3 big problems enterprises encounter by using active directory without access management

Active Directory is often the backbone of organizational IT teams.  From provisioning users, devices and recording permissions for access to network resources, Active Directory serves to manage user roles and make it easier for IT teams to maintain organizational users. Unfortunately, Active Directory doesn’t easily manage or secure user access to external third-party applications, which are becoming far more frequently used, especially in remote workplaces. Some organizations haven’t extended their AD user management to the cloud, or use Active Directory without access management. Without access management, these organizations face three distinct problems. 

The “last mile” gap between AD and third-party application access leaves organizations vulnerable 

Organizations thrive off an increasing number of applications. From common applications—such as emails, document editing, file sharing, and messaging—to more powerful ones—such as HR software, sales CRMs, financial modeling tools, and operational applications that have very specific functions—a wide spread of users require access to applications that hold critical business data, further spreading an organization’s attack surface. To illustrate, try to envision all the possible entry points for risk in your organization. Imagine that you have 400 users, each using 25 apps. When you multiply those together, that’s 10,000 potential access permissions to manage. Though Active Directory is built to handle credentials for Microsoft Applications, third-party applications are a bit more of a challenge. The sheer increase in the number of third-party applications organizations use daily and the lack of control over who should access which application when, means IT teams have a blind spot bad actors can exploit to access critical organizational data.  

No visibility or control over who accesses which applications from where 

The “last mile” gap between organizations that haven’t extended their AD user management to the cloud or for businesses that solely use Active Directory for third-party applications opens up plenty of questions for IT and security teams. What applications are currently being used? Who should be able to access which application? What permissions should each user have? How can we see who has access to what applications? These questions are further complicated by the constant rhythm of employee lifecycles and turnover. Onboarding, cross-boarding, and off-boarding in a constantly moving organization means continually assessing and re-applying permissions for varying users and roles. Typically for Microsoft Applications, much of that is handled by Active Directory. If administrators in those environments want to see what users have access to select applications, they can easily see who has what permissions based on previously set-up groups. The story is a bit different when it comes to Active Directory and third-party applications. In this scenario, IT teams are essentially flying blind. Imagine if sensitive customer information were primarily handled by a third-party application. A lack of visibility over who has access to these third-party applications is a serious risk to any organization.   

Wasted time and energy provisioning application access to users with role changes 

IT teams already spend plenty of time managing user roles and granting access to network resources via Active Directory. Throwing third-party application access into the mix is an additional burden most organizations don’t need.  Especially considering that many third-party application administrators may have to manually add, give permissions and remove users. Using our example of 25 third-party applications again, imagine the process of needing to add just one user to every one of those applications.  

Active Directory holds its own when it comes to provisioning users across network resources and Microsoft Applications, but clearly falls short when it comes to managing users across third-party applications.  

Implementing access management plays a big part securing that “last mile” gap between Active Directory and third-party applications, improving visibility and control over user application access and relieving the time spent provisioning application access to users. Especially considering the massive amounts of time and effort organizations spend on provisioning, checking current levels of access and deprovisioning, access management helps ensure users have what they need—and only what they need—for as long as they need it through seamless connections between roles and groups. Beyond solving those three big issues, it’s also important to recognize that access management can also keep employees in compliance, make needed information more accessible to the right users, increase collaboration between teams and make user lifecycle management much more manageable. 

 Active Directory and/or Azure Active Directory paired with OneLogin offers a solid foundation for securing your users across all applications—not just Microsoft Applications—used in your organization. 

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