Identity and Access Management Strategy: The Essential Elements To Align Your Strategy With Business Goals
With an ever-growing change in the work environment accelerated by the pandemic and advocated by so many people, now more than ever companies need to focus on adapting and improving their Identity and Access Management (IAM) strategy.
Remote working and a transition to cloud and hybrid servers means ensuring only the right people have access to the right data and systems has never been more important.
What is IAM Strategy?
IAM strategies include the policies, processes, and technologies that are used to manage digital identities and control access to resources.
Secure networks, systems, and data are achieved by regulating who has access to what resources, and under what conditions. Whether that be a simple password or pin code or a more secure multi-factor authentication solution including biometric authentication.
What’s So Important About Getting Your IAM Strategy Right?
The world we now live in of exponentially evolving technologies such as artificial intelligence brings with it a whole host of ever-growing threats of security breaches.
A solid, effective IAM strategy is one of the crucial ways to reduce this risk – by ensuring the right people have access to the right resources at the right time.
This is particularly important in large organizations where there may be hundreds if not thousands of users, teams, and systems that need to be securely managed.
Meaning that, for those organizations, having a well-defined IAM strategy is non-negotiable, not only for the security of their data, employees, and customers, but to ensure compliance with relevant laws and regulations.
Not to mention the cost implications of having a poor IAM strategy. Simply put, loss of data equals loss of money and reputation.
check out our full article on why identity and access management is important
Let’s dive into how to get it right.
Engage the Right Stakeholders
Before the intricacies of redefining your IAM strategy, it’s imperative to ensure all of the correct stakeholders are involved. Because failing to obtain stakeholder buy-in can lead to the most well-defined IAM programs failing.
This involves an effective communication strategy whereby the CISO sits down with each departmental executive to discuss potential upcoming changes, improvements, and concerns – securing their full support.
By Involving departmental executives from the offset so that they can communicate the strategy down to their direct reports, ensures that the strategy can be implemented throughout the company seamlessly.
That starts with defining whose day-to-day activities are impacted by any new changes, who has visibility of the impact on customers, and of course which team will be responsible for any projects.
This is key information to have at hand before the implementation of a new IAM program as it allows for structured planning, execution, training, and awareness programs.
Identify Your Organization’s IAM Goals and Objectives
Determining what you want to achieve with your IAM strategy ensures that everyone is on the same page when it’s time to implement the strategy.
This includes determining your IAM objectives, such as improving security, increasing productivity, and meeting regulatory requirements.
Your IAM goals and objectives should stem from your overall business objectives and will consider whether the focus of your strategic changes are to improve the workforce IAM, customer IAM, or both.
Assess Your Existing IAM Solutions
With any new business strategy, the key to moving forward is to evaluate where you are currently. A review of current IAM systems, processes, and policies is essential.
This information can then be used to determine any gaps, weaknesses, or opportunities to address, along with any well-performing areas as well.
What Exactly Should Be Covered in Your IAM Strategy?
Now that the preparation for the new IAM strategy has been completed, it’s time to talk about the specific areas to be covered in the IAM strategy.
Identity Verification and Authentication System Requirements
A successful IAM strategy should outline specifically what types of authentication methods are the best fit for the company, implementation or upgrade plans if needed, and for what data and systems it is/will be in place.
For example, a company’s most valuable data perhaps requires a more stringent access system than low-value assets.
Check out our article on the top identity and access management best practices to help identify the right permissions and access controls for your systems.
As part of this review, any investments in new technologies should be outlined.
New or Updated Policies and Procedures
Now that the exact identity verification and authentication methods have been decided, the strategy needs to outline what policies and procedures are required to support any changes.
These will consider how access to systems and resources is granted, revoked, and managed, including the use of access control lists, permissions, and other measures.
Employee Training Requirements
Training programs are essential in the implementation of any new systems or strategies to ensure they’re used correctly and don’t disrupt day-to-day operations.
Hence, a training program should outline clearly the learning modules required and who is required to take the training.
Check out our full article on employee cybersecurity training.
Incident Response Plan
An IAM strategy should cover any protocols for when things don’t go as planned. These protocols should include the processes for responding to and managing security incidents.
The creation of an incident response plan should include the roles and responsibilities of the incident response team along with who is responsible for testing and implementing the plan.
Once the IAM strategy has been implemented, the IAM systems should be continually improved as time goes by and external threats of data breaches increase.
As businesses grow and the landscape of threats advances, the IAM strategy should evolve in line with the increased threats and complexities of daily operations.
Audits should be conducted regularly to ensure that an organization’s IAM processes are still effective and in compliance with relevant regulations and standards.
Carrying out regular audits gives insights into any gaps in the IAM strategy that can be dealt with.
Risk assessments are conducted to identify potential security risks and vulnerabilities. This information can be used to develop plans to mitigate those risks by improving the IAM systems.
Creating an IAM strategy right through to execution and ongoing maintenance is no easy task.
If you’re looking for an implementation partner to support you in developing or refining the IAM strategy for your organization, visit our IAM solutions page to find out more about how RediMinds can support you.