Identity lifecycle management solutions help organizations to manage and secure users’ digital identities. This involves onboarding and offboarding identities, and provisioning them with the right levels of access permissions.
When a cybercriminal compromises a user’s account, they may be able to access all the sensitive data and files that the account’s legitimate user can access. If a user has more access than they really need for work (also known as being “over-privileged”), this presents itself as a goldmine to cybercriminals. They will have free access to use this data for their own means, or to make the attack more complex and devastating.
Another common way for attackers to gain easy access to corporate data is by hacking into user accounts that are no longer in use – usually because the user has left the organization. As the account isn’t being used, these attacks often go undetected, allowing the attacker to roam your company’s data freely.
Managing users’ identities and access over the course of their time with your company can be cumbersome and difficult. It is difficult to obtain full visibility and insight into which accounts are in use, what resources they need to access, and what resources they actually have access to.
Identity Lifecycle Management (ILM) solutions are software-based identity governance solutions that can help admins oversee and streamline the end-to-end management and security of a user’s identity. ILM solutions assist in user provisioning and de-provisioning, and can provide a framework for the creation, management, and retirement of identities based on role-based access controls and organization policies. These platforms can simplify administrative tasks, improve your security posture, and even help ensure compliance with regulatory standards.
We’ve listed some of the best identity lifecycle management solutions available on the market currently. In each case, we’ll identify some of the solution’s key features, before suggesting the type of organization that they’re best suited to.
Everything You Need To Know About Identity Lifecycle Management (FAQs)
What Is Identity Lifecycle Management (ILM)?
Identity lifecycle management (ILM) is the process of managing users’ identities throughout their lifecycle within the network. This involves managing a user’s digital identity and their access levels from their first day of employment until their last. ILM solutions help to automate and manage the entire digital identity lifecycle process, ensuring that users’ identities and their access permissions are kept secure and blocked, restricted, or deleted as and when is necessary, e.g., when a user leaves the company.
Some identity lifecycle management solutions also enable admins to control the access permissions associated with each user’s identity. Users should only be granted access to the systems and applications that they need to do their job; for example, someone from marketing shouldn’t have access to sensitive employee information or dispute records that someone from HR may be able to access. Restricting user access in this way (also known as granting “least-privilege access”) means that if an account is compromised, the attacker will only be able to access a limited amount of corporate data. Users’ identities and access permissions should also be carefully monitored. As a user’s role and seniority change throughout their tenure, their access and privileges will shift too. These changes need to be appropriately handled and terminated once the user leaves the company.
However, users shouldn’t be restricted from data access to the extent that it hinders their workflow and productivity. Finding the balance between security and productivity can be tricky. Identity lifecycle management solutions help to automate and simplify what has traditionally been a cumbersome process by smoothing and streamlining the processes of onboarding and offboarding users, assigning and managing access rights, and monitoring and tracking access activity.
How Does Identity Lifecycle Management Work?
ILM works by managing a few key aspects surrounding users and their identities. It performs related processes that keep the user and their online work identities safe. A user’s identity lifecycle begins once a user starts their new job and has their digital identity created and assigned to work resources. For example, when someone starts a new job as accountant, a work account will be created for them and they’ll be granted access to financial tools, files, and data. Depending on their role and seniority, the accountant’s access will be restricted to encompass only the data that they need in order to work effectively. As their role and function changes over time, they may be given more access to more sensitive areas and data. Once they leave the company, their identity and any access must be terminated in order to prevent threat actors from taking over their dead account.
In order to achieve this, ILM solutions perform some key functions:
- Onboarding: This refers to onboarding a new user by creating their new digital identity and granting them access and permissions to resources that are specifically relevant to their role, and nothing more.
- Offboarding: Offboarding is deprovisioning a user. Once an employee leaves, their digital identity needs to be removed and all their access permissions revoked.
- Ongoing Access Management: ILM is used during an employee’s lifecycle, as admins can change a user’s access level if their role or job function changes.
- Monitoring And Reporting: Admins, through the ILM solution’s portal, can keep track of who has access to what, monitor security and access, and make sure that compliance regulations are achieved.
What Key Features Should You Look For In An Identity Lifecycle Management Solution?
Below are a few key features to look out for when choosing your ILM vendor and solution:
- Centralized Monitoring: Admins should be able to manage and monitor users’ identity lifecycles from a single, clean, and consolidated console. They should give teams a complete and holistic overview of all digital entities that exist within the company’s system, along with the exact permissions each individual has.
- Automation: Your platform should be able to automate and streamline approval workflows. It can also automate identity governance, allowing admins to update roles, revoke permissions, and adjust permissions in real-time.
- Faster Provisioning And Deprovisioning: ILM solutions help admins onboard and offboard users quickly, often using role-based access controls to set up with what they need, ensuring there are few roadblocks when they begin their jobs. Fast deprovisioning ensures that, once an identity is no longer needed after an employee leaves, admins can quickly delete their digital identity and revoke all access.
- Single Sign-On: Some ILM solutions provide the ability to synchronize passwords across applications using single sign-on, which can allow users to reset their passwords.
- Self-Service: Some solutions have self-serve portals that allow users to request access rights and update their account information, without the need to contact the help desk.
- Security: Security features that are beneficial include role-based access, single sign-on, multi-factor authentication, access activity tracking, and security incidents alerting.
- Integration: It is important that your chosen solution integrates well with your existing environment.