Innovation Security Solutions, Airlock.

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