‘Woefully inadequate’ IT processes for managing user accounts and access are creating risks

Published: Friday, 29 September 2017 07:44

One Identity has released study results showing significant gaps in how organizations manage accounts used to access IT infrastructure, systems, and data—gaps that could result in major security and compliance risks. The results of the study of more than 900 IT security professionals, conducted by Dimensional Research, spotlights how common security best practices — such as timely removal of access to corporate data and applications, dormant account identification, and role administration — continue to be a challenge and concern for organizations worldwide.

Most alarmingly, 70 percent of respondents express a lack of confidence that all former employees and employees changing roles are fully deprovisioned — or have their accounts changed or removed — in a timely enough manner. Therefore, their accounts remain open and available with active authorization even after an employee changes roles or leaves the organization.

Only 14 percent say they remove access for users immediately upon a change in HR status. Related findings point to concerning practices regarding management of dormant accounts. Only nine percent are confident that they have no dormant accounts, only 36 percent are ‘very confident’ they know which dormant user accounts exist, and a remarkable 84 percent confessed that it takes a month or longer to discover these dangerous open doors into the enterprise. 

Best practices demand that access be removed for employee accounts that are no longer active. In the case where an employee changes roles, access needs to be altered to provide the new access and authorization required for the new role and remove access that is no longer needed. Frequently, the removal of no-longer-needed access is overlooked. When user accounts are not deprovisioned (often called dormant accounts), they are open invitations for disgruntled employees, hackers or other threat actors, who can exploit the accounts and gain access to sensitive systems and information, resulting in data breaches or compliance violations.

The user account access and management challenges are not limited to legacy systems and data, as they also are relevant for newer technologies such as file-sync-and-share services like Box and Dropbox. Only 14 percent of respondents report deprovisioning access to these accounts in a centralized/automated manner.

Other findings from One Identity’s Global State of IAM Study provide further evidence of the challenges organizations face with regard to managing employee access to IT resources:

About study

The One Identity Global State of IAM Study consisted of an online survey conducted by Dimensional Research of IT professionals with responsibility for IT security as a major part of their job and were very knowledgeable about IAM. A wide variety of questions were asked about experiences and challenges with IAM. A total of 913 individuals from the US, Canada, UK, Germany, France, Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong completed the survey.