Why Is Identity Governance Needed?


In an era where digital transactions and interactions are the norm, identity governance has become a cornerstone of cybersecurity and operational management. It involves implementing policies and systems to manage user access to critical information and resources. It is both a technical and strategic necessity in the fast-evolving digital landscape.

The Rise of Digital Identities

The digital shift has exponentially increased the number of digital identities managed by organizations. These identities, from employee credentials to customer profiles, are vital to daily business operations. Yet, managing them brings immense challenges, requiring sophisticated strategies to maintain authorized access and keep unauthorized users at bay.

Risks and Threats

The digital world offers immense possibilities but also significant risks. Poor identity governance can lead to unauthorized data access, making organizations vulnerable to breaches and cyberattacks. “In fact, 74% of all breaches include the human element, with methods like privilege misuse and stolen credentials directly linked to users’ identities” (Expert Insights, 2023). Such incidents can cause financial losses, reputation damage, and erode customer trust. For instance, a compromised employee account with elevated privileges can trigger a full-scale data breach, exposing sensitive data. Additionally, compliance becomes a Herculean task without proper identity management, potentially leading to legal penalties.

Understanding Identity Governance Systems and Practices

Newly emerging technologies and methodologies in identity governance are revolutionizing how organizations manage digital identities. Identity and Access Management (IAM), which involves tools and processes that control who has access to what resources within an organization, is central to these systems. Advanced IAM systems use automated workflows to manage user life cycles, from onboarding to offboarding, ensuring that access rights are up-to-date and aligned with current roles and responsibilities.

One key aspect of modern identity governance is using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) algorithms. These technologies enable predictive analytics, risk-based authentication, and intelligent access control. For instance, AI can analyze patterns of access requests, flagging unusual activities that might indicate a security breach, such as an employee accessing a sensitive resource at an odd hour. Role-based access control (RBAC) and attribute-based access control (ABAC) are widely used in identity governance. RBAC assigns permissions based on the user’s role within the organization. At the same time, ABAC uses policies that consider various attributes (e.g., user location, device type, time of access) to make access decisions.

Furthermore, integrating Single Sign-On (SSO) and Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) has become a standard in identity governance. SSO simplifies the user experience by allowing multiple login credentials to access multiple applications. At the same time, MFA adds an extra layer of security by requiring additional verification methods beyond just a password. These methods include biometric verification, security tokens, or one-time passwords sent to a user’s mobile device.

The Benefits of Effective Identity Governance

Effective governance isn’t just about risk aversion; it’s a strategic enabler. It ensures timely access for the right people, enhancing operational efficiency. This means smoother workflows, reduced administrative burdens, and improved business market responsiveness. Compliance is another critical benefit. With laws like GDPR and CCPA, robust governance ensures adherence, avoiding fines and legal issues.

Moreover, it cultivates a security culture within the organization. However, “breaches involving phishing and stolen credentials, common attack vectors, are among the top four costliest incident types, averaging costs of $4.76 million and $4.62 million, respectively. Furthermore, resolving breaches caused by compromised credentials takes nearly 11 months (328 days) compared to the overall average of nine months (277 days)” (Expert Insights, 2023) .

Future Trends in Identity Governance

As the digital security landscape continues to evolve, specific trends are emerging in identity governance. These trends indicate the direction of the field and the challenges organizations must prepare for.

Rise of Decentralized Identity Systems: A significant shift is expected towards decentralized identity models, particularly those utilizing blockchain technology. This innovative approach allows individuals greater control over their digital identities, reducing dependence on central authorities. While it promises enhanced security and privacy, integrating these systems into existing infrastructures and achieving widespread user adoption is challenging.

Increased Emphasis on Privacy Compliance: In the wake of stringent regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), the future will likely see even tighter privacy laws worldwide. Identity governance systems must be flexible enough to adapt to these diverse and changing regulations, presenting a challenge in balancing global compliance with operational efficiency.

Biometric Authentication Advancements: The field of biometric authentication is set to advance beyond traditional methods like fingerprints and facial recognition. Emerging technologies may include vein pattern recognition and heart rate sensors, offering higher levels of security. However, these advancements also bring challenges, particularly concerning the privacy and security of biometric data.

User Experience Optimization: The ongoing challenge and trend in identity governance will be harmonizing robust security measures with user convenience. Organizations will strive to streamline the authentication process without compromising security by adopting adaptive authentication methods. These methods adjust security levels based on access context, ensuring a balance between security and ease of use.


The significance of identity governance in the digital age cannot be overstated. It is essential for the secure and efficient management of digital identities. Neglecting identity governance can have dire consequences, whereas effective management can lead to operational excellence and compliance. Navigating the complexities of the digital world necessitates robust identity governance as a necessity and strategic imperative for sustainable success.

Expert Insights. (2023). 50 Identity And Access Security Stats You Should Know. Retrieved [2023-12-19], from https://expertinsights.com/insights/50-identity-and-access-security-stats-you-should-know/ 

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