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Pre-IPO Checklist: Deliver SOX Compliance with IGA

Author: Greg Liewer

Date: 08/30/2023

Proving compliance is a hallmark of maturity, and signals that your organization has not abandoned controls or ignored risks while trying to grow.

For growth companies preparing for a public offering, identity governance and administrative (IGA) preparedness is a critical success factor – and an often overlooked compliance snag. One reason: traditional perimeter-based security models that support physical IT boundaries no longer suffice.

Today, users, systems, and connection types are too varied and dynamic. Identity is the common denominator to secure access points, devices, networks, apps, clouds, and beyond. 

This makes identity your new security perimeter and the core of any successful security program.  

Prioritizing SOX When Everything is Urgent 

As is often the case for rapidly growing SMBs, resources tend to flow towards growth initiatives like product development, expansion, and hiring.

Problematically, leaders often underestimate the effort required to comply with regulatory requirements including initiatives like the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX) as well as others like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS). 

However, proving compliance is a hallmark of maturity, and signals that your organization has not abandoned controls or ignored risks while trying to grow. 

IGA as the Backbone of Better SOX Compliance

In the wake of corporate scandals, SOX passed, requiring US public companies to maintain strict controls over financial reporting. This includes ensuring that only authorized individuals have access to financial systems. 

Notably, the legislation demands enforcement of Separation of Duties (SoD) policies to prevent fraud by ensuring that at least two entities are responsible for the separate parts of sensitive tasks.

SOX also requires that companies maintain auditing, logging, and monitoring across all internal controls, network and database activity, login activity, account/user activity, and information access. 

When audited, compliance or security teams need to be able to generate reports and prove compliance; ideally, without over-extending staff or reverting to manual and error-prone reviews. 

How Modern IGA Capabilities Address SOX Compliance Threats

Want to prove duties segregation? You need great visibility.

Enterprises must be able see how tasks or roles interact across cloud, on-prem, and hybrid applications and maintain agility to ensure ongoing compliance.

As we’ve uncovered, legacy systems often limit cross-application visibility. For instance, an outdated Governance Risk Control (GRC) system may only allow you to review one application at a time when preparing for an audit. Here, a sensitive task that intersects across multiple applications would go undetected. 

Even GRC solutions that look across applications are limited to a high-level view. Problematically, the action that would tip off a SoD violation may occur deep in the security model.

But modern IGA solutions will support granular access controls and automate fundamental IAM activities (e.g. – user provisioning and de-provisioning, predictive SoD analysis, and access logging and usage tracking) for simpler SOX compliance.

After visibility, automation is a pre-IPO company’s X-factor.

Saviynt’s Enterprise Identity Cloud (EIC), for example, automatically applies access management policies across the identity lifecycle — from access requests to workforce changes. 

Automated smart reviews handle “low” or “no” risk requests to improve decision making and free up IT hours. 

In pursuit of SOX compliance, modern IGA platforms can deliver actionable insights, automate decisions, and generate compliance reports against a wide range of industry-specific requirements. With pre-defined reports, teams spend significantly less time digging up information for auditors.

 

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Building Blocks for a Culture of Safe, Effective, and Ongoing Compliance

IPO success isn’t about just Day 1 as a public company. It means staying ahead of regulatory risks to maximize future performance.

While visibility and automation must be part of the security platform’s DNA, we encourage pre-public companies to employ three specific functions to maintain compliance. 

These include:    

Role and attribute-based access controls: To ensure that users have the right amount of access necessary to perform their job functions, IGA solutions should let organizations create granular access policies that align with the business roles and responsibilities of their users. These controls should support access restriction based on attributes like job title or location.

Recurring compliance checks: To comply with regulations such as SOX, GDPR, HIPAA, and PCI-DSS, companies must carve well-established audit trails. Automated compliance checks save time and ensure that only authorized individuals have access to sensitive data—and that all access requests and changes are tracked. This creates the gold standard of governance: continuous compliance.  

Automated monitoring and user access reviews: Organizations should target ‘zero standing privilege,’ or the minimum access required for job performance. If a user attempts to access systems or data they don’t typically need for their job—or if they leave the company or change roles, a modern IGA solution can automatically review and revoke access. This hands-off oversight protects your sensitive data from breaches (and your IT staff from burnout).

Conclusion

For SOX compliance, enterprises need more than just audit response plans and defined procedures. 

As an IPO nears, you’ll need the right tools to support rapid response and provide effective internal controls. Saviynt’s EIC IGA capabilities unlock automated user lifecycle provisioning, implementation of role-based access controls, and periodic user access reviews and certification. These save time and drive continuous compliance–even as regulatory landscapes shift. 

No leader gets excited about compliance in a post-IPO world. But regardless of your enthusiasm level, it must be managed. And an identity-first approach is your ideal starting place.

 

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