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Identity & Access Management – Why Should Organizations Consider Investing in an IAM Program

Organizations these days are undergoing massive digital transformations, wherein traditional business operating models are being replaced or incorporated with digital technology and strategy. This digitization is applicable to all stakeholders involved in business. The core of this, however, comes down to how effectively organizations can manage the growing and interacting ‘digital identities’ in a flexible and secure manner.

Consider the different identities being managed in your own organization for example. How many internal employees, contractors, partners, suppliers, applications/services, IoT systems are being managed? How simplified, centralized and agile are your existing solutions and processes (if existent) to manage the identity life cycle?

In this digital age, securing organizational and identity data is imperative. There needs to be proper access control policies defined as to precisely determine who has access to what resources within the organization. Not just that accesses be defined, but also needs to be continually reviewed, provisioned / de-provisioned and certified to meet the compliance requirements.

For instance, think of a scenario where a senior executive with elevated privileges to systems retires abruptly due to some situation. Imagine what could happen if a rogue insider discovers sensitive information and passwords to access these systems. ‘Orphan accounts’ is a term given to these abandoned accounts, and there needs to be clear processes to provision / de-provision user access to avoid these issues. However, this task of de-provisioning his or her identity from the entire organization could turn out to be a never-ending task in itself. Or it could be done in as less as few seconds if a proper IAM system is in place.

Identity and Access Management (IAM) is typically implemented through centralized technology that either replaces or deeply integrates with existing access and sign-on systems. It uses a central directory of users, roles, and predefined permission levels to grant access rights to individuals based on their user role and need to access certain systems, applications, and data.

With the points mentioned above, it’s evident that an IAM solution is worth the hassle. Contemporary IAM systems are flexible enough to adapt to how an organization works, rather than forcing the business to adapt to IAM. IAM products have evolved and improved in recent years, with the increasing adoption of AI and ML to automate processes and predict identity behavior. However, the principle of IAM and how it can benefit security/governance programs has not changed and it can be a worthwhile investment for organizations.

The only practical way to implement, manage and enforce identity- and access-related policies is to have an IAM system in place. Be it on-premise or cloud-based, the bigger the organization, the greater the need.

Don’t yet have an IAM system or feel it is poorly executed? Think about the ways it can be improved. Analyze whether your current processes work for or against the defined security goals. Think about what can be improved, which steps can be simplified and which can be eliminated altogether.

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