What is Identity Governance and Administration?

Identity Governance and Administration (IGA) is a framework managing and monitoring digital identities and their access to an organizations resources. IGA encompasses policies, processes, and technology to ensure compliance, enhance security, and streamline management of identities, accounts, roles, and entitlements for access control and auditing.

A principle function of IGA is the provisioning and deprovisioning of identities and accounts. This involves the automated orchestration of granting and revoking access (joiner, mover, and leaver) to assets and resources based on predefined business processes. Organizations adopt identity governance and administration to:

  • Automate the identity lifecycle, including onboarding, off-boarding, and role-based provisioning and de-provisioning
  • Consistently define and manage roles
  • Implement separation of duties and enforce least privilege
  • Manage access entitlements and permissions
  • Consolidate auditing and activity reporting to address compliance

IGA is a subset of identity and access management (IAM), and complements other sub-disciplines, such as privileged access management (PAM), to implement least privilege and holistic identity security.

Why is Identity Governance and Administration Important?

Identity Governance and Administration is important because it provides consistent oversight throughout the identity management lifecycle, including on-boarding and off-boarding. IGA solutions help ensure the right user has appropriate access when needed and properly revokes or disables unnecessary access and accounts.

This importance is further highlighted across organizations with diverse identities, users, applications, and resources existing in increasingly heterogeneous environments of multiple clouds and on-premises systems, which change daily. Manually assigning the correct access for users to resources becomes unmanageable at scale. This complexity introduces risks from threat actors, productivity loss due to errors or delays in access, and the potential failure of compliance audits.

The Benefits of IGA

The goal of IGA is to provide businesses with a comprehensive understanding of who has access to what across their enterprise. This knowledge includes how access was granted, and how the access is being used.

Organizations of all sizes, especially those handling sensitive data subject to regulatory requirements, benefit from implementing IGA. It is particularly essential for industries such as banking, healthcare, and retail where data privacy and security are of paramount importance.

Here are some high-level benefits of IGA:

Improved Security Posture: IGA Ensures access rights are appropriately provisioned and audited to prevent unauthorized access and security breaches. This helps protect identities and access from insider threats and external attackers.

Regulatory Compliance: IGA ensures that organizations comply with industry regulations and standards (SOC 2, HIPAA, GDPR etc.) by enforcing access controls and maintaining audit trails. Automated user access reviews and access certification simplify compliance requests. Every access action is logged - detailing the individual who made the request, who approved it, and the reasoning and timing behind it.

Operational Efficiency: IGA streamlines access management workflows and automates many task to reduce manual effort for administrators and end users. This is essential to scale adequate identity security across larger and more complex hybrid environments that may span multiple clouds and on-premises. Self-service capabilities also make it easy for end users to request permissions, with access review, provisioning, and de-provisioning orchestrated by intelligent, automated workflows.

How IGA Works with Modern Cloud Access Governance

IGA significantly strengthens cloud security posture. As organizations increasingly adopt cloud services and software as a service (SaaS) applications, managing identities and permissions across these diverse platforms becomes challenging. Modern IGA solutions offer a unified approach to manage and audit user identities, simplifying the administration of cloud-based resources, enhancing data protection, and ensuring compliance with regulatory standards.

IGA also plays a crucial role in managing appropriate cloud permissions. It supports an efficient request and approval process for access rights, followed by automated provisioning and de-provisioning. For example, permissions can be tailored to specific DevOps roles or groups of roles, ensuring users have only the necessary access rights to perform their jobs, consistent with the principle of least privilege. In the cloud, this process can be streamlined by the deployment of cloud permission bundles, which are clusters of specific permissions allotted to a user or a group of users in a network system or application. Delegation of cloud permission bundles not only saves time, but also reduces the risk of making errors in granting permissions.

Modern IGA solutions increasingly provide cross-domain capabilities that streamline access requests and identity controls across on-premises and multicloud environments.

Understanding IGA vs. PAM

IGA manages known identities, accounts, and access and reports on the configuration of these items at rest. However, IGA typically does not handle specific privilege usage and control processes performed by PAM products. IGA products today also rarely collate and analyze identity activity signals from multiple sources to understand identity or privilege usage. IGA often lacks visibility over accounts and privileges on applications and systems that are granted outside of the IGA solution or outside of its purview.

Ultimately, unifying IGA and PAM to streamline identity security processes should be the goal as the enterprise matures through the IAM lifecycle.

Common IGA Features

  • Identity Lifecycle Management encompasses managing the entire lifecycle of digital identities, from onboarding to offboarding.
  • Password Management to ensure proper security hygiene for credentials used by the workforce to access applications and systems.
  • Access Certification allows organizations to review and certify the access rights granted to users. This practice is important for ensuring users maintain appropriate permissions based on their roles and responsibilities in adherence with least privilege.
  • Entitlements Management to support the enforcement and management of roles and permissions, based on access policies that include user attributes, context, device characteristics, geolocation, etc.
  • Connectors and Integrations with identity stores, applications, PAM solutions, SSO, and other systems to streamline workflows and improve overall identity security.
  • Segregation of Duties (SoD) Enforcement ensures that no single user has conflicting roles or access rights that could lead to unauthorized actions.
  • Identity Activity Analysis helps organizations understand usage patterns to right-size access, identify anomalies, and proactively mitigate potential security threats and compliance risks.
  • Self-Service Access capabilities empower users to request access to resources that trigger automated decision workflows based on pre-defined policies and, potentially, AI, to streamline access provisioning.
  • Audit and Compliance Reporting to track user access activities, modifications to access permissions, and compliance with regulatory requirements.

Interested in simplifying IGA, streamlining cloud permissions access, and enforcing PAM best practices? Contact us today.

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