Identity and access management (IAM) best practices seek to clearly define, and oversee the access privileges granted to network users, and ensure that access is only granted to those within the organization.
Think of identity and access management best practices and tools as gatekeepers, tasked to either allow or deny entry, depending on who or what is trying to enter the “premises”, as well as closely monitor all visitors’ movements within the designated “area”.
Identity and access management best practices are comprised of the following intrinsic elements:
- Identification of individual users within a given system or network
- Identification of specific user roles, and the assignment of such to eligible individuals
- Adding, updating, or removing individuals and their corresponding roles within a given system or network
- Establishment and assignment levels of access for an individual user or a group of individuals
- Security of the overall system or network, and all information within it
By initiating and enforcing identity and access management best practices within an organization, it effectively protects its business interests, information assets, and shareholders and partners from being exposed to and taken advantage of cybercriminals.
The Gravity of Data Security Risks
Varonis, a company engaged in data security and analytics, reported that in the first half of 2019 alone, some 4.1 billion records have already been exposed as a result of various data breaches. In a separate study conducted by Verizon, it was revealed that 71% of data breaches were done for financial gain, while 25% were conducted to obtain highly sensitive information.
Because of the growing audaciousness of cybercriminals, it is unsurprising that global spending on cybersecurity is expected to reach at least $133.7 billion by 2022. One of the IT safety and security measures that is seen to effectively mitigate the risks of costly data breaches is the enforcement of identity and access management best practices.
According to Yassir Abousselham, senior vice president and chief security officer for enterprise identity and access management firm Okta, the primary objective of identity and access management tools is to “grant access to the right enterprise assets to the right users, in the right context, from a user’s system onboarding to permission authorizations, to the offboarding of that user as needed in a timely fashion.”
Identity and access management best practices, considered an intrinsic foundation of cloud security, must include necessary tools and controls that can capture and store user login details, facilitate the assignment and revocation of user access credentials, and oversee the central enterprise database of user roles, levels, and access privileges.
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The Benefits from Identity and Access Management Best Practices
Investing in identity and access management tools is imperative for all businesses and organizations, given the highly interconnected manner that organizations interact with each other and with their respective customers. Failure to anticipate and prepare for data breaches may only prove to be more costly and damaging than investing in identity and access management best practices and tools.
Aside from reducing the risks of potential internal and external data breaches, investing in and implementing identity and access management measures can help businesses manage their networks efficiently and seamlessly versus those that supervise their systems manually.
Here are some identity and access management best practices that organizations and businesses can use to maximize the efficacy and impact of IAM tools.
Observe a centralized approach
Systems and networks, more so for large-scale organizations and conglomerates, can be quite complicated, with its massive number of users, portals, databases, and applications. It is already difficult to monitor all these components, as all of these are moving simultaneously, performing their respective tasks. Add to this the responsibility of keeping tabs on all network users, and ensuring that they only access files and directories that they are eligible for.
Given the magnitude of work, one identity and access management best practice would be to ensure the centralization of both identity management and sign-on policies to provide for harmonious and audited user experience, as well as provide greater consolidated visibility for all assigned network managers.
Zero Trust Identity Security
The subject of trust is a precarious discussion, especially when it comes to IT safety and security. Now, more than ever, businesses and organizations must trust no one and suspect everyone if it translates to preserving the integrity of their information assets.
Zero Trust Identity Security is an identity and access management best practice that is quite straightforward – a company’s system or network cannot immediately bestow its trust on a user, simply because s/he was able to furnish the correct password.
Organizations should, therefore, implement measures that will allow its systems or networks to further validate user access privileges, especially when it is accessed via multiple ports and platforms. In doing so, cybercriminals will be deterred from penetrating their networks, given that they have several security barriers that would need to contend with.
Implement The Principle of Least Privilege
It is an identity and access management framework to implement The Principle of Least Privilege. Also known as The Principle of Least Authority, The Principle of Least Privilege is defined as the act of assigning specific access privileges to a user that will allow him to open or retrieve files and directories that are essential to the performance of his role and corresponding responsibilities.
Let us say that your organization employs a Health and Safety Officer. Aside from maintaining his own records, s/he must be given access to files of the Human Resources team to allow him to monitor how many direct and indirect employees, as well as contractors, the company has. He can be granted access to a portion of the files maintained by the Finance team so that s/he can be guided on his annual budget – but his access privileges should end there.
