Identity Governance
Erin Geiger, Director of Content at Lumos

Identity Governance and Administration Tools

Managing users and the systems they access is vital to security—and made easier with the right identity governance and administration tools. Learn where to start.

With each passing year, the importance of cybersecurity and cyber hygiene for an organization increases. And against the dramatic backdrop of ever-evolving threats, companies must also look inward when protecting their systems and resources. One errant click, even unintentional, can yield serious consequences—security breaches, regulatory penalties, and disruption of services, to name a few.

Matters like access and user permission have a big impact on an organization’s efficiency and overall security. With every new or departing employee, every promotion or lateral move, the nuances of user access come into play. In extreme cases, for example, a disgruntled employee could wreak a little havoc on their way out the door. Yikes!

All of this sets the stage for the importance of identity governance and administration (IGA)—another way of saying “managing which users can access and/or modify certain systems or data.” By enacting modern IGA practices and leveraging the right tools to uphold those practices, companies can save themselves from untold headaches and crises.

In fact, Gartner recently estimated that as much as 75% of cloud security failures in a given year could have been prevented with stronger IGA processes in place. And as Forbes notes, “to really strengthen defenses for the long term, you need a strong corporate culture around security.”

In this article, we’re going to explore how companies can prevent the preventable, by adopting the right mindset and selecting the right identity governance and administration tools for the job. Along the way, we’ll answer questions like:

  • What is identity governance and administration?
  • What is an IGA framework?
  • What are IGA standards and best practices?
  • What does an IGA tool do?

By the conclusion of this article, you’ll not only know what identity governance and administration is, but also why it’s important and how to get started with an IGA solution like Lumos.

What Is Identity Governance and Administration, Exactly?

Identity governance and administration (IGA) refers to a range of tools and processes that manage individual user access controls within an organization. In other words, it’s a system for setting, implementing, and enforcing access management protocols. IGA policies ensure that information and resources are accessible to the right people—and inaccessible to those who don’t (or shouldn’t) need such access. This is not just a housekeeping matter, though—it can have major implications on an organization’s security, productivity, and even its bottom line.

For IGA, the terms “governance” and “administration” aren’t just buzzwords—they are probably better thought of as objectives, or even mission statements. The work of those involved with developing and fostering IGA initiatives can have a sizable impact on an organization’s cybersecurity, among other considerations.

What Is the Difference between IAM and IGA?

While they have a similar general focus, the primary difference between IGA and identity and access management (IAM) comes down to each area’s focus, scope, and priorities.

IGA vs IAM: At a Glance

  • IAM has a specific focus, primarily dealing with granting access rights. This includes managing, authenticating, and authorizing digital identities and access controls. Depending on the needs of the business, it may also involve optimizing or automating various processes within the user lifecycle—from onboarding all the way through de-provisioning. Key IAM areas include:
    • Account and credential management
    • User and device provisioning
    • Entitlement management
  • IGA, by contrast, involves a wide range of processes and policies that center around implementing and managing users’ access rights. In other words, IGA occupies an oversight role. As such, it works to ensure that the defined access rights and permissions are consistently maintained, enforced, and updated as needed. Key IGA tasks include:
    • Managing current user access policies across the tech stack
    • Setting and managing specific rules and access levels, per user or group
    • Delineating duties to improve productivity and prevent duplication of work
    • Using analytics to make business decisions based on real-time data

Here, it’s less important to understand the exact differences between these disciplines—and more important to understand how and why they work so well together. By leveraging IAM and IGA best practices, IT leaders across a wide range of industries and roles can improve organizational security, increase productivity and efficiency, maintain compliance, and more.

What Is an IGA Framework?

An IGA framework provides a repeatable process, mindset, and infrastructure for improving security and productivity.. A typical IGA framework should consist of at least three essential components:

  1. Identity Lifecycle Management: Simplifying the processes associated with onboarding and offboarding users/accounts, as well as setting user-based access rights and monitoring account activity.
  1. Identity Access Management: Managing digital and/or electronic identities, including the use of systems such as single sign-on (SSO) and two-factor authentication (2FA).
  1. Identity Analytics: Improving tactics for monitoring and mitigating various cybersecurity threats.

Of course, without the right mindset and objectives, any IGA initiative is going to be somewhat hamstrung from the start. Identity governance and administration requires more than just going through the proverbial motions. So, what does the right mindset entail?

