Thales Blog

How to Secure Access for your Seasonal Workers

November 21, 2022

Sarah Lefavrais Sarah Lefavrais | IAM Product Marketing Manager More About This Author >

As the holiday season approaches, many retail, hospitality, logistics, and food manufacturing organizations hire seasonal workers to meet increasing demand. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a 7% job rise in the retail industry. According to press headlines, Amazon is preparing for the holiday season with an additional 150,000 staff, while Walmart hired approximately 150,000 new employees and 20,000 supply chain workers during the same period last year.

These temporary employees will require immediate access to mobile catalogues, ordering systems, loyalty programs, and even point-of-sales (POS) systems. To cope with the continuous flow of personnel, businesses need to establish a robust and effective Identity and Access Management policy to reduce potential security risks and enable seamless and instant access to digital systems.

Access management risks of seasonal workers

Unfortunately, it is an all-too-common problem that established personnel onboarding processes cannot cope with the flexibility required during this highly demanding season. For example, granting access rights to temporary workers might be a lengthy process, or retailers may grant excess access privileges and fail to manage those privileges during the employee's rotation.

In both cases, the impact of flawed access management can be detrimental for the company. Delayed assignment of privileges means that the employee is practically unable to assist, hampering productivity and damaging customer experience. On the other hand, access rights mismanagement is a security risk that may create ripple effects if exploited.

If a malicious actor acquires access to a temporary employee account with unrestricted network privileges they could gain access to nearly any digital retail system and wreak extensive harm. In addition, if individual access is not quickly withdrawn upon an employee's departure from the organization, it might constitute an equally severe cyber risk. Without oversight of these accounts, temporary employees can explore the company's most sensitive networks, take data with them, and even access those systems and data after they have departed.

The importance of effective access management

To address these concerns, businesses must establish a robust access management solution to protect applications and the data behind them by ensuring each worker only has access to the resources and the right level of trust to fulfil their job function while they are employed. Controlling access to resources, systems, and privileges is an increasingly important aspect of securing any environment and protecting it against both internal and external threats.

According to the Thales Access Management Index 2022 report, access management and authentication tools are within the top three security investment priorities, because they play a key role in achieving zero-trust security objectives, which rely critically on identity.

Without access management, organizations become increasingly vulnerable to data breaches arising from compromised identities. IT administration overheads rise due to inefficient identity management procedures, and productivity drops due to password fatigue and continuous password resets. In addition, a lack of visibility into access events increases the impact of potential breaches and impedes regulatory compliance.

Many industry reports have demonstrated that compromised credentials are the primary source of successful data breaches and ransomware attacks. The Thales Access Management Index 2022 report shows that in the case of ransomware attacks, 55% of the victims had internal processes disrupted, and 12% had a significant impact on their customer-facing operations. Nearly a quarter (23%) of respondents view financial loss as the greatest potential impact of a ransomware attack, closely followed by lost productivity (19%) and cost of recovery (18%).

Considerations for selecting an access management solution

To safeguard their data and reputation, 56% of businesses rely on multi-factor authentication (MFA) as their access control method. When selecting an access management solution, retailers, hotels, logistics and other businesses affected by the seasonal increased demand should pay attention to three important factors:

1. The solution must be capable of protecting both on-premises and in-the-cloud apps and data.

2. Employee experience is vital, and the solution must be capable of supporting various authentication journeys.

3. The solution must be capable of offering external identity management functions to cope with the dynamic and flexible needs of seasonal workers.

As businesses increasingly rely upon and adopt digital systems hosted on multiple cloud platforms, their data and apps may be accessed anytime from anywhere. In addition, these organizations continue to support a handful of legacy apps that still reside on-premises. Hence, in a hybrid operational environment, it is essential to control access to data and systems through all possible paths.

On the other hand, seasonal workers are employed to perform a variety of jobs and tasks in a demanding season where customer experience is paramount. These new employees can bring their own identity and their own device to log in to your digital services, hence having the ability to support external identities becomes paramount for your business efficiency. Finally, with such a diverse workforce, opting for a monolithic approach to access management is a sure path to friction, security gaps, and lowered productivity. Different employees have different access requirements, and your access management solution should support a variety of authentication methods to select from.

Thales can help you avoid “The Nightmare Before Christmas”

Thales OneWelcome Identity Platform is the solution you need for streamlining the onboarding of your seasonal workers without introducing friction and harming productivity. The OneWelcome Identity Platform offers a frictionless user journey as well as a wide variety of multi-factor authentication methods, including phishing-resistant MFA like FIDO2 security keys, pattern-based authentication, and OTP push notifications. This means temporary employees can get up and running quickly and securely in order to support seasonal business.