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Using Modeling and Simulation for Policy Decision Support in Identity Management

Baldwin, Adrian; Casassa Mont, Marco; Shiu, Simon
HP Laboratories


Keyword(s): Identity Analytics, IAM, Policy Decision Support, Modelling, Simulation, Identity Management, Provisioning

Abstract: The process of making IT (security) policy decisions, within organizations, is complex: it involves reaching consensus between a set of stakeholders (key decision makers, e.g. CISOs/CIOs, domain experts, etc.) who might have different views, opinions and biased perceptions of how policies need to be shaped. This involves multiple negotiations and interactions between stakeholders. This suggests two roles for policy decision support tools and methods: firstly to help an individual stakeholder test, refine their understanding of the situation and, secondly, to support the formation of consensus by helping stakeholders to share their assumptions and conclusions. We argue that an approach based on modeling and simulation can help with both these aspects, moreover we show that it is possible to integrate the assumptions made so that they can be directly contrasted and discussed. We consider, as a significant example, an Identity and Access Management (IAM) scenario: we focus on the provisioning process of user accounts on enterprise applications and services, a key IAM feature that has an impact on security, compliance and business outcomes. Whilst security and compliance experts might worry that ineffective policies for provisioning could fuel security and legal threats, business experts might be against policies that dictate overly strong or bureaucratic processes as they could have a negative impact on productivity. We explore the associated policy decision making process from these different perspectives and show how our systems modeling approach can provide consistent or comparable data, explanations, "what-if" predictions and analysis at different levels of abstractions. We discuss the implications that this has on the actual IT (security) policy decision making process.

8 Pages

Additional Publication Information: To be published in IEEE Symposium Policy 2009, London, UK, 20-22 July 2009.

External Posting Date: March 21, 2009 [Fulltext]. Approved for External Publication
Internal Posting Date: March 21, 2009 [Fulltext]

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