Ice Dams And Identities: Remove Dams Before They Remove You

Merritt Maxim

This winter in Boston has been a record breaker. Bostonians are tired of the weather, while non-Bostonians are tired of hearing Bostonians complain about the weather. However, this never-ending winter provides a useful analogy for assessing your organization’s identity and access management (IAM) processes.

My analogy is based on two words that strike fear into many Boston-area homeowners: ice dams. Ice dams are ice structures that form on roofs, following heavy snowfall, that can cause leaks.[1]



Ice dams often dissipate naturally, but record snowfalls and persistent cold temps have exacerbated ice dams this winter.

Just as ice dams can cause leaks, “identity dams” can cause data leaks and other internal problems. Identity dams may result from reorganizations or may just be existing business processes, but they should be removed.  

The challenge is overcoming complacency. Just as many homeowners hope ice dams will dissipate naturally, organizations delude themselves with “This is how we’ve always done it,” and conclude that therefore removing identity dams is not necessary. For complacent organizations, the worst case is having users become accustomed to complicated manual processes for requesting access to new applications, waiting weeks to get access to new applications, and having multiple passwords.

Organizations and homeowners should follow these three steps to minimize the potential damage caused by ice dams and identity dams:

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TechnoPolitics Podcast: The Future Of Identity Management With Eve Maler

Mike Gualtieri

Eve Maler, Forrester TechnoPoliticsCome again? You mean to tell me that Eve Maler, one of Forrester's experts on emerging identity and security solutions, has never changed her Amazon password? Yep. She aptly points out that "Amazon has no password rules." While passwords aren't dead, she says, firms that rely only on passwords for identity management are vulnerable to serious breaches. Most firms have "terrible hygiene" when it comes to identity management.

In this episode of TechnoPolitics, Eve Maler discuss how firms like Amazon and Paypal use a "constellation" of risk-based authentication techniques and technologies to protect customers' identity. The courage to make tough calls — that's Eve.

Podcast Listening Options — The Future Of Identity Management

Click here to download the MP3 file for this episode.

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