The global, dynamic, and interconnected nature of IT enterprises today – and a proliferation of security threats – require protections that limit the damage attackers can do once they’re inside the agency firewall. Knowing that cybersecurity threats are only increasing in quantity and sophistication and that breaches are practically inevitable, it’s essential that agencies elevate the importance of data and identity protection – and that requires identity and access management.
In today’s federal government IT environment, each employee has an identity that encompasses their role in the agency and the data and information systems he or she is permitted to access and modify. Protecting those identities is paramount. Even if a single identity is breached, financial data, personally identifiable information, intellectual property, and critical processes – ranging from payroll and benefits to energy and healthcare delivery – could be compromised.
Agency resources are secure only when the right people get the right access to the right resources at the right time, in the right way, and the agency can prove it.
Agencies can achieve this state only when identity is at the core of their security strategy. An enterprise identity and access management (IAM) solution enables this desired end state with applications that allow administrators to change user roles, track and document their activities, and enforce policies. An integrated IAM solution enables enterprise-wide administration of user permissions and helps ensure compliance with government policies and regulations. Each user’s identity is maintained, modified, and monitored throughout its use, from onboarding to eventual offboarding.
But what, exactly constitutes an integrated IAM solution, and how is it different from point solutions? An effective, integrated IAM solution should incorporate four components. Those components include:
- Identity governance, which allows administrators to define, enforce, review, and audit IAM policy, and also map IAM functions to compliance requirements and audit user access to support compliance reporting.
- Identity administration, which enables administrators to automatically create, modify, or delete identities and grant privileges for resources including systems, software, and data. Identity administration enables organizations to centralize policies and processes across the enterprise and automate provisioning and password management for systems, platforms, and applications.
- Privileged access management (PAM), which allows administrators to control elevated (or privileged) access and permissions for certain users, accounts, processes, and systems. PAM tools gather the credentials of privileged users into a secure repository to isolate their use and log their activity, which lowers the risk of credential theft or misuse.
- AD management, which generates and enforces access rules for AD and Azure Active Directory (AAD), eliminating errors and inconsistencies common with native approaches and automating numerous tasks, including creating user and group accounts and assigning and removing user access rights in AD, AAD, and AD-joined systems.
While some agencies will look to point products to fill in a gap in their IAM portfolio, the greatest value and security for an enterprise comes from implementing a holistic solution that encompasses all four of these IAM facets. Even more value and peace of mind can be gained from an IAM solution that integrates with the leading cloud platforms, enterprise platforms, and applications.
But there are reasons beyond improving security for government agencies to embrace an integrated IAM solution. A holistic IAM solution can deliver four key benefits to federal agencies that can improve operations, reduce expenses, and increase automation, including:
- Ease of use for end-users. Agency employees no longer have to manage myriad accounts to access applications and resources because their unique identity provides access with a single set of credentials.
- IT staff efficiency and cost savings. Automation reduces the amount of time spent on routine IT administration tasks, such as onboarding and offboarding, and reduces requests for help desk assistance, resulting in cost savings.
- Seamless workflows. Administrators and employees alike benefit from policies applied enterprise-wide, so their access and permissions happen automatically, with no user action required.
- Elevated security posture. When policy is determined and implemented with automation, access vulnerabilities are significantly reduced and are no longer dependent on manual, one-off processes to ensure the security of the enterprise.
Today’s cyber threats are too numerous and sophisticated to think that a breach can be prevented. And this means that perimeter security is no longer sufficient to protect agency networks and information. Once malicious actors are within an agency’s networks that could potentially halt vital agency operations and public services, gain access to personally identifiable information, and jeopardize the privacy of millions of workers and citizens. With the potential and ramifications of a breach increasing, implementing a sophisticated, integrated, and holistic IAM solution is essential for today’s government agencies.
To learn more about the threats facing government agencies and the importance of identity and access management, click HERE to download a complimentary copy of the whitepaper, “User Identities Are the Keys to the Kingdom (Agency) – Keep Your Doors Locked.”