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Do you know who's accessing your corporate data?

“They are who we thought they were.” That’s what former Arizona Cardinals head coach Dennis Green shouted nonsensically at reporters during one of the most epic press conference meltdowns in history.

Green may have lost his mind that night in 2006 after his football team blew a game to the Chicago Bears, but in the world of mobile security, this mantra actually makes a lot of sense: IT administrators must make sure the users accessing a company’s network are who IT thought they were.

IT can keep tabs on who accesses their network, apps and data with identity and access management tools. These tools allow IT to verify a user’s identity through security and authentication capabilities, and set data and application access rules.

The mobile identity management market has exploded in the last few years because users can now access their corporate apps and data from personal devices over the company Wi-Fi, and even log into multiple devices from a variety of locations. With all that going on, IT needs to know who is accessing what data and ensure that it is secured.

It may sound like adding identity and access management tools will just give users more logins to remember and force IT to protect more credentials, but capabilities such as single-sign on (SSO) actually make life easier for everyone. SSO allows users to log in once and access all their apps. This capability also helps IT because it ensures that the proper authentication takes place and only has one set of credentials to manage for each user.

With Okta’s identity management tool, for example, IT can decide who can access what documents in file-sharing tools such as Box, and put limitations on where geographically they can access documents from. IT can also prevent users with devices that are not enrolled in the company’s enterprise mobility management program from accessing Box files. Other identity management products, such as MobileIron Access and VMware Identity Manager, also let admins limit access based on users’ locations and the quality of their networks.

Other key cogs in the identity and access management machine include two-factor authentication, which requires users to enter two forms of identification, and directory services integration, which minimizes the number of security databases a company has. Just remember, when using these tools, it is important to limit access to the identity management console to IT staff who have been thoroughly vetted to make sure they can be trusted with sensitive login information.

Green may still be mocked across the sports world for his breakdown, but if he unleashed that phrase to a group of IT professionals, they would praise him. Maybe he could be the new face of identity management? His antics have already been used in a commercial before.

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