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Key Aspects of an Identity Access Management (IAM) Strategy

The components and functionalities of identity and access management bring a lot of benefits to all users who are involved into the organisation’s ecosystem, no matter of the business sector they belong to. Before engaging yourself to an IAM project, it is critical to determine and to have a long-term vision of your IAM strategy. This initiative is much more effective and profitable than having to assemble various solutions that may not be appropriate or not always well integrated.

A clear identity and access management strategy is fundamental for organisations to operate effectively. It will guarantee secure access to the information system, ensure compliance with regulations, reduce a large number of operating risks, improve productivity and the quality of service delivered to users. Many organisations’ failures prove that fact that the lack of expertise and effective identity and access management strategy can led to risky implementations and expensive mistakes. This is the reason why many organizations look for experienced service providers for assistance.

Building an Identity and Access Management Strategy

1. Discovery Is the First Step

The first step in developing an IAM strategy is to gain a thorough understanding of the customer’s current state. This step is crucial, because an accurate picture of an organization’s current state helps to create a more realistic strategy and results in successful project implementation. There are three ways to develop a better understanding of the customers’ current environments, needs, and goals.

  • Understand the How. To better prepare and develop context before beginning a project, you should search for specific artifacts and documents that help understand how the organization functions. That could include any existing IAM policies and procedures, IAM architectural diagrams, relevant audit findings, and an overview of the network and server environments. It is also helpful to get to know the current technology elements: which are the main applications and systems being used, and how they are set up and customized.
  • Understand the Who. Developing a demographic profile of the organization is also very important, i. e – how many users there are, what is their location, and who gets access to what. Viewing the structure of the organization is also essential: who approves access requests, which users are employees or non-employees, and how HR interacts with the existing IAM process.
  • Understand the Why. Understanding the drivers for an organization’s IAM project is pivotal for the project’s success. It ensures that leaders are on the same page about their reasons for investing in IAM, sets clear expectations for the project’s outcomes, and helps champions justify the project internally.

2. From Discovery to Deliverables

When the discovery process is finished, the next step is to conduct an analysis of what you have collected as an information. For some companies, this means a roadmap and a strategy, but others might need a competitive assessment, an IGA recommendation, or advice on the best way to handle role-based access. Here are some examples of the deliverables that can be provided:

  • Architecture. A smart approach is to develop a map that captures how IAM currently functions at the organization and represents all the systems, architecture, tools, users, and connectors. This map should accurately reflect the organization’s environment, processes, patterns, and challenges. On the basis of this “big picture” of the organization’s current state, an architecture that reflects the ideal state could be created.
  • Roadmap. The roadmap describes the actions which companies need to take to get from A to B, and helps companies prioritize these actions and put them in the appropriate order.
  • Tool Recommendations. With a clear understanding of the customer’s requirements and extensive knowledge about the best tools for every situation, the needs to the appropriate vendors could be properly matched.

3. Perform a comprehensive audit

Another significant step is to perform a comprehensive audit of current practices so that you know exactly what types of systems or processes are used by employees to share and transfer information. You may find out that people in your organization are subverting security controls to get their work done. It’s a common issue that can help you build a stronger access management structure.

4. Develop IAM Governance Procedures

It is very important to ensure that risk management and compliance guidelines are followed consistently throughout the company. That could be verified by efficient provisioning and de-provisioning procedures. Besides, the privileged accounts should be handled with care. Compared with accounts for regular users, these accounts can have almost unlimited access to sensitive data, applications, and devices. You should strike a balance between access and security by following the guidelines of least privilege. When users need elevated privileges for a specific task, it is recommended to grant access for a limited time using unique credentials.

5. Compliance is a top consideration

Its crucial to ensure that compliance guidelines and risk management are incorporated into the identity management strategy. Privacy management and data access governance is an important aspect of IAM. It controls who is capable of accessing user data and how they can share or use it. This ensured that organizations meet the growing requirements of changing industry and global data privacy regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

6. Add Cloud-based IAM to Your Arsenal

If you are looking to the cloud for greater efficiency and easy scalability, cloud-based identity and access management services can be part of your IAM plan. Identity and Access Management-as-a-Service (IDaaS) simplifies even the most complex user management challenges. These systems exist in environments defined by strict access with regular monitoring and security for both IT and physical assets. Scheduled backups and data recovery plans prevent catastrophic losses. Further, the access control measures are certified to industry standards with frequent audits. You can meet necessary audit requirements by leveraging existing security certifications rather than investing talent and resources within a similar internal plan.

