Guest Column | July 30, 2021

How Cloud-Based Identity Governance Helps You Meet GDPR Compliance

By Theis Nilsson, vice president of customer success and innovation, Omada

cloud computing

When the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) went into effect three years ago, it marked a fundamental transformation of how businesses handle customers’ personal data – or at least, it should have. Although it’s an EU law, it applies to any company that makes its website or service available to EU citizens, which means GDPR has international reach. But complying with the rules has been hit or miss, as the latest crop of fines demonstrate – and many organizations continue to struggle. A modern identity governance strategy can play a key role in meeting GDPR compliance.

GDPR Challenges Continue

Even three years later, many organizations are still struggling with compliance – and they face severe fines and reputational damage as a result. A GDPR fine can run up to 4% of annual global revenue, depending on the severity and circumstances of the violation. The GDPR’s enforcement agency issued more than $200 million in fines in 2020.

Amazon, for instance, is facing a $425 million fine for GDPR compliance violations related to the company’s collection and use of personal data. If it holds, this fine will be the largest GDPR penalty so far. And while a company like Amazon can surely afford the financial hit – and isn’t likely to suffer much in the way of reputation, either – most companies can’t.

Compliance with GDPR is mandatory – and implementing identity governance and administration can help companies meet these requirements. Companies also can learn from how GDPR works as calls grow for similar legislation in the U.S.

What’s Complicating GDPR Compliance

Organizations are struggling with massive change in terms of technology and structure, including migration to the cloud and the rise of remote and hybrid work. These changes have all introduced new challenges to the enterprise in terms of how to maintain control, manage risk and ensure compliance without restraining business efficiency and collaboration.

If businesses don’t have the necessary strategy and security solutions, trying to address a complicated and continually expanding set of global regulations is a losing proposition. Many companies have held back from full GDPR compliance due to their inability to comprehend what it requires to achieve. And as digitalization accelerates, IT departments are facing greater and greater workloads – which makes it even harder to support compliance and stay on top of security requirements.

How Modern Identity Governance Can Help

Modern identity governance, encompassing the right capabilities of data classification, risk awareness, and compliance, is key to an organization’s security posture, but it also plays an important role in complying with regulations like GDPR. Governing identities and access are of paramount importance in terms of being compliant with legislative and regulatory requirements. GDPR requires organizations to have processes in place to manage, monitor, and document identities access complies with need-to-know/need-to-have principles.

Based on these security principles, today’s identity governance solutions must also provide automated implementation of business workflows and processes that enable efficiencies, such as automated provisioning, self-service access requests, and approvals, and at the same time be adaptable enough to embrace organizational uniqueness.

Deploying a modern Identity Governance and Administration (IGA) solution makes it possible to ensure continuous compliance with GDPR when it comes to identities and access management. It solves essential GDPR challenges related to access control and transparency, and it helps organizations improve security and compliance, as well as manage users’ access rights purposefully and efficiently.

With the right solution, organizations can control users’ access to IT systems and determine and document when – but even more importantly, why – access was granted. The ability to ensure and document that risk-driven best practice processes are followed is vital in audit scenarios, as auditors need to be assured that an organization has control over who has access to what, and for what reason.

For these reasons, identity governance is providing companies with a solid foundation and is, in fact, becoming a strategic tool. An automated, integrated identity management and access governance solution improves security, reduces costs, provides essential functionality for managing identity life cycle processes, and supports compliance efforts, especially in the case of GDPR.

Your New Compliance Partner

Compliance is tougher than ever with the GDPR and regulations like it popping up in other regions of the world and even in multiple U.S. states. Already-burdened IT teams are struggling with the demands borne of digital transformation and remote work; compliance often falls by the wayside as a result. But GDPR and laws like it aren’t optional for those to whom they apply, and fines can be business-killing in size.

A next-generation cloud based IGA solution helps support enterprise IT security and regulatory compliance. It enables businesses to provide automated access to an ever-growing number of technology assets while managing potential security and compliance risks and relieving overloaded IT departments. It enables and secures digital identities for all users, applications, and data. Cloud-based IGA can act as a true partner in compliance for today’s companies.