Identity and Access Management Policies & Compliance

What are IAM Identity-Based Policies?

Businesses measure IT’s effectiveness in identity and access management (IAM) based on their ability to provision access to systems, but IT professionals know there is far more to focus on when building an identity and access management compliance policy framework. Identity and access management policies begin with full data privacy and protection in mind and the realization that a robust identity and access management policy framework starts with securing systems and applications from intrusion and extends to the organization’s identity management and access policies for provisioning accounts.

The identity and access management policy framework should start with documenting an approach to determining a user’s identity or organizational role and extend to provisioning access based on documented identity and access management policies. These policies generally document the access to be provided based on the person’s role in the organization. Once documented identity and access management policies are in effect, appropriate access can be requested and easily delivered based on the documentation.

Essentially the documented identity and access management policies indicate and control the level of access to be granted for each system and application provided to the end-user, based on their organizational identity or role. Documenting the policies enables access to be granted manually and forms an important identity and access management policy template that can be used to implement automated provisioning systems that ensure identity and access management compliance.

Identity and Access Management Policies – Goal & Purpose

The most basic goal of identity and access management compliance is to ensure that authorized users have access to the information they need when they need it while preventing them from accessing information beyond their need. This also means preventing unauthorized users from gaining access to sensitive information.

There are three pillars for developing identity and access management policies:

  • Confidentiality: Only appropriate individuals should be able to see data based on its sensitivity and privacy needs. Data is often classified as public, sensitive and/or confidential.
    • Public data is that data that is available on websites and in the public domain.
    • Sensitive data is generally information shared to employees but not available outside the organization.
    • Confidential data is highly sensitive information that only certain people may access, based on a documented need to use that data while performing their day-to-day jobs.
  • Availability: The two aspects of availability are making sure appropriate people have access to the information they need and that the systems and applications remain available to them so they may access the data. Denial-of-service (DDoS) or other external breaches can affect availability.
  • Integrity: Above other concerns, data must be trustworthy, which can only be assured when access to data is fully secured. Just as denial-of-service attacks can affect the availability of data, security breaches can render it untrustworthy by calling its accuracy into question.
IAM Pillars

Robust identity and access management policies must address all three of these areas, beginning with securing the data center and network on which applications run and extending into policies documenting how identity is established and access provided based on that identity. They should include a means of fraud prevention and extend to knowing when to remove access in the event of a change in role or job termination.

IAM Compliance Requirements  

Identity and access management policies came under the microscope initially because of financial fraud and leading to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX), but as Internet business has continued to grow, deliberate theft of data by bad internal actors and foreign influences have led to tighter compliance requirements over time. Every identity and access management policy framework should address IAM compliance requirements, including:

Each of these specific areas must be addressed when planning identity and access management compliance policies, as all applicable policies must be implemented within the organization’s identity and access management policy framework:

Challenges in IAM Policies and Compliance Creation

With routine audits, the requirements to provide reports and notify people of breaches will be extremely challenging for certain types of organizations to demonstrate identity and access management compliance. The primary concern in almost every organization remains proving individual access follows policies and tying a person’s identity to their access, especially when access is managed manually. The challenge becomes even more significant when data can be accessed via personal devices and laptops with local hard drives.

Securing data from external intrusion is also challenging as it requires the ability to secure the data centre, network, and server/application environment. As systems become distributed amongst cloud servers, across multiple internal and externally hosted cloud infrastructure and globally diverse, the identity and access management compliance becomes even more challenging.

This leads to organizations wasting valuable resources meeting audit requirements, proving manual controls, monitoring systems for intrusion, and addressing security vulnerabilities and breaches. With as much effort as they are spending, many learn it’s still not enough when they fall prey to ransomware attacks, data breaches, or other denial of service attacks. It seems we hear of such issues on an almost daily basis, and they get scarier as hackers improve their skills.

Of all the challenges, the most important place for organizations to spend their resources is on documenting their identity and access management policy framework, including documenting their organizational roles and the access to be provided to the people within these roles, as this lays the groundwork for better management and automation.

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Challenges in IAM Policies and Compliance Creation

With routine audits, the requirements to provide reports and notify people of breaches will be extremely challenging for certain types of organizations to demonstrate identity and access management compliance. The primary concern in almost every organization remains proving individual access follows policies and tying a person’s identity to their access, especially when access is managed manually. The challenge becomes even more significant when data can be accessed via personal devices and laptops with local hard drives.

Video Conference Securing data from external intrusion is also challenging as it requires the ability to secure the data centre, network, and server/application environment. As systems become distributed amongst cloud servers, across multiple internal and externally hosted cloud infrastructure and globally diverse, the identity and access management compliance becomes even more challenging.

This leads to organizations wasting valuable resources meeting audit requirements, proving manual controls, monitoring systems for intrusion, and addressing security vulnerabilities and breaches. With as much effort as they are spending, many learn it’s still not enough when they fall prey to ransomware attacks, data breaches, or other denial of service attacks. It seems we hear of such issues on an almost daily basis, and they get scarier as hackers improve their skills.

Of all the challenges, the most important place for organizations to spend their resources is on documenting their identity and access management policy framework, including documenting their organizational roles and the access to be provided to the people within these roles, as this lays the groundwork for better management and automation.

How Automation Solves IAM Compliance Challenges

Automation is key to access and identity management compliance and monitoring. There are several layers in which automation can support an access and identity management policy framework:

Provisioning

the standard for provisioning automation is applications that provide access to all systems and applications using single-sign-on (SSO). These applications understand the access to be provided by role and govern the user's ability to sign on, providing access only as authorized. They can also be integrated into HR systems or help desk ticketing systems to automatically provide or revoke access based on onboarding or offboarding activities. Automated provisioning and single-sign-on systems lower the risk of incorrectly provisioned users, providing access to employees unintentionally and lower the audit burden. Rather than having to prove access controls for randomly selected users, IT can show the configuration and policy documentation to provide proof for audits and segregation of duties.

Remote Access

Multi-factor authentication through tokens and/or cell phones before granting network access are pretty standard and used by many organizations to enable workers to access internal resources from home or during travel. These tools can be combined with a virtual desktop environment making sure no data leaves the physical walls of the organization, even in a work-from-home or virtual arrangement.

Intrusion Detections, Monitoring, and Reporting:

Automation is also available on the operations side of the IAM equation:

  • Automated network monitoring can track the IPs used to gain access to systems, alerting network managers of potential intrusion or denial of service attacks based on known attack patterns
  • Vulnerability management systems can map known vulnerabilities against systems in use, identifying systems that require maintenance activities
  • Cloud security suites help prevent attacks in a cloud or managed cloud environment
  • Cloud-managed service providers and outsourced managed service providers use automation and can provide reporting on access as needed

CG Technologies – IAM Compliance Process Manager  

CG Technologies maintains a rock-solid security practice that makes security a focus for our hosted cloud solutions and managed services but can also help organizations realize their identity and access management compliance goals.

Our IAM Compliance Manager can help you document your identity and access management requirements and build your policy framework by providing expertise, guidance, and templates you need to document your identity and access management policies. We partner with you to ensure your systems and application security is bullet-proof by securing the services we support or provide and by helping you secure access at the application level. Together we can help with all your identity access management compliance needs.