IAM Best Practices in Changing Environments

When planning for the future, identity management professionals must consider continuing changes in data privacy and security regulations and take into account the evolving nature of enterprise systems. Robust identity and access management (IAM) is a critical component of any security framework, but many businesses still fall short when it comes to handling how and when users access applications and resources. To maintain security and ensure ongoing compliance, these businesses must carefully assess current IAM strategies and follow best practices for user account management.

Recognize Weaknesses of Traditional Security Measures

Network security options like setting up firewalls and protecting endpoints lack the dynamic detection abilities necessary to pinpoint subtle changes in user behavior indicative of a breach and can’t shield systems from hackers using legitimate accounts to gain access. Such basic protective measures also aren’t designed to prevent data from being copied or transferred to unsecured devices and databases.

Although traditional protections do have a place in a security framework, businesses must take additional steps to cover how data is accessed, used and transmitted in every possible use case. Any action or environment without adequate security creates a loophole hackers can exploit to take over accounts, compromise networks or steal data.

Clean Up the System

Routine network and IAM audits give IT staff greater visibility across systems and reveal vulnerabilities, including:

• Unsecured devices
• Orphaned accounts
• Compromised accounts
• Inappropriate privileges
• Incorrect group assignments

Issues discovered during audits should be resolved immediately to prevent improper access to or use of data and applications. Removing unused or unneeded accounts and restructuring groups reduces the number of potential access points for hackers.

Creating an audit schedule and implementing routine network monitoring helps ensure appropriate access levels and reveals where stronger security is needed to protect critical assets and data from emerging threats.

If privileges are found to be too extensive or too narrow for any account or group, businesses should seek better provisioning and deprovisioning solutions. Privilege creep leaves sensitive data open to compromise or theft, and excessive restrictions can prevent legitimate users from completing basic workflows.

Exercise Discernment with Privileged Access

Seventy-four percent of data breaches start with the abuse of privileged credentials, but many can be prevented with proper privileged access management (PAM). IT staff need IAM platforms providing tools allowing for consistent monitoring of all accounts, permissions and network activity, including privileged users. Real-time updates are necessary to reveal anomalies, although some changes in user behavior are more easily detected using artificial intelligence and machine learning tools. Automating provisioning and deprovisioning of privileges based on need and context provides further protection against account abuse.

Be Mindful of Third-Party Privileges

Outsourcing has grown into an $86.5 billion dollar global market, and more businesses are seeking to outsource everything from basic processes to customer service. Remote workforces are also growing as businesses seek to lower costs and employees request more flexibility in their schedules. To effectively manage the third-party and offsite access required to support these changes in business and employment structure, companies need to monitor a broader range of network activity.

Avoiding blanket permissions is of critical importance. Vendors and remote employees require different levels of network access at different times, which necessitates a granular approach to access management and the same detailed visibility used to monitor and manage privileged accounts. Businesses must also evaluate the IAM and employee lifecycle management practices of all vendors prior to granting access to ensure vulnerabilities within these systems don’t compromise the security of in-house networks.

Consider All of the “Things”

The internet of things (IoT) is on its way to being omnipresent in businesses across industries. From basic hardware like networked printers to complex automated machinery used in manufacturing, IoT devices have the potential to improve efficiency and productivity for numerous companies. However, these same devices present big security problems for IT staff. The access protocols governing user behavior within networks often aren’t compatible with IoT devices, and many devices lack onboard security with the power or sensitivity necessary to handle modern threats.

This has given rise to the need for separate management strategies for device identities, known as the identity of things (IDoT). Successful IDoT management hinges on context-aware provisioning throughout the lifecycle of each device to ensure it can access resources and perform tasks efficiently without compromising network security.

Identity and access management certifications

Certification gives IT professionals a better idea of the steps and processes involved in developing, implementing and maintaining the complex IAM frameworks and policies modern networks require. Because cybersecurity, data protection and data privacy have all become standard components of enterprise security strategies, IT professionals who pursue certification become better equipped to handle emerging IAM challenges. Businesses working with certified professionals benefit from insight into compliance regulations and potential threats, which leads to stronger, more dynamic and more reliable access protocols.