How Does IAM Help In GDPR Compliance?

The General Data Protection Regulation Act of the EU is internationally the best data privacy law introduced in the region. Implementing the regulation is today globally seen as the best practice for data security and privacy. Yet, considering the evolving threat landscape and growing incidents of a data breach, GDPR Requirements alone cannot be a 100% secured solution against data breach incidents.

Organizations are now moving towards adopting Identity and Access Management strategies for cementing their privacy and security implementations. This further facilitates the GDPR compliance process and ensures adherence to most of the GDPR requirements. Elaborating this in detail we have explained how IAM implementation can ease the process of GDPR Compliance.

But before that, let us understand the fundamental of IAM to get to the larger picture. 

Fundamental Principles Of IAM 

Identity and Access Management (IAM) is broadly based on the principles and practice of granting appropriate access to sensitive systems, networks, data, and applications. The IAM technique is based on the four key principles which include- 

1. Authentication:   Authentication simply means proving the user's identity to systems, networks, or data to which they are attempting to gain access. This is one of the fundamentals of the IAM technique. It includes implementing measures and techniques to facilitate authentication in the form of passwords, biometrics, access keys, or other identification techniques.

2. Authorization:   Authorization simply means granting access or permission to authorized users to access the protected systems, network, or data. Authorization of access is usually based on roles & responsibilities and granted based on requests. This is relevant and majorly concerned with Privileged Access Management. The authorization technique basically levels up the security of access controls in the organization.  

3. Administration:   This is the critical aspect of security implementation that works around the critical activities of managing user authentication and authorization. Administration of Access controls is often automated in larger-scale organizations. However, this leads to creating blind spots and vulnerabilities for attackers to penetrate. IAM calls for regular strong administrative controls including regular monitoring and analysis of critical access control activities in the organization. 

4. Audit:   IAM works on the principles of conducting regular audits. This is to assess the effectiveness of access controls, security programs, and administrative activities which is in place. Audits are required to demonstrate that the measures implemented are in line with the security objectives and compliance goals of the organization. 

Based on the IAM fundamentals if the technique is tightly integrated with the compliance program, it will definitely ease the process of achieving GDPR compliance. The possibility of successfully achieving GDPR compliance is greatly enhanced with the implementation of the IAM technique. So, here is how IAM and GDPR can be worked together for implementing the security practices. 

GDPR & IAM 

Identity and Access Management at its core emphasizes the security and access management process in an organization. This would simply mean building strong systems around authentication, authorization, and access management for the next level of data protection. So, this automatically helps businesses comply with GDPR regulations that are built around the premise of upholding the privacy rights and protection of personal data. IAM helps protect systems in a way that alerts organizations on any anomalies or unusual activities detected in systems, networks, and applications. This way organizations can prevent incidents of data breaches or cyber-attacks in the long run.  

Generally, organizations lack the capability and resources for building a strong identity and access management system. This results in unauthorized access and an impending event of a data breach that further results in non-compliance with GDPR. The GDPR regulation is all about data security and data privacy of the personal information of citizens of the EU. This requires having in place effective identity and access management systems in place to ensure authorized access and security of the PII data. There is no way an organization can build strong data security and privacy measure without having an effective identity and access management program in place.

This is when and where IAM falls in the picture to help the organization have an effective identity and access management system in place.  

The IAM technique helps build security measures that uphold data privacy and ultimately ensure GDPR compliance. So, organizations that integrate IAM will certainly be better off in the race of GDPR Compliance. So, let us see how IAM can facilitate GDPR Compliance. 

How Can IAM Help In GDPR Compliance? 

Access Control:   Access Control is the basis for authentication and authorization to data access. This is ingrained in the IAM principles and so integrating it with the compliance program will help in building strong security measures. Implementing fundamental practices such as measures to authenticate and authorize access controls brings prevents unauthorized access and unlawful data processing. This way, IAM helps meet the GDPR requirements of lawful processing of data (Article 6) through streamlined access controls. 

Multifactor Authentication:   Multifactor authentication which is the core requirement of the IAMs Authentication principle ensures secure access to sensitive data. The technique closes the loophole to the possibility of unauthorized access to sensitive data. Unlike the general authentication process, MFA requires secondary authentication for login/access.

So, this way attackers having access to the basic password will have to screen through the secondary level of security to get through and access the data. The technique makes it difficult to attain access and ensures maximum security. This way the IAM technique helps meet the requirement of secure data processing as per GDPR (Article 32) of securely processing data. 

Privileged Access Management:   Privileged Access Management which is an integral part of the IAM Principle helps meet the GDPR requirement to maintain the privacy, confidentiality, and integrity of the personal data. The controlled and administered privilege access prevents unauthorized access and the possibility of data breaches. Administering access and ensuring accountability provide an added layer of security to the PII data protection. This technique of IAM facilitates regular monitoring of the log activities and security of the data. 
Governance

GDPR calls for periodic audits and monitoring of security practices that protect sensitive PHI data.

IAM implementation provides critical information on data flow, login activities, and access management granted to employees/vendors/stakeholders. This becomes a driving tool for enforcing necessary security measures across organization networks, systems, and applications at multiple levels. It further helps establish policies and procedures around it to enforce the implementation of security measures. This also facilitates the alignment of policies, procedures, and security implementation with GDPR. Implementing effective identity administrative practices, access management, and governance through IAM will all be a major step towards achieving GDPR compliance.  

Data Minimization:   IAM facilitates stringent control over the access and processing of sensitive PHI data. This way it helps streamline processes for ensuring data minimization which is an important part of GDPR principles (Article 5). It can help determine and highlight for how long the access was granted and the time frame up to which the information was stored. This enables the timely deletion of information. This way IAM helps comply with data minimization requirements of GDPR and prevents the possibility of non-compliance. 

Conclusion 

IAM strategy is a proactive way of detecting threats and, remediating them. While security benefit is one aspect of this winning strategy, it also helps streamline the process within the organization. Integrating IAM and GDPR facilitates better governance, accountability, security, and privacy of sensitive data.

While GDPR Compliance guides organizations in securing PII data, the IAM technique helps translate it to implementing maximum security. IAM helps ease the process of compliance by adding a layer of security. It also helps demonstrate auditors and provides proof of maintaining the confidentiality of PII data.

With this, it is evident that integrating IAM in GDPR can ease the GDPR compliance process in many ways. 

 Naren Sahoo is Director of  VISTA InfoSec

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