What Is IGA (Identity Governance and Administration)

February 6, 2024 · 6 min read What IsIGA
Feature Image

Enterprise digital environments have never been more convoluted. People and devices that need to access and share digital resources are threaded throughout our corporate networks. And managing the privileged access rights to those digital resources is complicated by a matrix of digital environments. Data, devices, and other network assets must be shared, stored, and worked on in cloud, hybrid, and on-premise environments. Adding to this complexity is the need to facilitate secure access for remote workers, personal devices, contractors, and the broader supply chain.

Access privileges across a multitude of interconnected digital resources, people, and technologies are managed using Identity Governance and Administration (IGA) — part of the broader IAM (Identity and Access Management) ecosystem.

What is Identity Governance and Administration?

Identity governance solutions sit at the fulcrum of IT operations. IGA is designed to ensure that the right people and devices seamlessly get the right level of access control at the right time. Automating identity and access policy enforcement, identity provisioning, managing entitlements, and access control delivered by an IGA platform ensure a seamless workflow.

Automation of access requests and approvals workflows is performed using IGA, which helps companies adhere to data and privacy regulations and laws. Automation reduces errors, helps to streamline the approval process, and reduces the risk of data breaches and compliance issues. User onboarding and offboarding are also streamlined using IGA: having an automated way to remove redundant identity accounts helps reduce the risk of data leaks and exposure. An IGA system monitors and audits user access event processes, providing evidence for compliance. Without an IGA overlay, IAM (identity and access management) would be missing visibility and automated control of access events.

How does IGA differ from identity management?

IGA is part of a holistic approach to IAM and identity administration — it defines and enforces IAM policies and is an integral part of user identity lifecycle management. The two systems work together in harmony to help automate access control and privileges, manage user roles, enforce identity policies, and ensure regulatory compliance. IGA and IAM are essential parts of a robust identity security strategy.

Components of IGA

IGA plays a central role in identity management by providing:

  • Visibility of access events
  • Segregation of duties at a granular level — for example, role-based, geolocation-based, or department-based access control
  • Role management
  • Attestation
  • Analytics and reporting
  • Help with provisioning and deprovisioning of permissions for a fluid and hybrid workforce

Components of IAM

IGA governs, while user Identity management handles:

  • Account administration
  • Managing digital identities
  • Credentials management and user authentication
  • User provisioning
  • Entitlement management
  • Identity verification

How does IGA relate to audits and compliance?

IGA provides a strategic initiative and identity security role in an organization. Many data protection and privacy regulations require evidence that data is protected, which means showing proof that company identities have the right access privileges. The principle of least privilege is an expected requirement of many of these regulations. IGA platforms provide the wide-area visibility needed to demonstrate adherence to regulatory requirements. The enforcement of access controls must not impact business operations. Identity lifecycle management applies privileged access to ensure adherence to data security requirements. IGA provides the dynamic enforcement of access restrictions based on the principle of least privilege.

SOC 2 and IGA

SOC 2 is a security and auditing framework for service organizations that store, process, or transmit customer data. SOC 2 mandates that sensitive data be protected from unauthorized access, cyberattacks, and other vulnerabilities. SOC 2 requires that the principle of least privilege be enforced to protect identity data. An IGA platform provides privileged access management — based on role, department, geolocation, and so on — to ensure that SOC 2 requirements are met. SOC 2 requires that covered entities audit and report their efforts to manage sensitive identity data. IGA helps companies meet the audit performance requirements of SOC 2.

ISO 27001 and IGA

ISO 27001 is the information security standard behind information security management systems (ISMSes). ISO 27001 compliance centers on processes, documentation, and auditing. A robust access governance and management process is a critical element of ISO 27001 compliance. Appropriate authorization and least-privilege access management policies are essential to meeting the ISO 27001 standard. IGA is an ideal mechanism to not only enforce least-privileged account-access rights but also provide visibility and reporting capabilities, to ensure successful ISO 27001 audits.

HIPAA and IGA

HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) is a national framework for U.S. organizations in the healthcare industry to protect health data (PHI, or protected health information) or electronic protected health information (ePHI). HIPAA has several rules that limit the use of PHI to those with a “need to know” — that is, they enforce least-privilege access. Confidentiality and availability are core elements of HIPAA. IGA is an ideal solution, both to ensure that least-privilege access rights are enforced and to enhance productivity by ensuring that healthcare professionals have the access required to do their jobs and maintain a great patient experience. The audit and reporting element of IGA helps organizations covered by HIPAA pass a HIPAA compliance audit. HIPAA audits are carried out annually to ensure that a covered entity or business associate is correctly protecting PHI and ePHI.

What are the benefits of IGA solutions?

IGA solutions ensure that information is protected without impacting employee productivity. Some of the most important benefits of IGA include:

Compliance adherence

IGA solutions are designed to automate and streamline tasks associated with IAM. The enforcement of access rights on a need-to-know or least-privilege basis means that an enterprise is doing its utmost to protect sensitive information. The automation afforded using an IGA solution provides a layer of governance to manage access and accounts over time, removing human error. These features help ensure adherence to stringent data protection regulations.

Audit and report

IGA provides tools for verifying access rights and ensuring that least-privileged access is set. The full visibility of a business’s digital resources provided by an IGA solution is used to generate audits and reports. These reports provide an organization with evidence that demonstrates compliance with a range of security and privacy regulations, including SOC 2, HIPAA, GDPR, and SOX. Reports can include documentary evidence of:

  • Access requests and approvals
  • Offboarding within a specified time period
  • Access reviews of in-scope systems

Reduce costs

IGA reduces the overhead that security and admin teams need to manage access rights across disparate enterprise resources. Labor-intensive operations that involve access-related request and approval processes are automated, leaving teams to focus on other tasks. The generation of reports from continuous digital resource monitoring helps compliance teams demonstrate regulatory compliance and avoid hefty fines.

Improved security

IGA solutions are designed to provide full visibility into a modern enterprise’s digital resources, people, and devices. This global view of the enterprise gives an organization the intelligence needed to make robust identity security policy decisions. This reduces the likelihood of inappropriate or unauthorized access.

Fine-grained enforcement of access rights

Access to digital resources is rarely a binary choice. Access rights must be modifiable based on role, geographic location, department, and so on. Also, people come and go in an organization, and their rights must be swiftly updated; identity provisioning ensures that people can quickly be onboarded for work, and that people leaving can have their access rights swiftly revoked to reduce data loss. IGA is designed to automate and streamline the enforcement and modification of access rights.