  • An understanding of why account access management is important for the organization, including prioritization of the most significant or pressing risks.
  • A commitment to really understanding different users’ access needs—and ensuring that they are able to easily and securely access the data, tools, and resources necessary to do their jobs.
  • A vigilance toward the ongoing monitoring and management of access and permissions, including keeping policies up-to-date and compliant.

A recent Forbes article presents a great analogy, noting that “breaches and cyberattacks are nonstop, but just throwing more security tools at the problem is akin to putting a Band-Aid on a broken leg.” Instead, what’s needed is a strong commitment to security—and a proactive approach.

“If you have a culture that isn't aware of how to contribute to information security or of security hygiene and best practices,” the article continues, “it doesn’t matter how much technology you implement—you’re not likely to solve security issues.”

But with a solid commitment to IGA, companies can envision and implement an IGA framework that works for their business and becomes second nature over time.

What Are the Identity Governance and Administration Standards, and Who Is Responsible for Them?

IGA standards vary from one industry to the next, so there isn’t a universal, go-to method. In the United States, the most common standards are those related to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), Service Organization Control Type 2 (SOC 2), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST SP 800-207).

As you develop your IGA framework and start thinking about the types of tools your program will need, it’s important to do your research and ensure that you account for any applicable standards or requirements.

Which Tool Is Used for Identity Governance and Administration?

Businesses looking to leverage IAM and/or IGA capabilities depend on identity governance solutions, something Gartner defines as “enterprise solutions to manage digital identity life cycle and govern user access across on-premises and cloud environments.”

In the next section, we’ll explore the main functions of IGA tools and the value they can bring to organizations—especially their IT teams!

What Is an Identity Governance Solution?

IGA solutions are the tools and technologies companies depend on for their identity governance and administration processes. The best IGA tools are innovative, yet easy to use—and they make it easy to manage apps, access, and vendors all within a single solution.

From simple user provisioning to using AI to automating access reviews, versatile solutions like Lumos enable companies to keep their data safe and secure. And they do so without preventing users from being able to access what they should be able to access—when they need it.

What Are the Primary Functions of an Identity Governance and Administration Solution?

Identity governance and administration solutions provide a wide range of customizable functionality that empowers organizations to control and manage users’ access to SaaS platforms and other business applications. They provide visibility into user and account behavior, and enable companies to fine-tune their permissions and policies as the needs of the business evolve. Some key functions include:

  • Access Reviews & Automation: Preparing for various audits can be time-consuming, un-fun, and susceptible to human error. By automating the access review process, audit preparation becomes worlds easier—and frees personnel up for other matters.
  • Using a platform like Lumos enables organizations to gather and organize data from all your systems, remove time and friction from the review process, create customized audit reports, and more. And all within a single, intuitive platform!
  • Self-Service Access Request: Many organizations would flounder without their IT helpdesk functioning properly. All too often, though, tickets start to pile up, inevitably increasing their time to resolution. In many cases, self-service access can speed up the  IT helpdesk—and make it easier for employees to request and receive access to the tools they need.
  • Lumos empowers companies to streamline their IT help desk experience, making it possible to process access requests efficiently, even when things get busy. Between access pre-approvals, multi-stage approvals, and time-based access protocols, our platform provides the tools you need.
  • Policy-Based Approval Workflows: Sometimes, providing and managing employee access to business applications requires a nuanced approach based on specific policies or regulations.
  • With Lumos, it’s possible to configure a wide range of approval processes, including multi-stage and entitlement-level approvals—including additional security measures like two-factor authentication, as needed.
  • Automated Onboarding/Offboarding: Especially in larger organizations, onboarding and offboarding employees can feel cumbersome. Not only that, it can really weigh on an IT team’s bandwidth. What many companies don’t seem to realize, though, is that with the right tools, these processes can be automated.
  • Using Lumos for onboarding and offboarding makes the process not only easier, but more efficient and secure. In addition to straightforward onboarding and offboarding functions, our platform can also facilitate provisioning through integrations and APIs, creating a more seamless and holistic experience.

Learn More About IGA Tools: Book a Demo

As more and more of our lives (and commerce) go digital, the importance of identity governance only grows. For organizations looking to strengthen their security, streamline their processes, and reduce risk, a platform like Lumos is a game-changer.

From optimizing how users access services and systems to leveling-up the IT help desk and ensuring compliance, there are a wide range of compelling use cases that could transform your business.

Still unsure whether it’s worth it? Consider using our free ROI calculator to get an idea of how much time you could save with Lumos—or book a demo to see it in action!