The Worst Challenges in Identity Management Involve Offboarding (and Onboarding)

The Worst Challenges in Identity Management Involve Offboarding (and Onboarding)

Why are the worst challenges in identity management tied into offboarding and onboarding? What does onboarding and offboarding entail? How can your business best optimize its offboarding and onboarding to prevent the cybersecurity challenges they might cause?

Offboarding refers to the process of removing an employee’s accounts and credentials after they leave the business. Onboarding refers to providing new employees the credentials and permissions they need to perform their everyday tasks on the job. On the surface, these processes sound remarkably simple and perhaps obvious. However, research suggests this is far from the case. 

In fact, The Identity Defined Security Alliance recently discovered that 72 percent of businesses spend one week or longer bestow access to a worker. Alternatively, about 50 percent of organizations need three days or longer to revoke system access after a worker leaves, which leaves them vulnerable. 

With the pandemic and the shift to online work, these problems become exacerbated. But what kinds of challenges do these delays cause? And how can you prevent them? 

The Identity Challenges in Offboarding and Onboarding

Offboarding Challenges

Imagine this scenario: Alice has been acting belligerent to clients and coworkers, and her output has faltered. Despite numerous attempts to intervene, your business feels it should part ways with Alice. 

Alice doesn’t take it well and decides to cause downtime on your network in revenge. If your enterprise fails to offboard her account immediately, then she easily could do so through a legitimate login that wouldn’t trigger any cybersecurity alerts. The sudden and catastrophic damage to your IT environment, as a result, could devastate your bottom line in the short and long term. Further, that’s before considering compliance fines that would result from failing to remove an outdated account. 

What’s more, that serves as only one example of what an offboarding failure could cause. The longer an orphaned account lingers on your IT environment, the higher the chance a hacker discovers it and uses it for their own nefarious goals.

Onboarding Challenges

On the other side of the coin, we have onboarding problems. Why perhaps not as obvious of a cybersecurity challenge as offboarding, onboarding presents its own potential pitfalls. For example, failure to properly onboard can waste employee’s time, cutting into their productivity and therefore your bottom line. The more employees facing this problem, the exponential the loss in productivity. 

Focusing more concretely on security, onboarding confusion issues can cause new employees to receive permissions beyond what their actual job titles require. In other words, they might already experience access creep before the job even begins, making their accounts even more lucrative targets.

How to Tackle These Challenges

Ultimately, this is where identity and access management, more specifically identity governance and administration (IGA), steps in. IGA helps your enterprise keep track of employees and their current status in the network. Additionally, it can help streamline the offboarding process, ensuring that no orphaned accounts remain out of sight. 

Also, IGA helps strictly regulate what permissions go with what job titles, speeding up the onboarding process and ensuring that employees don’t experience access creep. 

You can learn more in the Identity Governance and Administration Buyer’s Guide.   

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