Cybersecurity is vital for businesses and individuals alike. Cyber threats abound, and data breaches and malware attacks are costly. Attacks come from all sectors, including the cloud tools people use every day. The average employee uses 36 cloud-based services daily, and those clouds can contain a wealth of sensitive data. Managing access to sensitive data and resources has become crucial to maintaining robust security, as it only takes one breached account to have significant consequences. You could suffer serious financial consequences, not to mention the loss of reputation that comes with a data breach. This post will cover why identity & access management (IAM) has become essential to good data security, safeguarding valuable assets, and ensuring data integrity.
Mitigating Insider Threats
Insider threats can result from malicious actions or simple mistakes. They can come from employees within an organization or hackers with access to their breached accounts. IAM solutions enable businesses to install granular access controls and permissions to ensure that employees have access only to the data necessary for their roles. Minimizing excessive privileges significantly reduces the danger of insider threats. Access management also provides visibility into user activities enabling businesses to detect and respond to suspicious behavior in real-time.
Strengthening Data Protection
Data breaches can have severe consequences for businesses, resulting in problems like:
- Reputational damage
- Financial losses
- Regulatory penalties
- Permanent closure for those that can't recover
Effective access management helps strengthen data protection by limiting access to sensitive information and enforcing strong authentication measures, such as multi-factor authentication, to limit who can access what in a system. Access management solutions can also enable organizations to track and control data transfers, helping ensure that data remains secure throughout its lifecycle. By implementing robust access controls, businesses can reduce the chance of unauthorized data access and protect their most valuable assets.
Enhancing Regulatory Compliance
Compliance with data privacy laws should be a top priority for any organization. IAM solutions can help play a vital role in ensuring regulatory compliance by providing necessary controls and audit trails. IAM tools also help companies adopt best practices, such as:
- Role-based access control (RBAC)
- Least privilege principles
- Contextual multi-factor authentication
By using IAM solutions, businesses can show compliance with regulatory requirements and perform regular access reviews. They enable organizations to maintain an accurate record of user access and permissions, which is essential for regulatory audits and assessments.
Streamlining User Provisioning and Deprovisioning
Manually managing user accounts and access privileges can be time-consuming and prone to human error, which can significantly increase the risk of an account breach. Access management solutions automate user provisioning and de-provisioning to simplify the onboarding process and ensure that employees have appropriate access rights throughout their employment lifecycle. Additionally, when an employee leaves the organization, IAM tools ensure prompt de-provisioning of accounts and revoking of access rights to reduce the risks created by dormant or unauthorized accounts. Remember the big data breach at Colonial Pipeline a few years back? The breach originated from an old unused business VPN account that had never been de-provisioned properly. Streamlining user provisioning and de-provisioning enhances security and improves operational efficiency.
Enabling Secure Remote Access
Two major technological advancements have significantly changed the look of the traditional "office" in the last decade: the rise of remote work and the increasing reliance on cloud services. These changes make secure remote access a vital component of any organization's cybersecurity setup. IAM solutions provide secure authentication and authorization mechanisms for remote users, enabling them to access corporate resources and data securely, whether employees are working from home, traveling, or accessing data via mobile through tools like:
- Virtual private networks (VPNs)
- Single sign-on (SSO)
- Multi-factor authentication (MFA)
These help secure remote access and maintain the integrity and confidentiality of corporate data.
As one final bonus, using an identity and access management system can also boost productivity. It can be very time-consuming for your HR or IT team to provision every employee's user account, add all the login credentials, and decide on user access permissions in each tool. IAM systems automate this entire process. Using role-based access protocols, they can immediately assign the right level of access or immediately revoke access if an employee leaves. This saves your administrative team considerable time and effort.