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How to Solve Compliance Challenges with IAM

As experts in identity and access management, we noticed that many of our clients face different issues with access control. In particular, we find that most business owners and managers do not have the proper identity access management measures. Based on our long-term experience in Identity and Access Management, we guide and support clients on meeting the access control measures governing their industries.

In this article, we will discuss the key challenges that most of our clients face. We will also guide you on ways to prevent them and ensure compliance using different IAM tools.

  • Common Access Control Issues Facing Industries


As technology progresses, companies are now handling their tasks using digital systems. While this helps, controlling who can access certain information gets more complicated. Besides, a great number of employees are currently working remotely, which makes it challenging to oversee all their activities.

One issue most companies are facing is Sarbanes Oxley compliance. This law mainly applies to the financial industry. It focuses on protecting investors from fraudulent activities by such institutions. When checking if companies are abiding by this law, PATECCO experts find that most do not have enough measures to control access to data. This is because they focus on meeting financial regulations and neglect access control.

More common compliance issues faced by institutions in different sectors are:

• Meeting PCI requirements

• SOC compliance

• FFIEC compliance

The healthcare industry is another one facing different compliance challenges. One common issue in this field is meeting HIPAA requirements. As most facilities focus on improving their technology, they fail to develop measures to limit access to sensitive information.

Most data control issues in the healthcare industry revolve around creating various security measures to protect medical documents. Such include multi-factor authentication and single sign-on protocols. ISO 27001 and ISO 27002 are other security standards that most brands do not know how to meet. Without the proper measures, managing information security is tricky. This issue then makes it hard to pass audits and safeguard data from people without authorized access.

  • Ensuring Access Control Through Provisioning and Reviews

After learning about the issues faced when meeting different regulations, you may be concerned how to avoid them. Implementing access control policies helps reduce the risk of data breaches. It also makes it hard for unlicensed people to access sensitive information.

One way you can solve such issues with Identity and Access Management is through provisioning. This process involves assigning specific employees to systems with sensitive information. It also includes issuing them with IDs that allow them to access protected files.

When provisioning with IAM, you should have complete control over access rights. If an employee leaves your company, you should delete their account or deactivate it to withdraw their rights. This way, you will prevent breaches and feel confident that your data is safe. After putting in place measures to limit access, it is also advisable to review them regularly. We also recommend to check if all your employees have the proper access based on their job roles. Besides, confirm that they are not abusing this power or using the information for personal activities.

You should also take into account that in most cases reviewing access may be tricky without the right tools. For example, recording the results of each assessment is time-consuming, but IAM tools are able to simplify this process by automating compliance assessment. These programs then produce a report to help you identify ways to improve access control.

  • Ensuring Compliance with Privileged Access

Controlling access goes beyond having security measures and reviewing them. It also involves tracking the employees that have permission to view or use specific files. Still, most companies find it hard to manage employees with such privileges.

For example, after shifting from one system to another, you can forget to change your admins. This means that they will still be able to access files in the other program. If a data breach happens, it will not be easy to pinpoint its source. By using IAM tools, you can quickly identify the employees using specific systems. It is also possible to simplify tracking privileged access. These programs also allow you to set security measures to limit access.

Getting IAM solutions to limit access of your current and past employees is the best way to abide by different regulations. These come with various tools to help you secure privileged accounts. With such features, it is simpler to revoke access and avoid security threats.

Types of IAM Solutions Available Today

The most suitable IAM solution for your company may vary depending on your needs. For instance:

  • Privileged Access Management is one of the most common IAM solutions. This one focuses on protecting privileged accounts. If around 20 of your employees have access to different systems with IAM protocols, you can use PAM to protect the most sensitive ones. This solution is mainly helpful in meeting NERC compliance needs.
  • User provisioning IAM tools are another subset you can use to ensure all accounts have the correct permission. With these solutions, it is possible to control the access rights of all your employees. The compliance needs you can meet with the tool are GLBA, NERC, GDPR, and HIPAA. An important aspect to look into when adopting access control tools is the role of each employee. Besides, determine the entitlement they have to sensitive data. You should also consider the cost and compare it against the benefits of getting the software.
  • Data governance IAM solutions protect sensitive information using measures like SSO. Its main drivers are FERPA, PCI-DSS, HIPAA, and FERPA.

More IAM solutions you can find in the market today, and their driver compliances are:

• Access controls- HIPAA, SOX, NERC, and GDPR

• Identity governance- SOX and GLBA

• Multi-factor authentication tools- GDPR, PCI-DSS, and GLBA

Since each of these IAM solutions has unique features, you should understand the needs of your firm. Taking this measure makes it easier to pick a tool that addresses them and helps you stay compliant.

Which Are the Major Components of Identity Governance and Administration Solution?

