Meet regulatory, framework, and standards obligations with Okta Identity Governance

Meeting compliance challenges in a boundaryless world 

Today’s organisations are operating in an increasingly complex technology and business environment. Workforces that may have once been composed solely of in-office employees are now made up of a broad range of contributors, including contractors and business partners, all working across time zones and borders. 

Technology organisations are racing to equip these heterogeneous teams with the resources they need to be effective, cobbling together older on-prem systems with new cloud applications and infrastructure to enable the business. Meanwhile, security teams are focusing intently on ensuring every individual and resource is secure. Juggling these priorities is crucial to meeting business goals and serves a critical role in meeting the compliance obligations many organisations face.

Because of its inherent role in knitting together a boundaryless world across workers, geographies, and technologies, Identity serves a crucial role in how technology and security teams can keep businesses efficient and agile while also meeting compliance expectations. 

In this blog, we’ll explore the most common Identity controls organisations need to implement, how they can use Identity governance and administration (IGA) to meet compliance requirements, and the benefits of meeting those requirements beyond meeting regulatory and certification needs.

Identity’s role in compliance

Within the broader domain of governance, risk management, and compliance, IGA is vital for protecting customer information, securing sensitive financial data, and shielding resources from being tampered with or inappropriately shared beyond organizational boundaries.

The more efficiently and effectively an organization can execute on IGA, the better positioned it is to:

  • Manage regulatory risk by complying with even the strictest Identity controls
  • Access new customers by meeting third-party risk thresholds
  • Build and maintain a strong, least privilege security posture and inform risk-based cybersecurity programs
  • Achieve market differentiation with standards and certifications that raise the bar on competitors
  • Increase overall productivity by simplifying lifecycle management, which helps new employees to be productive on day one and throughout their time with the organization as their roles change and grow

Representative regulations, frameworks, and standards

Here are three widely adopted regulations, frameworks, and standards, picked from the worlds of accounting, security, and privacy.


Following a number of financial scandals, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act was enacted into law in the United States in 2002. The law aimed to improve investor confidence by making corporate practices more transparent. Requirements include measures for policy enforcement, risk assessment, fraud reduction, and compliance auditing.

Because most of the data making up corporate financial statements is created by information technology systems, carefully controlling access to these systems via IAM and related controls is vital to Sarbanes-Oxley compliance.


Service Organisation Control 2 (SOC 2) is a cybersecurity compliance framework designed to ensure third-party service providers securely store and process client data.

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants developed SOC 2 reports from organizational controls based on the five trust service principles of security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy.

With threat actors increasingly targeting Identity for initial access and executing intrusions, and with 97% of organisations planning to implement a Zero Trust initiative by early 2024, robust Identity-related controls are a vital part of a strong security posture.


The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS, or PCI) is a proprietary information security standard for companies that manage major credit cards.

To comply, companies must encrypt payment card data in transmission, undergo penetration testing, and more. PCI doesn’t mandate specific technologies but explains industry best practices. For instance, there are PCI requirements about keeping the number of employees who can access payment card data to a minimum.

Proper Identity management practices help maintain the privacy of payment card data by carefully restricting who can access the data and when.

Common Identity controls

While the specifics of each regulation, framework, and standard vary, the Identity-related requirements overlap significantly and tend to address three main areas: Identity security, access controls, and separation of duties.

Identity security

As adversaries focus greater attention on attacking Identity systems — including leveraging stolen credentials — organisations must implement strong security measures that help prevent malicious access to applications, data, and other resources. 

Because of these attacks, many regulations, frameworks, and standards specify controls pertaining to password strength and frequency of change, multi-factor authentication (MFA), federated access through secure systems, and more. 

Access controls

In general, access controls ensure that the right people have the right access to the right resources at the right time — ideally with the least friction.

To create a strong security posture and to manage privacy risks, such controls also typically incorporate the principle of least privilege (or logical access), which limits each user’s access to only those applications, resources, and other assets needed to do their job.

In addition to implementing these controls, organisations may also be required to produce reports that capture who has what level of access to what resources today and who had what level of access to what resources in the past. 

Separation of duties

Separation of duties is a critical administrative control intended to minimise the occurrence of:

  • Errors
  • Deliberate acts of fraud, sabotage, theft, policy violations, misuse of information, etc.
  • Other security incidents, including data breaches

Separation of duties controls prevent overlaid IT access that would allow compromising activities, ensuring that no single person can complete a sensitive task alone. Access capabilities that would allow compromising activities are called “toxic combinations.”

Implementing and maintaining separation of duties requires IT teams to scalably account for organisational changes and new technology adoption, combined with conflict role definition and a rule set that accounts for toxic combinations.

Meeting obligations with Okta Identity Governance

Okta Identity Governance (OIG) is part of a SaaS-delivered, unified IAM and governance solution that adds three new access governance capabilities to the Okta Workforce Identity Cloud.

  • Okta Access Requests uses self-service capabilities, tightly integrated with popular collaboration tools, to simplify and automate access requests and approvals.
  • Okta Access Certification makes it simple to create and manage recurring and automated access review campaigns and to configure recertification campaigns with appropriate resource owners.
  • Enhanced Governance Reports provide comprehensive out-of-the-box reporting capabilities to help meet audit and compliance requirements.

Combined with lifecycle automation capabilities powered by Okta Lifecycle Management and customisation and extensibility offered by Okta Workflows, OIG’s capabilities empower organisations to fulfill compliance obligations in a less burdensome way while unlocking other benefits.

A new way forward

While Identity governance is an essential element of many regulations, frameworks, and standards, the benefits of meeting compliance thresholds extend well beyond managing regulatory risk.

By effectively implementing Identity security, access controls, and separation of duties capabilities, organisations can improve their overall security posture, reach new customers, set themselves apart from competitors, and increase their workforce productivity — all while relieving IT and other stakeholders of burdensome administrative tasks.

But becoming compliant and reaping additional benefits IGA can provide depends on finding an IGA solution that can deliver on governance promises without costly implementations and burdensome upkeep.

To learn more about how Okta Identity Governance can transform your organisation, read our guide on how Identity and compliance connect and how your organisation can benefit from the right Identity approach.