Gartner Identity Summit London 2015 – Review

This week saw the Gartner Identity and Access Management Summit come to London town.  The event brings together the great and good from the identity community, with a range of vendors, consultancies and identity customers all looking to analyse the current market place and understand the current challenges as well as hot topics that can be applied in 2015 and beyond.

Hitting the Right Notes

The main keynote from the external speaker, was from the highly talented classical musician Miha Pogacnik.  Miha delivered an inspirational 60 minute talk, translating the components of classical music into the realm of business transformation.  He focused on organisational change and all the various different angles of repetition, aggression, questioning and responding that occur and the new challenges it places on organisations, whilst playing a piece of Bach on his violin!  Fantastic.



Consumers Have Identities Too

From a strategic identity perspective, there were several presentations on the developing need for consumer identity management. Many organisations are embracing digital transformation in both the private and public sector, defining use cases and requirements for things like consumer registration, authentication and multi-factor authentication, all done within a highly scalable yet simple identity management framework.

Traditional identity management platforms, products and delivery approaches, are often focused on small scale, repeatable use cases that focus on employees and workflow and don't require the scale or rapid time to delivery that consumer facing projects need.

Gartner's Lori Robinson went through the journey of differences between customer and employee identity management and how features such as consumer registration, map neatly to core provisioning and synchronization use cases, whilst features such as authentication are being extended to include things like adaptive risk, device finger printing and the use of one time passwords to help improve security when high value consumer transactions take place, such as address changes.

The Identity of Things Headache

Another emerging area that not only Gartner, but many consultants and customers were talking about, was that of applying identity patterns to devices and things.  Whilst there has been the initial hype of consumer focused things - such as fitness trackers, fridge monitors and so on - there is a great and developing need for identity and access patterns to the manufacturing space, utilities, SCADA and energy sectors.  Many devices are low powered and have limited cryptographic processing capabilities, but still require registration and linking use cases to be fulfilled as well as having the data their generate to be protected.

The linking, relationship building and data privacy concerns of the newly emerging internet of things landscape, requires heavy doses of identity and access management medicine to make them sustainable.

Newer emerging standards such as OpenID Connect and User Managed Access were the main focus of the coffee chatter and how they can provide federated authorization capabilities to both people and things based infrastructures.


Overall it was a well attended and thought provoking summit, with both traditional and emerging vendors sponsoring and some great event party antics.  It seems the identity management space is going from strength to strength, even after being around for over 15 years.  The new challenges of devices, consumers, cloud and mobile are helping to drive innovation in both the vendor and delivery space.

By Simon Moffatt



Gartner Security Summit – IoT Review

This week saw the Gartner Security and Risk Management Summit being held in London.  A well attended and respected summit, it brought together the great and good of the infosec world, providing attendees, with a vendor and analyst view of governance, malware, identity and firewall related security topics.



The area that caught my attention though, were the sessions on internet of things related security.

The IoT world is fast becoming the catch all bucket, for any small device that connects to the internet, but isn't a smartphone.  There are some incredibly smart innovations taking place in this space, from consumer and health monitoring, through to operational technology and smart grid and utility monitoring solutions. Tiny fit-for-purpose devices, that perform a small, repeatable task, such as gathering data and sending to a central hub or broker service.  They often have very limited hardware capacity, tiny if-at-all operating systems and very rarely contain out of the box security.

The main focus today, is generally for IoT vendors to promote interoperability - great demo's and show cases, focusing on integration or data transfer under low power or capacity constraints.

Topics such as device registration, claiming and association, data encryption or data sharing, rarely get mentioned or focused upon.

Gartner's Earl Perkins, introduced an intriguingly titled session called "Herding Cats and Securing the Internet of Things".  Earl touched up the need to have a tiered approach to IoT security, covering infrastructure, identity and data.  Whilst the devices themselves are often associated with data capture and replay, it's often the data owners - real people - who could be exposed in a data breach disaster.

Following Earl, was Trent Henry discussing how Public Key Infrastructure, the once expensive and seemingly legacy encryption approach, was having a new lease of life in the machine to machine (M2M) landscape, where username and password authentication is of limited use.  It seems logical, that the use of things like asymmetric keys (perhaps minted at manufacture time) and certificate distribution can become the defacto standard in the M2M game.

The increased popularity of things like NFC (near field communications) has opened the scope for smartphone payment technology, through the implementation of secure elements, within the phone's hardware.  Such secure elements are likely to be seen within other non-phone devices that have a requirement for the storage of credential or certificates and keys.

One of the major issues with the IoT landscape, is often associated with basic identity management, such as how devices register to a service or authoritative source and how the corresponding data owners are able to authorize and share data to trusted third parties.  Whilst the devices themselves could be simple, the data captured, is often of a high value and simple yet robust trust and privacy models need to be implemented.

Many of the newer authorization standards such as OAuth2, OpenID Connect and User Managed Access (UMA) may have a significant role to play here.

By Simon Moffatt