SaaS applications run on data and generate vast amounts of data in return. Given that data has become the "new oil," the primary goal of IT and security teams is to ensure that these applications and the data are secure against potential vulnerabilities and breaches.
Unfortunately, IT teams often face the reality of frequent data breaches that can originate from common sources.
This puts more emphasis on user provisioning and deprovisioning. Who has access to the applications? On how many devices have used the credentials? These reports should not be overlooked, especially in the data-driven market.
From the day of joining to the day of quitting, an employee’s user access must be meticulously monitored. Only the right apps relevant to the job role should be granted access. And access must be effectively revoked right after they quit to avoid misuse.
Doing this manually using spreadsheets or decade-old legacy applications can be time-consuming, tedious, and unsecured. Provisioning and de-provisioning of users should be automated using modern SaaS applications.
A SaaS management platform can reduce the manual workload and simplify user provisioning and deprovisioning for the IT team. You’ll learn more about it in this article.
Let’s get started.
What is user provisioning?
User provisioning is an access management practice involving creating, managing, and modifying user accounts within a business ex.
In simple terms, it is the process of granting and revoking user access to each application. It should be done based on the new user's roles, departments, and responsibilities.
Traditional vs. automated user provisioning
The traditional approach utilizes spreadsheets to keep track of applications associated with specific roles and departments. Whenever a new employee joins, the IT and HR teams consult the spreadsheet to provide access to each relevant application.
A laborious process, isn’t it?
In the traditional approach, credentials are shared via email or chat (Slack). This practice posed a significant security risk and led to compromised credentials.
Automated user provisioning does things differently. There are no spreadsheets, and no manual assistance is required. SaaS management platforms like CloudEagle come with auto-provisioning workflows that automatically provision users to apps based on their roles and responsibilities.
Credentials are not shared via email but dynamically generated in the platform. This makes the process secure and easier for the IT and HR teams.
What is user deprovisioning?
User deprovisioning involves disabling user accounts, revoking access and deleting user information from the system or applications. It is usually done when an employee quits or when access is no longer needed to prevent unauthorized access.
Challenges with traditional user deprovisioning
When user accounts are tracked using spreadsheets, the IT team will have a hard time revoking access to each application.
1. IT team will have to visit each application to revoke access which will be time-consuming.
Ensuring that an employee's access to all applications has been removed will be hard. Sometimes, IT teams might miss revoking access to some applications.
2. And once the employee has left, this unrevoked access might get compromised and pave the way to security breaches.
Consider a scenario where you terminate an employee but forget to revoke their access to a critical application. If the former employee is dissatisfied, they might extract sensitive information about your business operations and share them to your competitors.
Automating deprovisioning enables you to swiftly revoke access and delete a user's account from your system with minimal time and effort.
Automating employee offboarding using a SaaS management platform can ensure that an employee's access to applications is entirely revoked, preventing them from accessing any information.
Alice Park from Remediant had troubles with manual provisioning and deprovisioning, she spent most of her time visiting each app to revoke user access, which was counter-productive. Here's Alice Park recalling her success story of how CloudEagle helped her streamline user deprovisioning.
Automated user provisioning and deprovisioning
As we’ve been discussing in the above sections, you can use an Identity and access management tool or a SaaS management platform to automate granting and revoking users' access to the applications.
Efficient and secure onboarding and offboarding of users should be a priority. And it shouldn't be done using spreadsheets or manual methods.
Manually updated user profiles, account information, granting access to applications based on roles and departments is a tedious process. SaaS management software aims to solve these lapses by enabling IT and HR teams to provision and deprovision quickly, freeing up time for the teams to concentrate on more strategic responsibilities.
Importance of automating these processes
- Swifter onboarding and offboarding.
- Save and increase the productivity of IT and HR teams.
- Streamline access management and eliminate security lapses.
- Users will be organized in one centralized location, making user management easier.
- Prevents unauthorized access to irrelevant applications.
- Ensure security, compliance, and consistency across the onboarding and offboarding process of all employees.
- Helps create a positive experience for employees.
- Prevents credentials from being compromised.
Best Practices for Automated User Provisioning and Deprovisioning
Integrating with HR and other systems
You first need the user's data to provision users to applications automatically. Without a clear view of users accessing your applications, you cannot manage onboarding and offboarding effectively.
