The Importance of IAM in Compliance and Regulatory Requirements

Where proliferating technology has improved your business functions, it has also increased the list of industry-specific privacy and security laws. Failure to comply with these regulations results in penalties, hefty fines, and a bad reputation. Luckily, Identity and Access Management (IAM) has come to the rescue. From meeting the requirements of common laws to highly granular regulations, IAM caters to the needs of a regulation-loaded marketplace.

An effective IAM solution provides businesses with top-notch security, improves threat visibility, enhances risk mitigation, and, most of all, gives peace of mind by meeting your data security-related compliance. Let’s walk through the role of IAM solutions in compliance by discussing some industry-specific regulations, including IAM best practices, to ensure continuous compliance.

identity access management

Regulations that Require IAM Compliance

Businesses are entitled to follow some rules and regulations. Though these regulations seem stringent and complex, their implementation is vital to protect personal information from malicious eyes, prevent identity thefts, and ensure the privacy of customers and users. Identity access management (IAM), being a robust security and privacy solution, emerged to take all your compliance worries away. Here we discuss some popular compliance regulations and understand how IAM will help you comply with them.

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

HIPAA applies to healthcare and other organizations that are handling protected health information (PHI) in any way. It involves the establishment of national standards to process electronic health transactions and obliges healthcare institutions to ensure secure access to health data.

This law mandates covered entities to keep patient information confidential and provide access to healthcare only. As HIPAA requires patient access to be provided based on identity and purpose, the IAM solution deals with security concerns by providing access to authorized users only. An effective IAM strategy ensures your HIPAA compliance by:

  • Using Single Sign-on for credential protection and role-based access control
  • Centralized governance to ensure HIPAA compliance access management
  • Automated reporting to facilitate audit and automatic access logging, such as patient data tracking.

Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA)

GLBA is another law supporting the confidentiality of customer information. It involves the protection of explicitly sensitive information, such as social security numbers, credit card information, etc. Moreover, it also safeguards benign information such as addresses and phone numbers. IAM can ensure your GLBA compliance by:

  • Assigning and managing user access rights by providing a unified administration.
  • Enforcing SOD policies
  • Supporting RBAC and ABAC
  • Facilitating periodic audits of rights and privileges
  • Offering Multi-Factor Authentication to enhance security in case of a compromised password.

Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX)

SOX applies to financial services, insurance, and banking industries. The law stresses the need to have a tested and documented internal control system to guarantee the security and integrity of financial reporting. IAM can help ensure SOX compliance by:

  • Providing centralized administration to manage authentication and access control.
  • Ensuring access control using the least privilege policy
  • Providing access based on their business role.
  • Offering periodic audits of user access rights and privileges and automated reports
  • Automatically shifting the access rights when your job function changes.

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

GDPR is an EU directive that focuses on the data protection of EU citizens. It mandates that companies must ensure customer awareness regarding non-public information access and use. IAM guarantees your GDPR compliance for data privacy and security needs by:

  • Ensuring access governance and access management
  • Offering authorization and multi-factor authentication.
  • Identity governance and management.

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

FEPRA is concerned about the protection of student records and mandates that educational institutions must leverage some reasonable methods to authenticate the identity of students, parents, school officials, and other entities before handing them access to personally identifiable information. The reasonable methods, though not specified by the law, should contain some attributes which are inherent to an effective IAM solution. These attributes are:

  • Automatic selection of authentication level based on data risks.
  • Ways to secure authentication information, such as protection of passwords from creation to disposal.
  • Supporting policies to reduce the likelihood of authenticator misuse, such as encrypting passwords.
  • Managing user identities with period account recertification.

Challenges in IAM Continuous Compliance

Different organizations have different provisions and security regulations that they must oversee and maintain. For every new security solution that an organization takes on, the IT department is directed to certify more users and manage their access control. This takes significant time and costs as well as it is nearly impossible to get complete control.

Moreover, if your IT staff gets a flood of employees that need to be granted specific access and restriction, they may fail to follow best practices and grant access right away. This “rubber stamping” violates internal and SOD policies.

Mobile devices have added another access point to your business resources. This has seriously compromised access control and monitoring capabilities. Additionally, some organizations find it difficult to implement IAM for hybrid or cloud-based infrastructure.

IAM Best Practices

Fortunately, you don’t have to look hard for solutions. If IAM implementation is backed by a proper strategy and roadmap, you won’t find compliance issues in your business processes.

IAM ensures your security and privacy compliance in many ways, such as access controls, access permissions, and authentication methods. IAM not only reduces the likelihood of data breaches and saves time but also provides a competitive edge in the marketplace. With increased productivity, efficiency, and collaboration, your IAM solution would not exhibit any downside during its entire lifecycle. Here are the best practices to ensure continuous IAM compliance.

IAM Automation

To deal with IAM complexities, you should consider automating IAM for data identification, authorization, and authentication. Some benefits of automating the IAM program are;

  • Establishing a thorough identity repository to enable the deployment of a uniform identity model
  • Using risk-based rule guides to optimize the access review process and the
  • Developing attribute-based access controls (ABAC)
  • Using analytics to boost control enforcement, such as triggering alerts and promptly processing access application escalations.
  • Easing evidence collection to prove compliance with audits.

IAM Compliance Auditing

Compliance auditing is an efficient way to evaluate the health of your IAM program. By periodically accessing your IAM, you can remove an old user, partner, group, or policy. IAM audits ensure that your access management is robust and sufficient to meet your business and compliance needs. Your IAM team should regularly review identity access and ensure that all permissions are role-based and unnecessary accounts are disabled, and the system is upfront with maximum efficiency.

Here are a few audit preparation tips for your IAM program;

  • Create and enforce the IAM policy.
  • Break down the responsibilities so no single department can have too much control or access.
  • Keep your IAM account clean and current.
  • Do not overlook generic accounts.
  • Schedule and document regular access reviews
  • Keep a record of all your IAM processes, policies, and practices.

Final Words

IAM is imperative to ensure the security of your valuable resources, but its role in ensuring your compliance and security requirements is as important. IAM has inherent qualities to fulfill your legal security and privacy requirements by carrying out an identity access control as well as authorization and authentication. Moreover, role-based access, least privilege, periodic reviewing, and tracking user activities are some examples of IAM’s importance in ensuring your compliance.

Disha Verma is a Mass Media student from International School of Business & Media (ISBM). She lives in Maharastra, India and loves to write articles about Internet & Social Media. When she is not writing, you can find her hanging out with friends in the coffee shop downstreet or reading novels in the society park.