2nd August, 2023
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The IG framework is the most-needed guidance for IT teams to navigate through IT risks, non-compliance, and user access issues. This framework can unite all these components (user, processes, and technology). So that your team can further, manage them centrally while avoiding security and compliance issues.
The ideal goal of any cybersecurity strategy is to protect your organization’s data while you manage disparate systems, processes, and regular and privileged identities. The identity governance framework is one strategy that can get your team closer to this goal. This structure defines how your organization should manage its identities, allow access and control, segregate duties to prevent conflicting or elevated privileges, and maintain audit-friendly reports and certifications.
These data security and access policies can also affect the way your organization complies with security regulations like GDPR and HIPAA, which dictate how data must be governed in your organization.
At the same time, the framework also supports you in aligning your identity governance initiatives with business goals and objectives and employee productivity. Your security measures cannot prevent users from accessing mandatory IT resources and applications, as that can affect their daily tasks and reduce their productivity and work efficiency.
This is often neglected as IT teams focus more on securing the IT perimeter as the apps and user base become large. This is why devising an identity governance framework is important for organizations, as it lets IT managers balance both and ensure that the right users are able to access the right applications with the least amount of access required at the right time. This can help organizations achieve their strategic business goals while adhering to laws, regulations, and industry standards.
So, in this article, we’ll discuss in detail what an identity governance framework is, its importance, and how your IT team can implement the IG framework in your organization.
Identity governance is a part of Identity governance and administration, and it centralizes the governance of your organization’s identities, policies, people, and technology (devices, apps, storage mediums, etc.) to meet auditory requirements and current IT compliance standards.
It allows your IT team to review constantly how access to SaaS apps and data is distributed across your organization and whether users have only the right level of access and not more than that.
The main goal of the identity governance (IG) framework is to protect your SaaS app data from security risks and breaches through best identity practices without affecting employees' access to digital resources, apps, storage mediums, etc., to meet auditory requirements and current IT compliance standards. It allows your IT team to review constantly how access to SaaS apps and data is distributed across your organization and whether users have only the right level of access and not more than that.
It also reduces the complexities in managing identity and access data no matter where this information is stored and governs how apps use sensitive identity data.
Below are the reasons why there is an emerging need for an identity framework:
To prevent risks: Most mid-level and large organizations operate with the help of a hybrid IT environment where they have both on-premises and cloud applications to carry out their business activities. This means the network can become easily complex, and IT teams can find it hard while provisioning access following the least privileges principle. The lack of automation can further make it difficult, as there can be errors while applying policies, leading to flawed and unmonitored identity management.
So, the IG framework can help IT teams use the IGA applications effectively, define policies, track user behavior, and spot suspicious activities to prevent any security breach before it occurs.
For instance, giving admin-level access to users when they don’t require it. Or what if any user gets multiple privileged entitlements with which they can potentially perform any unauthorized activities or attempt a breach? So, an IG framework guides you in keeping your organization safe from these breaches and creating a resilient IT infrastructure.
Compliance management: Also, the changing regulatory measures of IT, data security, and industrial standards force organizations to stick to comply with them. This compliance exists for organizations to ensure they understand your legal responsibilities of maintaining customer, vendor, employee, and other critical data.
Some essential and standard compliances that apply to most organizations are as follows.
GDPR: It stands for General Data Protection Regulation. This is a necessary certification that your organization must comply with to prove that you are protecting your customers’ private data. It applies to businesses that offer services or products to European citizens or process their data. If you are one of these organizations, you must establish how their data is used.
HIPAA: This IT standard is for healthcare and health insurance organizations to protect the health data of customers confidentially. Its full form is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. This compliance requires relevant organizations to secure the Private health information of patients that healthcare and insurance agencies store.
PCI DSS: This stands for Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. This standard is for the fintech and banking industry to protect customers' sensitive information like card details, personal information, and such. This global standard is important because there are many cybercriminals trying to steal customer and card data when providers, processors, merchants, or intermediaries don’t follow robust data security strategies.
Thus, compliance adherence mainly depends on how your organization governs data protection, availability, and integrity. Any non-compliance can lead to huge reputation loss, fines, or legal repercussions for your organization.
