How Identity Governance and Administration (IGA) Improves Security, Efficiency, and Compliance

In the complicated, tangled web of managing user rights, permissions and accounts, keeping track of who has access to different resources can seem nearly impossible. Organizations today are facing increasing demands, mandates, and compliance regulations as they manage access and support countless devices and systems that contain data critical to the organization. Identity Governance and Administration (IGA) solutions have provided the capability to create and manage user accounts, roles, and access rights for individual users in an organization. This means companies can more easily oversee user provisioning, password management, policy management, access governance, and identity repositories.

According to the latest Cybersecurity Insiders Identity and Access Management (IAM) Report, which examines key trends, challenges, gaps, and solution preferences for IAM and IGA programs, 86 percent of organizations surveyed reported that Identity and Access Management is extremely important. However, just over half of all organizations rate themselves as effective in managing user access. So what explains this gap and what can organizations do to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their identity programs? In this blog, we will explore how leveraging an effective Identity Governance and Administration program enables you to mitigate risk, improve compliance, and increase efficiencies across your entire organization.

Improving Security and Mitigating Risk  

When it comes to managing access within the organization, the Cybersecurity Insiders report found that 70 percent of users have more access privileges than required for their job. This typically results from bulk approvals for access requests, frequent changes in roles or departments, and not periodically reviewing user access. Additionally, the lack of staff and suitable processes and solutions also contributes to excessive privileges across the organization. Too much access privilege and overprovisioning can open an organization up to insider threats and magnify risk throughout the business.

Making sure that users have the appropriate access goes a long way towards bolstering an organization’s risk management and its security posture. In previous years, a good outer perimeter with security was the most effective way to provide security and risk mitigation for the organization. But today, companies are also faced with insider threats. Phishing and other social engineering activities, which can provide threat actors with user credentials, underscore the importance of ensuring that users are operating within well-defined roles and are not overprovisioned.

Another effective way to leverage IGA to decrease risk is by embracing role-based access controls (RBAC). This means having solid, well-defined roles in place and knowing specifically which access privileges each role needs. As organizations grow and evolve, the right IGA solution can allow for more efficient changes and decrease risk by focusing on role definitions and role assignments rather than on individual accounts. IGA solutions can then be leveraged to find exceptions. The strategy of RBAC works well to decrease the timeline in executing bulk additions where a lot of change is happening at once, like during mergers, acquisitions, seasonal staffing requirements, and corporate reorganizations. This strategy also works well to improve the efficiency of staffing assignments in high turnover areas of a business.

Using an industry-leading role designing tool with cluster analysis and a ‘visual-first’ approach to group like-access privileges together, you can better understand the access that individuals have in common and what outliers might be present, rather than trying to use a spreadsheet to make sense of the data. In fact, the recently published 2019 Insider Threat Report from Cybersecurity Insiders showed that 50 percent of organizations indicate that Identity and Access Management programs are the most effective security tool to protect against insider threats, particularly when they are easy to use, easy to understand, and leverage a visual approach. Similarly, 75 percent of organizations surveyed in the IAM Report that use Identity and Access Management solutions had seen a reduction in unauthorized access incidents. Clearly, the impact of an effective IAM program has a positive impact on reducing risk.

Enhancing Compliance, Review, and Certification Processes

Companies today not only have to manage customer, vendor, and board member demands, they also must make sure they are compliant with any number of governing boards and regulations—from GDPR, HIPAA, and SOX to the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) and countless others. Organizations are also trying to implement security frameworks, such as NIST SP 800-53, COBIT or the ISO 27000 series. Each of these all create unique challenges for organizations. The increasing number of federal regulations and industry mandates that organizations face today means there is also more auditing, compliance reviews, and reporting to be completed by each organization. While this can be a very manual and time-consuming process, more savvy organizations use solutions that automate data collection, reporting, and the review process, particularly in highly regulated industries like financial services and healthcare.

Those organizations that view regulatory compliance through the lens of an IGA program recognize this means more continuous monitoring and limiting access to only those individuals that need it, enabling companies to stay more compliant. IGA solutions not only ensure access to information like patient records or financial data is strictly controlled, but also enable companies to prove they are taking actions to meet compliance requirements.

Because organizations can receive audit requests at any time, IGA solutions make the review process easier and more effective with built-in reporting capabilities to meet relevant government and industry regulations. Remember, a good compliance program allows for frequent and multiple access reviews to take place at any given time to meet ever-increasing auditor demands without engaging numerous resources from the organization. Leading-edge IGA solutions also do this with a highly visual approach, enabling users to see privileges and certifications in a user-friendly, graphical display. This minimizes the risk of errors and reduces the chance of access not being fully understood.

Increasing Efficiencies Across the Business

According to the Identity and Access Management Report by Cybersecurity Insiders, 49 percent of organizations surveyed viewed operational efficiency as an IAM program driver, second only to security. An effective IGA solution enables organizations to do more with less. Many security teams today are understaffed and are being asked to increase their responsibilities. Yet they just don’t have the time or budget to do more, nor can they afford to hire people to do things manually.

Leveraging IGA solutions for automated user lifecycle provisioning, implementation of role-based access controls, and periodic user access reviews and certification saves time and streamlines the entire process. Perhaps most interesting is that increasing operational efficiency goes hand-in-hand with organizations that want to increase their security posture.

One key takeaway, however, is that while some security teams may view IGA as a one-time project, it should be viewed rather as an ongoing initiative, with focused, achievable goals along the way. This enables your business to become more secure, do more with less, and prepare for growth and change—no matter what form it takes.

Ready for IGA Solutions That Move You Forward?

The primary reason for implementing an IGA solution is to ensure that users only have access to the resources they need. Making sure you provide appropriate access goes a long way in mitigating risk and improving the overall security posture of your organization. But many companies today may not view this as a strategic priority. Don’t wait until you are reacting to a security incident. See how our IGA Solutions are the foundation for a solid Identity and Access Management program in your organization. 

Are you ready to be proactive in your security approach?

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