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  • Writer's pictureNazirah Zamil

Key Components Of Effective Identity Governance Frameworks



The relationship between organisations and their corporate data has never been more complex in today's business landscape, where virtually every working environment is characterised by a sheer number of users, devices, identities, and applications. Managing user permissions and access for this increasingly complicated organisational ecosystem poses a unique challenge, to say the least, which is why identity governance frameworks are a must-have to effectively mitigate the risk of a breach and uphold compliance at all times.

 

What is an Identity Governance framework?

 

In essence, an identity governance framework is an organisation's plan or structure to centralise governance across the disparate systems it uses for identities, privileged accounts, entitlements, applications, and data. One can also view it as a collaborative space where people, processes and technology come together to evaluate and manage who has access to the business's IT systems, assets, and resources.

 

More specifically, the framework establishes the standards that enable the secure exchange of identity and identity-related information between users, service providers, and applications. Identity information may include data such as names, numbers, addresses and other details associated with a person's identity. Furthermore, it encompasses the privacy and governance semantics for an organisation's applications and services infrastructure to regulate compliance between them. Overall, the framework serves as the foundation for the IGA solution that will govern access across the business environment.

 

The keys to developing an effective Identity Governance framework

 

Keeping your organisation's resources safe requires making sure that users are provided the appropriate level of access to complete their work—no more, no less. The following components are key to achieving this goal.

 

1. Identity lifecycle management

 

The joiner, mover, and leaver concept is a key element in managing the lifecycle of user identities and the access rights they enjoy upon joining the company, switching roles, and exiting the company. Manually handling user provisioning, de-provisioning, and access request management processes is error-prone, costly, and time-consuming. As such, taking the traditional approach invites unnecessary risks should employees be granted rights to resources they should not have access to.

 

2. Access management

 

One of the many prerequisites to improving the efficiency of identity management is providing support for access requests. When users need access to specific resources or additional privileges, they should have the means to submit access requests to their superiors. Identity governance enables the review and approval process of these requests to ensure they adhere to the principle of least privilege and align with the organisation's defined policies.

 

3. Business alignment and role-based access control

 

Adopting an IGA system involves several prerequisites, mainly its alignment with the company's needs. Meeting this requirement can be achieved in many ways through the framework, such as accurately modelling the organisation by using roles, contexts, and policies. Building the appropriate fit-for-purpose models for various positions, assignment and constraint policies, and context administration allows for significantly optimising the resulting IGA system, which, in turn, helps businesses realise the identified ROI benefits in the project's early stages.

 

4. Identity security breach management

 

In the event of an incident where there is a suspected breach, the organisation's security team may need to immediately suspend access for several more identities to prevent the initial breach from spreading laterally. Such a cross-system access suspension helps to limit the organisation from experiencing further breaches while it carries out an investigation. This emergency lockout can be carried out automatically by the organisation's automatic incident response process or manually by an administrator. Regardless of who performs the lockout, it must be followed with thorough documentation to serve as evidence for future audits and internal investigations.

 

5. Access review

 

Regular access review or certification processes are crucial to validate the appropriateness of employees' access rights. Identity governance establishes the mechanisms for periodically reviewing every user's access privileges, revoking any that have become unnecessary, and maintaining compliance with internal policies and regulatory requirements.

 

6. Audit and compliance

 

Compliance becomes a more complex topic as technology evolves within organisations, with internal security requirements and regulatory legislation further complicating things. Auditing has, therefore, become a focal point for organisations to control and monitor access to their data and simultaneously provide detailed reports to maintain and document compliance.

 

Identity governance aids in this regard by establishing the policies for logging a user’s activities, access requests and approvals, and access modifications and maintaining comprehensive audit trails. These logs streamline compliance reporting and allow businesses to respond to regulatory audits and security incidents more effectively.

 

7. Segregation of Duties (SoD)

 

SoD policies reduce the risk of fraud and prevent conflict of interest by enforcing the separation between incompatible duties. Identity governance helps ensure that no user has excessive access rights or possesses a combination of privileges that could potentially be abused or used for unauthorised actions.

 

8. Centralised identity repository

 

Identity governance relies on a centralised identity directory or repository—an identity provider or an identity and access management system—to manage and store user identity information and act as the one and only source of truth for user identities.

 

Conclusion

 

Amid the growing concerns of data security and maintaining compliance with various regulatory requirements, including the specific landscape of identity governance in Singapore, the manual methods of controlling, managing, and governing who has access to what is no longer sufficient today. Shifting away from these obsolete methods to properly address the issues above requires adopting an effective IGA solution and, more importantly, recognising the importance of IGA in digital transformation today—an integral component for enhancing security, ensuring compliance, and streamlining access management processes.

 

That said, implementing this framework is an ongoing process, given the constant changes in an organisation's identity management and audit requirements. As such, it is vital to observe how the framework fits your IT infrastructure and make changes when necessary.

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