So, to adhere to these internal, statutory, and regulatory requirements, an IT team needs a proper Identity Governance Framework that can guide them to establish reliable governance practices. Similarly, when audits happen, you can be relieved as all of your systems are governed under one window and prove how critical assets are under the granular control of the IT team. This also works for external audits, which can be more stressful for the IT team.
To improve operational efficiency: It can be extremely difficult to handle IT operations manually, that too with tasks like provisioning and deprovisioning. Any delay and inefficiency around this cause productivity issues and affect the zero-trust IT environment you want to create. But, the IG framework helps your team utilize automation the right way, bring promptness in processes, and reduce errors to a great extent.
Implementing the identity governance framework is a continuous process. This is because there will be constant changes in your identity management and audit requirements. You will have to observe how the framework fits your IT network and make necessary changes to it.
Identity governance is not only the goal of an IT department but the entire organization if you want to establish it successfully for years to come. Hence, you must have every stakeholder onboard in the process, and everyone’s concerns must be validated. Many IT teams commit this mistake by only involving the necessary decision-makers without considering other departmental leaders, users, vendors, and third parties.
Thus, to avoid this, your team should start by understanding your users' issues. It can be related to accessing a privileged account that they require for their job, it can be about a delay in receiving access, or it can be about not having the required entitlements on time.
Spend time with your internal stakeholders to understand the current state of these common issues that users report. An IG framework is designed to facilitate users with receiving the required level of mandatory access whenever required. Hence, you must consider these while creating and implementing your identity governance framework.
This also means reviewing if users have higher entitlements without any necessity. For example, a user from the HR team might have access to a marketing-related application that was temporarily provided and not revoked; it should be marked and taken care of.
To create an IG framework, you must start with establishing a zero-trust network where you set up rigorous access controls and right-size entitlements offered to each role. To provide low-level access, you must identify all applications and privileged entities of your organization. If you already have an Identity management application in place, you can easily bring the whole IT infrastructure under this zero-trust setup.
Besides providing low-level privileges, you must enforce additional security through multi-factor authentication. Adding a layer of security allows users to access work-related applications from any device or gadget simply and seamlessly without compromising identity security (knowing whether it’s the right user trying to access).
Another factor that must be considered here is creating access controls that enable fine granular access to users rather than giving group-based access. You can have subsets under each role with varying permissions enabled for each subset. For example, two users belonging to the same role can have different rights enabled that allow them to perform their job without allowing conflicting access and permissions.
Regularly monitoring user behavior lets you observe what users require most and don’t often access and make necessary changes. Like, restricting the least-used privileges and creating just-in-time access for them. This means you are providing privileged access only when required and requested by the user. Access certification is an essential part of identity governance, which will support you with privileged access logs and user activities that are much needed for audits and certifications.
Segregation of duties means you split a business process into many and assign each permission to a different user. Thus, one user will not have two or more permissions, potentially leading to a system misuse or data breach. For example, the same user cannot create a new user and delete them from the system.
Excessive access can lead to security breaches and insider fraud activities which SoD and tight access control can prevent. Through SoD and access certification, you can continuously monitor who has access to privileged accounts of your IT network and enable continuous monitoring.
To meet your audit requirements and create a resilient system where you can prevent and mitigate premeditated security breaches and IT risks. Having multiple systems to protect your IT network might give you extensive protection coverage across different layers but unified identity governance and administration.
This makes it much easier for the IT team to have visibility over the entire IT infrastructure and can enforce policies to control who has access to what in a detailed manner. When all applications are managed in a single place, applying access certification across all applications becomes simpler.
IT administrators can maintain logs of user-privileged sessions, screen recordings, user behavior, and other audit trails. Thus, with a single platform, you can manage identity management, user access policies, and compliance, which is convenient for the IT team and other stakeholders involved.
Another reason to have a single platform for identity governance is to stay compliant with important regulations and data protection standards, as all applications are managed in a single platform, whether on-premises, cloud, or hybrid. With a single system in place for identity management and governance, you can quickly apply policy changes to suit varying compliance needs.
