There are many factors suggesting why you need an IAM team in order to address identity and access management challenges head on. The recent increase in cloud computing activities and distributed systems, integration of remote technologies, and growth of online workers has greatly alleviated identity threat levels across the corporate world. The lack of adequate identity and access management controls has greatly contributed to system compromise, data breaches, and identity theft. It is reported that 91% of organizations have faced some kind of data breach and 61% of all breaches involve unauthorized use and theft of credentials according to the Verizon 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report.
Due to these challenges, companies are aggressively transforming their IT capabilities to tackle identity and access management either through an independent IAM team working with other departments or as a part of the larger IT team.
In fact, the shift has already started in earnest. For instance, the 2020 IAM Report by Coresecurity suggests that 83% of companies have at least one member of the staff dedicated to Identity and Access Management. However, this does not mean that all is good because only 45% of these organizations say that they are, at best, only somewhat effective dealing with identity and access matters.
Identity Theft and Access Management
IAM is a framework of policies and technologies to provide the right people access to the authorized systems and data without compromising security.
IAM integrates three core elements in its design: identification, authentication, and authorization. Whenever users access a system, they identify themselves by using a designated username and password. In return, the system authenticates their credentials and grants them access according to their access privilege level.
In a traditional sense, implementing such a system seems uncomplicated and easy to implement. However, cloud technology and remote work environment make things much more complicated as user identities often extend to other stakeholders involving contract workers, partners, customers, and vendors. Most of these users also use various types of devices to access the system. Their ability to change passwords, set up multi-factor authentication, and use open-source tools are all part of the game, which makes today’s systems more vulnerable than before.
Role of IAM Within IT
Not long ago, most companies had one single IT department that dealt with technology issues. Now, companies have started recruiting specialists to deal with specific tasks. Lots of organizations have IAM teams that exclusively look after identifying and authenticating users, and authorizing access to critical information.
Unlike the IT department which has a wider responsibility, the sole purpose of the IAM team is to ensure that everyone in the organization can easily access information based on their role and business needs without compromising security while keeping unauthorized users out. Workers overseeing IAM tasks are specifically trained in identity lifecycle management and process improvement.
Small teams in smaller organizations often report to the Chief Information Officer (CIO). However, this trend is changing as IAM teams are usually headed by the Chief Security Officer or Director of IAM. Based on the business model, some companies use a hybrid structure where CISO is in charge of the overall operations.
Role of the IAM Director
As identity has become the new security parameter and paramount for safeguarding business systems and data, companies want to hire people who are trained to deal with IAM issues. They realize that the role of the CIO is diverse and outward-focused, which can often lead to unwanted outcomes.
A position such as IAM Director is more suited for organizations where an increasing number of dispersed users access a large number of distributed systems. IAM specialists are familiar with internal control requirements, compliance risk management, and cybercrime prevention strategies associated with identity and access management. Hiring an IAM director makes a lot of sense for growing companies because the role can build and manage a robust IAM Team. IAM Directors can eventually build meaningful relationships with other departments to streamline the role that IAM plays in the overall business structure and provide training, consulting and guidance.
How a Separate IAM Team Benefits Companies
Almost 90% of companies think that IAM is an extremely important component of their risk management initiatives and efforts. It means that there is an urgent need to implement access management strategies that keep users happy, improve operational capabilities, and minimize data breach associated with identity and access. Here is how a designated IAM team can help:
- Improve user experience resulting in enhanced employee and customer satisfaction.
- Streamline IAM workflow and processes to increase productivity.
- Improve security management to welcome other stakeholders in the system.
- Reduce IT help desk calls saving time and money.
- Improve communication and remain compliant with regulations.
Let there be no doubt that data breaches and hacking activities attributed to identity and user access are increasing every year. Data breach statistics indicate that data breach occurs every 68 seconds, but it takes organizations 206 days to identify a breach. Moreover, the average cost of a data breach is $3.92 Million. If these stats are any indication, an independent IAM team is probably the only solution that can help organizations navigate the risk environment.