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Why you need to rethink your IAM strategy

Oct 20, 2021

Identity and Access Management (IAM) is not a new concept, but it is changing to meet new challenges. IAM’s growth is primarily driven by increased demand for identity security, governance (data & identity), audit concerns, and workforce changes. Although IAM spans many industries, this post focuses on the top drivers within healthcare based on recent industry reports.

A new way of life brings new security challenges

Technology, how we share information, and flexibility with where individuals can work have all rapidly changed. It’s a new way of life, and the healthcare industry requires IAM solutions to manage the security challenges with digital identities that have followed. Consider the following key points:

  • Today’s workforces are mobile – frequently changing roles, locations, and devices – and a newly remote workforce adds to an already challenging workflow.  Approving and adjusting user access in accordance with their new job duties as they move across the enterprise is a real challenge to manage.

  • Single-factor authentication is no longer acceptable in this digital era and is being widely replaced by multi-factor and biometric authentication.

  • On-boarding and off-boarding needs to be done quickly and securely. Slow, manual processes for access provisioning and appropriate approvals are often decentralized allowing system owners to decide who can access which resources.

  • The rise of cloud computing and storage present a new set of security risks which include reliance on third parties to maintain controls.

  • Online file sharing and collaboration for increased efficiency and productivity present new security and privacy risks.

  • Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies implemented by many organizations provide a new level of convenience but require policies that are well defined, communicated and, most importantly, enforced.

What’s driving IAM in healthcare?

Internal breaches

Today’s healthcare employees are more mobile than ever, frequently changing roles, locations, and devices. By implementing an IAM solution, healthcare organizations can automate the processes to assign and withdraw access privileges as needed. Consider the following statement from the Identity Management Institute: Ninety percent of breaches can be traced to user errors or stolen passwords. Inside jobs are sometimes even more devastating, and a lot can go wrong during the process of on-boarding or off-boarding employees.

Improved business efficiency

A decentralized process for on-boarding and off-boarding is not only difficult to manage, but it slows new-hire productivity and leaves much room for error. For instance, what if an employee is terminated but his or her manager is slow to revoke access or, even worse, forgets to revoke access? By deploying an IAM solution, like identity governance, organizations can quickly identify issues and make decisions to mitigate risk.

“In the future, more important than technical skills, security professionals must have analytical and critical thinking skills to analyze data reported by security systems. As the automated IAM systems generate reports and information about system access such as excess user access and privileged accounts, dormant or inactive accounts, system attacks, and active accounts belonging to departed users, security analysts must be able to quickly digest the data, analyze trends, and take swift actions to minimize the risks.” – Henry Bagdasarian, President of the Identity Management Institute

Regulatory & compliance

Healthcare is a heavily regulated industry, and the information that’s shared is highly sensitive, requiring compliance with unique and specific regulatory requirements. There are a wide variety of regulations, and they often overlap, which can lead to slow compliance. IAM solutions eliminate redundancy and automate assessments, communication and reporting for faster compliance.

The takeaway

Today’s healthcare organizations require enhanced capabilities that improve the productivity of their clinical and enterprise users, while addressing critical identity and access management challenges. With that said, we know that implementing this can be challenging. In fact, it’s not the technology behind IAM that typically fails an organization, it’s the implementation itself. Many struggle to achieve full buy-in or never fully implement it to its full potential. Forward Advantage has been in the IAM space for over 15 years, and we recognize these changes and adjust our solutions and services as necessary. As always, our team of professionals are available to discuss any concerns or challenges specific to your organization.

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