Identity and Access Management Best Practices

Identity and Access Management Best Practices: 5 Tips for Any Business

1/8/24 8:00 AM  |  by RedLegg Blog

The modern enterprise is rooted in data—and the security of this data is paramount.  

Any unauthorized access to data or systems is considered a potentially serious security breach. With insider threats, accidental or intentional, forming a sizable part of an organization's vulnerability landscape, monitoring and controlling access to sensitive information, systems, and applications is more critical than ever.   

In this scenario, how do organizations check credentials, validate user identities, and ensure that only the right users can access digital assets—only if their job role requires them to do so?

Identity and Access Management, or IAM, is a framework of business processes, policies, and technologies that facilitates the management of electronic or digital identities. Using IAM, IT teams can control user access to sensitive and valuable business information.

Read on to discover some key IAM best practices and learn how RedLegg's Identity Services and Privileged Access Management or PAM services help bolster your cybersecurity strategy and effectively protect your business data and systems. 

Understanding IAM Cybersecurity Fundamentals

Gartner defines IAM as "a security and business discipline that includes multiple technologies and business processes to help the right people or machines to access the right assets at the right time for the right reasons while keeping unauthorized access and fraud at bay."

Identity management standards and policies decide who gets to access which information, systems or applications. Given the complexities of modern-day business systems and networks, recognizing the identities of every user accessing an organization's data or systems and managing their access levels is serious business. 

Traditionally, cybersecurity focussed their efforts on creating a security perimeter around systems or networks and protecting entry points with firewalls and VPNs. 

This approach assumes that any user who is already inside the network or system is trustworthy. Once inside the corporate network, users were allowed full access to most of the company's data, systems and other digital assets. 

However, this approach is inherently flawed as it fails to acknowledge that sometimes, an authorized user may turn malicious, or external cyber threat actors could penetrate the network and gain access privileges maliciously.

Cybersecurity experts stress the importance of applying the principle of least privilege when assigning role-based user access rights. This ensures that employees have access only to what's necessary for their job functions.

IAM tools and technologies are designed to safeguard against unauthorized access by users who don't have access rights or those who don't need these access rights to execute their work responsibilities. 

There's an added bonus when you implement identity and access management protocols and best practices—you not only safeguard data, but you also improve the day-to-day efficiency of your business processes. That's why we encourage prioritizing IAM as an imperative component of your cybersecurity strategy.  

Top 5 Identity and Access Management Best Practices

Let's take a look at the top 5 IAM best practices that every business should follow, regardless of its size or industry. These practices fortify your defenses against malicious data breaches, inadvertent information leakages, and unauthorized access to valuable business data.

Best Practice 1: Multi-factor Authentication

Deploy MFA, or multi-factor authentication, for airtight access control. It requires the user to provide two or more verification factors to access a resource, decreasing the chances of a successful breach. An MFA factor could be a PIN code, fingerprint or a physical hardware key. Most commonly, it is an OTP (one-time password). Each time a user tries to log in, an authentication request is submitted, a new code is generated, and a combination of the code and the password is used to authenticate the user and grant access.

Learn more about RedLegg's cutting-edge IAM solution that empowers organizations to manage identities, access, and security policies in cloud-based environments.

Best Practice 2: Least Privilege Principle

Role-based access control (RBAC) restricts access to systems, apps, and business content based on the job role of each user. 

  • Create a list of roles, and set the access privileges each one needs.
  • Consider how roles may change over time and how access privileges will change accordingly. 
  • Set down protocols to remove access for employees who leave the organization and create access for new hires.
  • Use the principle of least privilege (POLP), granting access privileges based on what each employee needs to access to fulfill their job function—and nothing more. For example, an accounts team member will have access to financial data but not to a marketing database. A sales team member will not have access to HR records—and so on.

Some users, such as administrators or superusers, have elevated access and permissions for networks and systems. It is vital to manage who can access privileged accounts and what actions they can perform once logged in. 

RedLegg's Privileged Account Management or PAM services help organizations manage and secure privileged access across the organization and maintain the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of critical systems and data.

Best Practice 3: Continuous Monitoring

A constantly changing threat landscape necessitates continuous vigilance. 

Learn more about our hosted or co-managed SIEM service to enhance your current Security Operations Center.

Best Practice 4: Robust Authentication Methods

Passwords are not the only way to authenticate identity. Companies use various advanced authentication techniques to ensure their data and systems are safe from unauthorized access.

For example, biometric authentication or smart cards are used for physical identification in buildings or data centers. 

  • Biometric authentication refers to capturing the unique biological characteristics of users and comparing them to those stored in a database of user characteristics. Biometric methods commonly include retinal scans, fingerprint scans, and facial recognition techniques.  
  • Smart cards contain microprocessors that can authenticate user identity without remote connections.
  • When the risk of cyber attacks is high, you need more advanced techniques. Adaptive authentication is a risk-based method that is powered by machine learning algorithms. It asks for different user credentials, depending on the situation, making it much harder for malicious users to breach security. Each time a user tries to log in, the authentication request is evaluated, and a risk score is calculated. The user may be asked to provide more stringent credentials if the risk score is high. For example, if a user logs in from a different geographical location, an additional security question may be presented to authenticate them and grant access.

Best Practice 5: User Education and Training

An unaware employee is your weakest link in the cybersecurity strategy. Every time an employee submits a password authentication request, clicks an external link or downloads an app or other resource from an unverified website, your business data may be at risk. 

Cybersecurity awareness training for employees is indispensable as they access and use business apps and systems on a daily basis.  

They must be trained to recognize common signs of phishing attempts, and MFA fatigue attacks, and understand their role in protecting the organization from threats. 

RedLegg: IAM Managed & Professional Services 

Identity and Access Management is not just a tactical practice to safeguard data. It is a fundamental component of an effective cybersecurity strategy.

Every business must prioritize and implement IAM security best practices in order to protect against data breaches and unauthorized access to sensitive data.

RedLegg provides Identity Governance and Administration (IGA) services within a comprehensive framework to manage and control user identities and access to critical organizational resources. This includes secure storage of identity and profile data and data governance functions to ensure that only necessary and relevant data is accessed or shared.

Are you looking to develop and implement robust identity governance strategies for your company? Our experts will guide you through the complexities of implementing Identity and Access Management best practices and strengthening your security posture.

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