5 Current Challenges of Identity Governance and Administration
The increased digitization of enterprise settings means that organizations have more devices, data, and users working in on-premises, remote, and cloud environments. Such complexity makes it hard for companies to manage user access and identities effectively. Users receiving more access than needed to systems, data, or applications increases the security risks for organizations. That’s where identity governance and administration (IGA) come in.
Ideally, having an identity and access management (IAM) framework makes companies less vulnerable to data breaches and other cyberattacks. Security personnel should have no issues tracking and controlling user access in any environment. No user should have unauthorized access that increases risk and threatens a business’s ability to maintain regulatory compliance. However, that’s not always the case, since many organizations still run into issues with IAM governance.
Why is Identity Governance Such a Struggle?
Why do so many companies still find themselves bound to manual processes prone to human error? Many businesses still use the following methods to manage their governance programs.
Formal governance doesn’t exist, only becoming an issue when something goes wrong. Otherwise, companies keep stumbling along without a proper plan to ensure they can meet basic compliance requirements.
Company users do what they can to document IAM governance policies within their areas. Data is collected from various systems, pulled into a spreadsheet, and then distributed to other users via email. The remediation process typically gets bogged down in manual processes. Because there is no cohesion among different business units, it’s hard to track what’s happening with identity governance and administration at a company-wide level.
Some companies have business analysts or developers develop automation scripts to help with data processing and remediation. While they may succeed at replacing some spreadsheet functions, you still have gaps where critical data may not be present or essential personnel may not get notifications.
Challenges Organizations Face in Building an Identity Governance Framework
Regardless of their size, most companies face issues with identity governance and administration. They have different systems put in place to address various business needs. Because there’s no thought given to how those systems need to work together, that leads to problems implementing standardized IAM governance policies.
It’s hard for security personnel to get a clear sense of who has access to what systems or applications. Users may have devices containing privileges that should have been revoked when they took possession. Determining which accesses pose risks to users and the organizations becomes an effort in futility. Below are some of the biggest challenges businesses face in developing effective identity governance and administration guidelines.
1. Solution Complexity and Cost
Many identity governance solutions in the past were overly complex and required extensive technical expertise to set up correctly. That, combined with the cost, made it hard for organizations to see what value they could gain from purchasing an IAM governance platform.
2. Lack of Business Area Coordination
Even smaller companies find it necessary to invest in multiple business applications to remain operational. Because assets may require different levels of security or elevated responses, it becomes difficult for a help disk to deal with problems effectively. Without a company-wide IGA platform, governance teams lack the kind of real-time insights needed to effectively manage privilege, identity, and certification of users and assets.
3. Dependency on Manual Processes
Business leaders depend on data from business systems to make smarter business decisions. If there’s no integration between different applications, analysts must perform a lot of manual labor to retrieve data and manipulate it into an actionable format. That means it takes longer to set up analysis and reports. The need for human intervention also opens the door to more errors.
4. Lack of Provisioning Oversight
While automated processes help with provisioning, that doesn’t mean that organizations still don’t have issues on that front. Many companies provide access to new users based on an existing one. If that person has more access than necessary, that gets passed on to others. Managers may issue approvals without realizing how much access they provide to a user.
Organizations also have trouble removing access because they don’t have updated information about individual accounts. Admins may find it easier to leave accounts active even after an employee leaves or a contractor reaches the end of their contract. Hackers can gain access to these accounts and access highly privileged information.
5. No Compliance Culture
Most companies stumble when it comes to instilling a compliance mindset among workers. Individual areas become so focused on the job that they fail to embed IAM governance practices into daily work. Executive leadership and other higher-ups may also fail to push the need for compliance from the top, exacerbating the issue.
How Business Can Address Identity Governance and Access Issues
These problems can seem daunting, especially if you’re a smaller company with fewer resources. It’s not just about finding the right solution. Incorporating the following best practices will help you build a more robust IAM governance program.
1. Create a foundation around identity
Make sure you understand all the identities within your company, including people and applications. That helps you refine access decisions based on the risk they present.
2. Develop a plan
After cataloging all inventories and access points, decide what permissions they require and what needs to change. Make updates based on business priorities and get the input of stakeholders affected by your identity plan.
3. Adopt an agile system
You need a system capable of adapting to changes within and outside your organization. An adaptive governance system lets you detect and respond to role changes in real-time. You have the information necessary to make decisions quickly.
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