Best Practices for Effective ‘Identity and Access Management (IAM)’ Implementation
Identity and access are the two significant entry points for any cyber threat incident.
This risk vulnerability has increased further with the rise of digital adoption and expanding cloud space.
That’s when the Identity and Access Management (IAM) solution extends the helping hand!
From fulfilling the requirements of leading compliance regulations through successful audits to addressing many emerging IT security risks, IAM solutions help you in many ways.
But the results in IAM are purely dependent on how you implement your IAM program as part of your IT security policy.
We will look at 12 best practices that serve as the guide for successful IAM implementation:
1) Clearly Define IAM Vision
The critical fundamental for successful IAM implementation is understanding it as a combination of technology solutions and business processes to manage identities and access corporate data and applications.
- Start to tie in business processes with your IAM program from the concept stage itself.
- Build your current and future IT capabilities, such as cloud-based implementations based on the current IT and network infrastructure.
- Engineer the roles between users and applications regarding privileges, rules, policies, and constraints.
- Map access privileges to business roles, identify excessive privileges, accounts, and redundant/dead groups.
- Make sure to fulfill all auditing requirements to be in line with compliance regulations, privacy, and data governance policies. This will help the teams make informed decisions.
- Take the enterprise-wide approach in implementing authorization procedures, security, and management, integration across domains part of your IAM architecture.
2) Develop A Strong Foundation
This requires a comprehensive evaluation of IAM product capabilities and its sync with organizational IT. This should be followed by an effective risk assessment of all organizational applications and platforms.
The assessment should ideally cover:
- Comparison between standard and in-house, and their versions
- Identification of OS, third-party apps currently in use and mapping with the functionalities offered by the IAM program
- Customizations made to fulfill new requirements
- Technological capabilities and limitations
Don’t forget to involve IAM Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) in standardizing and enforcement of the IAM policy.
3) Stage-wise Implementation
Based on the first two practices, the IAM program should be implemented. A stage-wise procedure is recommended to avoid complexities in the IAM implementation process.
4) Stakeholder Awareness
Unlike usual training sessions, the IAM program-related stakeholder awareness program should cover detailed training on the underlying technology, product abilities, and scalability factors.
Each IAM solution implementation awareness program should have an approach tailored to the requirements of different user communities.
More than anyone, IT teams require detailed know-how of the IAM program and its core activities. Even the Operations team should be aware of the capabilities across different stages of the IAM lifecycle.
The training process should be a continuous activity and should happen in tandem with the changing processes or emerging capabilities.
5) Consider Identity as Primary Security Perimeter
Organizations should shift from the traditional focus on network security to considering identity as the primary security perimeter. With the explosion of cloud and remote working culture, network perimeter is becoming increasingly porous, and perimeter defense can’t be effective. Centralize security controls around user and service identities.
6) Enforce Multi-Factor Authentication
Enable Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) for all your users, including administrators and C-suite executives. It checks multiple aspects of a user’s identity before allowing access to an application or database, instead of regular sign-in aspects. MFA is an integral part of identity and access management.
7) Establish Single Sign-On
Organizations must establish Single Sign-On (SSO) for their devices, apps, and services so users can use the same set of credentials to access the resources they need, wherever and whenever. You can achieve SSO by using the same identity solution for all your apps and resources, whether on-premises or in the cloud.
8) Implement Zero-Trust Policy
The zero-trust model assumes every access request as a threat until verified. Access requests from both inside and outside of the network are thoroughly authenticated, authorized, and scrutinized for anomalies before granting permission.
9) Enforce a Strong Password Policy
Implement an organization-wide password policy to ensure users set strong passwords for access. Make sure that employees update their passwords regularly and avoid using sequential and repetitive characters.
10) Secure Privileged Accounts
Securing privileged accounts is imperative to protect critical business assets. Limiting the number of users having privileged access to the organization’s critical assets reduces the chance of unauthorized access to a sensitive resource. You must isolate the privileged accounts from the risk of being exposed to cybercriminals.
11) Conduct Regular Access Audits
Organizations must regularly conduct access audits to review all the granted accesses and check if they are still required. As users often request additional access or want to revoke their access, these audits help you manage such requests accordingly.
12) Implement Passwordless Login
Passwordless login is the process of authenticating users without the need for a password. It prevents scenarios where cybercriminals leverage weak and repetitive passwords to gain access to the network. Passwordless login can be implemented through various approaches, including email-based login, SMS-based login, and biometrics-based login.
These 12 best practices help in the smooth and seamless implementation of an IAM program.
A cost-effective IAM program can also be achieved through:
- In-depth requirement analysis as a combination of information gathering and perfect scope definition
- Effective design backed by a perfectly planned architecture and solution design
- Robust development through perfect process setup and effective integration
- Streamlined production roll-out with seamless migration from User Acceptance Testing to live release
- Effective support and maintenance through proper training, post-production, and enhancements
Most IAM programs fail due to ineffective management in either single or all stages of implementation. This is where the above listed IAM best practices help in the smooth implementation of an IAM program.
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- Minimized risk scope in modifying IAM architecture designs
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- Expected ROI and enhanced user experience
- Tailored solutions for smooth roll-out
- Effective application on-boarding
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