4 April 2024

Ensuring smooth, secure growth with IAM configuration has become essential in a world prone to cyber-attacks. This article will look at common IAM configuration mistakes that slow down and complicate business growth.

Basic IAM configuration errors

Not setting up an IAM group

The roles and rights defining access levels are at the heart of any IAM configuration. A common mistake is neglecting to set up structured IAM groups. IAM groups provide a clear organization of rights and facilitate access management by assigning roles to sets of users.

A good practice is to create an IAM group for each type of person in your company (developer, cybersecurity engineer, DevOps engineer). Users have different access rights to different tools.

Ignoring this practice of group creation can seriously disorganize role management. This complicates IAM configuration and scalability.

Copy a company's hierarchy to its IAM configuration

Transposing a company's hierarchy directly to the IAM configuration may seem intuitive, but it's a mistake that can impact scalability. Roles and rights do not always correspond perfectly to hierarchical structures. Roles may be duplicated if two teams have the same permissions on the same resources.

To overcome this, create roles that reflect operational needs. For example, a company's CEO doesn't need administrator access to machines managed by system administrators. Similarly, developers don't necessarily need to be administrators on all machines.

An optimal IAM configuration is based on a clever combination of roles and groups, regardless of your company's hierarchy.

Not automating IAM

Automation is one of the most important features of scalable access management. Not integrating it into your IAM configuration can lead to delays, errors, and operational overload. Manual processes for adding, deleting, or modifying roles and rights are prone to human error.

Automation ensures fast, accurate, and compliant access management, reducing operational risks.

Neglecting documentation

The importance of documentation in access management should not be underestimated. A well-documented IAM configuration is essential for maintaining order and clarity in assigning roles and rights. Precise details of authorizations, changes, and reasons for modifications are important if the people managing them are no longer the same.

Documentation facilitates internal communication and ensures understanding of IAM configuration choices, minimizing the risk of errors and conflicts.

Security mistakes

At Padok Security, we've noticed several poor security practices related to IAM configuration that have long-term impacts on company operations.

Not implementing the least privilege approach

Implementing the least privilege principle ensures your company's security and scalability when configuring your IAM system. Roles and rights should be defined according to each group's specific needs. Don't grant excessive privileges for the sake of it.

A well-thought-out IAM configuration gives only the necessary authorizations to each user. The opposite increases the chances of compromise.

For example, rather than granting read and write access to a resource for all users, create roles with specific rights for each type of employee. Non-technical staff can have "read-only" access, while technical teams can have "write" rights.

This approach significantly reduces the risk of security breaches and ensures a flexible, scalable IAM configuration as your organization grows.

A good practice for implementing this principle is to start by giving broad rights and then conducting frequent reviews to reduce the different permissions on roles. Cloud providers offer free tools for identifying unused rights for groups and users.

Failure to review authorizations regularly

Efficient and secure management of roles and rights in an IAM configuration requires regular review of the authorizations granted to users.

Changing organizational needs and individual responsibilities can lead to an accumulation of unused rights. Regular reviews are crucial to adjust authorizations in accordance with personnel changes, new projects, or structural modifications.

As with the security level assessment of your IS, the recommended review frequency is once every six months or at least once a year. Such a review ensures that only authorized users can access the necessary resources. It also avoids unnecessary rights overload, which could compromise your IAM system's security and scalability.

Confusing user and application rights

A common mistake when configuring identity and access management (IAM) is confusing rights assigned to users with those granted to applications. Understanding the distinction between these entities is essential for effective security.

User rights are linked to individuals and define what they are authorized to do within the system. On the one hand, application rights are designed explicitly for automated software and services, such as APIs or background processes.

Giving service rights to users is like giving long-term credentials. On the other hand, cloud providers have mechanisms for granting short-term credentials to users.

In conclusion, scalable configuration of your IAM is essential to guarantee smooth, secure management of roles, rights and access management. Avoid basic mistakes such as neglecting documentation or failing to automate IAM management.

In addition, a least privilege approach and regular authorization reviews reinforce the security and efficiency of your IAM configuration. Adopting a considered approach and avoiding these common mistakes can establish a solid, adaptive IAM configuration for your company's growth.