Cybersecurity isn’t possible without full visibility. That basic fact is the dominant goal of effective risk management and it is, of course, what identity governance is all about: seeing clearly into the complex activity of human and nonhuman actors throughout an organization and implementing appropriate controls to ensure the right actors have access to the right data at the right time.
Enterprise organizations of all sizes rely on identity governance to enforce strict policies that protect data from unwanted access. With the advent of identity and artificial intelligence (AI), it’s now easier to find the needles you didn’t even know you had in your haystack. Today’s generation of identity management learns patterns and delivers advanced insights by ingesting vast amounts of identity, access and event data. This is how organizations of all stripes filter risky anomalies from the non-risky noise—and it’s how IT and security teams gain greater clarity and the ability to make smart identity decisions.
Benefits Of An Identity Governance Program
Machine learning is the new brain of identity and access. Where once cybersecurity meant sealing a perimeter with firewalls, now it’s about fluid responses to morphing threats and encasing a “perimeter” around each user to govern access to systems, applications and data. Instead of one fence around the house, today’s approach to governing access is about watching every window and door and blade of grass.
A solid identity governance solution looks like this: For every person—a contractor, an employee registered in a network, bots and every other agent—a behavioral model is derived from their activity. Machine learning models compare user behavior to a peer group to determine whether access and activity is normal or abnormal—and then feed recommendations about whether or not to approve access to supervisors.
The benefits of an identity governance program are plenty:
- Reduce security risks. An engine that uses time-series analysis and machine learning to scan massive amounts of identity data can locate normal and anomalous access within organizations. This adaptive technology continually adjusts its risk model to identify new types of high-risk identities and activities.
- Learn context and spot trouble. AI can monitor patterns in all the identity context collected on every user, human and nonhuman, across an enterprise and spot issues on a granular level. The context is deep and nuanced and includes things like the relationship each identity has with resources and infrastructure; the role or job—and the status—of the user, and the policies and controls that apply to each situation; and the history of the user, including the entitlements granted or revoked.
- Create hyper-efficiencies and productivity. Automating low-risk access approvals and streamlining access certifications reduces false positive alerts, which allows organizations to focus their IT and security resources on access issues that pose a higher risk. It also gets employees and other stakeholders provisioned and de-provisioned quickly, which helps boost productivity.
- Be compliant. Among the big benefits that fall into place with an AI-driven identity governance program is automated or streamlined compliance with cyber-specific and privacy regulations. And yet, most technology and business leaders don’t fully understand the relationship between security and compliance: Almost half of executives surveyed by Forbes Insights see security and compliance as two separate issues; only a quarter of them see compliance through a risk lens.
Failing to see the relationship between security and compliance means too many organizations also fail to grasp the consequences of violations or gaps in regulations around security. As noted in the Forbes Insights report “Identity Governance: The Great Enabler,” the reality is that being compliant with regulations does not guarantee that a business has fully mitigated risk. An organization can be compliant with regulations and remain compromised or at risk because, in many cases, compliance is insufficient to meet enterprise resiliency requirements—especially as technologies continue to emerge and develop.
The automation that comes from a next-gen, AI-driven identity governance program permeates many aspects of an enterprise. In their ability to govern access across a complex identity landscape—helping to protect organizations against a variety of cyber threats and reduce risk—identity governance and an overall cybersecurity strategy also help maintain and even burnish brand reputation. When breaches don’t occur, all the direct and collateral damage that results from them doesn’t occur and this ultimately helps build something all organizations are after: trust.
To learn more read, “Identity Governance: The Great Enabler.”
This article was originally published on Forbes.com.