Ping Identity's new Australian data centre anchors user, IoT identity overhaul

Growing recognition of the need to expand understanding of device and user identity made this “the right time” to open an Australia-New Zealand focused data centre in Sydney, Ping Identity chief technology officer Patrick Harding has explained as the company steels itself for surging demand and a potential security “break down” as the Internet of Things (IoT) takes hold.

The new facility – which provides ANZ users with identity-as-a-service (IDaaS) capabilities including multifactor authentication, single sign-on, a cloud directory to manage users and cloud provisioning to manage application access – is hosted from Sydney within the local Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud and was intended to address both the performance lags and latency introduced by heavier use of identity services.

Those services had become increasingly popular with companies in highly-regulated industries such as government, financial services and healthcare, Harding told CSO Australia.

“Some of these companies are building cloud-first strategies where they'd rather be buying identity services on an IDaaS basis, as software,” he said. “Because it's an employee-focused thing, everyone wants to make sure it's running locally in a data centre in Australia.”

Performance and latency were “a big deal” for heavy users of the technology that relied heavily on identity and authentication services to be responsive as well as effective, Harding said, noting that these identity capabilities needed to be just as equally accessible to external parties such as customers and business partners.

“The whole notion that all of your applications and users are sitting there inside your organisation and firewall is a quaint old 1990s-type mentality,” he continued. “With rising cloud, software-as-a-service and mobile usage – and with users working from anywhere – it's a very highly distributed world right now. Security needs to be thought about in a slightly different way, and identity becomes the foundation of that.”

Broader adoption of identity services, empowered by more-responsive ANZ based infrastructure, would drive broader digital-transformation agendas as internally and externally consistent identity frameworks supported massive process overhauls.

And this, Harding added, would increasingly include a role for identity to be used to manage the proliferation of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, whose often insecure design and sheer numbers have presented significant management problems for early adopters.

IoT-related frameworks from the likes of LogMeIn and Verizon have attempted to bring some order to the rapidly expanding IoT ecosystem, the security of which which would mirror the management of mobiles as devices become a crucial third element in identity authentication.

“Identity management is going to move from being a two-entity model where it's a user and a resource, to a three-entity model combining a user, device or thing and a resource,” Harding explained, noting that the proliferation of user interface-free IoT devices was strengthening the case for automation of identity and other security frameworks.

“You have to think about how it's going to become far more automated and far more dynamic as to how things are discovered,” he explained, noting the importance of open standards like OpenID Connect in facilitating better exchange and management of identity information.

“Imaging when there are 1 billion devices out there each with their own password,” Harding says. “The whole security model is going to break down immediately. Which is why we have to be moving identity standards directly into all of the participants in these environments, and have those things dynamically authenticating and authorising one other with this very simple policy that can be controlled by the end user.”

“This is all part of the shift away from multi-factor being what you know, what you have and what you are – to contextual information that combines lots and lots of signals about you. You have to consider how they authenticate and how they are authorised, in ways that we haven't really even thought about today.”

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