Every time organizations hire a new employee, he or she needs access to essential information, apps and processes to successfully perform daily tasks. With the cost of data breaches at $4 million per incident and businesses losing an average of $158 for every stolen record, it’s crucial that organizations grant and manage access with the utmost care.
Employee identities and the information to which associated credentials allow access must be carefully managed throughout each team member’s time at your organization. Defined by Techopedia as “the full life cycle of identity and access for a user on a given system,” identity lifecycle covers every aspect of identity and access management (IAM) from the moment a person is hired to the moment they leave the company.
With constant changes in technology and the dynamic nature of employees’ access needs in the modern workplace, it’s essential to follow these 6 IAM best practices throughout the employee lifecycle.
Cover the Basics
IAM should begin with the most straightforward steps for better security:
- Enable multifactor authentication,
- Create and enforce a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy, or consider a Corporate-Owned, Personally Enabled (COPE) policy as an alternative,
- Update all tools, platforms and apps regularly, and
- Encrypt all data during sending and receiving.
Proper employee training also ensures all staff members understand policies and procedures, thereby minimizing the risk of error and reducing vulnerabilities resulting from ignorance.
Start with Smart Provisioning
Role- and attribute-based access control methods assign employee access based on the minimum levels necessary to complete tasks. This makes it easier to allocate privileges to new employees. Instead of guessing what access they’ll require and running the risk of being too liberal, your system can be set to automatically assign the right level of access at the time of hiring. Real-time provisioning ensures access is available to all employees from day one. Adding a single sign-on (SSO) process streamlines the procedure, allowing staff members to use multiple apps using just one set of credentials.
Use Automatic Updating
SSO also eases the burden on your IT department when paired with automatic updating. An increasing number of apps are required to manage modern businesses, and your IT team doesn’t have the time to update provisions across apps or create new rules every time you adopt another platform.
Look for a solution designed for adding apps centrally and creating the proper provisions across all of them at the same time. As the apps you use change, employees gain instant access based on existing permissions, preventing bottlenecks in essential workflows.
Prevent Privileges from Piling Up
Privileged accounts give specific employees access to the most sensitive data and processes within your system. However, employee responsibilities change over time, and it may not always be necessary for high-level permissions to remain in place. Privilege levels must be adjusted accordingly as part of regular automatic updates. By revoking access as soon as it’s no longer needed, you minimize vulnerabilities and shut the door on hackers who target these types of accounts.
Put Up a (Geo) Fence
If your company has a team of remote employees or otherwise allows remote access to data, geo-fencing can cut down on the risk of sensitive information being accessed from the wrong places. Many employees still use public Wi-Fi connections to perform business tasks, and logging into your system while sipping a latte at Starbucks can throw the door wide open for hackers.
Geo-fencing adds another layer of protection by preventing access outside of specific locations. If you choose to implement a “fence,” make sure your access rules don’t create situations so restrictive your remote staff members can’t do their jobs.
Have a Plan for Deprovisioning
Around 49 percent of former employees log into their accounts after leaving a job or being let go. Deprovisioning prevents this type of unauthorized access by completely revoking privileges as soon as a person no longer works for your company. Like provisioning and continuous certification, deprovisioning can be automated to offload your IT department from the tedious task of revoking permissions and removing roles. This is especially important in cases where an employee’s exit was less than cordial and your company could be at risk for a malicious attack if the account remains open.
Adopting a framework for proper identity lifecycle management gives you more control over the information to which you employees have access and decreases the likelihood your company will suffer a data breach. Even in a world where BYOD and remote work have become everyday realities, following best practices for managing identity and access keeps your company safe and ensures no accounts are left open to enterprising hackers. Working with a professional can make it easier to identify weaknesses in your current systems and implement the best fixes for your business model.