Following an increase in fraud during the COVID-19 pandemic, state and local government (SLG) organizations are sharpening their focus on identity and access management (IAM) to fend off cybersecurity threats.

New research from MeriTalk, underwritten by Keeper Security and Recorded Future, surveyed 105 SLG IT decision-makers to understand lessons learned around fraud and identity management, steps they are taking to build a digital identity strategy, and recommendations to improve IAM.

Notably, 86 percent of SLG IT leaders say their organization’s focus on IAM has increased since the start of the pandemic.

The top drivers of this increased focus on IAM are: rising cybersecurity threats, including ransomware, 53 percent; increased cloud adoption, 46 percent; larger remote workforce, 43 percent; and rising threat of identity fraud, 39 percent.

Despite the majority of SLG organizations – 82 percent – establishing a formal IAM strategy, challenges remain. Seventy-seven percent of those organizations still faced multiple identity-related threats or breaches in the past year.

“It is of utmost importance to keep improving and upgrading our security,” one respondent noted as a lesson learned during the pandemic.

So, how are organizations working to bolster their security and IAM? Fifty percent of SLG organizations said they are implementing or expanding enterprise-wide identity stores across cloud and on-premise environments.

Additionally, 49 percent said they are boosting security by implementing or expanding multi-factor authentication, and 45 percent said by implementing or expanding behavior-based risk assessments.

These efforts are working – those who have significantly increased their focus on IAM are more than twice as likely to have reduced ransomware attacks driven by credential theft, the MeriTalk research shows.

In order to continue improving IAM, 45 percent of SLG IT leaders say improved education and training for IT staff would have the biggest impact. Forty-three percent said improved education and training for non-IT staff would have the biggest impact, and 38 percent suggested greater investments into modern infrastructure.

Seventy-nine percent of respondents also are in favor of a voluntary, government-wide digital ID service where citizens could use the same credentials when interacting with Federal, state, and local government agencies.

For even more insights and IAM recommendations, check out the complete research report.

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