Applications and databases are crucial for business operations, and so is their security. You need to ensure that only authorized users can access these services to avoid their abuse and maintain security over your assets.
With the identity governance and administration (IGA) approach, you can do it by defining and managing role-based access controls over your applications and databases. It will help you enable effective access management and provide support in compliance audits.
What is identity governance?
Identity governance (IG) is a framework that caters to businesses' needs of gaining better visibility of user identities and access controls while complying with standards like the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and other regulations.
Identity governance merges with identity administration to constitute the identity governance and administration approach, which caters to credentials and entitlement management, user provisioning and de-provisioning while providing support in auditing and compliance requirements.
Usually, IG systems are deployed above identity and access management solutions, helping organizations define, manage, and review identity and access management (IAM) policies. They enable you to adhere to compliance requirements by mapping IAM functions to regulatory standards and conduct user access audits.
Identity governance solutions enable you to have a distinctive overview of identities and access privileges of users, associated risks, and the possible impact of a policy violation.
IGA systems allow administrators to:
Segregate the duties of a user to prevent an individual from having access to privileges that may pose a risk.
Streamline the process of reviewing and verifying user access to different applications and services.
Define and manage user access based on their roles in the organization.
Analyze reports to better understand the issues, optimize, and adhere to compliances.
What is the purpose of identity governance and administration?
IGA systems enable organizations to address the critical challenges associated with identity and access management. It ensures that IAM policies are aligned with business objectives and serve the organization's need for providing seamless and secure access to users.
Automate labor-intensive processes
Identity governance and administration cuts on operational costs by automating labor-intensive processes such as password management, user provisioning, and access requests. Automation helps IT administrators save time on administrative tasks and fulfill business needs of higher importance.
Many IGA tools provide a simple user interface through which users can self-assist their requirements and address service requests independently without IT admins' intensive involvement. The tools provide a dashboard that populates with metrics and analytical data on user access controls, helping organizations optimize and reduce associated risks.
Identify risks and strengthen security
With a centralized and comprehensive overview of user identities and access privileges, identity governance and administration solutions empower IT administrators to detect risks that may prove fatal for an organization. It keeps track of user identities and allows you to detect compromised accounts.
Overall, the solution makes you better equipped to identify risk and policy violations, enabling you to strengthen your assets' security.
Adhere to compliance standards
IGA maps identity and access management functions to compliance requirements, allowing you to adhere to healthcare, financial and privacy compliances such as HIPAA, SOX, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and others. It helps companies reduce the cost of compliance significantly with role-based access controls and facilitates consistent access management processes supported by a standard policy, role, and risk model.
The identity governance and administration approach establishes scalable practices, enabling businesses to adopt consistent, auditable, and easier-to-manage access certification.
Provide seamless access
The identity governance and administration approach empowers the user to be more productive in their roles by providing them fast, easy and secure access to applications and services.
It makes it happen by leveraging tools such as single sign-on software equipped with functionalities like multi-factor authentication and more. Undoubtedly, it lifts the burden on IT help desks and operations teams who are consistently oscillating between various tasks that enable the business.
While providing fast and easy access, the IGA approach ensures that the need for access management is met without risking security or compliance requirements.
How to adopt identity governance and administration approach
IGA approach makes the process of managing and regulating user access easier for IT administrators. It provides you valuable insights into user activity while giving you a broader overview of who has access to what.
Below are five best practices to adopt the identity governance and administration approach in your organization.
1. Determine user identities
First, determine all entities capable of using and transferring your organization's assets and assign them as identities. Access decisions are based on these identities, which will help you maintain security over applications and manage user access.
Based on the type of information, application, or other assets, determine the risk associated with them, and grant access privileges to users accordingly. Refine access permissions to avoid exposure of critical information to users when it's not needed.
You can segment users based on their roles, and provide them access to only those assets which are critical to their role. For example, a sales person won’t need access to an accounting software, but a finance professional would, you’ll have to decide on access control with a zero-trust policy.
2. Build a strategy
Once you've created an inventory of identities and mapped their access points, you can move ahead with deciding the permissions you want to keep or change. Based on your organization's priorities, you can have a discussion with all stakeholders and create a strategic plan for identity and access management.
Ensure that you have included both on-premises and cloud-based services crucial to users and decide on a common framework to govern decision-making. You can start with privileged accounts and root accounts that belong to administrators, where they have the flexibility to make changes in critical services.
of data breaches occur due to privileged credentials abuse.
It's advisable to keep privileged accounts limited to both number and scope as they can pose a higher risk if compromised. You can use privileged access management (PAM) software to help manage privileged account access. Privileged accounts are high-value targets for attackers as they have access to sensitive data and information.
3. Enable stakeholders to make informed decisions
IGA approach enables stakeholders to gain visibility on a user's activities in terms of access to applications and databases. It empowers stakeholders with metrics related to information and application usage and allows them to control access permissions and modify them whenever needed.
You have to keep track of roles and access privileges consistently with every change in a user's lifecycle within your organization. This is where role-based access control (RBAC) is important as people switch jobs, get promotions, and so on. For instance, if an employee transfers to a different vertical in a company, their access privileges, and permission should reflect the same without any delays.
4. Use analytics to build an agile system
Identity governance and administration solutions provide actionable insights into your IAM program. These analytics will help you make your program more flexible and adaptive as users move through their lifecycle in an organization. It will help you understand the functions that serve your security and modify those which can welcome a cyber attack.
Instead of collecting and analyzing a large amount of data, you'd have it in a dashboard from where you can use it to create automated workflows, generate reports, and make necessary modifications in the process.
5. Secure unstructured data
Apart from applications and databases, there are many files, PowerPoint presentations, spreadsheets, and other intellectual assets that hold sensitive data. The IGA approach enables you to identify personally identifiable information (PII) that rests in such files using sensitive data discovery software, allowing managers to move this information to secure places or delete it if not required.
of enterprises are not governing access to data stored in files
IGA systems equip you technologically to keep track of unstructured data and protect your organization against data breaches.
Let security encompass the continuous change
Change is constant, but security isn't. Let your security evolve continuously with identity governance and administration solutions to provide seamless and secure access to users with every change they go through in their identity lifecycle.
Learn more about how you can provide a fast and secure way to access the organization's assets with a single sign-on feature.
Sagar Joshi is a content marketing specialist at G2 in India. He is a firm believer in the potential of content and its role in helping people. Topics related to security and technology pique his interest and motivates him to write about them. In his free time, you can find him reading books, learning a new language, or playing pool.
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