Digital Identity Transformation

Identity Management Institute has introduced and defined the term Digital Identity Transformation (DIT) as the “holistic assessment and improvement of business processes, people, and technologies to achieve excellence in identity and access management, system security, data privacy, and regulatory compliance. DIT is achieved with a combination of policies, process re-engineering, organizational changes, awareness and training, improvement of system capabilities, as well as continuous monitoring and adjustment. This article offers detailed information and a framework proposed by IMI for digital identity transformation.

Digital Identity Transformation by Identity Management Institute

System Security and Process Excellence

Digital Identity Transformation in part refers to an improved identity and access management (IAM) program which provides users and devices with secure and easy access to enterprise resources. An adequate IAM program offers strong authentication mechanism, fewer logins to access multiple systems, the ability to collaborate beyond the organization; just-in-time provisioning and de-provisioning, improved access and security controls, as well as auditing and reporting capabilities.

Data Privacy and Regulatory Compliance

There are many identity and privacy regulations which define the consumer rights regarding their personal information and ensure organizations live up to their obligations and respect the privacy rights of consumers. As part of their Digital Identity Transformation, organizations must address redundant regulatory requirements cohesively, determine if they can minimize the scope of their regulatory obligations, and develop a plan to ensure compliance.

What is Digital Identity?

Digital Identity refers to a set of personal attributes stored in computer systems which can be used to identify an entity such as a person, organization, application, or device. These identity components are routinely created or collected, used, shared and stored by organizations as part of their business model, operations, and access management.

Over the years, “identity” has evolved from being a target for identity theft and fraud to playing a major role in cybersecurity and compliance. Many organizations are struggling to define “identity” and implement the appropriate measures to protect and improve access to systems and data. Interestingly, adequate identity and access management practices inherently protect consumer data and help with compliance.

Why Transform Digital Identity?

Identity and Access Management (IAM) refers to a set of business processes and supporting technologies that enable the creation, maintenance, and use of a digital identity which can be extremely extensive and challenging for some organizations. IAM and its related services are responsible for secure system access and protection of information. The implementation of identity and access management in many organizations is often distributed, redundant, inefficient, ineffective, and complex.

Latest study reports suggest that data breach incidents are attributed to poor identity and access management practices and financial losses due to investigation, public relations, improvements, lawsuit, fines, and other expenses can be very high.

Also, increasing number of global identity and privacy regulations have challenged organizations to better manage and protect the personal information of their customers and consumers as they collect and use their information. Any incident which is publicized can be very damaging to the organization’s reputation.

Identity Management Institute has identified some concerns and challenges that organizations must consider for embracing Digital Identity Transformation:

  • Identity theft and fraud
  • Poor access management and reduced security
  • High administrative and overhead costs
  • Poor user experience and productivity
  • Limited application interface and data sharing
  • Incomplete and inadequate regulatory compliance
  • Limitations of legacy systems to protect against attacks
  • Data breach response capability

These and other factors have contributed to the need for organizations to embrace Digital Identity Transformation to meet consumer expectations, improve operations and security, comply with regulatory requirements, and innovate.

Digital Identity Transformation Objectives

Below is a detailed list of additional reasons to embrace Digital Identity Transformation:

  • Improve access management
  • Ensure compliance
  • Improve user experience and productivity
  • Reduce operating costs
  • Ensure system and data security
  • Be resilient
  • Engage consumers and customers
  • Prepare for audits
  • Reduce fraud and incidents
  • Share information across applications

IAM Strategy Considerations

When developing an identity and access management strategy, the potential risks associated with IAM plus how they may be addressed must be considered:

  • The needs and capabilities of the organization
  • Data scope, classification, and location
  • Data governance, use, and compliance obligations
  • IAM vision of the organization

Digital Identity Transformation Considerations

“In our ever changing digital economy, identity is the new perimeter and target of security”, according to Henry Bagdasarian, Founder of Identity Management Institute. He says, “changes in technology and culture have shifted the cybersecurity focus from a single network perimeter security to multiple-points-of-entry based security which relies on strong identity and access management practices to secure distributed systems. Also, increasing consumer and government expectations require organizations to protect personal data as the primary target of security. All this requires a complete Digital Identity Transformation.”

Because digital identity transformation touches every part of the organization from physical and logical security, to compliance, fraud, privacy, and business operations, organizations may wonder what it will take to transform and how they can manage a transformation of such magnitude.

Digital Identity Transformation is not a quick process nor is it a one-time event. Digital Identity Transformation may take a few months to plan and sometimes years to complete depending on the size of the organization and scope of the transformation. Once completed, continuous assessment, monitoring, and improvement is necessary to ensure the organization continues to transform its digital identity management practices as threats, business processes, and regulations change.

Digital Identity Transformation Framework

The Digital Identity Transformation framework proposed by Identity Management Institute brings a unique perspective on what an IAM strategy should look like to optimize the effectiveness of access and security controls, while incorporating compliance in the operation of these controls. Consider the following when developing a digital identity transformation plan:

  • Objectives and scope
  • Governance structure and committees
  • Resource and budget planning
  • Risk Assessment and recommendations
  • Project plan and deliverables
  • Strategic planning and project prioritization
  • Program development and enhancement
  • IAM architecture review
  • Policies and procedures
  • Authentication and authorization
  • Analysis and requirements gathering
  • Project management and tracking
  • Request for proposal
  • POC, vendor demos and product selection
  • Transition planning and managing adoption risks
  • Staff training plan and execution
  • Roles, entitlements, and segregation of duties
  • Logging, monitoring, and auditing
  • Communication

IAM Principles

Identity Transformation is originated from the need to eliminate perceived complexities surrounding identity management and reduce security and privacy risks while allowing organizations to pursue their core competencies. The guiding IAM tenets are described below:

  1. Impacts the entire organization
  2. Improves security and protects resources
  3. Supports compliance efforts
  4. Facilitates innovation
  5. Simplifies user experience

Digital Identity Transformation Benefits

  • Increased user productivity
  • Enhanced user experience and satisfaction
  • Information sharing across applications
  • Reduced operating cost
  • Improved business processes
  • Better system and data security
  • Improved regulatory compliance
  • Automation and improved operating efficiencies with transparency

Digital Identity Transformation Steps

  • Select the scope of the systems
  • Determine data type and location
  • Decide who needs access
  • Define user roles and entitlements
  • Assess system security needs
  • Finalize the IAM program
  • Evaluate IAM processes and tools
  • Consider regulations
  • Launch awareness and training campaigns
  • Monitor access and risks continuously

Identity Transformation Success Factors

The definition of a critical success factor includes an influence area that has significant impact upon program scope and delivery. In order for the Digital Identity Transformation program to meet its goals, the following critical success factors must be closely managed:

  • Executive sponsorship (governance)
  • Resources
  • Budget
  • User and management participation (committees)
  • Transformation plan and partner

Digital Identity Transformation Partner

Organizations can not transform their digital identity alone as they have a business to run, and may lack qualified resources or the required knowledge. It may also not be in an organization’s best interest to rely on a single vendor to propose its own solutions.

Identity Management Institute is an independent organization with a network of partners which can help bring all the stakeholders and partners together and launch targeted identity transformation initiatives to address the growing identity risks and compliance challenges of organizations.