Now that you understand how your IT team can implement the IG framework and what all benefits you will avail by doing so. Let’s proceed and opt for an effective solution such as Zluri that will help you effectively implement the IG framework in your organization. Why Zluri? How does it work? Here’s a quick read through.
Amidst the growing concerns of data security and adhering to compliance requirements, the manual methods practiced by IT teams are not helping in mitigating the concerns. Due to the increase in SaaS adoption and the shift towards remote work, IT teams struggle to control, manage, and govern who has access to what manually.
So if you want to eliminate the manual method and address these accelerating issues, you need to consider opting for an effective IGA solution like Zluri. But why Zluri?
Zluri is an autonomous and automated IGA platform primarily focusing on data security and compliance. It offers features such as data discovery methods, access review, and more designed to effectively manage and govern user access and help safeguard against potential security breaches that can compromise data integrity.
Also, it conducts audits and generates reports to see whether the compliance standards are met. Zluri is not restricted to that; it automates manual, repetitive IT tasks such as provisioning, deprovisioning, access certification, access request management, and more. By automating these processes, your team can streamline IT operations, improve productivity, and enhance employee experience.
For example, Zluri helps your IT teams enforce segregation of duties (SoD), a strategy to mitigate security risks, and a compliance requirement for regulatory frameworks. Zluri ensures that each SaaS app in the organization has designated app owners.
So while conducting user access reviews, the reviewer team (GRC team/IT team) won't have complete control over the entire review process; there will also be involvement from app owners. This separation of duty is placed to reduce the data security threat, risk of manipulation, or biases in decision-making during access reviews.
This was just a brief overview of what Zluri is capable of, so to help you understand better how Zluri makes it all possible, let’s go through each functionality in detail.
Zluri’s advanced data discovery engine is designed to provide your IT team with complete visibility into user access data by thoroughly analyzing how users interact with your organization’s critical system and apps.
How does it analyze the access patterns? It uses five discovery methods: SSO or IDP, finance and expense management system, direct integration with apps, browser extensions (optional), and desktop agents (optional). These methods enable your IT teams to gain in-depth insights into the user access context. They can effortlessly monitor who has access to what, which level of access permissions the users have (e.g., read, edit, or delete), the status of the users (active/inactive), which department/position they hold, and more.
With such granular insights at their fingertips, your IT team can gain a firm grasp on access patterns. This insight, in turn, aids in ensuring that only authorized users possess access to the right SaaS app data. By orchestrating this, your team effectively upholds a secure and well-managed environment.
With Zluri’s automation engine capability, your IT team can seamlessly automate access provisioning, deprovisioning, and modification. By automating these repetitive and mundane tasks, your team can reduce errors and increase efficiency. Simultaneously they can also ensure users are assigned the appropriate access, and their access privileges are restricted to only what is necessary for their job roles throughout their tenure.
So let’s see how Zluri automates access management processes in different phases of the user lifecycle.
Manually granting multiple new joinees access to an organization’s SaaS apps, data, and system can be time-consuming and prone to errors. Furthermore, there are chances of granting new employees excessive access permissions, potentially creating a gap for security breaches. Relying on manual procedures not only jeopardizes data security but also has repercussions on the initial experience of employees.
So to address this challenge what Zluri does is; it automates the entire provisioning process. First, it creates individual accounts for each new joinee, and then, in one go, it grants multiple new employees access with just a few clicks.
By automating the process, your team can ensure the right access is granted to the right employees with the right level of permissions to required apps. Also, further, it boosts employees' productivity by enabling them to start working from the day of joining.
Additionally, to make the identity verification process more convenient for your IT team, it ties user profiles with their digital identity during onboarding, and all the employee data is displayed in Zluri’s centralized dashboard. So that when your team authenticates user identity to grant them access during the provisioning process, they can easily cross-check the details from the dashboard.
Thus, this integration allows your IT teams to assign user access that aligns with their job role accurately.
Now let's move on and see how Zluri automates the provisioning process. Well, your IT team can create onboarding workflows. All they need to do is select users they want to grant access to or onboard and apps (you can even choose from the recommended apps option), which all apps they want the users to access.
