Five Things to do in Identity Management this Summer

David Ting
Feb 03, 2012

Theoretically, as employees go on vacation during the summer months, there will be fewer demands on your IT team. Realistically, we know that’s not true and it seems like there is actually more to do. However, summer can provide the opportunity to step back and evaluate the state of your identity and authentication management infrastructure and policies. Here are five things that are easy to overlook throughout the year that you should consider doing this summer:

1. Check for Ghost and Orphaned Accounts: user provisioning and de-provisioning of accounts can happen in a flurry of activity, especially during times like these with turnover in the workforce being common. In the haste to move through the termination process, accounts are left open or missed – even those organizations with the tightest policies and procedures. Often a user’s primary network credentials are locked but what about remote access accounts or critical applications accounts. Use this time to eliminate any that may be in question.

2. Map the Apps: Take an inventory of what apps are running in your environment. Are they all approved? Any that are ‘rogue’? Are any being used that are not tied to identities at your organization? Getting a clear view of the application population can help ensure holes are plugged, policies followed and data security is optimal. This gets much harder to do as organizations increasingly subscribe to services that are not managed by IT. Getting a handle on those accounts will become even more important as we rely more on applications delivered by service providers.

3. Cut Costs by Weeding Out Unused Application Licenses: While you’re mapping what apps are in your environment, cross examine their usage by analyzing the activity logs of your employees’ identities. Are there shared accounts and passwords being used inappropriately? Are there under-utilized applications? Are you paying for more licenses than you need for an application? There’s a treasure trove of cost savings to be found if you take the time to dig in to your identity and application logs. If you can squeeze savings out of somewhere unexpectedly, your CFO will love you.

4. Let Your Fingers do the Walking: If you’re not using finger biometrics or proximity cards, give these user authentication technologies a try. They are relatively inexpensive and can easily integrate into most identity management systems nowadays. Pull in a small focus group to try them out, and see how they can improve employee productivity while strengthening security… and minimizing password management help desk calls to your team.

5. Reconnect with your customer: Review the identity policies and procedures you’ve set forth for your organization -- when were they originally created? Has anything changed? New industry regulations your organization must adhere to? Examine user authentication requirements, strong authentication modalities that are available to your employees and password management parameters to follow. Update, distribute and schedule a series of brief sessions to educate your user base on security best practices to follow. Remember your customer base is everyone that interacts with or uses the IT system.

What else are you doing during these summer months? Any best practices to share? We’d love to hear them.
--David