Organizations embracing digital transformation are taking a hard look at Identity Governance and Administration (IGA) solutions which are becoming critically important amongst Identity and IT Security professionals. IGA is an area that provides operational management, integration, security, customization and overall support for an enterprise IAM program. Besides, IGA combines the entitlement discovery, the decision-making process, and the access review and certification of access governance with the identity lifecycle and role management of user provisioning.  So nowadays, what the enterprises critically need is a consistent framework to operationally manage and govern their rapidly expanding digital ecosystem. At its core, the goal behind IGA is simple – to ensure appropriate access, when and where it is needed.

IGA is considered as much more than a technology. It is also perceived as an ongoing means of governance through a set of controls, processes, and actions related to the determination and enforcement of appropriate access throughout the organization’s environment. This is a continuous process of grooming, review, decision making, documentation, and enforcement for how access privileges are issued.

IGA Main Components

IGA consists of multiple elements, each solving a specific piece to the puzzle and often originating from its own product category. IGA programs can look to each of these elements separately, and bring a set of point products from multiple vendors together to address the broader IGA problems, or they can look to vendors that have fleshed out their offerings to include these elements as part of their IGA offering. These elements can be described as follows:

  • Identity Lifecycle Management/User Provisioning – Automation of the identity lifecycle process through the creation, updating, and cleanup of user accounts and their corresponding information across multiple target systems.
  • Access Governance – Consists of two essential elements: Entitlement Management / Role Management (it is related to Collection and organization of current entitlement state across multiple target systems) and Access Review and Certification. That relates to presentation of current entitlement state, facilitation of review process, capturing access decisions made, and facilitation of attestation that the new access state is appropriate.

Identity Lifecycle Management

Today’s organizations are more connected than ever before. As the number of applications, systems, and resources have increased, so have the number of identities and user accounts. Creating, maintaining, and securing identities is a complex and costly effort. The complexity is often due to the sheer volume of identities. But, the complexity of managing identities is also compounded by the dynamic nature of an identity.

As a subject’s relationship with the organization changes the attributes and privileges associated with the identity must be updated. These dynamic changes are commonly referred to as the identity lifecycle. All identities go through a similar lifecycle which can be described in three basic steps: Join, Move, and Leave.

• Join: This phase involves the creation/registration of identities.

• Move: This phase handles the changing of identity attributes and elements that define the relationship such as group memberships, roles, entitlements, and permissions as the identity’s relationship changes over time.

• Leave: This phase involves the termination of the relationship with the identity. It could also relate to archiving of some information and deletion of other information.

Another point of focus with identity lifecycle management is the goal of gaining administrative leverage. Keeping the data consistent across systems is the only way to manage all the connected systems as a common whole, rather than a collection of silos. The data may be represented and persisted differently from system to system, but the job of the provisioning infrastructure is to deal with these differences, transform the data accordingly, and ensure that the relationships between the systems is preserved.

User provisioning technologies help organizations manage and enforce access policies. Access policies bind identities to entitlements. An access policy determines what systems, resources, and information a user can access. Furthermore User provisioning technologies employ a variety of techniques to assign and enforce access policies including Rules (Rule-driven policies determine access rights and entitlements according to a given set of attributes on a subject’s identity record), Roles (Users are assigned to roles based on a given set of attributes on their identity record. Each role has a set of associated permissions and entitlements) and Workflow (Workflow driven access policy management is used when rule or role driven policies are not available or when a human needs to make a policy decision).

The last phase of the provisioning process is fulfillment. Once the lifecycle event has been processed and access policies have been applied, the provisioning system knows which connected systems to provision the user to, what attributes to synchronize, and what entitlements to assign.

Access Governance

Access governance provides the needed “relation” between compliance, the access management policies, and the critical business systems that need them. It enables better control and produces intelligence so that key decision makers can have a better understanding of the state of access and how it is being utilized in order to provide greater insight for making better decisions. Access governance also provides a way to hold end users accountable for the access they use, it holds managers accountable for the access they approve and administrators accountable for the access they manage.

Entitlement Management

Access decisions are all about the entitlements. Entitlements are the “what” in the question of “who has access to what. Entitlements represent capabilities in business systems that in turn help the business achieve its varied missions. To use entitlements, enterprises first have to know they are out there – in every business system, application, and platform. But simple awareness is not enough.

Access Review and Certification

Usually the access review phase of access governance is of a great importance and is the most time and labor intensive. Everyone who has access to important systems and resources, such as those containing data that have regulatory implications, must be certified at reasonable intervals. This includes employees and nonemployees alike, regardless of location and business role.

Identity Governance and Administration is a unique combination of technology and processes with impact at the organizational level. It leverages components such as Identity Lifecycle Management and Access Governance to support compliance with regulations, internal controls, and audit pressure and is a powerful means to improve security and reduce enterprise risk.