Then, your team can take the necessary actions easily by clicking "add an action." Here, they can schedule the workflow and more.
Zluri even provides in-app suggestions, allowing your team to add employees to different channels, groups, or projects or send automated welcome messages.
The actions can vary for different applications and are mentioned under recommended actions. Once all the actions are set, you can directly run the workflow or save it as a playbook for future use.
For added efficiency, Zluri offers automated playbooks (i.e., collections of recommended applications for automation) that can be customized for different roles, departments, and designations. This feature streamlines the onboarding of new employees, making it as easy as a few clicks to set up their access
Note- Apart from that; your team can set automation actions, such as by triggering if and but conditions, they can grant Kissflow access to all the finance department employees.
Employees' access requirements keep on changing according to certain situations, like when they undergo role change, promotion, or to complete a specific project
However, managing these access requirements manually poses significant challenges for the IT team. They often struggle to keep track of all the changes that have taken place.
It doesn't end there; the entire access approval process involves multiple steps when done manually, resulting in extended waiting periods for employees to receive final approval, interrupting their flow of work.
So what Zluri does is it eliminates the time-consuming manual access request process through automation. Let's see what it does.
To stay informed about these modifications, Zluri integrates with HRMS. With the help of this integration, Zluri automatically retrieves and displays updated employee data on a centralized dashboard. By leveraging this integration, your IT team can easily access and verify employee details without manual effort.
Further, by doing so, your IT team can easily ensure access permissions align with current employee roles and responsibilities. Whether granting or revoking access, your team can manage user privileges based on the most up-to-date data available.
Not only that, Zluri takes a step further to streamline the access request process by making it ticketless. It offers an Employee App Store (EAS), a self-serve model, a collection of applications pre-approved by your IT team. With this self-serve model, employees enjoy the flexibility of choosing any application from the app store and gaining quick access in no time.
All they need to do is raise a request, and the IT team will verify and review their identity before providing access to the requested application. If approved, employees gain access right away. If access is declined, they receive prompt notifications, reasons for the decision, any modifications made, or suggested alternatives for the application, all viewable in the "Changelogs."
Deactivating accounts and revoking access from employees who are leaving the company or are no longer needing access to particular applications is a critical task for IT teams. A mere oversight in this process can have grave consequences, potentially impacting data security.
Recognizing this issue, Zluri offers a solution by automating the deprovisioning process. With just a few clicks, your team can promptly deactivate accounts and revoke all or required access from employees without overlooking any critical steps. By automating this process, your team can ensure timely revocation and suspension, protecting SaaS app data from security breaches such as unauthorized attempts.
So, to automate the process, all your team can simply create an offboarding workflow. All they need to do is select the users from whom they want to revoke app access, and then they will come across a list of recommended actions (such as signing out users, removing them from org units, and more).
Your team can choose one or multiple actions at once from the list; a point to note is that these actions will be executed post the deprovisioning process. Once all desired actions are added, your team can run the workflow instantly or save it as a playbook for future use.
Manually reviewing user access using spreadsheets and JSON files can be inefficient and drain the IT team’s productive time and effort, and also there is a risk of errors within reports.
Zluri understands the concern, so it streamlines and automates the access review process through its access reviewing capabilities to resolve the issue. Such as, with Zluri's unified access review feature, your IT team can find out which critical users have access to which all critical apps, their status (active/inactive) accounts, what access permissions the users are assigned, and more.
Where will the IT team obtain these insights from? Your team can gather these valuable insights from Zluri's access directory, where all user access-related data is stored in one centralized location.
Furthermore, with the help of this information, including user roles, departments, and more, your team can thoroughly examine user access privileges, ensuring employees' access permissions align with their respective roles.
Also, Zluri's activity and alert feature ensures smooth operations by providing real-time updates on users' account’s recent access activities and notifying IT teams about new logins. This valuable information enables reviewers to make informed decisions promptly during access reviews, ensuring that the right individuals maintain appropriate access levels at all times.
