While Identity and Access Management (IAM) systems come standard with many components to streamline processes, there are a few recommended additions for safeguarding your organization against vulnerabilities. This identity and access management checklist will ensure you are best prepared to create efficient workflows, equip team members, and keep your critical assets secure.  

Publish an IAM policy

First things first, make sure you have an IAM policy published and updated. The policy is a defined set of actions and rules to help people within your organization streamline operations. Having one on file will make it easier for team members to make decisions and can be used as a reference if need be.  

Create Role-Based Access Controls (RBAC)

Role-based access enables administrators to assign permissions to users according to their granular entitlements. This process does not dictate whether users can access a given application, but rather what users can do within it. A role, often not position-relevant, grants the same set of permissions to all users who have that role. An administrator (in any department), for example, can view activity and analytics but won’t have the authorization or ability to edit or perform tasks. Users may change, but the role and permissions assigned to that role do not. Of course, you can still define, change, or remove roles as needed—and all at scale.  

Automate the access lifecycle

At this point in technological innovation, automation is near synonymous with efficiency. Automating the access lifecycle with provisioning and deprovisioning processes (the assignment and removal of permissions) eliminates the more time-consuming manual processes of access authorization while significantly reducing error. This approach to lifecycle management streamlines onboarding—ensuring that users immediately have access to the tools they need to perform their position duties—and supports both offboarding and ongoing efforts by decommissioning credentials for those who no longer have access approvals. In this way, automation is not only efficient but secure. 

Enable secure access to applications

Establishing secure user access to applications is integral to an efficient IAM system and overall organizational security. The most popular means of accomplishing this are Two-Factor Authentication (2FA), Single Sign-On (SSO), and Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA).  

Each is considered a best practice for authentication as they bolster security efforts while creating a user-friendly experience. For 2FA and MFA, users must provide two or more authenticating factors to gain access (e.g., password, authenticator app, fingerprint scan, etc.). Whereas, for SSO, users need only enter one set of credentials to access multiple domain-connected applications. As they differ in function and implementation, one may be operationally best depending on the organizational need or preference. 

Separation of duties

Foundational for any IAM solution, implementing separation of duties (SoD) ensures that no one user retains control of more than one business operation in a given process. Operating within role-based access, SoD is inherently compliant, as it eliminates the possibility of single-source control of digital assets by any one user or account (e.g., accounting, management, etc.). With built-in permissions and accountability, organizations mitigate the risk of user-inflicted, often irreparable, damage. 

Audit accounts and users

For improved compliance, conduct a frequent audit of system accounts and users. Audits start by taking inventory—identifying privileged accounts and users, removing unnecessary or inactive accounts, and reviewing/tracking the permissions for active users. A complete audit includes monitoring current activity, analyzing historical usage and reports, and establishing administrator alerts to risky user behaviors. With the right auditing workflow, compliance is easy to maintain and consistently achieve.  

Document everything

A crucial part of compliant operations is documentation. By monitoring, recording and organizing all user activity, your organization has the ability to address issues head on, with the data to contribute for resolving any dispute. Documentation also proves helpful when confronted with a situation that has occurred before. Searchable and accurate records allow teams to repeat or revise processes that will lead to the most successful outcome.  

Wrapping up

After checking each of the boxes – publishing an IAM policy, creating role-based access controls, automating the access lifecycle, enabling secure access to applications, implementing separation of duties, auditing your accounts and users, and documenting–your organization’s IAM security will be in tiptop shape.  

If you need any help deciding on an IAM provider, find out how SailPoint can help you.  

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