Role Management: The Necessity of Identity Governance

Role Management: The Necessity of Identity Governance

What is role management? How does it form a critical part of identity governance? Why do so many people feel it’s the biggest challenge facing their business’ identity security policies?

COVID-19 and the global response to it changed how we look at cybersecurity and identity management in particular. The sudden and immediate necessity of switching to remote work en masse, and possibly creating permanent work-from-home-paradigms, upended the traditional wisdom of authentication and permissions. 

As stated before, visibility forms the core and archstone of all cybersecurity. You cannot protect what you cannot see. This applies to users and their permissions as well; if users possess permissions beyond the scope of their jobs, they could become primary targets for threat actors. 

This is where role management, as part of an identity governance solution, steps up. 

Role Management

What is Role Management? 

Role Management is a tool that enforces the Principle of Least Privilege; this states that users should only have the bare minimum of permissions to complete their tasks on the network. Therefore, role management ties permissions to a job title. 

For example, your company hires Alice as the new as a part of your financial office or department. In a manual or legacy system, you would manually assign Alice permissions as she requested them or as they became apparent. This often means having no idea what permissions she actually holds at any given time; in some cases, enterprises use spreadsheets to try to keep track of it all. 

So from the beginning, Alice becomes subject to onboarding issues, delayed workflows, and login barriers. Worse, as manual processes bestow privileges on her, she could become the victim of access creep, bloating her account. 

Role Management, by contrast, streamlines the onboarding process and strengthens its security in one go. Now, when you hire Alice, you simply give her an account designed for a member of the finance team with all the necessary permissions. She can begin immediately, and because her account follows the Principle of Least Privilege automatically, her account is less of a target for hackers. 

Even if hackers do compromise Alice’s account, the damage they can do remains limited because of the lack of privileges. Additionally, if Alice somehow does attain permissions outside her assigned role, the capability can make that visible to your IT security team for immediate investigation. 

Other Features Via Identity Governance 

Role Management is often included in Identity Governance and Administration (IGA) solutions. As a result, role management often pairs with other capabilities which assist in its cybersecurity effectiveness. 

For example, IGA helps maintain the Principle of Least Privilege by helping to automate the temporary permissions process, including revoking said privileges after a time limit. IGA also works with compliance reporting, ensuring that all roles in the enterprise follow industrial and governmental regulations. 

Your business needs to start enforcing role management in its IT environment. To get started, why not check out the Identity Governance Buyer’s Guide? We examine the top solutions and their key capabilities in detail. We also offer the Solutions Suggestion Engine for Identity Management. 

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