Employees, predominantly remote workers, can lead to a security threat and possibly jeopardize your organization’s cyber defenses. As a result, the human attack vector cannot be ignored. The insider threat is emerging as a serious enterprise concern, far more extensive than software vulnerabilities. Be it accidental disclosures or malicious cases of insider misuse, the number of incidents is high and shows no signs of respite. The acute nature of this challenge makes it harder for security teams to understand its depth, as traditional defenses are incapable of grappling with this issue. A progressive IAM strategy comprising people-focused controls & processes is necessary to execute a governance-based approach that docks a more substantial security base and foothold to mitigate the risk posed by a determined insider from executing an attack.
Role of Identity Governance
Though multi-factor authentication acts as a first line of deterrence and defense against an external actor interested in compromising the network and robbing credentials, it’s an abysmal way to deal with a malicious insider having credential access in the network. The governance-led approach helps in mitigating insider risks across the entire end-to-end lifecycle of Identity and Access Management. It’s like having a compass that points to the direction you should be heading to stay prepared for the full range of identity risks related to insider threats. The approach can help you in the following ways.
- Validation of users by forcing them to prove their credentials and verify who they truly are.
- Govern their actions by limiting their access and activities.
- Manual and automated processes to enable or remove access to applications, monitor malicious user behavior and faulty credential usage.
- Drive audits to evaluate identity lifecycles to review events and check whether the IAM ecosystem is optimally used.
It also helps meet strategic security aims and empowers you to tilt the advantage in your favor instead of the attacker. In addition, you will be able to leverage the benefits of this approach on an enterprise scale and prevent your organization from becoming a prime hunting ground for malicious insiders.
The approach can be enabled through identity governance solutions to ensure the integrity of access and privileges given to employees, contractors, and vendors. You will get to know who has access to the most sensitive information, what is the process adopted to authorize users to access data or applications, how privileged systems are managed and provisioned, the efficacy of your IAM controls, and how access and privileges are managed across the employee lifecycle.
Identity governance solutions can assign risk profiles to every user. These solutions can automatically escalate any privilege request to prevent accidental or intentional access to classified networks. It also generates user-focussed risk scores based on their roles, responsibilities, and past behaviors.
Automation to govern identities
Reducing the risk of exploitation of internal accounts and preventing ex-employees utilize their old accounts to steal data can be achieved through provisioning. Provisioning is a way to administer systems and applications through authentication and authorization to define and manage who has access to what. It reduces the risk of exploitation of internal accounts and prevents ex-employees utilize their old accounts to steal data once they leave your organization.
However, relying on manual provisioning has its challenges. Most of them are legacy solutions and are incapable of meeting today’s needs, as the volume of devices, users, and data has grown significantly. Here are a few drawbacks of legacy IAM solutions.
- Not meant for today’s heterogeneous IT infrastructure
The modern enterprise infrastructure includes cloud applications, virtualization, software defined architectures, etc., making it difficult for enterprises to manage identities.
- Limited integration capabilities
Enterprises find it challenging to integrate IAM solutions with existing IT infrastructure.
- Inefficient and lacks speed
Most traditional IAM solutions are time-consuming; the on-boarding and off-boarding process become a challenge.
- Demands higher levels of manual intervention
Requires resources to manually define and process IAM norms which becomes a daunting task for large & diverse organizations.
- Complex user interface
Makes it difficult for security professionals to maximize the potential of the solution.
Provisioning is a success when it is automated to secure identities. Automation can reduce the burden of manual provisioning by including preventive controls to implement functions such as segregation of duties. Whether it is constant employee churn or managing contractor credentials, you can rapidly provision or de-provision users, ensuring the sensitive data is secured by automating access to critical resources. By automating and embedding policy controls, you can enhance visibility across the users and mitigate risks of privilege account abuse.
The following are some of the advantages of automating IAM processes.
- Limit manual intervention and errors
- Ease up IAM processes by simplifying tasks
- Better manageability of employee lifecycles, process requests, SSO, MFA, password management, etc.
- Highly scalable and flexible
Role of Privileged Identity Management
Another way to combat insider threats is through Privileged Identity Management (PIM). PIM enforces role-based control across your digital infrastructure by monitoring user activity through searchable audit trails by automating tracking and provisioning user access, offering a scalable and tamper-proof environment. For example, PIM can prevent malicious actors from elevating their privileges from contractor to system administrator during breach attempts. PIM can establish robust processes to define how privileged accounts are created, modified, disabled, or deleted and set the exclusive privileges given to each account.
The other key factor is integrating Privileged Access Management (PAM) solutions with systems to provision and govern identity accounts through effective tracking, monitoring, and audit. If this is left unchecked, it can lead to a lack of visibility and control, making it challenging to manage identities across the organization. The integration will also empower administrators with better visibility of regular and privileged accounts.
Using PIM can enable active checking of users for their system privileges and safeguards your organization from accidental disruptions caused by any user who erroneously finds sensitive data or a malicious insider searching for further access.
Use cases of automation in identity governance
Automation in identity governance helps faster integration with businesses enabling operational efficiency and better cost management. Robotics is extensively used to automate and link IAM tasks to address the growing need for user identity and access requests. Automated rule-based techniques are leveraged to deal with repetitive tasks and eliminate human error. Automation also helps in the faster deployment of identity solutions. It provides a unified platform for access request management, auto-generation of app request forms, auto de-provisioning, and audit trails for easy compliance checks. This helps enterprises to digitalize and standardize approval processes by eliminating human errors.
Here are some excellent use cases on automation within enterprises.
Automation is the way to strengthen identity governance efforts. It simplifies processes and enables you to meet security, governance, and compliance challenges. You can bring down manual interventions by automating routine tasks and build an integrated platform to manage resources across diverse technology sets. Automating identity governance initiatives can help you build a connected workplace where information is shared liberally, yet it is closely monitored with user restrictions. Whether moving your applications and workloads to the cloud or dealing with a heterogenous mix of users and technologies, managing user identities and access privileges through automation is becoming a prime imperative.