What is Identity Governance and Administration (IGA)?

Written by Brenna Lee on April 13, 2023

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Identity governance and administration (IGA) is a policy-based approach to identity management and access control that efficiently mitigates risk and improves compliance organization-wide. Understanding IGA starts with understanding each of the two parts separately — identity governance and identity administration. The former addresses the segregation of duties, role management, logging, analytics, and reporting. The latter addresses credential and account administration, device and user provisioning and deprovisioning, and entitlement management. Combining the two of these improves compliance and mitigates risk by enabling functionality that’s beyond the scope of traditional identity and access management (IAM) systems.

Improving Visibility Into Your System with IAM and IGA

Identity governance and administration tools help simplify and streamline user identity lifecycle management through capabilities such as password management, integrations, automation, access request management, detailed event logging, provisioning and deprovisioning, and entitlement management. IGA tools work with IAM tools to make all of this happen in the most seamless and efficient way possible. 

The issue is, traditional IGA platforms can be expensive, and many small to mid-sized enterprises (SMEs) don’t require the full functionality of these tools, nor do they want to pay for them. The market focus is shifting to a new model that works for everyone, not just large enterprises with extensive resources. Vendors are now offering “light” IGA capabilities or concentrating on solving just a few problems that smaller enterprises face, rather than trying to provide an extensive suite of products and services that are not needed. These modest IGA solutions are the future and a great option for those organizations with no IGA solution in place already.

Many SMEs find that implementing a single IAM solution with IGA capabilities is the best route to take to reap the benefits of both without making the lives of IT admins more difficult than necessary. The difference between IAM and IGA is that IGA allows organizations to define and enforce IAM policy and connect IAM functions to meet audit and compliance requirements. So the primary purpose of identity governance and administration is to connect and enforce IAM policies.

Benefits of IGA

As organizations continue adding cutting-edge technology into their IT environments, allowing employees to work remotely, and scaling quickly, it’s important to find and use tools that make day-to-day operations run as smoothly as possible. This also needs to be done in the most secure and compliant way possible to avoid future headaches around breaches and audits. An IGA solution can help facilitate smooth operations, and there are a variety of other benefits that come with the adoption of one of these tools such as:

  • Streamlined user identity lifecycle management
  • Detailed event logging, analysis, and reporting
  • Risk reduction through improved compliance and security
  • Processes become more scalable

Streamlined User Identity Lifecycle Management

User management has evolved dramatically as many organizations have relaxed work-from-home policies — users used to primarily be in the office every day which allowed for easy, secure access to their devices. When onboarding and offboarding, managers and IT personnel typically had direct physical access to the resources that they needed to manage and change, but now that’s not necessarily the case. This means that new solutions need to be leveraged to maintain the proper level of control over users, devices, networks, and other IT resources, and this is where an IGA solution becomes integral.

An IAM solution with IGA capabilities can provide the following benefits:

  • Password management and single sign-on solutions are available to protect your resources and devices from unauthorized access due to weak passwords
  • Integrations that connect to your directory service and any other systems that contain user data
  • Automated workflows can be set up for tedious processes like onboarding/offboarding and provisioning/deprovisioning access — efficiently provide the right employees with the right levels of access to all systems and resources
  • Access request management is streamlined through the ability to provision and deprovision access to users or user groups based on certain criteria which alleviates the problem of dealing with constant access requests and simplifies the process when you do receive an access request
  • Entitlement management abilities that allow you to add, edit, and delete entitlements and other description information so that users can submit the proper access requests when needed
  • Data logging and analysis of all identity events to ensure compliance, detect potential over privileges, and troubleshoot access issues

Detailed Event Logging, Analysis, and Reporting

Not only does implementing an IGA solution help streamline user identity lifecycle management through data logging and analysis, but these data capabilities plus reporting help organizations to prove compliance and make critical decisions. The centralization of this data helps IT admins get a high-level view of what’s happening across the IT environment, allowing them to quickly make changes and troubleshoot problems that could have easily become worse if left untreated.

A pertinent example of this is JumpCloud’s Directory Insights™ which allows users to find, filter, export, and save data for later use via the JumpCloud Admin Portal or API. The ability to quickly view and analyze organization-wide data can be the difference between proactively protecting the organization’s critical resources or retroactively picking up the pieces after an attack that could have been prevented with the right tools in place.

Risk Reduction Through Improved Compliance and Security

An IGA solution reduces risk and improves compliance and security by managing access control in a comprehensive and streamlined manner. By using tools that streamline user identity lifecycle management, your organization is at less risk for the wrong users having access to confidential information, and you have higher visibility into what different users do and do not have access to.

A few other benefits that come from adopting an IGA solution are:

  • Permission management that can be used to verify who has access to which resources and efficiently provision and deprovision access to meet compliance and security standards as soon as you realize something is off. These tools can often go a level deeper and allow you to specify what actions a user can take inside of a provisioned app based on their role.
  • High system visibility that allows IT admins to see who has access to what, when they gained access, and various other reports that are used as evidence during a compliance audit and as resources for IT admins to make decisions based on.
  • Less risk of human error when automated processes are in place which makes it easier to improve security by reducing manual tasks and proves compliance through reports of those automated processes.

The IT Manager’s Guide to Data Compliance Hygiene

How to ace your audit

Processes Become More Scalable

After seeing how IGA solutions streamline user identity lifecycle management and reduce risk while improving compliance and security, it’s easy to see how they can help your organization scale over time. Those two main benefits working together allow for scalability that wouldn’t exist otherwise. Sticking to manual processes and having little to no visibility into your IT systems doesn’t provide any good opportunities for scaling properly, and if you’re going to scale, whether it’s now or later, you need to have the processes, workflows, and automations in place before doing so successfully.

Some ways that IGA solutions facilitate organizational scaling are through:

  • Reduced operational costs due to automated processes that require less of a time commitment from IT admins
  • Efficient access to resources is provided to employees, meaning that as your organization grows, it’s quick and easy to provision and deprovision access to resources en masse, rather than dealing with each machine individually
  • Inherent compliance improvement is found within IGA tools, and tools that improve compliance and reduce risk are ones you want to keep on deck as you grow, as compliance only gets more difficult as your organization gets larger and harder to manage

Start Your IAM and IGA Compliance Journey with JumpCloud

If you’re ready to implement an IAM solution with IGA capabilities, check out JumpCloud’s Directory Platform that includes user lifecycle management, multi-factor authentication (MFA), single sign-on (SSO), quick provisioning and deprovisioning of user access to IT resources, and a variety of reporting capabilities to help gain user and device insights, satisfy compliance, and ensure policies are being enforced.

Ready to start getting compliant? JumpCloud’s IT Compliance Quickstart Guide was designed to get IT professionals the resources they need to prepare for an audit or shore up their IT security baseline. Or, you can try JumpCloud for yourself by getting an account today. Your first 10 users and devices are free.

Brenna Lee

Brenna is a Content Writer at JumpCloud that loves learning about and immersing herself in new technologies. Outside of the [remote] office, she loves traveling and exploring the outdoors!

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