Furthermore, Zluri offers the convenience of automating the entire access review process. Simply go to Zluri's IGA interface, create a certification, select the apps and users for review, and rest the reviewers will verify if the access aligns with the user's role and responsibilities, ensuring that there are no instances of unauthorized access. And after the completion of the review, the reports are sent to the reviewers by mail (those who requested the review).
By automating the access certification process, you yield 10 times better outcomes and save the IT team's efforts by 70%.
Once you have acquired contextual data through Zluri's unified access feature, you can create access rules based on these valuable insights. Also, Zluri enables your IT team to enforce SoD policies based on industry regulations and internal best practices. These policies act as a guide to ensure that access rights comply with the required standards.
With Zluri's context-rich information, your team can confidently take actions that align with your access management policies. It's a smarter, more efficient way to ensure the right access for the right users, all while keeping your data secure. Zluri's automated access reviews and access rules are the key to simplifying your access governance process.
Here’s how you can create access certification in Zluri:
Step 1: From Zluri’s main interface, click on the ‘Access Certification’ module.
Step 2: Now select the option ‘create new certification.’ You have to assign a certification name and designate a responsive owner to oversee the review.
Step 3: Under Set Up Certification, choose the ‘Application’ option. Proceed further by selecting the desired application for which you want to conduct the review and choose a reviewer (generally, the primary reviewers are the app owners) accountable for reviewing access to that particular application.
After that, you need to select the fallback owner/reviewer; if the primary reviewer is unavailable, the fallback owner can review the user access (you can select anyone for the fallback reviewer whom you think is responsible enough). Also, the reviewers will get notified through the mail that they will conduct a review.
Once you are done selecting the reviewers, you can click on Next.
Step 4: Select Users for Review; choose the users whom you want to review for the selected application. Once you are done selecting the users, click on next. You will be able to view all the information related to the users. Then you need to specify the criteria or parameters such as user department, job title, usage, and more. Now click on update and then click on next.
Note: Select only relevant data points you wish your reviewers to see while reviewing the access. By filtering the criteria appropriately, you enable your reviewers to make swift and well-informed decisions, streamlining the review process and ensuring efficiency.
Step 5: Now, the Configure Action page will appear; basically, here, you have to choose actions. These actions will run post the review.
There are three actions:
Approved- once reviewers approve the user access, Zluri won't run any action; the users can continue with their same access without any interruption.
Rejected- when the reviewer declines or doesn’t approve the user access, you have to run a deprovisioning playbook to revoke that application's access from the user. If the user has access to critical apps, then you can request the assigned reviewer to manually deprovision the user access, or else Zluri will auto-remediate if it’s not critical access.
Note: For critical data, Zluri enables manual review and remediation of access to ensure extra scrutiny and control.
Modify- In this last case, you again need to create a playbook to modify the user access. However, you need to state whether the access permission needs to be upgraded or degraded.
Step 6: Additionally, you can even schedule the actions by setting up the start date and within what time span you want the review to be completed.
Step 7: Lastly, you can keep track of the automated access review process by clicking on the ‘Review Status’ and viewing whether the review is still pending, modified, declined, or approved.
Also, you can add multiple applications and follow the same process for each selected application.
Zluri also provides the owner access to a snapshot view of the entire certification process status. Also, they can get an overview of the pending reviews and monitor the status of each app’s review status, including their assigned reviewers and completion status.
You can even send reviewers reminders who are yet to complete their reviews.
Further, to streamline the process for reviewers, Zluri provides reviewers with all the user access data in a single screen, i.e., the reviewer screen. For the same screen, reviewers can approve, modify, and decline access by verifying the data, and also they have to add relevant comments on the same.
Now, you will be able to view the entire status of the review process on the chart and once the process is completed and the owner (assigned reviewer of the certification process) is fine with the review. You can click conclude, and it will send the reports to the reviewers' email.
That’s not all; it offers other exquisite capabilities, such as integration. With Zluri’s integration features, your IT team can gather more precious information at any given point in time, which will further help streamline the access review process.
Now that you've learned how Zluri helps you mitigate security risks and maintain compliance. So why wait any longer? Book a demo now and witness yourself how seamlessly Zluri’s IGA platform works in your organization.
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