When it comes to the user account lifecycle, there’s a significant emphasis on onboarding and provisioning. These processes are essential for getting new employees ready to hit the ground running on their first day. Without created accounts and provisioned access to necessary IT resources, employee downtime spikes as new hires are left to sit and twiddle their thumbs. Onboarding and provisioning delays can drastically impact organizational efficiency and contribute to wasted expenses.
However, what about offboarding at the end of a user’s employment? The start of the user account lifecycle is primarily concerned with efficiency, whereas offboarding is typically associated with security efforts. When security is the focus, quick and thorough resolution becomes paramount.
Offboarding delays typically arise from a lack of communication. In an example organization, HR is responsible for handling employee departures. While HR oversees the departure and organizational offboarding, the IT department is responsible for deactivating accounts and revoking access. Further, managers and team leaders are responsible for making adjustments to prevent operational issues. The separation of these processes leads to reliance on timely emails or notifications to ensure complete offboarding. However, those can be overlooked or lost in the day-to-day shuffle.
With triggered and automated processes for identity management and the user account lifecycle, offboarding delays can be virtually eliminated. Instead of just filing the importance of offboarding under a blanket notion of “security,” here’s five reasons to automate the process for immediate and thorough execution.
1. Malicious or Disgruntled Ex-Employees
When an employee is terminated or has submitted notice, it’s possible they may intend to take some of their work with them or harm the organization in some way. Without deactivating accounts or revoking network and cloud resource access, a departing employee’s ability to wreak havoc is heightened. In the case of malicious or merely disgruntled ex-employees, they may seek to take some of the organization’s intellectual property or data from the company network. This could be anything from sales leads, to ongoing projects, to sensitive personal data regarding other employees or clients.
These actions pose serious risks and damages to any organization. Effectively a data breach, the actions of a malicious or merely disgruntled ex-employee can lead to severe reputation damage in the eyes of the public or clients, loss of business to competing firms, or regulatory compliance violations that result in massive financial penalties.
2. Network Pollution
If accounts and access are not revoked, it contributes to network pollution—especially “orphan accounts.” Orphan accounts are accounts no longer associated with an active user or employee. When orphan accounts accumulate, your organization’s network insight becomes muddied, and storage may become an issue. With more storage needlessly consumed by orphan accounts, unnecessary costs may rise. Without the ability to oversee the accounts and access inside your network, the orphan accounts often go undetected and often become forgotten. Even with the ability to oversee accounts and access, or generate reports, the orphan accounts provide false data and obscure how your network is (or should be) structured.
3. Unnecessary License Costs
IT resources aren’t cheap. Many of your employees likely have access to systems, platforms, and applications to do their job, and many of these, especially cloud resources, require subscriptions. With 3rd party subscriptions, unrevoked licenses are effectively orphan accounts but result in expenditures instead of network pollution. CRM systems, Adobe, and more add up and significantly affect your organization’s ongoing expenses and bottom line. Suppose an ex-employee’s accounts aren’t deactivated. In that case, the vendor who provides the resource certainly won’t know about their departure and will continue charging for the subscription as if usage continued.
Especially for medium and large-organizations, license costs add up quickly. Without getting control of your active but unused licenses, your organization is throwing money away. It’s one of business’ “death by a thousand (financial) cuts.” Immediate offboarding leads to significant savings that allow you to redirect those expenditures towards other needs or for either a rainy day or the next employee who requires a license.
Even if the ex-employee isn’t responsible for malicious activity, their accounts may be the access point for other intruders. Without adequate protection, such as multifactor authentication or secure single sign-on, cloud resources are extremely vulnerable to breaches. So long as the intruder has the resource’s URL and the account credentials for something such as Google Drive, there’s nothing preventing access.
Poor password management practices, such as reused credentials across numerous accounts, are also common. An intruder can enter the reused credentials and gain access to multiple cloud resources, even if the stolen credentials were initially intended for use on personal accounts entirely separate from the organization the ex-employee worked for.
Returning to orphan accounts again, intruders can use them as the perfect camouflage if they intend to lurk within an organization’s network. If offboarding processes aren’t sufficiently fast or thorough, there is nothing that identifies the orphan account as out-of-place within the network. If an intruder successfully breaches an orphan account that retains all of its access to various systems and applications, they suddenly have free reign within the scope of the network permissions assigned to the user.
5. Ongoing Business and Redirects
Adjusting business operations and workflow following an employee departure is less critical to security but still extremely relevant to operations. If department heads, managers, and team leaders aren’t given timely notification of departures, they aren’t able to account for how operations must adjust to continue as seamlessly as possible.
One missing employee can suddenly lead to missed calls, forgotten prospects, ignored support requests, paused orders, and more. It’s critical for continually optimal operations that when one employee departs (or another takes their place), all of the business’ communications and workflows are redirected appropriately. When offboarding suffers delays, necessary adjustments fall through the cracks and create inefficiencies, dissatisfied clients, missed opportunities, and other harmful results.
Automated Offboarding for Immediate Results
Immediate execution of identity management and user account lifecycle processes has grown increasingly essential in today’s modern business climate. Everything moves so fast that slow responses and overlooked accounts and access become increasingly detrimental. With triggered and automated offboarding processes, your organization virtually eliminates these risks.
Further, many of your employees, especially IT, reclaim significant bandwidth and no longer have to drop their other projects to address immediate offboarding needs. If an automated identity management solution is connected to your HR system, offboarding can effectively begin and end with HR’s handling of the departed employee. A change in a user’s employment status will indicate to the identity management system that accounts and access must be revoked immediately. IT and relevant managers can still receive notifications, but the configured and automated offboarding allows the identity management solution to process the necessary changes.
For both security and efficiency, immediate offboarding helps ensure that your organization avoids serious risks, mitigates unnecessary costs, and continues seamless operations.