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5 Brilliant Ways to Use Identity Management and Governance

A CIO recently came to me with a question about how their peers were effectively managing organizational identity and identity governance, wanting to improve their organization’s security and productivity. Utilizing the Zero Trust security framework to improve their security posture and identity was a priority to consider as well. This inspired me to think deeply about how successful organizations get started using a powerful identity management and governance solution across all their existing environments and applications, as well as any future additions. Here are five brilliant places to start:


1)    Use Lifecycle Management to Automate and Do More with Less

Technology can make our jobs easier but fast and proper access to it and the applications that drive modern organizations can still be challenging. In today’s pandemic-affected work environments, employees need to be able to work from anywhere at any time. Providing secure and reliable access to the information and applications they need to do their jobs is driving increased demand for faster, more streamlined business processes. One result? An explosion of user identities and passwords with many organizations having little in place to effectively manage or govern them.


Just how big is your organization’s password crisis? According to an article in the Evening Standard, current estimates suggest there are about 300 billion passwords in use and with approximately 7 billion people this amounts to 43 passwords per person, that’s a lot for anyone or any organization to remember and track, especially if they need to be random and unique. Not only that, in the average organization approximately 50 passwords are persistent i.e., they never change and are constantly used by an application. Fortunately, implementing identity and governance solutions, like SailPoint with powerful lifecycle capabilities, is easier than ever. These lifecycle capabilities allow administrators of any skill level to gain visibility into every system, process, user account or access request in their environment. It provides a central platform for identity management that automates processes across your identity lifecycle: onboarding, off-boarding, provisioning, access reviews and other tasks associated with managing an enterprise’s identities.


Using lifecycle management gives you control over how your security is managed and ensures access to sensitive data is controlled and governed. If your organization is needing to do more with fewer resources, wanting to boost security, enhance governance or improve onboarding/off-boarding, then lifecycle management is a must-have.


2)    Simplify and Improve Compliance Management; Be Audit-ready

If you don’t already have a centralized identity management and governance solution in place, then managing compliance is likely a nightmare. As soon as someone moves on or leaves your organization, it’s time-consuming work to change access rights. If employees are changing roles or collaborating with people outside your company (such as contractors), getting them set up with new rights takes a lot of effort. So how do you keep everything organized? Employ an enterprise-wide identity management system. Not only will you be able to reduce regulatory risk, but you’ll also save a ton of money by simplifying compliance management. While setting one up can seem like a huge undertaking, it doesn’t need to be complicated. People who use cloud-based identity tools report improved productivity, stronger security and faster on-boarding/off-boarding for new hires because they don’t need assistance from IT professionals for basic tasks. Since there’s less time spent on repetitive administration tasks, these professionals say they can focus on higher-level responsibilities.


Additionally, they allow you to protect yourself from insider threats using identity governance: combine data masking, privacy dashboards and strong policies to help ensure employees can’t view sensitive data they shouldn’t see. Or employ de-provisioning workflows that erase both digital data and physical assets when leaving positions of trust within your organization.


Nearly every organization needs identity management solutions that can adapt to their business and make sure they meet compliance requirements. Many organizations need to meet some mixture of GDPR, PCI, HIPAA, or other compliance requirements, and supporting identity tracking and compliance for audit is imperative. By having this identity compliance capability, they are able to effectively serve their customers, grow their business, and comply with industry regulations.


3)    Enhance Identity Security, Compliance and Operations

A robust identity platform can deliver a well-rounded set of capabilities that gives your enterprise complete flexibility and better visibility across all of its users. Ensuring this system is comprehensive, secure, safe, and extensible is critical to protecting your entire organization. An efficient identity management solution allows your IT team to: manage passwords more effectively with self-service password management; ensure compliance through user access control auditing; maintain reliable operations by quickly detecting compromised credentials.


An easy-to-use interface is a must. You need identity functionality that is quick, intuitive, and friendly, so you can find out what you need as quickly as possible. A high degree of mobility support is another essential feature. If employees or customers have no choice but to use mobile devices, they won’t be able to do their jobs effectively if they can’t access critical information remotely.


Of course, no identity solution is useful if it lacks adequate security. That’s why having security controls and protocols built into your IT architecture at every level is so crucial. If users are not able to access their account information on multiple platforms securely and reliably, they won’t be able to do their jobs efficiently. That doesn’t just hold true for employees; customers should also be able to log in and view account details from anywhere. If any aspect of your identity management infrastructure becomes compromised or unavailable, you could potentially lose clients or damage brand reputation. Getting started with a reputable and highly rated identity solution like SailPoint will pay dividends now and later—not only will it improve productivity across your workforce, but it’ll help ensure compliance with industry regulations while increasing security overall.


