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How To Create An Identity and Access Management (IAM) Strategy

August 17, 2023

The importance of implementing an identity and access management (IAM) strategy for modern companies cannot be overstated. All companies are competing with one another to get an edge, so it’s crucial to have cutting-edge systems, maximum functionality and robust protection of business information.

IAM strategies are all about ensuring the only people who can access your IT environment are those that are part of the company and comply with its policies. Control over business data is vital for security and also to measure the productivity levels of each employee.

What is an IAM strategy?

An Identity and Access Management strategy is a system that manages the users who have access to systems within a company. The primary function is to identify every person who accesses the systems. When each user is registered as part of the strategy, parameters can be put in place to limit how much of the systems they have access to. This way, every employee has access only to the data that is pertinent to their role in the company.

IAM technology automatically administers the permissions for each employee. This increases both security and transparency across operations within the company.

How to Create a Modern and Efficient IAM Strategy

In order to get the full value from developing an Identity and Access Management strategy, you must take a rigorous approach. The following steps can help security and risk management leaders create an IAM strategy that fully accommodates all user segments.

Step 1. Carry Out an Application Portfolio Inventory

You should classify all applications into one of the following primary access patterns:

  1. Standard Web Applications – This means HTML-based applications that communicate via cutting-edge identity protocols. Include most SaaS applications in this category.
  2. Non-standard Web Applications – HTML applications that cannot make use of the latest identity protocols and must work via third-party ‘translators’, proxies or agents that can.
  3. Legacy Applications – Thick client or Lightweight Directory Access Protocol-based applications. For these, proxies and agents are few and far-between and it may be best to wait for these applications to be discontinued in favour of standard web applications.

Weigh these classifications against capabilities of your competitors to help decision-makers choose the right IAM tools and develop a roadmap for potential integrations.

Step 2. Audit the Full Spectrum of User Access, Both Internal and External

Access is at the core of modern cybersecurity. Third-party hacks are ever-increasing and access management is the most powerful way to prevent the “hack one, breach many’ approach. You should start your audit by determining which of your organisation’s assets are the most critical, then identify who has access to them and evaluate if all those people need it.

Undertake this audit for both internal and external users. The access of third parties to your company’s data, systems and assets needs to be thoroughly understood. Only then can you truly identify vulnerabilities relating to them and plug potential leaks.

Step 3. Develop the Governance Policies of Your IAM Strategy

At this point, you have your objectives laid out and you have taken stock of your inventory. You are now ready to create the IAM policies and procedures. These should align with both industry standards and your organisation’s objectives.

As you create the policies, make sure they cover the full gamut of IAM aspects. This means:

  • Password policies.
  • Access control policies.
  • User provisioning and de-provisioning policies.

You should create comprehensive documentation of all policies. This should then be passed on to stakeholders and reviewed regularly to ensure everything is up-to-date, relevant and effective.

Step 4. Plan for and Implement the Right IAM Technologies

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is a well-established access management offering, but tools offer many more that are less mature. Various identity governance tools exist to manage the identity lifecycle, tracking authorisations and assisting with provisioning. You need to look at the tools available from different vendors and implement what works for you.

Look for capabilities that align with the policies you created in the previous step. In addition to MFA, common technologies include:

The technologies you choose should revolve around the unique requirements of your organisation. Consider things like integration, scalability and user experience to get the best possible results.

Step 5. Test Your IAM Strategy and Refine Where Necessary

Once your IAM policies and technologies are all laid out, it’s time to test your strategy under controlled circumstances. Incorporate IT staff and end-users into the testing and ensure you cover all aspects of IAM, from authentication, through authorisation and on to user provisioning.

Collect feedback from the testing process to define areas for improvement. This will enable you to refine your IAM strategy and make modifications where needed. The ultimate goal is to make it efficient, effective and aligned with your overall business objectives. The goal of refinement should be ongoing, as you will carry out frequent reviews and look for opportunities to improve as malicious actors and hackers become ever-more sophisticated.

Preparing for the Future

Change is the only certainty when it comes to technology. You need to try to stay ahead of the curve by taking a proactive approach to cybersecurity and access management. Your strategies should have a degree of flexibility designed to incorporate future developments as the landscape adapts.

A vigilant and proactive approach is the way to stay on top. You are investing in your future, but this is not a one-off step you are taking. Security must be adaptive, decentralised and interconnected to be prepared for the modern threat landscape. Get the initial access management strategy right and continue working on it with a strong foundation.

Final Thoughts

The steps in this post should be viewed holistically. Each one builds on the last, so no steps can be skipped if you want to succeed. The benefits of access management are clear for both cybersecurity and tracking the performance of individual employees. Be thorough in developing your strategy so that it is fit for purpose and offers the maximum chance of success.

Why Choose Eventura for your Cybersecurity?

With over 20 years experience in cybersecurity, we know our stuff. Our team of cybersecurity experts and complete a full audit of your business and identify any areas of weakness, which could leave you vulnerable to cyberattacks.

We were even mentioned in the Government’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) Annual Review 2020 when we were chosen to test their “Exercise in a Box” designed to help small businesses prepare and respond to cyberthreats. You can read the article here.

There is a common misconception that cyberattacks don’t happen to SMEs but this couldn’t be further from the truth. With our expert knowledge, we can help you protect your business’s future from the ever increasing threat of cybercriminals.

If you would like to speak to one of our cybersecurity experts or request a cybersecurity audit or pen testing for your organisation, you can request a free call back here.

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