AiThority Interview with James Litton, CEO and Co-Founder at Identity Automation
Tell us about your journey. What led you to starting Identity Automation?
I’ve worked in IT throughout my professional career. I previously worked for big companies like Coca-Cola, Veritas Software, Symantec, and Cray. My Co-founder Troy Moreland proposed the idea of starting our own identity and access management (IAM) consulting company in the early 2000s, which was the genesis of Identity Automation. When we initially started the company in 2004, we helped customers implement other IAM providers’ solutions, and we did that for five years before taking the leap to become a software company and offer our own IAM software solution.
What kind of Identity and Access Management solutions does Identity Automation offer?
What sets Identity Automation apart is that we offer a truly comprehensive IAM solution. We do everything from password management, multi-factor authentication, secure single sign-on, and privileged access management, to name a few. We are able to offer our customers the option for users to login without the need for a password by utilizing alternative methods such as push or RFID cards. Our software is used by 700+ customers with user counts ranging from hundreds to millions of users.
Right now, our customer base is primarily in the Healthcare, Education, and Government. These industries have a variety of data privacy regulations to adhere to such as HIPAA, HITECH, and FERPA, etc. Our solutions keep sensitive data secure to help organizations to ensure compliance while also providing a simple and easy-to-use experience for the end user.
Automation is changing every aspect of life it seems. How has Automation changed IAM over the years?
Technology is playing a bigger role in the way businesses operate, which creates two issues. The first issue is that there is a higher risk of cyberattacks like ransomware or data theft as organizations are relying on Cloud-based software systems and data storage. The second issue is that IT teams are adapting to a constantly changing technology environment, and with more technology comes more (and more complex) IT issues that require attention and resources. IAM is, and has been for several years, at the center of cybersecurity. In the past, IAM processes have been largely manual and relied on input from IT teams.
However, Automation brings a new level of speed and dexterity to these processes. When identity provisioning and deprovisioning occur automatically, repetitive tasks for IT staff are eliminated and a valuable bandwidth is created for higher security priorities while also reducing the possibility of oversight and mistakes.
Similarly, the enforcement and management of users and their access to data assets can be automated. In some organizations, sensitive data is accessible by way too many employees which increases the organization’s security risk. Offerings such as privileged access management enables a user to simply request the necessary access for a specific system or application, and when that request is approved, the user will have access via his or her normal account which allows for proper auditing and the like. Additionally, this elevated access is typically restricted to a limited period of time before the access is removed.
What, in your opinion, is the biggest Cybersecurity challenge that faces organizations today?
The growing amount of data logged today is not being secured in a way that should be expected. You would be shocked to know how many Healthcare providers and banks completely lack enhanced security measures, like two-factor authentication, to access critical data. Today, people are becoming more aware of the personal data that they are forfeiting to organizations and they expect that data to be properly secured. A data breach can break an organization financially and create a negative public perception. It’s critical to protect user data, and that can be done using comprehensive identity and access management tools such as RapidIdentity.
One word that best describes how you work.
Driven – I’m a very driven person. I get up early, go to bed late, and otherwise work tirelessly to ensure that we achieve our mission: “To make it easy for organizations to scale, embrace security, and limit risks.”
What apps/software/tools can you not live without?
I’m a big fan of Google Apps, or G Suite. The collaboration capabilities built into the toolset have truly transformed the way we do our work.
What’s your smartest work-related shortcut or productivity hack?
Security is sometimes perceived as an inconvenience by employee. In order to try and make it easier to access systems, these users will oftentimes resort to insecure methods such as writing passwords down or using the same password in multiple systems. One way to improve security without negatively impacting the user experience is to leverage passwordless authentication with push notification as a solution which is an excellent security/productivity hack.
The user downloads an application on their mobile device and enters their username into the system they’re trying to gain access to. The user then receives a push notification on their mobile device, and has a choice to accept or reject the request. If accepted, the user is seamlessly granted access to their system, all without the use of a password.
Thank you, James! That was fun and hope to see you back on AiThority
With more than 29 years of experience in enterprise technology software and systems, James has led teams as an executive living and working in North America, Africa, Europe, and throughout the Asia-Pacific region. Immediately prior to joining IA, he was the Head of IT for Cray, a global supercomputing company.
James joined Identity Automation as its Chief Executive Officer in 2007 and led the company to success as a consulting services firm and has since guided the company through its rapid and successful transformation into the highly profitable, high-growth software products company it is today.
Identity Automation is a leading provider of Identity and Access Management software. We help enterprise, education, and government customers streamline security, limiting risk from data and network breaches, improving organizational agility, and reducing IT costs. Our flagship product, RapidIdentity actively manages user access to on-premises and cloud-based systems, and puts control of crucial security-management and governance tools in the hands of those who can use it best — employees and managers. Intuitive, lightning-fast, rapid to deploy, and easy to use, RapidIdentity is the right choice for organizations looking to streamline security in a dangerous world.