How RIAs can secure access to web-based applications

November 3rd, 2021
How RIAs can secure access to web-based applications

Today’s RIAs are always on the go, so it’s no surprise that more and more RIA firms are relying on the cloud to stay in touch with clients, store data, and run business applications. Not only are web-based, pay-as-you-go services more affordable and accessible than on-premises IT systems, but they’re also far more secure, more agile, and easier to use.

Unfortunately, many RIAs assume that since cloud solutions are managed by cloud vendors, then the latter must handle all aspects of data security for them, too. While these vendors certainly develop cloud apps with robust and holistic security in mind, this doesn’t mean they have complete responsibility and accountability over their users’ data. RIAs still play a big part in safeguarding the wealth of information they have on investors and their finances.

For RIA firms to enable employee mobility while ensuring secure access to web-based apps, they must implement proper endpoint protections. Using single sign-on (SSO) is a great option for simplifying access to cloud apps while minimizing the risk of breaches and advanced targeted attacks.

Related reading: What is endpoint security and is your RIA on top of it?

What is single sign-on?

SSO is an authentication method that allows users to use one set of login credentials (e.g., a username and a password) to conveniently access several related yet independent apps. It’s most useful when a user needs to access multiple accounts or systems and they want to keep from reentering their credentials each time they’re disconnected from a service.

Advantages and disadvantages of using single sign-on

For the most part, enabling SSO means saving RIAs time and freeing them from the burden of remembering several username/password combinations. There are also significant benefits to efficiency and security when using SSO, such as:

  • Streamlines the process of signing into and using business apps
  • Simplifies the management of login credentials
  • Reduces the risks of phishing and other social engineering attacks
  • Leads to fewer password issues and complaints for IT staff to resolve
  • Allows IT staff to establish custom security protocols (e.g., password strength requirements and session timeouts) across systems and apps

But as with all technologies, SSO has its limitations and drawbacks. These include the following:

  • Disregards certain levels of security each app sign-on may need
  • Locks users out of the various connected apps if SSO fails
  • Endangers connected apps and data if SSO credentials are cracked

To prevent credentials from being compromised and breaches from occurring, it's essential that SSO is implemented along with other identity and access management (IAM) solutions. Essentially, IAM tools and technologies enable organizations to comprehensively manage user identities and regulate access to corporate assets on premises and in the cloud.

Single sign-on with Azure AD

Microsoft has long been the industry standard, and its cloud-based IAM service, Azure Active Directory (Azure AD), is packed with security and other features that RIAs need, including SSO.

With Azure AD SSO, RIAs can access all their apps from anywhere, through a centralized portal on any device. And because sign-in prompts are reduced, there are fewer distractions and RIAs can access the right apps and data in an instant. This means they can allocate more time for direct client activities and follow-through client servicing tasks that bring more value to the firm.

In addition, Azure AD has a gallery of thousands of pre-integrated business apps that make it easy to deploy and configure SSO. These include popular cloud apps such as Google Workspace, Salesforce, and Adobe. With Azure AD’s pre-built integrations, it’s easier for IT staff to manage various apps, tighten control, and close critical security gaps. And with Azure AD’s strong authentication techniques, RIA firms can protect critical data while ensuring compliance.

Secure your RIA firm with the help of our experts at RIA WorkSpace. Set up a session for exploring our cloud and managed IT solutions here or give us a call at (855) 932-2841.