Being able to use your identity solution for compliance, ensuring that you can demonstrate with solid evidence that controls are in place that verify user identities is an important operational concern. Making it easy for your users to prove their identity and providing them secure access with an audit trail ensures you’re providing the proper access to the right persons at the right time.


Finally, potential integrations with other apps or platforms are a critical capability. Integrations can make a positive impact on the users of the identity solution and help make it more transparent and effective for all. This capability is often one of the key decisions points when selecting an identity solution.


4)    Leverage AI and Machine Learning to Enhance Identity Decisions

Machine learning enables AI that can make decisions. This is useful for identity management, where you want to use machine learning to make decisions about what resources or data a particular individual should have access to. For example, when it comes to securing your company’s intellectual property, you don’t want just anyone being able to access data or devices which contain that information. Machine learning algorithms can be used in conjunction with identity management to determine whether an individual should be granted access based on their risk level.


Using machine learning means more accurate risk assessments and fewer false positives/negatives when it comes time for humans in IT departments to approve or deny requests for specific types of access. It allows you to proactively spot risky users and limit or revoke their access. The bottom line? A couple of best practices can go a long way when it comes to identity management. Leveraging AI and machine learning in your software isn’t just a security measure, it’s a proactive one that will allow you to reduce human error and minimize business risk exposure over time.


Nearly every organization out there is struggling with employing and keeping adequate security personnel and most are overwhelmed with their workload and scouring the huge amount of identity and security data, so being able to utilize AI in an identity solution to dramatically reduce their daily efforts is a massive productivity and employee satisfaction gain. The result is a safer, happier and more productive organizational environment for all.


5)    Ensure Identity Security is a Key Element in Your Zero Trust Strategy

The Zero Trust model has been gaining momentum for some time, but there are still organizations that may be unfamiliar with it. Even so, all enterprises—especially those in regulated industries like healthcare and financial services—will need to become more aware of its value. The increased attack surface and growing threat vectors have led many companies to embrace a Zero Trust security model as an effective way of combating modern threats by reducing risk.


Identity security is one of your key components in achieving a Zero Trust security strategy, meaning you’ll need a way to make sure your identities are protected. With identity management, you can control access and permissions at both an employee level and across an entire organization. That kind of access control can help ensure only those people who are approved for certain information get it, meaning if a breach occurs, hackers aren’t able to reach sensitive files.


With Zero Trust, systems continue to authenticate users by monitoring their behavior. If they behave in a manner similar to other malicious users you have encountered before (or if they are part of a group identified as malicious), then they will be subject to further authentication processes or even denied access.


Using and aligning an AI-driven identity and compliance solution with your Zero Trust strategy will provide deeper insights, ensure proper governance, automate manual processes, enforce security controls, and strengthen organizational security.


Having an Identity Strategy Brings Great Value

Selecting and implementing a cloud-based identity solution is easier than ever and the returns can be enormous. It helps automate repetitive and tedious processes, increasing efficiency and productivity across the organization.


After all, having good habits when it comes to identity management is more than just guarding passwords, it’s about being prepared in case things go wrong…like we said above, mistakes happen all too often—even among knowledgeable users!


Many modern organizations looking to be more secure and agile than ever before are using a robust identity solution. They are ensuring it has a flexible architecture that allows their organization to quickly respond to market opportunities and changing business needs while simplifying ongoing maintenance tasks. In fact, many world-class organizations are now using robust cloud-based identity and compliance solutions not only for their security and compliance prowess but also as a competitive differentiator.


Everyone needs identity management solutions that can adapt to their business and make sure they meet compliance requirements while doing so. This way they can effectively serve their customers, comply with industry regulations, and support the organization’s growth goals.

mclynd

Mark Lynd (CISSP, ISSAP, ISSMP), Head of Digital Business at Netsync is Top ranked global thought leader, author, speaker and practitioner for, AI, Data Center, IoT and Cybersecurity. He has been an accomplished enterprise CIO, CTO, CISO and Board Member for several large organizations. Mark has performed speaking and thought leadership engagements for Oracle, Intel, IBM, Cisco and others. He was named an Ernst & Young’s "Entrepreneur of Year – Southwest Region" Finalist and presented the Doak Walker Award on ESPN’s CFB Awards Show to a national television audience. He served honorably in the US Army’s 3rd Ranger Battalion & 82d Airborne.