As his responsibilities no longer concern historical financial statements and profit and loss reports, or existing contracts with suppliers of third-party agencies, s/he should not be given access privileges to the directories where these files are contained.
Role-based access control (RBAC) or the limitation of non-essential access to sensitive information is an effective way of reducing the risk of internal and external data breaches. In addition, this identity and access management best practice can help further identity security for individual and group users, define and enhance business processes, and improve overall cybersecurity visibility.
Automated Onboarding Procedures
Managing employees -and their respective user privileges – is one thing; including new team members, and orienting them on the company’s IT safety and security regulations is another, especially if you are managing IT safety and security for a sizable organization.
By automating the onboarding process, your IT Team is able to create and implement a clear framework of the access privileges a new employee should receive, from generally shared directories to precise folders and drives. This asset management best practice is a more practical way of working, versus providing all users with access to the company’s entire information network then revoking privileges only upon request.
Moreover, this identity and access management best practice enables your company’s IT team to devote their efforts to preventing external security threats, as data abuse from within the organization is adequately controlled.
Passwords have, time and again, been shown to be ineffective in securing confidential personal and corporate information. Perhaps due to carelessness or the lack of proper guidance, there are still a large number of users that make use of generic passwords and even reuse these across a number of accounts and platforms. Such practices make it very easy for cybercriminals to unlawfully access accounts and networks, and use these for their personal gain.
Another identity and access management best practice that organizations can consider putting into action is the use of multi-factor authentication systems. By adding more robust layers between the access request page to the folders and directories where the needed information is kept, companies put into effect more security barriers that would flag and deter potential cybersecurity attacks.
Organizations can employ one or a combination of the following multi-factor authentication methods:
- Passwords or passcodes
- Challenge/Response methods
- SMS messaging systems
- Magnetic stripe cards or card security codes
- Security tokens
- Time of access request monitoring
Identify and Manage High-Risk Systems
More and more companies are shifting to the use of cloud-based applications and frameworks, because of the accessibility, ease of use, and additional cost savings they extend to organizations and their respective users.
However, there are also organizations, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, that still utilize legacy systems, which no longer have any safety and security updates. Confidential information stored using these unpatched systems is more vulnerable, as cybercriminals can use these loopholes to penetrate and control their network.
As an identity and access management best practice, IT safety and security teams must have an up-to-date inventory of the company’s programs and applications to see if any of these can be potential security threats. Should there be any legacy programs on the list, they should immediately look for a suitable replacement that they can quickly deploy and seamlessly integrate with other programs within the information network.
Monitor and Dispose of Orphaned Accounts
Cybercriminals are relentless in looking for vulnerable entry points that they can exploit in order to gain access to a business or organization. One of these perceived weaknesses is orphaned or dormant accounts within a system or network.
Account deactivation and removal, together with the revocation of their respective user privileges, must be done immediately after an individual departs from the company, or moves to a new role or location. Failure to do so can give cybercriminals the opportunity to breach the organization’s digital perimeter.
As an identity and access management best practice, employees’ line managers or the Human Resources Team must immediately inform their IT safety and security teams regarding any employee movements, to allow the latter to update their roster of user accounts and their corresponding access privileges. Overarching cybersecurity visibility is a strong foundation in guaranteeing systems and network protection.
Selection of software solution ideal for your company’s distinct requirements
Every business and organization has varying IT safety and security needs and requirements, depending on their size, employee headcount, user access requirements, and business objectives. Having said that, they have different security threats that they need to anticipate and address, which could all be addressed through the selection and implementation of tailored identity and access management solutions.
As an identity and access management best practice, companies must introduce new applications, devices, and systems that are scalable and easy to deploy but offer multi-level security features and authentication protocols so that user workflows can be duly specified and streamlined and productivity optimized.
Investing and enforcing identity and access management best practices requires a full overview of your organization’s IT infrastructure, systems, and assets so that all elements can be closely monitored for potential and existing threats. In the event that your business does not have a dedicated IT team to conduct these identity and access management best practices, it is best to consult with a highly-experienced and professional firm that specializes in IT safety and security.
This is where RSI Security can assist.
This way, you can determine and fully understand how you can guarantee the success and survival of your organization through the implementation of sound identity and access management best practices.