For better optimization of efficiency, agility, and to drive greater collaboration, it is essential for the enterprise to be able to share information, resources, and applications with external value chain partners in a trusted way. This article explores how Identity Access Management (IAM) provides the policies and processes for ensuring that the right people in the company have the right access to secure resources, at the right time, while improving security, productivity and visibility.

  • Identity Is Core To Data Security

In the era of globalization, enterprises are undertaking significant digital transformation initiatives to integrate more applications and automate processes to increase productivity and innovation. These initiatives frequently involve the integration of information technology with operational technology, even bridging security domains, through direct integration with value chain partners. Digital transformation initiatives deliver significant value, but potentially put more resources at risk and increase the enterprise security threat surface.

Moreover, enterprise managers require visibility into the organizations and must be able to delegate administration of people and resources to trusted individuals within the supplier organization if they want to have the agility they need. At the same time, they must be able to govern those external users are authorized to do. This practice requires regular processes where delegated administrators attest to users’ validity and the resources to which they have access for a complete audit trail and to ensure compliance.

At its core, Identity and Access Management  ensures that a user’s identity is authenticated to a high degree of assurance, and that the user is authorized to access the right services he or she needs. So, Access Management solutions provide authentication and authorization services and enforce user access policy to a company’s employees and customers across the web, mobile apps, and other digital channels. According to Data Breach Investigation Reports, 80% of data breaches involve compromised or weak credentials, and 29% of all breaches involve the use of stolen credentials. That means that passwords are the main point of vulnerability and the more frequently you have to request or change access for lost or forgotten passwords, the larger is the risk for your personal and professional data to be hacked.

When applied properly, advanced Identity and Access Management tools can help detect suspicious activities quickly whether they are committed by external or internal criminals. In fact, insiders who have highly privileged access pose the greatest risks as they may be disgruntled or have financial problems, therefore have the incentive and opportunity to commit a perfect crime. Highly technical users who have privileged access can also cover their tracks by modifying system logs. Sometimes, users also make mistakes and errors which can also be mitigated with IAM capabilities such as Multifactor-authentication and Role-based Access Control.

Products like Microsoft Identity Manager (MIM 2016) is able to synchronize identities between directories, databases and applications, which means that employees’ identities are managed wherever they are working from. It also provides increased admin security with policies, privileged access management and roles. This, combined with Microsoft’s Azure Active Directory (AAD) technology, provides additional cloud based self-service capabilities, secure remote access, single sign on, and multi-factor authentication.

How Can IAM Practices Prevent a Data Breach?

  • Automating the access privilege provision

For every new employee addition, you should assign all the privileges based on their roles and business rules. It’s better to have workflow automation. Besides, for every employee resignation or termination, you must ensure that all the privileges will be taken away automatically. This practice will help in limiting and preventing unnecessary privileges.

  • Privileged User Management

Basically, the organized attacks target the privileged accounts of the organization. Once a privileged account gets compromised, it increases the chances of a massive security breach. Social engineering and phishing attacks are some common ways of tricking privileged users in sharing their passwords. Such attacks can remain undetected for a long period and that is why it is recommended to implement privileged user management. Any access considered privileged should be assigned to a separate account within the system for which the access is granted, and such accounts should be assigned to the user after an appropriate review of the user’s duties and justification for both the privileged account and the specific access. Any privileged access defined or granted should be limited in both scope and the number of users to which it is assigned and tailored to the needs of the business.

  • Account and access reviews

A useful practice is to conduct Account and access reviews. This can be done periodically in smaller companies and even in larger companies, as well. For example, if a user changes jobs, you should trigger an access review based on changes in the user’s job code or department code. Access reviews can also be based on risk, or when users request certain types of access, i.e., conduct a review of all of user’s access if the user requests domain administrator access, or if a user’s risk score reaches a certain level. Access reviews should be done either by the entitlement owners, or the current manager.

  • Entitlements warehouse

It is a good approach to set up an entitlements warehouse, which identifies all the entitlements in all the systems within the organization, who is assigned to those entitlements, and includes risk rating and privileged access flags for each entitlement. The entitlements warehouse can also be used to conduct peer analytics to identify unusual patterns of entitlement assignments based on entitlements assigned to other users with similar job functions, or assigned to users in similar or the same department.

  • Compliance

Another reason why Identity and Access Management is important in preventing data breaches is because organizations must comply with increasing, complex and distributed regulations, and they must ensure and demonstrate an effective customer identification process, suspicious activity detection and reporting, and identity theft prevention. Identity and Access Management solutions can be leveraged to manage various regulatory requirements such as having a Customer Identification Program (CIP), Know Your Customer (KYC), monitoring for Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR), and Red Flags Rule for identity fraud prevention.

Identity and Access Management is regarded as complex and critical solution in managing security risks. Although technology is an important part of identity and access management which can be leveraged to support an organization’s cybersecurity objectives and strategy, effective IAM also requires processes and people for user onboarding and identity verification, granting and removing access, detecting suspicious activities, and keeping unauthorized users out of the systems. IAM can help organizations achieve operating efficiency and optimal security through advanced technology and automation such as adaptive, multi-factor, and biometric authentication.