Aspects Of Identity Governance And Administration 

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Digital security is one of the most pressing challenges facing business leaders and IT specialists working in 2022. Cybercrime, in all of its insidious forms, is rampant in today’s network reliant business environment. In the United Kingdom, 4 out of 10 businesses report being victimized by at least one data breach. Charities and government organizations suffer from similar levels of vulnerability. The impact of a data breach can be devastating and far reaching. Data breaches can damage consumer trust, destroy a company’s ability to offer unique products and services and compromise all of the digital assets networked within a business. It is, therefore, no surprise that innovations in digital security are constantly being introduced.
Once such innovative introduction comes in the form of Identity Governance and Administration systems. Controlling who (or what) is allowed access to a network is immensely important in digital security. IGA systems help companies to orchestrate a policy based security network controlling identity management and access control from a centralized point. In order to fully understand the benefits of employing an Identity Governance and Administration system within a business network, it is necessary to understand the individual tasks that such a system is assigned to complete. Here is a very brief guide to all the responsibilities taken on by Identity Governance and Administration systems. 

Entitlement Management 

Employees require access to different areas of a business’ computer network depending on their role and their temporary assignments. As a standard practice, businesses try and make sure to restrict access to non-essential areas of a network – unless that employee specifically needs to gain access for work reasons. This is not due to some fundamental distrust of employees. Instead, it is a way to prevent employees from being manipulated by malicious actors into compromising sensitive network areas and information. Social engineering is one of the most common ways for a hacking group to gain access. Enforcing various levels of access entitlement is one way to prevent this from happening. 

Entitlement management is one of the most important functions of an IGA system. A good IGA will automate the level of entitlement that each employee has depending on their individual needs within an organization. This automation is important for several reasons. IT management may not have the time to approve or remove entitlement from each individual according to their needs. Staff can be more productive if they do not need to spend the time seeking approval for every kind of access they require. Limited access may need to be granted to members of another organization. This needs to be tightly policed and be limited in terms of time. 

Logging And Reporting 

An IGA is capable of logging and reporting all data related to changes in access and entitlement. All new access, all access removals and all new areas of a network that need to be secured are carefully monitored. Data that is collected about these events can be extremely useful to IT security professionals, who may analyze trends in governance data to make long term changes to the overall security of an organization. The analysis of data logged and reported by the Identity Governance and Administration system can also be used to detect anomalies such as over privilage or unnecessary privilage restriction.  

Some IGAs also conduct something known as ‘audit integration’. This essentially involves the integration of data collected from the system into the wider data infrastructure of an organization so that it can be used more effectively. The use of data in order to create a secure network environment is extremely important. 

Access

The access control function of an IGA technically falls under the broader role of the system in entitlement management. An IGA can automate custom access regulations – with parameters set by the organization’s IT security team. All IGA systems rely on the enforcement of a set of access rules. Security professionals have to put their heads together and assess what the nature of these rules should be if they are to get the most out of their IGA. Some companies choose to employ a zero trust architecture to maintain the tightest possible security. 

Identity Lifecycle 

All staff members or third party contractors that enter into a company begin what is known as an ‘identity lifecycle’. This lifecycle begins when they are given initial access during the onboarding phase and ends when they leave the company. During this lifecycle there can be many changes in their access and identity type. An employee could, for instance, be internally promoted into the cybersecurity team. At this point, they would enter into a new phase of their identity lifecycle. Identity Governance and Administration systems retain information on company staff members and network assets in order to make it easy to adapt to new eras in a person’s identity lifecycle. These systems also automate the termination of identity privileges at the end of that lifecycle. Onboarding, promotion and end-of-contract phases are difficult enough for most companies without the added pressure of manually handling network privileges.  

Segregation Of Duties 

Some actions that can be completed within a network can make the network owning company extremely vulnerable to embezzlement and exploitation. IGAs ensure that these actions cannot be fully completed by one person alone. If, for instance, one person has set up a method of transferring funds away from a company towards a vendor, that same person cannot be allowed to authorize the actual removal of funds. Segregation of duties is a crucial way of preventing stealing from within a network.  

Password Management 

Identity Governance and Administration systems are often responsible for the secure management of passwords within a system. If passwords are not securely managed, then they become next to useless. As well as passwords, IGAs manage the security of biometric and device authentication data which could be used by malicious actors to compromise a network. Most companies now insist upon a multi factor authentication system to prevent foul play, but even this is not entirely safe if data is not securely managed. 

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