- SSO integration
- HRIS integrations
SaaS management tools can integrate with SSO systems to discover all your SaaS applications within your infrastructure. HRIS integrations will reveal the user data and how they use the applications.
By using a SaaS management system, you can collect user information and organize it in one location for easier onboarding and offboarding. This ensures consistency and minimizes the likelihood of errors.
Use the Principle of least privilege(PoLP)
Instead of granting access to all the applications, the principle of least privilege necessitates that a user only be granted access to the applications required to do the work, not more than that.
Previously, organizations provided one common credential to a user; they could access all the applications within their SaaS stack using the credential. This is an unsecured practice and one of the most common security breach vectors.
If you are doing this in your organization, stop it now. Leverage PoLP and grant access to only specific applications based on the roles using an identity and access management system.
IAM, or identity and access management, is a set of processes and standards used to track and manage the digital identity of users. User provisioning falls under the umbrella of IAM, ensuring that only the right people get access to the right solutions.
Implement GBAC and RBAC
Group-based access contracts and role-based access control are two common levels of access controls that most businesses use. User provisioning must be done based on these access controls.
Grant application access to users based on their departments and roles; this will prevent users from accessing applications their roles don’t require. It’ll also provide better control for IT teams to prevent unauthorized application access.
You can use the HRIS and SSO integrations to group users and applications based on their roles and departments. For example, if you have ten licenses for Mailchimp, only the marketing team should have access to the application.
Constantly review user access and activity
Regularly reviewing your user access permissions will ensure that the right users are accessing your applications and also help prevent potential security breaches.
Monitoring user activity will reveal how users access your applications; you can identify a pattern in each interaction.
Once the patterns become erratic, it indicates that the user account may have some unwanted activity, and appropriate measures can be taken to prevent unauthorized individuals from gaining access to the application using compromised credentials.
Stay on top of shadow IT
Using identity and access management tools, you can manage user access to applications sanctioned and purchased by the admin and IT teams. What about the apps that were purchased without the approval of IT?
Shadow IT is the act of purchasing applications without IT’s knowledge, and it occurs in almost all organizations. Applications from unauthorized third-party vendors can lead to compliance issues and security breaches.
SSO integrations will reveal all the applications in your tech stack, and your IT teams can quickly identify the apps resulting from shadow IT and eliminate them to keep the stack optimized.
Communicate with the users, understand their requirements, and purchase the applications they need to avoid shadow IT. This will keep your user accounts and applications secure.
Automate onboarding and offboarding with CloudEagle
CloudEagle is an all-in-one SaaS management platform that provides identity and access management functionalities to help IT, and HR teams automate onboarding and offboarding employees.
CloudEagle has user provisioning and deprovisioning modules to help IT teams grant and revoke user access when an employee joins or quits.
The auto-provisioning workflow of CloudEagle will help you get rid of spreadsheets. After the system integrations are done, CloudEagle will have all the data regarding your application stack, and it’ll be segmented based on the departments like Marketing, Sales, etc.
You can configure workflows by selecting the department, job title, and location and assigning the relevant applications to the workflow.
When a new employee joins, the user will be automatically provisioned to the respective applications based on the department and job roles.
Similarly, when an employee quits, you don’t have to visit each application to revoke access. CloudEagle collects all the data regarding the users and will display all the applications a user has access to or has accessed.
In just a few clicks, the user will be deprovisioned from all the applications, and then you can delete the user account. System integrations will help CloudEagle ensure that the employee is not leaving with unauthorized access to the applications.
You can eliminate spreadsheets and use CloudEagle as one centralized identity and access management system to provision automatically and deprovision users.
User provisioning and deprovisioning is the process of granting and revoking user access to applications. Doing it manually will take time, and tracking user accounts and applications on spreadsheets will lead to unauthorized access and data breaches.
This article emphasized the importance of automated provisioning and deprovisioning and how it can help IT and HR teams streamline employee onboarding and offboarding. It saves time and will enable your team to focus on more strategic tasks.
User provisioning software like CloudEagle will make the identity and access management process easier for the IT teams with their auto-provisioning and deprovisioning modules.
Keep your application stack secure and free of unauthorized access, compromised passwords, and security breaches using CloudEagle.