Identity governance and administration (IGA) is a critical function in cybersecurity, yet it’s often misunderstood.
IGA can seem complex, so we created this guide to help you understand the ins and outs of IGA—especially how it fits into your security toolkit.
By the end of this guide, you’ll understand IGA and its role in keeping your organization’s data safe. We’ll also dispel some common myths about IGA and provide tips for getting started with this important security tool.
To comply with regulatory requirements like the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), organizations must take a proactive approach to managing their user identities.
Identity governance and administration manages digital identities across an organization. It includes creating and maintaining user accounts, setting up permissions and access levels, and auditing identity usage.
Identity governance is important because it helps organizations control who has access to their data and systems. Only authorized users can perform actions that could potentially impact sensitive information.
By establishing a clear and well-defined identity governance policy, organizations can minimize the risk of data breaches and other security incidents.
The rapidly growing identity governance market
The identity governance market is growing rapidly. Market Research Future (MRFR) estimates that the Identity Governance and Administration (IGA) market will grow to $9 billion by 2026. The increasing importance of digital identity management, the need for better security, and compliance with regulations are the main drivers of market growth.
The IGA market is competitive, with many vendors offering identity governance solutions. Some leading vendors in the market include IBM, Oracle, Microsoft, SailPoint Technologies, and CA Technologies.
To stay ahead in the market, vendors need to offer innovative and comprehensive solutions that can address the evolving needs of organizations. They also need to invest in research and development (R&D) to develop new technologies and stay ahead of their competitors.
What is a digital identity?
A digital identity is an online representation of a person or organization. Digital identities can be used for various purposes, such as authenticating users, managing access to resources, and exchanging information.
Digital identities are different from traditional identities in that they can be created and managed electronically. This allows businesses to automate the process of provisioning and de-provisioning user accounts.
Organizations can store digital identities in a central repository, such as an identity management system (IDMS). This allows businesses to manage their digital identities more effectively and keep them up-to-date.
The use of digital identities is growing rapidly. Gartner estimates that by 2024, “a true global, portable, decentralized identity standard will emerge in the market.” This standard will be based on open standards and interoperable across different platforms.
What is an identity governance solution?
An identity governance solution is a software that helps organizations manage digital identities.
Identity governance solutions automate the process of provisioning and de-provisioning user accounts. They provide fine-grained control over which users have access to which resources.
In addition, identity governance solutions can provide reports on identity management activities, such as who accessed what resources and when.
Software-as-a-service (SaaS) vs. on-premises
Identity governance solutions can be delivered as software-as-a-service (SaaS) or on-premises. On-premises solutions are usually more expensive than SaaS solutions because they require businesses to purchase and maintain the hardware and software.
SaaS Identity Governance solutions are hosted by the vendor and accessed over the internet. SaaS solutions are typically subscription-based, with businesses paying a monthly or yearly fee.
The main advantage of SaaS solutions is that they are easy to set up and require little maintenance. They are also typically more cost-effective than on-premises solutions.
However, SaaS solutions can be less flexible than on-premises solutions. Businesses may not be able to customize the software to their specific needs.
Identity governance vs. identity and access management (IAM)
Identity governance and identity and access management (IAM) are two related but distinct disciplines. The two disciplines overlap to some extent, but they have different focuses.
Identity governance is concerned with the management of digital identities. It includes the creation, maintenance, and deletion of digital identities.
Identity and access management (IAM) involves the provisioning and de-provisioning user accounts. IAM also manages user access to resources, such as applications and data.
IGA and IAM work together to secure an organization’s digital resources. IAM provides the controls to ensure that only authorized users can access sensitive information. IGA ensures that the identities of the users are known and trusted.
Increasingly, IGA is also responsible for monitoring the behavior of identities within an organization.
Identity governance vs. access governance
Identity governance and access governance are two terms that are often used interchangeably. While both processes are important for securing an organization’s data, there is a difference.
Access governance is focused on data security. Organizations use it to control which users have access to which data.
Instead of dealing directly with data security, identity governance hones in on the users’ identities. Organizations use it to ensure that only trusted users can access sensitive information.
Identity governance and the cloud
The cloud has made identity governance more important than ever before. The cloud has allowed organizations to store and manage their data in a central location.
While the cloud improves efficiency for organizations, it has also made it easier for attackers to access sensitive information.
Identity governance improves cloud security by controlling which users have access to which resources. The process typically consists of four steps: identifying the users, identifying the resources, identifying the permissions, and granting or denying access.
Organizations can use identity governance solutions to control access to their cloud-based resources. By doing so, they can improve the security of their data and reduce the risk of data breaches.
