Identity and Access Management (IAM) – it’s a buzzword that we’ve heard in the cybersecurity realm for years, answering the “how” for user access permissions to resources. “Managing digital identities and user access to data, systems, and resources within an organization." IAM programs help to reduce access risks related specifically to identity. With the challenges caused by Covid-19, the importance of properly managing identities has become more significant, forcing organizations to consider new solutions that will minimize disruptions in user’s abilities to work, especially in a remote environment. Furthermore, as technologies advance and the number of applications used across organizations expand, IAM has become more complex, evolving into holistic approaches to identity management. These progressions include programs such as Privileged Access Management (PAM) and the focus of this article, Identity Governance and Administration (IGA).
So, what is IGA?
Core Security defines IGA “as both a policy framework and set of security solutions that enable organizations to more effectively mitigate identity-related access risks within their business.” Simply put, the IGA strategy allows for automation of credential provisioning, tracking, recertification, and removal. Additionally, IGA offers solutions for ease of password management, governance and compliance management, and risk management. While IAM mechanisms of the past have offered similar contributions by way of access management, IGA encompasses more than your run-of-the-mill IAM tool, including management of “third-party vendors and nonhuman identities such as applications into their business processes."
One of the most frequently asked questions by clients is: “What is my return on investment (ROI) for a technology like this?” The truth of the matter is that ROI is not immediately recognizable when technology solutions are implemented. Perhaps you’ve recently purchased an endpoint solution that has yet to recognize malicious activity on company-provisioned laptops. Does that mean the acquisition of this technology was moot? You tell us when that high priority alert comes through. As for IGA, “a modern IGA automates security access in a fast, efficient, consistent and accurate way – and at scale." While the initial cost for IGA is significant, “as the organization grows, IGA share in total costs gets reduced, while the role and importance are growing."
Is IGA the right solution for my organization?
This question, while subjective in nature, depends entirely upon each organization’s security focus. Per a study conducted by K logix in July of 2021, 25% of organizations listed IAM as one of their top investment areas, following closely behind ventures into cloud and zero trust. This data shows that trends are pointing toward the automation and maturation of Identity and Access Management programs. The best way to address this question is to evaluate the current posture of your organization’s security plan through measures such as those suggested in the following section. Understanding weaknesses within the environment that could benefit from a solution like IGA is essential to tool acquisition and fit through requirements building.
How can you as a security leader ensure the effectiveness of an IGA solution?
“We are talking mostly about personnel management, including identity and access management. The 'maturity' of these processes directly affects the quality of the implementation of the IGA system." In other words, the success of IGA is dependent upon the existing information security structure. That’s where K logix comes in. Through the consultative performance of technology advisory assessments or the like, we enable your organization to understand and mature the essential programmatic management models related to IGA. For example, taking a closer look at business’s Access Management program might enable the creation of role-based access controls that allow for differentiation in access based upon job description and necessities for performance. Periodic evaluations of an organization’s security practices also allow for greater symbiosis between policies, systems, and practices.
Identity Governance and Administration is one of the many advancements being made in the realm of cybersecurity. As our working world evolves to fit the mold that Covid-19 continues to construct, so too do the offerings within the security world. Whether IGA, network access, or digitization, transformations in the form of automation are appearing in all facets, and in truth, there is little to no sufficient way around them. It is essential that we look internally at our own security programs to understand where we can leverage these news tools to ensure strengthened security that offers proper protection for all users.