Why Governance in Identity Security is Such a Challenge

Why Governance in Identity Security is Such a Challenge

Why is governance in identity security such a challenge to enterprise IT decision-makers? What can enterprises do to help ease this challenge? 

Recently, the editors of Solutions Review opened up a poll asking LinkedIn followers about their biggest identity management challenge. Did they struggle with the cybersecurity involved in authentication? Maintaining monitoring of their users after the initial login? Protecting their privileged users from persistent external threat actors? 

Actually, not as much as we expected. In fact, the majority of respondents (52 percent) said their biggest identity management challenge was governance and role management. None of the other categories came close to matching this concern. 

So why does governance in identity security pose a problem for so many IT decision-makers? 

Why Governance in Identity Security is Such a Challenge

Let’s start with some definitions: identity governance and role management refer to monitoring the permissions users have and curtailing them as much as is feasible. 

Fundamentally, this branch of cybersecurity subscribes to the philosophy known as the Principle of Least Privilege. At the core of this idea is that users should have the least number of permissions connected to their accounts. Limiting privileges ensures that no one account can cause as much damage if a hacker or insider threat takes control of it. 

This means that businesses need to know who has what permissions, how they use them, and whether those permissions are strictly necessary for their roles in the organization.

Of course, this is all easier said than done. First, you need to know all of your users (not always easy when you start factoring in non-human identities and third parties). Second, you need to know their behaviors and devices, which proves difficult in the era of mass work-from-home and bring-your-own-devices. Finally, your business must have the ability to maintain consistent insights into users’ permissions during a volatile time in the economy with high turnover rates. 

It’s an uphill battle, in other words. Even today, some enterprises honestly try to keep track of who has what permissions with Excel spreadsheets. Moreover, these challenges don’t get into the issues surrounding temporary passwords, often assigned during absences or special projects and then never revoked. 

Access creep and insider threats proliferate in these kinds of environments.  

How Identity Governance Helps

This is where identity governance steps in to bring next-generation role management to enterprises of all sizes.

It operates by granting your IT security team the most valuable resource in all of cybersecurity: visibility. It enables your team to track and review all of your users and their permissions in your environment. Additionally, your team can decide to revoke permissions on any account at any time, thus allowing for your business to start following the Principle of Least Privilege. 

Further, you can actually begin employees on the right foot by using role management to create sets of permissions that go with each job title in your business. When a new employee steps into their role, their account thus already has all the pre-approved privileges they need to get started, preventing both slowdowns and dangerous permission granting in the long term. 

Also, identity governance can handle the challenge in temporary permissions. It creates an access request system that helps automate the assignment of temporary privileges. After a set time limit, the system can automatically revoke those same permissions, preventing the account holder from keeping them past the point of their necessity. 

In other words, governance in identity security doesn’t have to be a challenge. It could be the start of a new day for your cybersecurity. Check out the Identity Governance Buyer’s Guide for more. Also, check out the Suggestion Engine for more.  

Ben Canner