How to Integrate Identity Governance Into Your Business Strategy
It starts with four proactive approaches any business can take to achieve long-term, continual success.
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A strong identity governance strategy enables enterprises to safeguard information, facilitate compliance, and streamline work processes. Despite the benefits, implementing these processes has been perceived as a complex, on-premises project that takes an army of consultants to deploy. While this can be true in some cases, 76% of enterprise organizations are looking to replace their existing identity governance and administration (IGA) system (Gartner).
This number and other recent research proves we need to find ways to make identity governance more approachable in order for businesses to realize its true value. Fortunately, there are proactive steps companies can take to ensure identity governance is ingrained in their business strategy without the headaches. And it starts with four proactive approaches any business can take to achieve long-term, continual success.
The first is automating processes. As business systems continue to evolve in both sophistication and specialization, they generate increasingly valuable sets of data. This empowers workers to make intelligent business decisions and meet compliance reporting mandates. The challenge is that systems are rarely integrated, making it near impossible to use data strategically. Many data pulls are done manually, and as a result, documentation isn’t centralized, and analysis and reporting take longer and are prone to human error. Auditing becomes difficult, accountability suffers, and leadership has little insight into who’s managing the governance process.
Time is of the essence in responding to cyber threats, and manual processes and poorly integrated business systems inhibit a company’s ability to respond. Automating identity governance systems is a great way to combat this. Proper use of automation assists in compliance efforts and gives managers visibility into and control over what levels of access are most appropriate for certain users and groups within a company. This leads to better efficiency and a more secure network.
The second step is Implementing proper provisioning and deprovisioning. While the aforementioned automation makes this easier, it doesn’t necessarily make it better. In many cases, existing employees have access privileges they don’t need. In fact, it’s quite common that everyone has too much access to information that’s not necessary. Deprovisioning is the way to mitigate this, but it’s common for administrators to leave accounts active, rather than imposing restrictions, in hopes of avoiding downtime or service interruption.
This practice of excessive privilege invites fraudulent use of accounts, offering an easy entry point for bad actors. But by matching privileges to the systems a user has access to, and to the level of security those systems require, you can restrict a user’s access to certain enterprise systems based on their role. This also enables IT teams to restrict access unless users take specific security steps. Once again, these steps can be made easier by automating the process. By doing this, compliance leaders will spend less time gathering data and analyzing spreadsheets to prepare audits or run incident reports, saving time and reducing complexity.
Eliminating existing silos is the third step organizations should consider when it comes to identity governance. Today’s businesses use a lot of applications—not all require the same level of security, and not all are IT-approved. Managing these details in a typical IT environment is extremely difficult when IGA systems are disconnected. Without identity and access data across the organization as a whole, governance teams don’t get the level of real-time insight needed to effectively manage identity, certification, and privilege.
This becomes even more complicated when you consider different departments or locations within the organization may have varying acceptance levels for risk. This can lead to tedious approval processes that delay work requests, or more frequently, lead to approval without the necessary level of scrutiny. To avoid this, organizations should consider exploring solutions that can be easily applied to their existing technology stack. Rather than a total ‘rip and replace’ of legacy systems, this can be less friction- and resource-heavy compared to an otherwise large undertaking with the potential of IT downtime and other complexities.
The fourth and final step organizations can take to implement to strengthen their identity governance program is to create a culture of compliance. This should be made clear by executive leadership down to management, and end users. When one department fails to comply, the entire organization suffers. Unfortunately, this is common, as most organizations treat governance as an IT issue, not a business one that applies to everyone. If governance is viewed as a siloed IT solution, then organizations will struggle to yield the security and workflow benefits an identity-first strategy can offer.
While managing access and identities can seem less critical than other security and compliance initiatives, it’s a component that is crucial to both. The only way to change this line of thinking is to make it easier. By automating processes, taking a holistic approach to identity management, eliminating business silos, and leading by example, businesses can create a culture of compliance, where identity management is part of everyday operations.
Getting an identity governance program off the ground isn’t always easy, but it’s necessary, and by taking these four best practices into consideration, it can be a lot easier. When IGA becomes a seamless process for end users, and not a segmented, complicated process that drains productivity, the entire enterprise benefits. Business requirements change frequently, new security threats emerge, and employee roles and privileges evolve, and a solid identity governance strategy is the best way to stay ahead of it all.
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