What is Identity Security Posture Management ?

Information Security Policy Management (ISPM) is the process of managing and improving an organization’s security policies and controls related to digital identities and their access. ISPM helps identify and remediate weaknesses and vulnerabilities associated with identity and access management (IAM).

It is vital for any organization to ensure that all user accounts are secure so that resources can be accessed securely. However, they also present risks if not properly managed. ISPM aims to identify and mitigate these risks through continuous monitoring of access controls. This includes reviewing access policies, access entitlements, authentication methods, and auditing capabilities.

Why is ISPM important?

ISPM is essential for any organization that relies on user accounts to control access. It helps:

  • Reduce the risk of data breaches resulting from compromised users or excessive access privileges.
  • Improve compliance with regulations like NIST, NIS2, NY-DFS,GDPR that require organizations to limit access to personal data.
  • Optimize identity and access management to enable secure access while reducing complexity.
  • Gain visibility into identity risks that could threaten critical resources.

In order to achieve effective ISPM, organizations need to implement continuous monitoring of their IAM environments. This includes automating identity audits, access reviews, and control assessments to detect potential issues. Organizations should then remediate any identified risks by updating policies, deprovisioning excessive access, enabling MFA, and applying other security controls to strengthen their security posture.

With increasing threats targeting identities, ISPM has become crucial for cybersecurity and protecting critical resources. By continuously applying stronger access controls to their users, organizations can reduce their attack surface and strengthen their defenses. Overall, ISPM helps enable a proactive approach to identity security.

The Importance of Managing Identity Security Posture

As organizations adopt cloud services and expand their digital footprints, identity security posture management has become more crucial. If mismanaged, dormant accounts, weak passwords, overly permissive access rights, and orphaned accounts can all become attack vectors for bad actors to exploit.

  • Misconfigured identity and access management (IAM) policies are a common security threat. Without proper management, accounts can accumulate excessive privileges over time that go unnoticed. It’s important to review IAM policies regularly and ensure the least privilege access.
  • Dormant accounts belonging to former employees or contractors pose risks if left enabled. They should be disabled or deleted when no longer needed.
  • third-party and orphaned accounts that lack ownership are easily overlooked but attractive targets. They should be monitored closely and de-provisioned when possible.
  • Enforcing strong, unique passwords and multi-factor authentication (MFA) for accounts helps prevent unauthorized access. Regular password audits and rotation policies reduce the chances of old, weak, or reused passwords.

In hybrid environments, identity synchronization between on-prem directories and cloud platforms must be properly set up and monitored. Out-of-sync identities and passwords create security threats.

With comprehensive identity security posture management, organizations can gain visibility into their identity weak spots, automate controls, and proactively reduce potential risks to their digital assets and infrastructure.

Key Capabilities of Identity Security Posture Management Solutions

Identity and Access Management (IAM)

ISPM solutions enable organizations to implement technologies like MFAand single sign-on (SSO) to verify users’ identities and control access to systems and data. MFA adds an extra layer of security by requiring multiple methods to log in, such as a password and a one-time code sent to the user’s phone. SSO allows users to access multiple applications with a single set of login credentials.

Privileged Access Management (PAM)

ISPM solutions facilitate the management and monitoring of privileged accounts, which have elevated access to critical systems and data. Capabilities include vaulting and rotating (or regularly changing) privileged account passwords, closely auditing the activities of privileged users, and enforcing multi factor authentication for privileged accounts.

Identity Governance and Administration (IGA)

ISPM solutions help organizations manage user identities, access rights, and permissions. Key capabilities include automating user provisioning and de-provisioning, streamlining the review and certification of user access, and detecting and remediating excessive user access and entitlements.

Identity Analytics and Risk Intelligence (IARI)

ISPM solutions leverage data analytics to gain visibility into user behavior and identify threats. Capabilities include baselining normal user behavior, detecting anomalies that could indicate compromised accounts or insider threats, analyzing access and entitlement risks, and calculating an organization’s identity risk posture and maturity.

ISPM solutions provide a robust set of capabilities to help secure an organization’s user accounts, manage privileged access, govern user entitlements, and gain intelligence into identity risks. By leveraging these capabilities, organizations can reduce their attack surface, strengthen compliance, and build resilience.

Implementing an Identity Security Posture Management Program

To implement an effective Identity Security Posture Management (ISPM) program, organizations should take a comprehensive approach focused on continuous monitoring, risk assessments, strong authentication, least privilege access, and addressing SaaS sprawl.

Continuous Monitoring

Continuous monitoring of user activities and access in real-time is crucial for managing identity security risks. By constantly scanning for anomalies in user behavior and access patterns, organizations can quickly detect potential threats and vulnerabilities. Continuous monitoring solutions analyze user activities across on-premises and cloud environments to identify risky behaviors that could indicate compromised accounts or insider threats.

Regular Risk Assessments

Conducting regular risk assessments is key to uncovering weaknesses in an organization’s identity and access management program. Risk assessments evaluate roles, entitlements, and access permissions to identify excessive privileges and unused accounts. They help organizations revise access policies to implement least privilege access and tighten security controls.

Strong Authentication

Requiring MFA for user logins and privileged access helps prevent unauthorized access. MFA adds an extra layer of security by requiring not only a password but also another method like a security key, biometric, or one-time code sent to the user’s mobile device or email. Enforcing MFA, especially for administrative access, helps shield organizations from compromised credential attacks.

Least Privilege Access

Implementing least privilege access control policies ensures that users only have the minimum level of access necessary to perform their jobs. Strict access management, including frequent access reviews and the timely de-provisioning of unused accounts, reduces the attack surface and limits the damage from compromised accounts or insider threats.

Addressing SaaS Sprawl

With the rapid adoption of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) apps, organizations struggle to gain visibility and control over user access and activities across a growing number of cloud services. Solutions that provide a single pane of glass to manage access and entitlements across SaaS environments help address the security risks introduced by SaaS sprawl. They enable a consistent approach to access governance, risk management, and compliance across the organization.