IAM projects are complex, that is why a defined strategy for success is required. Without a good IAM strategy, analysis and planning the projects usually fail. A successful IAM strategy balances security requirements with employee and customer experience and communicates these goals effectively to executives.

PATECCO is your partner through all phases of IAM strategy: Our practice is to work closely with your technology management and business leaders and to consult you for the sequence of projects needed to make your strategy a reality. Whether you would like to implement a new IAM strategy or update an old one,our consultants can offer their professional support to successfully build up your IAM strategy.

6 Steps for Higher Security and Compliance in the Cloud

Nowadays the cloud industry is growing more due to its widespread adoption. But the more it’s growing, the more questions arise whether the cloud is secure. People are thinking about risks such as financial losses, lawsuits or losing the company’s reputation and even future progress. That’s why managing compliance has always been a challenge for IT companies. Today’s business environment requires cloud providers who are proficient in ensuring high level of security and who offer comprehensive cloud services at a much lower cost.

But let’s go back to the question – is cloud more secure? No doubt, yes! Almost all data stored in the cloud is encrypted, so the users need a key to decrypt the information. Business should take care more of the question how the data is accessed than – where it is stored.

As a cloud service provider PATECCO shares its best practices in six steps, ensuring better security and compliance:

1. Create an end-to-end security and compliance framework 

It’s important to create compliance framework, allowing to view, assess and manage all risks, security, and compliance for the cloud environment. Thanks to the instant access to a compliance infrastructure you can download all the certifications and audit reports you need to demonstrate compliance to your own stakeholders.

2. Create Authentication tools

Authentication, also called identity and access control, gives people permission to access different systems and documents according to their role. With cloud providers, implement multi-factor authentication which is more secure process than single sign-on. It requires a verification code that is texted to the users’ phone, or a link in an email that they have to click.

3. Ensure Encryption

Encryption means systematically scrambling of data so that nobody can read it unless having the code key to unscramble it. What needs to be done is to set up virtual networks which are not accessible to anyone within your company and all the traffic between machines in the cloud is securely encrypted. Let’s take for example Office 365’s service encryption. Office 365 offers customer-managed encryption capabilities, allowing you to have greater control over the protection of your sensitive data.

 4. Enforce privacy policies

Privacy and protection of personally identifiable information (PII) is gaining importance across the globe, often involving laws and regulations relating to the acquisition, storage, and use of PII. It is critical that privacy requirements be adequately addressed in the cloud service agreement. If not, the cloud service customer should consider seeking a different provider or not placing sensitive data in the cloud service. For example, customers that wish to place health information subject to the United States HIPAA regulation into a cloud service, must find a cloud service provider that will sign a HIPAA business associate agreement.

Step 5: Assess the security provisions for cloud applications

Companies should proactively protect their business-critical applications from external and internal threats throughout their entire life cycle, from design to implementation to production. Clearly defined security policies and processes are essential to ensure the applications are enabling the business rather than introducing additional risk. In order to protect an application from various types of breaches it is important to understand the application security policy considerations based on the different cloud deployment models.

When developing and deploying applications in a cloud environment, it is critical that customers realize they may forfeit some control and should design their cloud applications with these considerations in mind.

6. Audit and ensure proper reporting of operational and business processes

Offering tools for monitoring what’s going on with your infrastructure and application is quite useful. You can look at relevant log data from your applications or systems to see who’s doing what or if there were any threats. With the cloud, you can go in any time and pull down any number of pre-configured reports.

It’s essential that security controls encompass not only the cloud services themselves, but also the management interfaces offered to customers. Incident Reporting and Incident Handling process that meets the needs of the customer should also be available in the Cloud System.