Understanding Identity Governance

When integrated into a holistic identity security initiative, these procedures result in cost reduction and enhance productivity and security for companies.

Start by understanding the basics of identity governance. Then identify the skills and stakeholders needed to implement it. Finally, analyze technologies to ensure a good fit with current platforms and ease of deployment and operation.


What is identity governance? Identity governance provides a centralized framework to streamline identity management processes, reduce risks and make it easier for users to access the IT resources they need. It also enables organizations to demonstrate that they comply with security standards by following the principle of least privilege and ensuring the segregation of duties.

Identity Governance is distinct from Identity and Access Management (IAM). IAM focuses on the operational aspects of identity management, including user provisioning, authentication, authorization, and access monitoring. Identity governance goes further, creating an overall governance framework and leveraging IAM capabilities to achieve specific security and business outcomes.

For instance, a healthcare firm might have to abide by legal standards such as the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Identity governance supports these compliance measures by defining regulations for granting and withdrawing access privileges and giving a detailed insight into the identities and access rights of all patients and personnel.

A key identity governance capability is a centralized identity repository that acts as the single source of truth for all identities and their attributes. It also supports automated user provisioning, synchronization, and data consistency across different systems and applications. This enables an organization to automate manual, labor-intensive processes like access certifications, request handling, and password management while supporting a business-friendly, user-friendly experience that cuts operational costs.


A strong IGA solution enables employees to work from anywhere worldwide without losing visibility or control over their systems. It helps them work more efficiently, minimize threats, and boost compliance. It automates and streamlines access certification, password management, and provisioning processes. Doing so saves IT, teams, and hours of labor and provides a more efficient way for users to request and manage their access.

It also enables organizations to ensure that each identity has only the minimum access required to do their job. This is achieved by enforcing policies such as the segregation of duties and applying strong access controls such as role-based security models and attribute-based access control. This is especially important in regulated industries such as healthcare, finance, and banking, where governance is mandatory to comply with HIPAA, SOX, and PCI regulations.

IGA solutions can be augmented with intelligence-based automation incorporating least-privilege best practices and organizational policies to elevate risk scores and identify high-risk access scenarios for further review to support these needs. IGA solutions with this type of intelligence can even identify specific accounts or users to focus on based on the likelihood of potential risks, ensuring that no one is ever given too much access to sensitive information and resources. This will protect your organization from costly breaches when someone has too many privileges to do their job properly or for a malicious reason.


Whether they’re required to do so by regulation or to protect themselves from cyber-attacks, most organizations need to periodically review and attest the access rights of all their employees. This task is daunting for mid-sized and larger enterprises, often taking months to complete. Using an identity governance solution that automates periodic reviews, attestation, and provisioning can reduce the time and resource burden on teams, making it easier to keep their identity data secure.

An effective IGA solution should have the ability to monitor all accounts and resources, determine if an employee is granted more privileges than they need, and automatically revoke unnecessary permissions. This is a key capability of identity governance and administration solutions. An effective IGA solution also provides workflows designed specifically to protect against rubber-stamp approvals, requiring managers and business owners to review and approve all permission requests before they can be processed.

In addition, strong IGA solutions provide a means to grant remote access to employees safely. This allows businesses to take advantage of the benefits of hyper-connectivity without exposing their systems and data to hackers. This is especially important for highly regulated industries such as financial services, which must meet regulatory compliance requirements and ensure security while protecting privacy.


Organizations can have a complex network of people, identities, devices, applications, and data. If any of them are granted unnecessary access, it can increase security risks and open the door to a breach. An identity governance framework helps companies centralize and manage user permissions, entitlements, and privileged accounts across disparate systems and reduce the risk of breaches while upholding compliance with policies.

Despite being a key part of identity and access management, most organizations haven’t fully implemented their identity governance strategy. It’s often seen as a box-checking exercise by IT teams to meet audit and compliance requirements, such as Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX), Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA), and the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

However, it’s important to remember that governance is more than just meeting regulatory and business needs. It’s also about reducing risk, improving efficiencies, and increasing security by ensuring people only have the access they need for the tasks that need to be done.

For example, implementing role-based access is an effective way to improve efficiencies and reduce risks. Roles are predefined access privileges that can quickly provide or remove access to people based on criteria like their relationship to the company, department, or job function. This allows IT to streamline and automate the process to save time for other projects.


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