Understanding Identity and Access Management Compliance

Compliance is often viewed as a burdensome roadblock to digital transformation. Ensuring that the right users access the right information at the right time for the right reason requires creating policies that identify the who, what, where, why, and how of data access. As your organization moves to the cloud, you need a solution that addresses the proliferation of identities across the on-premises, hybrid, and cloud ecosystem. Understanding the way Identity and Access Management (IAM) compliance fits into the jigsaw puzzle of modernized IT infrastructure enables you to mature your strategies for better security. 

What is Identity and Access Management?

Identity and Access Management (IAM) programs protect data privacy and security starting with user authentication and authorization, often by using a single sign-on solution that incorporates multi-factor authentication, and then assign users’ access rights to resources with Identity Management (IDM) solutions to continuously monitor access for proving enforcement of and governance over “least privilege necessary” access rights.

What are IAM Identity-Based policies?

IAM identity-based policies, or resource-based policies, control user access permissions to resources, such as full access or read-only access, once you have authenticated and authorized the user’s credentials. Identity-based policies also allow you to incorporate additional constraints based on user attributes – such as company, device, location, and application types – when users access digital resources, such as AWS. 

For example, if you want to limit access to your cloud resources to maintain Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) compliance, you need to make sure that users with access to cardholder data (CD) can only access your cardholder data environment (CDE) from the right device or location. By limiting the access, you can protect your segmented network environment for a more robust compliance posture. 

What are Compliance Requirements for IAM?

The compliance requirements for IAM, such as in PCI DSS, use identity management and access management to help protect data security and privacy. Managing the IAM lifecycle requires you to set policies that enable user access requests, identity reconciliation, and the review/certify process. 

Provision/Deprovision

The provision/deprovision process acts as the starting point for the IAM lifecycle by granting the appropriate entitlements and access in a timely manner or revoking access upon job termination or transfer. Most regulations and industry standards set a grant/remove access timeline to ensure data privacy and security with appropriate data access management.

As such, IAM policies need to incorporate: 

  • User Identity Definitions
  • User Authentication Methods (such as multi-factor authentication)
  • User Access to Resource Locations
  • User Access within Resource Locations
  • User Access Reviews

Enforcement

After granting permissions, you need to enforce your IAM policy controls such as authentication and authorization to Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications, Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)/Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) environments while also maintaining compliance with access management policies. 

As such, IAM policies need to incorporate: 

  • Access Management Policies
  • Consistent Role-Based, Rule-Based, or Attribute-Based Access Requirements
  • Segregation of Duties Policies (SOD)

Review/Certify Process

Although the review/certify process requires enforcing your IAM policy rules, the process is often managed by IT administrators or department managers who become inundated with requests as the organizations incorporates new technologies. 

As such, IAM policies need to incorporate: 

  • Who reviews requests
  • Succession ownership over the process
  • Context for user access needs

Documentation for Audit

At its core, compliance requires documentation. As part of creating identity-based IAM policies, you need to define business-relevant key performance indicators (KPIs) and document your overarching IAM program. 

As such, IAM policies need to incorporate: 

  • Business-driven metrics
  • Audit process
  • Suggested documentation for proving governance

Why Do Organizations Struggle with IAM Compliance?

The IAM compliance struggle is real. As organizations add more SaaS applications to streamline their business operations, they often find that they lose visibility over their users’ access within the complex architecture. 

Time-consuming Manual Processes

The manual processes that worked for your on-premises architecture become cumbersome as you adopt more cloud strategies. With each new technology, your IT administrator or managers needs to review and certify more user access. The time-consuming review process leads to operational costs that undermine the cost savings from cloud migration strategies. 

Operational Risk and Compliance Risk

When IT administrators and department heads get overwhelmed by an influx of certification reviews, they often provide access automatically. Unfortunately, this “rubber-stamping” can lead to violating internal controls, such as SOD policies. 

Mobile Computing

As employees access your company’s resources using their smartphones or tablets, you lose control over how and where they access data. Legacy IAM products often lack the necessary capabilities for protecting data privacy and security from new risks such as the “share with anyone with a link” risk. 

Cloud Computing

Organizations with on-premises, hybrid, or cloud-based infrastructures often struggle with legacy IAM tools because they lack capabilities for managing virtual servers, new access points for personally identifiable information (PII), and logical access controls.  

How Automation Eases the Burdens Associated with IAM

Automation solves many of the current IAM policy creation and compliance problems. Digital transformation requires an equally modern IAM solution to help protect data privacy and security. Finding the correct automation enables greater control over users’ data access and proves governance more effectively for audit purposes. 

Identity Reconciliation

With automation, you can create an identity warehouse that incorporates all identity and access definitions across your ecosystem. These tools can then be used to compare the definitions and do role-mining that creates a single, authoritative source of identity. Once the automation completes the role-mining, you can use the standardized identity definitions to create holistic IAM policies. 

User Access Requests

Automation streamlines the access request/review/certification process by enabling you to create risk-based rules and approval paths. For example, organizations using automation can create designated approver notifications, delegation rules, SOD rules, and escalations. Intelligent analytics provide a way for organizations to look at user access context so that they can create Attribute-Based Access Controls (ABAC) which align to their risk tolerance. 

Provisioning/Deprovisioning

With an authoritative identity source, you can streamline the provisioning/deprovisioning process. Automating access within the tool enables you to set timebound rules or review notifications so that you no longer need to worry about orphaned accounts or excess access as users join, move within, or leave the organization. Moreover, if you choose the right automated tool, you can also establish IAM policies for non-person identities such as APIs, Robotic Process Automation (RPA), workloads, servers, and containers. 

Enforcement

Once you create an authoritative identity source and establish risk-based, context-aware rules within your automated tool, you can more easily enforce them. Intelligent analytics can compare access requests to policies automatically send potential-violation alerts and then suggest remediation actions which then allow you to reduce the amount of operational risk and compliance risk.

Documentation for Audit

Since identity analytics continuously monitor for anomalous access requests, the automated tool removes the “rubber-stamping” in which overwhelmed IT administrators and department managers engage. Automation applies your IAM policies across the identity lifecycle to create risk-aware request escalations, requiring someone in the organization to purposefully review the request.  

Why Saviynt? Assured Compliance-as-a-Service

Saviynt’s intelligent analytics streamline the IAM compliance process so that organizations can create a frictionless approach to managing the identity lifecycle. More than Identity-as-a-Service (IDaaS), we provide Assured Compliance-as-a-Service (CaaS). 

Our cloud-native platform provides flexible options for both on-premises and cloud-based deployments. As your organization creates digital transformation strategies, Saviynt’s platform can create a standardized authoritative identity source across the ecosystem. Our intelligent analytics provide role-mining capabilities that help establish “least privilege necessary” entitlements to control access to and within your IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS environments. 

Moreover, Saviynt’s peer- and usage-based analytics enable you to create context- and risk-aware ABAC rules. Our analytics compare users’ requests to their peers’ access to automatically grant or limit access. Our analytics enable IAM compliance by enforcing policies and internal controls. 

Our Control Exchange is a library of over 200 controls, based on regulations, industry standards, and mission-critical IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS providers. The rules and policies automatically integrate with your authoritative identity source so that our analytics can incorporate the controls into your holistic IAM compliance program. After setting the controls and IAM policy, the platform automatically alerts you to anomalous access requests and suggests remediation actions. 

For more information, contact us or engage in a free trial. 

Karen Walsh

About author

Organic content marketing manager with 12 years experience in education and compliance. Using this experience, she focuses on bridging the gap between CISOs and the CSuite by educating through content to enable organizations to strengthen their cybersecurity posture.

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