Identity as a service in cloud computing identity governance
Identity as a service (IDaaS) is a type of cloud computing that provides identity management and access control solutions.
IDaaS providers typically offer a variety of identity governance solutions, such as single sign-on (SSO), multifactor authentication (MFA), and user provisioning.
Here’s a closer look at each solution:
- Single sign-on (SSO) allows users to authenticate with one set of credentials.
- Multifactor authentication (MFA) requires users to authenticate with more than one set of credentials.
- User provisioning allows administrators to create and manage user accounts.
By implementing these solutions, organizations can keep their data secure and away from malicious actors.
The types of data that identity governance protects
In 2022, data is expected to be one of the most valuable commodities in the world.
As data becomes more valuable, organizations must take steps to protect it. One way to do this is through identity governance.
Identity governance can protect various data types, including Personally Identifiable Information (PII), Protected Health Information (PHI), and intellectual property.
Personally Identifiable Information (PII)
PII is data that identifies an individual. This includes data such as names, Social Security numbers, and dates of birth. Malicious actors can use PII to commit identity theft or fraud.
Protected Health Information (PHI)
PHI is any information that relates to an individual’s health. This includes data such as medical records and health insurance information. Healthcare organizations are required to protect PHI under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
Intellectual property is any data that has value to an organization. This includes data such as trade secrets and proprietary information. The organizations that own this data type can use it to gain a competitive advantage. When malicious actors access this data, they can harm the organization’s business.
The industries that need identity governance the most
There are a few industries in particular that need identity governance the most. These industries typically work with sensitive data, such as health information and financial records.
Organizations in these industries must take extra steps to ensure that only authorized users can access their data. Otherwise, they risk facing hefty fines and reputational damage.
The following industries need identity governance the most:
Patient records are some of the most sensitive data that organizations handle. If this data falls into the wrong hands, it could be used to commit fraud or identity theft.
Financial institutions handle credit card numbers and bank account information. If malicious actors compromise this sensitive data, they could commit financial fraud.
Government organizations handle sensitive data like tax records and social security numbers. If this data is mishandled, it could lead to identity theft and fraud.
Retailers store customer data, such as credit card numbers and addresses. If this data is compromised, it could be used to commit fraud.
Common misconceptions about identity governance
There are a few common misconceptions about identity governance. Let’s dispel some of the myths:
Identity governance is only for large organizations.
This is not true. Identity governance can be beneficial for organizations of all sizes. After all, cyber threats target small companies just as much as they target large ones.
Identity governance is only for companies that are required to comply with regulations.
While identity governance can help companies meet compliance requirements, it is not only for companies that are required to comply with regulations. Identity governance can also improve the security of an organization’s data.
Identity governance is only for companies that have experienced a data breach.
Once again, nope! Identity governance can help prevent data breaches, but it is not only for companies that have experienced one. After all, proactive measures to prevent data breaches are always better than reactive measures.
Identity governance is only for companies that store sensitive data.
Any organization that stores data can benefit from identity governance. The process can help to secure any type of data, including non-sensitive data.
Identity governance is only for on-premises resources.
While identity governance is often used to secure on-premises resources, it can also be used to secure cloud-based resources. With more companies migrating their data to the cloud, identity governance solutions that work with cloud-based resources are becoming more common.
Identity governance is a one-time process.
Cyber threats constantly evolve, so identity governance will never be a one-and-done solution. Identity governance is an ongoing process. Organizations should regularly review and update their identity governance policies to keep up with the latest security threats.
The components of identity governance
There are three key components that make up identity governance:
Identity management is creating and maintaining user accounts, setting up permissions and access levels, and auditing identity usage. Identity management solutions can automate these processes and help organizations manage large numbers of identities.
Access control is when organizations restrict access to data and systems based on user identity. Access control solutions can enforce granular permissions and prevent unauthorized users from accessing sensitive data.
Activity monitoring involves tracking and logging user activity to detect and investigate suspicious behavior. Activity monitoring solutions can generate reports on identity activity and help organizations identify potential security threats.
An overview of the benefits of identity governance
There are many benefits to implementing identity governance within an organization, including:
By establishing a clear and well-defined identity governance policy, organizations can minimize the risk of data breaches and other security incidents.
Greater control over data and systems
Identity governance gives organizations greater control over who has access to their data and systems and what actions they can perform. This helps to ensure that only authorized users can access sensitive information and that any changes made to data are tracked and audited.
Identity governance can help organizations to comply with internal policies as well as external regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Identity management solutions can automate and streamline identity governance processes, helping to reduce the costs associated with manual tasks.
Is it difficult to implement Identity Governance?
Identity governance solutions can be complex to implement. Since IG solutions involve the management of user identities, access control, and activity monitoring, they require a significant amount of planning and coordination.
