As cloud adoption and hybrid working continue and users change roles at a rapid pace, it can be a challenge for IT to keep track of access permissions. But with company data at stake and cybercriminals becoming ever-more sophisticated with their attack methods, that’s exactly what teams need to do. Cyberattacks can be costly for enterprises and a recent Checkpoint report shows they are continuing to rise, with global attacks increasing by 7% in the first quarter of 2023, and firms facing an average of 1,248 per week.
Large businesses can see thousands of user changes each month, but whatever the size of the enterprise, ensuring users have access to what they need to be productive and de-provisioning user access to applications when they leave or change roles is vital to keep data safe and to comply with regulatory requirements. A recent State of Enterprise Identity research report found that 56% of enterprises averaged three identity-related breaches in the last two years, but only 16% have fully mature identity and access management (IAM) programs, even though 52% recognize a past breach was due to lack of comprehensive identity controls or policies.
So, if you want to put in place a comprehensive IAM program, what should you be looking for?
The Components of Identity and Access Management
Centralized identity management incorporating Single Sign-on:
A central solution that contains all relevant user information and allows access tracking, provisioning and de-provisioning of access permissions will simplify access management for IT. As a growing array of SaaS applications create password fatigue, forcing users to recycle old passwords across applications, creates greater opportunities for cybercriminals. Single sign-on (SSO) can mitigate this fatigue. By enforcing a password policy that requires people to input a longer, more random mix of characters, and implementing multifactor authentication via apps that generate a code on a user’s device at sign-in, you can reduce the attack surface.
Using role-based access control (RBAC), privileged access management (PAM), or other access control, you can define which applications and systems users can access. For example, by defining user personas based on their roles, departments, and levels for RBAC, you can dictate access levels, incorporating a set of systems and tools that they need to access to manage their tasks while limiting the exposure of sensitive enterprise data.
Integration with existing tools:
Most companies have implemented corporate directory services such as Microsoft Active Directory (AD), and IT already using the credentials stored within them to manage on-prem access to resources, it makes sense to leverage this data to manage access to cloud applications too. As a result, you’ll need an IAM solution that integrates with AD, as well as other relevant tools and repositories, such as your mobile device management to manage devices used by remote and hybrid workers.
Clearly defined IAM processes:
A study sponsored by the Identity Defined Security Alliance found that 99% of security and identity professionals believed that identity-related breaches were preventable. It’s therefore vital that you implement IAM capabilities based on clearly defined processes while removing bad processes that invite risk.
That means clearly defining, for example, how and when user onboarding/offboarding and company moves are triggered, as well as the relevant approval chains required for any request. Working with business leaders IT should create user profiles and define a set of standard access privileges to those profiles. Then, you should create a process for additional access permissions where required and define the relevant approval chains for these instances.
To prove legal and regulatory compliance, you’ll need to be able to quickly access reports that show how you are keeping data safe and ensuring it can only be accessed by those who need it. That means working with an IAM solution that tracks all changes to access permissions.
With potentially thousands of access change requests each month coming from new hires, leavers, and staff moves, you simply can’t handle provisioning and de-provisioning manually without impacting other work or taking on more people. And even with more staff (if you have the budget), manual work means mistakes can be made. Any delay, for example, in provisioning access for new hires can result in productivity loss, while a delay in de-provisioning can aid disgruntled ex-employees if they wish to do harm to a company.
A solution that will grow as IT capabilities grow:
Thinking about your IAM needs now, you may only want to incorporate some of the above capabilities within your solution. In the Saviynt study, respondents admitted the limitations of their IAM approach with 61% saying their current solution couldn’t keep up with changes occurring to IT resources and 46% said their business failed to comply with regulations due to access-related issues.
It's clear that you need a solution that will incorporate new capabilities as IT maturity evolves. Your IAM needs may change as your business evolves or due to external factors. For example, who knew in 2019 the importance that supporting remote and long-term hybrid working would have even in the following 12 months? Those with existing IAM solutions that are trying to find workarounds and new connectors to integrate capabilities, will know how costly and time-consuming that can be.
Use a Digital Platform Conductor to Integrate IAM as enterprise needs evolve
By implementing a digital platform conductor (DPC), a tool highlighted in four Gartner hype cycles, you can adapt to all your changing IAM requirements and benefit from cross-tool process automation to manage every aspect of your enterprise IAM program.
- Connects to Microsoft AD, Office 365, and all other tools and repositories required to manage capabilities such as SSO, automated provisioning and de-provisioning of access permissions, mobile device management, HR databases, and other relevant data repositories and tools around the business.
- Accesses, aggregates, and cleans data and uses it to orchestrate your tools and automate workflows.
- Allows you to define user profiles for role-based access control and privileged access management and automate processes and workflows using pre-defined triggers. Examples include onboarding and offboarding users and managing staff moves and special access permissions.
- Uses customizable templates for automated comms and alerts triggered by dates or events. Notify SMEs of approval chains, communicate to the organization new password policies, or manage other alerts.
- Allows you to access a real-time view of all access permissions and movement in clear report formats for audit trails.
As your IAM needs grow you can easily connect a DPC to new tools to incorporate their capabilities and continue to automate IAM activities end-to-end to protect your enterprise data.
Learn more about how ReadyWorks, a digital platform conductor can help. Book a demo today.