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7 Best Practices for Identity Access Management

Identity access management

researchHQ’s Key Takeaways:

  • The first step to ensure a well-developed identity access and management (IAM) system is clearly defining company motivations and end-goals.
  • Best practices for IAM include a zero-trust approach to security, eliminating high-risk systems, routinely review and removal of orphaned accounts, automating onboarding and offboarding, and using multi-factor authentication.
  • A centralized IAM system allows organizations to keep track of users and the network privileges afforded to them.
  • Common factors that cause an identity management program to fail include no executive support, limited funding, poor understanding of program depth, insufficient communication of project value and a failure to involve business users.


Today’s business world is fast moving, entails more applications, involves more categorizations of users, and is exponentially more complex for IT to enable than ever before. What once used to be straightforward has become a giant, inter-connected ecosystem teeming with thousands of applications, people and devices.

This has created a web of access points and connections. And enterprises operating in this reality have millions–if not a billion–points of access that they must control and manage, securely and efficiently.

It’s no surprise that many security professionals find themselves looking for a next generation identity management solution that can address today’s security challenges and scale to meet future ones.

But with the right plan in place, you can succeed and flourish in helping your organization become more efficient, more secure, save costs, and ease frustration from ineffective practices and policies.

Here are seven identity management best practices you should be following as you develop your Identity and Access Management (IAM) strategy.

1. Begin with the end in mind

The catalyst for the search for an identity and access management (IAM) tool is usually caused by a pain point in your organization. Perhaps the helpdesk is overburdened with access requests and password reset. Maybe a recent compliance audit was failed, or excess user permissions were discovered. Or, recent adoptions of cloud-based applications have decreased security visibility but increased the complexity of the IT ecosystem. Worse, perhaps you realized that it’s only a matter of time before a major data breach impacts your organization.

As with most large undertakings, the first step of the process is to imagine where you want to end up. This could take the form of many types of goals you want your organization to achieve, but they generally encompass saving time and money.

You can’t know how to get there if you don’t know where you’re going.

2. Eliminate High Risk Systems

Historically, organizations have been reluctant to make the digital transformation from on-premise to the cloud for fear of security threat. However, using on premise data centers and applications are riskier than their cloud-based counterparts.

Cloud service providers offer a wealth of security that can’t be matched by your onsite resources. Onsite data systems require a great deal of manpower, money and resources to keep hackers and data breaches at bay.

By ditching your legacy systems and switching to a cloud service provider, you’ll boost your security through patch management, segmentation, encryption, integrations, and secure access requirements.

3. Routine Review and Removal of Orphaned Accounts

Change is constant within an organization. If a user moves to a different area of the organization, or leaves the company, the user needs to be properly offboarded from the network. Failure to deprovision and remove an account leads to an orphaned account. This is an account that contains all the previous users’ information but doesn’t have a current assigned user.

If undetected without a proper identity management solution, orphaned accounts become goldmines for hackers. These accounts allow them to gather credentials and take on the identities of these orphaned accounts, which can lead to security breaches and attacks. This is why it’s uber important to take proper onboarding and offboarding measures.

4.  Automate Onboarding and Offboarding

Access management can solve major onboarding and offboarding challenges. When onboarding a new employee, contractor, vendor, or partner, your IT department will need to manually assess which privileges and permissions to grant them based on their unique user roles. For large scale enterprises scaling up, this is highly convoluted, and the manual process of provisioning heightens the margin of error.

Luckily, with an identity and access management solution, you can quickly automate onboarding and offboarding, saving your IT department time and money, ensuring new employees have the right permissions, and quickly deprovisioning users when they leave or migrate to another department within the company.

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Business Challenge:We've curated the most common business challenges Governing distributed digital identities
Stage:We've split the research process into 3 tasks Explore Solutions

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