Organizations should work with an experienced identity governance provider who can help them to assess their needs and deploy the best solution for their environment.
What challenges do organizations face when implementing IG?
Identity governance can be a complex and challenging process, particularly for organizations with large numbers of digital identities.
The challenges of identity governance typically fall into three main categories:
- Technical challenges
- Operational challenges
- People and process challenges
Here’s a closer look at the specific identity governance challenges organizations face:
Managing a large number of identities
Organizations with thousands or even millions of digital identities can find it difficult to manage them in a centralized identity management solution. This can lead to performance issues and make it difficult to generate reports on identity activity.
Ensuring compliance with policies and regulations
Identity governance requires organizations to constantly monitor identity activity and ensure that it complies with internal policies and external regulations. This can be a time-consuming and resource-intensive task.
Integrating with other security systems
Identity management solutions must integrate with other security systems, such as access control and activity monitoring, to provide a comprehensive view of an organization’s security posture. This can be a challenge for organizations with complex security architectures.
The risks of not implementing identity governance
Without identity governance, there is no way to control which users have access to which resources. This can lead to unauthorized access to sensitive data.
In addition, without identity governance, there is no way to generate reports on identity management activities. This makes it difficult to identify potential security issues.
If an organization does not have strong identity governance, it may risk data breaches and other security issues.
Best practices for identity governance in 2022
There are several best practices that organizations should follow when implementing identity governance. These include:
Establishing clear policies and procedures
Organizations should establish clear policies and procedures for managing digital identities. These should be updated regularly to ensure they remain effective.
Identifying who has access to what
Organizations should know who has access to which data and systems. This information should be regularly reviewed to ensure that only authorized users can access sensitive data.
Monitoring identity activity
Identity activity should be monitored regularly to detect unauthorized access and misuse. Reports on identity activity can help organizations improve their processes and make more informed decisions about identity management.
Limiting access to sensitive data
Organizations should limit access to sensitive data to only those users who need it. This can help to reduce the risk of data breaches and other security incidents.
Implementing least privilege
Users should only be given the permissions they need to perform their job. This principle, known as least privilege, can help to reduce the risk of unauthorized access and misuse.
How identity governance protects organizations from malicious actors
Organizations that have strong identity governance practices in place are better equipped to defend against cyberattacks.
Malicious actors often target weak points in an organization’s security, such as poorly protected user accounts. By implementing identity governance, organizations can reduce the risk of their systems being compromised by attackers.
Identity governance can also help organizations to detect and investigate suspicious activity. By monitoring identity activity, organizations can quickly identify potential security issues and take appropriate action to mitigate the risk.
How identity governance improves business processes
Identity governance is not only important for security but also business. In today’s digital world, organizations need to be able to quickly and easily onboard new employees, customers, and partners. By implementing identity governance, organizations can streamline these processes and improve their efficiency.
Identity governance can also help businesses to manage their digital identities better. In the past, businesses have often struggled to keep track of their digital identities, leading to duplicate and outdated accounts. Identity governance can help businesses to consolidate their digital identities and keep them up to date.
The identity governance process
The identity governance process typically consists of the following steps:
1. Identify the users
The first step in the identity governance process is identifying the users who need access to the resources. Organizations can achieve this through role-based access control (RBAC) or identity and access management (IAM).
2. Identify the resources
The next step is to identify the resources that the users need access to. Security leaders should look at the business processes and identify which data and systems are required to run the company.
3. Identify the permissions
Then, security leaders should identify the permissions that the users need. Organizations should carefully consider which permissions are necessary to perform each job and limit access to only those users who need it.
4. Grant or deny access
The final step in the identity governance process is to grant or deny access to the resources. Organizations should consider the risks of each user and decide whether to grant or deny access.
DOs and DON’Ts of identity governance
There are a few DOs and DON’Ts of identity governance that organizations should keep in mind:
DO automate the provisioning and de-provisioning of user accounts. This will save time and improve security.
DO control which users have access to which resources. This will help to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive data.
DO generate reports on identity management activities. This will help to identify potential security issues.
DON’T use identity governance solutions to replace traditional identity and access management (IAM) solutions. Identity governance solutions should be used in addition to IAM solutions.
DON’T use identity governance solutions to manage physical identities. They are only suitable for managing digital identities.
DON’T use identity governance solutions to store sensitive data. Instead, this data should be stored in a secure location, such as a password-protected database.
What to look for in an identity governance solution
There are many identity governance solutions on the market. Organizations should consider their specific needs when choosing a solution.
Like we mentioned earlier, identity governance solutions can be deployed in the cloud or on-premises, and they can be either stand-alone products or part of a broader identity and access management (IAM) solution.
