How IAM Solves Onboarding and Offboarding Challenges

onboarding offboarding identity and access management

Employee’s digital identities present dozens of challenges for the modern enterprise’s IT security team. It can be hard to know which privileges and permissions each employee has or needs to perform their individual roles.

Furthermore, it’s vital for your IT security team to control permissions to your enterprise’s assets and databases to prevent both external threat actors and insider threats from wreaking havoc on your network— whether accidental or deliberate. Few day-to-day business activities highlight these challenges more than onboarding—the process of bringing new employees into your enterprise—and offboarding—the process of terminating an employee’s access.

Onboarding and offboarding can be a nightmare for IT security teams, especially for large and scaling enterprises. Thankfully, identity and access management (IAM) solutions can help your IT security team tackle the challenges within these major transitional processes.

Here’s how:

Challenge: Onboarding takes a long time, and it can be hard to determine which permissions to give an employee to get them started on the right foot.

Solution: Identity and access management solutions can drastically shorten the time it takes to conduct onboarding—from months to just a few hours (at most). This is because it can apply your relevant IT policies to each new identity added to the system automatically, and then provision them with the proper permissions.

Incidentally, identity and access management solutions encourage your enterprise’s network to grant permissions based on roles rather than on individuals. That way, you never need to question which new employee needs what permissions when—the permissions are coded into their position in your business; it will change automatically as they change positions and move through your enterprise. This will require your IT security team to set policies about what roles receive what permissions, but this is a good opportunity for a necessary IT environment tidying- up if they haven’t done so already.

Challenge: We can’t figure out whether this new employee should receive a certain access or not. They will need it occasionally, but it can be a security risk if they have unrestricted access to it.

Solution: Indeed, sometimes permissions may not be so clear-cut as to relegate them to individual roles. In these cases, identity and access management solutions will allow your IT security team to monitor, evaluate, grant or reject individual access requests as they arise. They can determine what is necessary for each employee to perform their roles, and respond to requests promptly rather than taking weeks as in manual systems.

Furthermore, your IT security team can grant special privileges and permissions to employees on a specific time-limit via your IAM solution. That way, employees can perform the task they need with the asset or database and then turn their permissions over to prevent access creep.

Challenge: It’s time to terminate one of our employee’s permissions via offboarding, but we can’t find all of the access and permissions they had in the past.

Solution: Offboarding requires the total elimination of all of an employee’s accounts and logins (on-premises and on the cloud), yet this remains one of the most common challenges for the digital enterprise. Access creep—the gradual and unmonitored granting of permissions to individuals or roles over an identity lifecycle—can mean that simply shutting off the known logins may not be enough. According to some sources, nearly one-third of employees still have access to their previous employer’s networks. This creates a huge risk for insider threats, whether intentional or not.   

Identity and access management solutions prevent this. Not only do they enforce a paradigm of least permissions throughout your enterprise’s entire IT environment, they also allow your IT security team to monitor all of the permissions of individual users. They can prevent access creep from happening in your enterprise via controlling access requests and removing unnecessary permissions. The chances of an employee still having permissions after the offboarding is reduced significantly as a result.

Additionally, identity and access management solutions often implement single sign-on, which can help your IT security team during the offboarding process by giving them a single login to terminate. It can also help you determine if the employee in question has used any applications or assets without your IT security team’s knowledge—a potential sign of an insider threat.

Other Best Practices For Onboarding and Offboarding

It is good practice to make sure your HR or employee management solutions and technology is integrated fully with your identity and access management solution to help make onboarding and offboarding as smooth as possible.

Keep in mind that automating the processes can make onboarding and offboarding easier but they can also add to the costs of your solution—it creates a more complex system and more overhead. But if you have limited IT security staff on hand, this may be the way forward.  

Onboarding and offboarding can be a challenge. But an IAM solution can make these problems a snap to solve.

Ben Canner

Ben Canner

Ben Canner is an enterprise technology writer and analyst covering Identity Management, SIEM, Endpoint Protection, and Cybersecurity writ large. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English from Clark University in Worcester, MA. He previously worked as a corporate blogger and ghost writer. You can reach him via Twitter and LinkedIn.
Ben Canner