Physical Identity Access Management Solutions for All
Print issue: March 2020
Regardless of an organization’s size, it is still security professionals’ responsibility to manage access to their organizations’ environments and facilities.
Increasingly, organizations need to implement and revoke access to restricted areas, as well as provide reports that demonstrate compliance with a variety of regulations. While access control systems (ACS) are an important part of a facility’s physical security, they were not designed to automate access rights management or to help ensure compliance.
Fortunately, this is where a physical identity access management (PIAM) system steps in. A PIAM helps manage access requests. It simplifies the process of granting and revoking access to restricted areas by automating these actions based on an individual’s identity and its attributes and on company security policies. It can also provide, with the click of a button, insight into who has access to restricted or sensitive areas and allow security personnel or area owners to take action—if needed.
PIAMs are not new to the market. But until recently they were reserved for large, multinational organizations. These systems were huge undertakings that were customized to match an organization’s specific needs. As such, PIAMs could take up to three years to complete and were extremely expensive. In most cases, only enterprise-level companies could afford to work with developers to create these on-premises systems tailored to their environments.
Because customized, on-premise access management solutions were so expensive, organizations often relied on Excel spreadsheets or Post-It notes to track access to restricted areas. The process required direct and continued human interaction.
In addition to approving and updating the systems, security operators also had to manually revoke access once the specified timeframe was up.
Further, security operators were required to keep track of any and all updates to security policies or regulations. These were often kept in folders without oversight or any guarantee that personnel were up-to-speed. Under these conditions, it was difficult to know if any organization was compliant.
Fortunately, this is changing. Vendors are now developing out-of-the-box systems that keep costs down, allowing organizations of all sizes to use a PIAM to manage access and enforce regulations. These new, cloud-based PIAMs are simply an operational expense and do not accrue costs associated with installation, physical maintenance, or hardware costs.
With an out-of-the-box PIAM, the vendor works with an integrator to install a plug-in. Then, organizational policies and employee identities and attributes are uploaded to the system. The vendor manages the data storage, as well as system maintenance.
Because the processes are automated, the system takes care of granting and revoking temporary access rights. These processes are governed by security policies, including government regulations, industry oversight, and corporate guidelines. And, when external regulatory bodies require compliance reporting, a PIAM provides this functionality too.
Ultimately, by using an out-of-the-box, cloud-based PIAM, organizations of every size with any budget can be confident that they are complying with regulations, enforcing their own policies, and restricting access to sensitive areas. In today’s market, size is no longer a barrier to achieving better facility security.
Despina Stamatelos is a product marketing manager at Genetec, Inc.