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Better Visibility & Security with Fine-Grained Entitlements

Author: Greg Liewer

Date: 08/30/2022

As Application Complexity and the Variety of Identity Types Grow, Security Leaders Need Better Insights and More Nuanced Access Control.

Despite the marketing buzz promoting better visibility, many IGA solutions still leave IT in the dark. One area in particular adds to the haze: entitlement management. As application complexity and the variety of identity types grow, issues with data security, and compliance also expand. While these naturally result from digital transformation, they must be addressed. Security leaders need insights and nuanced control to understand and define who can access what.  

In this blog, we discuss the necessity of fine-grained entitlements – and share why depth and breadth of visibility is a “must have” as enterprises deploy IGA solutions.

Moving Entitlements from Just Role to Just Right 

The traditional approach to managing access is coarse-grained; that is, it centers on a single factor, like a user’s role or group membership. For modern enterprises, the criteria is too simplistic and blunt. New user types, platforms, data sources, and applications demand more refinement.

Coarse-Role

Coarse-grained entitlement centers on a single factor, such as a user’s role.

Not only is it time consuming to manage an expansive landscape of role types, but with a coarse-grained entitlement approach, employees often end up with access that is excessive. Companies may experience this for contractors and third parties, as well. Users need more nuanced access, and application owners need to know if entitlements are reasonable. The all-or-nothing approach of the past is simply too cumbersome and insecure. This is where a coarse-grained authorization approach really fails. 

Depth, Flexibility and Easy Control: Is This Actually Possible?

Excessive access and over privileging increase the likelihood of security breaches and often lead to compliance violations. 

From a business user perspective, rigid entitlement management keeps users from doing their jobs. Often, a worker needs temporary access to a resource or special privileges for a time. Without the ability to fine-tune, IT obstructs productivity. Not only does this diminish business outcomes, but it fuels IT’s undeserved reputation as the “department of no.”  

At the same time, many business applications have complex security models. This can be a great thing – who doesn’t want granular permission capabilities in their enterprise tools? The downside is that complexity decreases visibility. 

For security leaders trying to maintain an inventory of access, the deeper the hierarchy, the bigger the headache. This is where innovative solutions differentiate themselves. For instance, Saviynt’s approach to entitlement depth and breadth visibility offers organizations a way to grant required access to meet job function needs, while also exposing the details needed to mitigate compliance and security risks.

Exploring Enterprise Benefits of Going “Fine-Grained” 

Truly modernized IGA platforms are built on the idea that you cannot control access that you cannot see or understand. This requires aggregation of the full entitlement information from all identities into a centralized hub. Now, to be clear: we are not implying a rudimentary approach to entitlements. Modern identity solutions mean that enterprises don’t have to trade detail for easier control. And if a vendor suggests otherwise, keep looking! 

Fine-Grained-Hierarchy-II

Fine-grained entitlements are much more precise than coarse-grained and can extend to birthright roles, application-based roles, business-based roles, and dynamic roles.

With respect to applications, organizations can get as detailed as a connected application does – even applying settings such as read-only, update, and delete, or shifting access based upon context. 

Today, leading platforms deliver intelligent features like presenting candidate roles based upon common entitlement assignments or role-mining to support least privilege. This empowers application owners to make smarter decisions while assigning access. Classifications can extend to birthright roles, application-based roles, business-based roles, and dynamic roles. IT teams can then aggregate the most detailed level of access necessary for business function, helping to put in place the least privilege principle. 

While this improves productivity, the security benefits are also pronounced: At Saviynt, we’ve seen organizations prevent up to 36% of SoD violations during the access request process. 

Fine-grained entitlements within a modern platform can manage complex application security models such as SAP roles, T-codes and authorization objects, Oracle EBS menus and functions, and Epic templates/sub-templates, security classes and security points. This brings a unified view of access and enables organizations to monitor access across the cloud or hybrid ecosystem.

Aug-30_IGA-Buyers-Guide-Blog-4_TN-Quote
It’s Time to Reverse Course on Coarse-Grained

From roles and responsibilities to applications and compliance mandates, everything in an organization is now more complex. How enterprises manage or authorize access must evolve to meet this new reality.

Coarse-grained approach grants or denies access too simplistically. If you haven’t experienced detailed, flexible, granular, and secure permissioning, it’s time to explore a more modern approach.  

Check out the other blogs in this series. Topics include how to evaluate IGA solutionsthe difference between configuration and customization, and legacy deployments versus cloud-native ones.

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