User Access Reviews

The Hidden Costs of Spreadsheets

Identity Governance and Administration (IGA) is crucial for companies because it ensures that access to sensitive data, systems, and resources is properly managed and controlled. IGA also facilitates more accurate compliance with industry regulations like HIPAA, PCI, HiTRUST, FISMA, and GLBA by providing a framework for managing user access, conducting access reviews, and generating audit trails, ultimately safeguarding the organization's reputation and trustworthiness.

While many companies eventually employ automated IGA solutions to streamline these processes, there are instances where some still manually manage their IGA approach. While manual processes may be preferred or even necessary for companies as they get started, they can be time-consuming and resource-intensive on top of creating an environment where human error and non-compliance become much greater risks, especially as companies grow and scale.

 

Components of a Strong IGA Strategy

When planning for a comprehensive Identity Governance and Administration (IGA) strategy, leaders should consider several key factors:

  • Business Objectives and Risks
    Understand the organization's business objectives, regulatory requirements, and risk tolerance to tailor the IGA strategy accordingly. This involves identifying critical assets, sensitive data, and potential risks related to identity and access management.
  • User Lifecycle Management:
    Develop processes for managing the entire user lifecycle, including onboarding, role changes, and off-boarding. Ensure that access rights are aligned with users' roles and responsibilities, and establish procedures for timely provisioning and de-provisioning of access.
  • Access Control Policies:
    Define access control policies based on the principle of least privilege, ensuring that users have only the access necessary to perform their job functions. Regularly review and update access control policies to reflect changes in business requirements and security needs.
  • Technology Infrastructure:
    Evaluate existing technology infrastructure and capabilities to determine if additional tools or upgrades are needed to support the IGA strategy effectively. Consider integrating IGA solutions with other security and identity management systems for seamless operation.
  • Compliance Requirements:
    Ensure that the IGA strategy aligns with relevant regulatory compliance requirements, industry standards, and internal policies. Implement mechanisms for auditing access rights, generating compliance reports, and addressing audit findings promptly.
  • Self-Service:
    Strive to balance security requirements with user experience by implementing user-friendly access request and approval processes. Provide self-service options for users to request access rights and reset passwords, reducing administrative burden and enhancing productivity.
  • Continuous Learning:
    Invest in training and awareness programs to educate employees about the importance of secure access practices and their role in maintaining compliance with IGA policies. Foster a culture of security awareness and accountability throughout the organization.

By addressing these considerations when planning their comprehensive IGA strategy, leaders can effectively manage identity and access risks, ensure regulatory compliance, and support the organization's overall security posture.

 

Risks of Manual IGA Processes

Managing IGA processes manually poses significant risks due to the prevalence of errors, lack of scalability, and wasted resources. They are inherently prone to human error, leading to inaccuracies in access control, potential security breaches, and a high likelihood of eventual compliance violations. Additionally, as organizations grow and evolve, manual IGA processes become increasingly cumbersome and difficult to scale, resulting in inefficiencies and delays that can increase risks to an organization's security posture while also consuming valuable human resources, diverting skilled personnel from more strategic tasks and increasing operational costs.

Some of the most common areas where companies may leverage manual processes are:

  • Access Reviews
    User Access Reviews involve reviewing user access rights and determining whether any adjustments are needed and manual processes like tracking access in spreadsheets can quickly become overwhelming and out of date.
  • Policy Definition and Enforcement:
    Manual processes in defining and enforcing access policies based on business requirements or regulatory compliance needs can lead to outdated and non-compliant operations relatively quickly.
  • User Provisioning and De-provisioning:
    Outdated or compromised systems for new hires, terminations, or role changes is a leading security threat to organizations and manual processes can pose a significant risk if those access controls become out of date.
  • Role Management:
    Defining role hierarchies, assigning appropriate permissions to roles, and reviewing role assignments periodically to ensure accuracy is a critical component to an organization’s security posture and must stay current to reduce risk.
  • Audit and Compliance Reporting:
    Providing accurate and detailed evidence of compliance to auditors or regulatory bodies and is essential for company trustworthiness and industry regulations are constantly evolving as the threat landscape and data privacy changes, so manual processes can quickly become obsolete.

Automating IGA processes can mitigate these risks by enhancing accuracy, scalability, and resource efficiency.

 

Effectively Managing IGA as Needs Change

As a company grows, manually managing Identity Governance and Administration processes becomes increasingly challenging and unsustainable. Manual processes are not easily scalable and may struggle to keep up with the growing complexity of user access requirements and organizational changes. Additionally, the propensity for errors and wasted resources inherent in manual processes can hinder efficiency and pose significant risks to security and compliance.

Team size and budget constraints can also be a factor in assessing the right IGA approach. As roles and responsibilities for security teams evolve, there may not always be budget for additional headcount to manage increased responsibilities. This is where automated tools and processes can help enhance team bandwidth and optimize operations without the need to increase team size and role scope.

When companies reach this threshold, it is a good time to consider an automated IGA solution. Transitioning to automated IGA solutions enables scalability, adaptability, and sustainability by streamlining processes, reducing errors, and optimizing resource utilization, thus better supporting the evolving needs of a growing organization, and thereby strengthening the security posture.

 

Building Vs. Buying IGA Solutions

Homegrown Identity Governance and Administration solutions can offer customization and flexibility to meet specific organizational needs as a company starts out. When employee rosters are small and security checklists are short, this approach can be the best option for some organizations. But as highlighted, this approach can also be labor-intensive to develop and maintain. As a company grows and its needs become more complex, homegrown solutions may struggle to scale efficiently, leading to increased costs and resource allocation.

On the other hand, automated IGA solutions provided by vendors offer out-of-the-box functionality, scalability, and ongoing support, making them more suitable for organizations experiencing growth. Investing in a SaaS solution as the company scales can provide a more cost-effective and sustainable approach, offering advanced or custom features, compliance support, and streamlined processes to accommodate increasing complexities and volumes of user access requirements.

 

How Clarity Can Help

For a safe, low effort way to tackle identity governance initiatives, organizations are partnering with companies like Clarity Security. An easy-to-implement, easy-to-use solution, Clarity helps mid-market enterprises manage and scale their Identity Governance programs. Focusing on decreasing the burden posed by manual IGA processes as well as mitigating the substantial lift required from teams adopting a third-party solution, Clarity’s innovative approach gets teams onboarded faster, increases department bandwidth, and reduces overall IT spend. And, not only does it help teams eliminate the tedious manual processes, it does so while providing the identity governance and audit compliance support for adhering to key cybersecurity frameworks like NIST, HIPAA, and HiTRUST.

Schedule a demo now to learn more about how Clarity's solution can help your organization.

By following these best practices, organizations can manage and scale their IGA processes as they scale. This can modernize a growing company’s approach to identity and access management, allow them to better mitigate security risks, and enable them to better protect their critical assets from emerging threats.

 

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