When choosing an identity governance solution, organizations should also consider the vendor’s reputation and track record. The vendor should have a good understanding of identity management and security, and they should be able to provide customer references.
When evaluating different options, organizations should look for the following features:
User provisioning and de-provisioning
The solution should be able to automate the provisioning and de-provisioning of user accounts.
Fine-grained control over which users have access to which resources is essential. The solution should allow administrators to grant and revoke access to resources easily.
Reporting and auditing
The solution should provide reports on identity management activities, such as who accessed what resources and when. These reports can help organizations to comply with regulations.
It should be easy to integrate the solution with other security systems, such as identity and access management (IAM) and security information and event management (SIEM).
How to choose the right identity governance tool for your organization
There are many identity governance tools on the market, and choosing the right one for your organization can be challenging. Here are a few tips to help you choose the best solution for your needs:
1. Define your requirements
The first step is to define your requirements. You should consider what features you need and what type of deployment (cloud or on-premises) would be best for your organization.
2. Compare vendors
Once you have defined your requirements, you can start comparing vendors. Make sure to look at the vendor’s reputation and track record. Ask for customer references and read online reviews.
3. Evaluate the solution
Once you have narrowed your options, it’s time to evaluate the solutions. Make sure to test the solution to see if it meets your needs.
4. Get help from experts
If you’re still not sure which solution is right for your organization, you can get help from experts. Many consultants and integrators specialize in identity management and security, like our team at Oort.
5. Implement the solution
Once you have chosen a solution, it’s time to implement it. Make sure to follow best practices for deployment and configuration.
Using Azure Active Directory (AD) for identity governance
Azure Active Directory (AD) is a cloud-based identity and access management (IAM) solution. It includes features for user provisioning, access control, and auditing. AD also offers integration with other security systems, such as SIEM.
The benefits of using Azure AD for identity governance
Although there are many identity governance solutions available, here’s why Azure AD could be the most beneficial for your organization:
Azure AD is a cloud-based solution, so you don’t have to invest in on-premises infrastructure.
Azure AD can be integrated with other security systems so you can tailor it to your organization’s needs.
Azure AD offers features that can help to improve the security of your identity management system.
Azure AD includes features that make it easier to administer your identity governance system.
How to use Azure Active Directory for identity governance
- Organizations can use Azure Active Directory (AD) for identity governance in the following ways:
- Provision and de-provision user accounts
- Control which users have access to which resources
- Generate reports on identity management activities
- Integrate with other security systems, such as IAM and SIEM
- Deploy and configure the solution
If you’re using Azure AD for identity governance, make sure to follow best practices for deployment and configuration. You can find more information in the Azure AD documentation.
You can also get help from experts if you’re unsure how to set up Azure AD for identity governance. Our team at Oort will be happy to help you configure Azure AD for your company.
Is Azure AD right for your organization?
When it comes to identity governance, you have a few different options. You can use a cloud-based solution like Azure Active Directory (AD) or an on-premises solution.
There are benefits and drawbacks to both options.
Cloud-based solutions like Azure AD offer reduced costs and increased flexibility. They can be integrated with other security systems and offer simplified administration. However, they may not be as secure as on-premises solutions.
On-premises solutions offer more control over security, but they are more expensive to deploy and manage. The best decision for your organization really depends on your needs and budget.
The cost of identity governance
The cost of identity governance solutions can vary depending on the features and functionality you require. However, identity governance is an important part of security and should be considered when designing access control systems.
While the initial cost of cheaper identity governance solutions may be appealing, it is important to consider the long-term costs of using a solution that does not meet your needs. A poor quality solution may require more time and effort to maintain, and it may not provide the level of security that you need.
Additionally, the cost of identity governance solutions should be weighed against the cost of not having a solution. The risk of data breaches and compliance violations can be costly to organizations, and the cost of identity governance is much lower.
The future of identity governance
As organizations increasingly move to the cloud, identity governance solutions will need to adapt to meet the needs of these organizations. Cloud-based solutions will need to be able to integrate with a variety of different systems and applications. Additionally, they will need to be able to scale easily to meet the needs of growing organizations.
Organizations should also expect identity governance solutions to become more user-friendly. As adoption increases, vendors need to make their solutions more accessible to a wider range of users.
Finally, the future of identity governance lies in predictive analytics. By analyzing data from past events, identity governance solutions can detect potential threats and prevent them before they happen. Predictive analytics is already being used in other security areas, and we will likely see more vendors offering this type of functionality in the future.
Need to implement identity governance in your organization?
If you are looking for an identity governance solution, we can help. At Oort, we have a team of experts who can help you to choose the right solution for your organization. Contact us today to get started.