Click to learn more about author Paul Trulove.
As the speed of business accelerates, organizations are turning to Cloud Technologies to keep pace. In fact, research indicates that 43 percent of companies already have a Cloud Strategy in place, driven in part by demand for new applications, expanding data storage needs and rapid adoption of digital services. The vast number of new technologies, many of them found in the Cloud, that enterprises are deploying every day are skyrocketing as they chase digital transformation goals. With this move towards the Cloud, the goal is a much more agile business environment. This shift is having a profound impact on cybersecurity, and specifically, identity management.
While the Cloud is undoubtedly helping businesses be more effective, it inevitably creates data and application sprawl. This sprawl not only hinders operational efficiency goals, but it also introduces new challenges for IT and security teams to effectively govern how users are granted access to applications and data in their organizations. This creates additional risk, essentially leaving the proverbial door open for hackers. Increased cyber risk is something no business can afford – financially or reputationally – especially given that cyber-attacks are perpetually increasing in size, sophistication and cost. In fact, estimates indicate that cybercrime damages will cost organizations globally $6 trillion annually by 2021, up from $3 trillion in 2015.
The Benefits of Identity Governance
To truly defend against the ubiquity of cyberattacks, businesses need to incorporate an Identity Governance solution that can answer the questions of who has access to what, who should have access to what, and what they are doing with that access. Identity Governance offers businesses the ability to manage, monitor and audit user access throughout a user’s lifecycle with the organization. In particular, the technology can provide several crucial benefits, including:
- Visibility and control across disparate systems. When Identity Governance decisions are made in isolation, they’re prone to error because they only consider the immediate circumstances. By consolidating access privilege and entitlement information from applications and file storage systems across complex, hybrid environments, however, Identity Governance can provide organizations with a broader understanding of their network environment and allow IT teams to centrally manage all identities and their access to data and applications. With the ability to make more rapid, accurate and holistic choices regarding access privilege and entitlement information, organizations can strengthen their security and ensure compliance across their entire business.
- Insider risk mitigation. Businesses need to monitor access to applications and identify any unrecognized users that have gained inappropriate access or orphaned accounts that are no longer correlated to an active user in the business. By making it more difficult for malicious insiders who’ve gone rogue, employees whose credentials don’t reflect the appropriate level of access for their current role or outsiders attempting to pose as trusted insiders via stolen credentials, Identity Governance can mitigate risk and boost overall cybersecurity. Identity Governance also helps organizations define and enforce user access policies, providing the necessary visibility to address key compliance and audit requirements.
- Streamlined operations. The rate at which new Cloud-based identities, data and applications are expanding is infinite, forcing organizations to identify ways to do more with far fewer resources. One way to boost operational efficiency is by infusing AI into Identity Governance programs. With AI, IT teams can identify low risk users based on their current access privileges and in turn automate access reviews and approvals of their access. This enables organizations to focus controls on users and access that pose the most risk. AI can also pinpoint high-risk scenarios in real-time and adjust the governance control model to increase the level of scrutiny by management or IT.
- Achieving compliance. Every major regulation that deals with security, privacy or financial reporting requires organizations to prove they have control over who has access to sensitive information, whether it’s stored on-premises or in the Cloud. Identity Governance enables an organization to implement a comprehensive audit and reporting process that provides auditors and regulators with the information required to demonstrate compliance.
Identity is the Foundation of Digital Transformation
For the majority of organizations embarking on a digital transformation journey, the significant changes to IT systems and internal business processes can have a dramatic effect on security, risk management and compliance posture. One of the most significant exposure points that can leave organizations exposed is underestimating the challenge of knowing at all times – “who has access to what.” Because when an organization loses sight of who has access to their sensitive data or applications, a data breach can happen quickly, and often times, silently. According to the Ponemon Institute, an average data breach cost $3.5 million in 2017, and there’s a 27 percent probability that a U.S. company will experience a breach in the next 24 months that costs them between $1.1M and $3.8M. And that’s just the direct financial cost. Reputation damage, which is harder to quantify, is equally, if not more damaging to an organization that has been breached
With the influx of new technology and rapid evolution of business processes, a comprehensive Identity Governance program is necessary to help organizations mitigate the risk of being breached. It’s the only way to manage the growing list of users and their access to critical applications and data. Identity Governance provides visibility and control, helping IT teams understand which users have access to applications and data within their organizations and how they’re using that access. With the right Identity Governance solution in place, businesses can embrace the digital transformation and look to the future with confidence, not fear.