Network Security

Case study: Irish Life manages identity and access challenges

Irish Life & Permanent is a leading provider of personal financial services in the Irish market. The group formed from the merger of Irish Life and Irish Permanent plc in 1999. Irish Life is Ireland's largest life assurance company and a market leader in the provision of life, pension and investment products. Permanent tsb is the retail banking operation of the group and is the leading provider of residential mortgage finance in Ireland. Confidence in the probity and security of any financial services organisation is the lynchpin of its reputation, but all security measures must be balanced with operational efficiency.

Irish Life & Permanent grew rapidly through both organic and acquisitive growth, and this meant that the organization's 5,000 staff were faced with a diverse number of systems, user IDs and passwords. This inevitably led to challenges of staff logon and password management. A new approach was needed to address and manage all of the identity and access challenges.

Stephane Fymat, VP of product management and strategy, PasslogixThe central IT function of Irish Life & Permanent, Group IT, determined that there were two main criteria for the project: they needed to enhance security and simplify passwords for end-users. Whatever product was chosen needed to be near transparent to the end-user and easy to lean and use. The deployment of the solution was to be between 1,500 and 2,000 Irish Life & Permanent employees. From an IT perspective, any solution needed to minimize network traffic, be capable of being supported by a small central team, and also provide robust security. Group IT began to search for a solution to automate logon, manage password changes and error conditions for a variety of application types based on Windows, mainframe systems and the web. The selected single sign-on solution needed to be capable of implementation without backend application changes and with minimal desktop changes.

Of the 12 market candidates approached, eight presented proposals and two companies were asked to arrange site visits to existing customers. Passlogix was the prime vendor selected for proof of concept of its VGO 5.03 SP12. Passlogix, a leading global provider of enterprise single sign-on solutions (SSO), already has over 500,000 seats in the finance and insurance industries, reflecting the company's leadership in delivering easily deployable, cost-effective password solutions. Unlike other enterprise single sign-on solutions, Passlogix v-GO Sign-On Platform products can be rapidly implemented with minimal professional services. All Passlogix solutions are compatible with Windows applications, websites and mainframe emulators, including in-house and less common commercial applications, most of which typically only take minutes to configure.

The “user” experience

Each branch had one employee trained on enrollment and management of v-GO SSO. On the actual day of migration, all of the staff came in earlier than usual to register. On the ‘go live' day no issues were experienced, post implementation staff were surveyed and provided very positive responses

Having a single repository for all passwords can involve risks, but these can be designed out. Strong, random passwords are changed frequently instead of users keeping simple, easy to guess passwords for months at a time.

The implementation was completed in conjunction with other initiatives. The benefits have exceeded expectations. v-GO SSO has already provided Irish Life with reduced numbers of password resets and increased the security of their network through the use of random passwords and automatic password changes while improving their end-users computing experience.

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