How Much are Orphaned and Dormant Accounts Costing your Organization?

Bryan Christ

May 30, 2024


The Hidden Cost of Inactive IAM Accounts 

In both the financial and academic spheres, orphaned and dormant accounts represent a significant challenge. These are accounts that have gone unused for an extended period, often due to users neglecting them after life changes such as moving homes or switching jobs. This issue is accentuated in accounts with minimal digital oversight and can lead to costly consequences if not regularly audited. This problem is not limited to financial accounts; it extends to login accounts on widely used software-as-a-service (SaaS) platforms, including Azure AD, Office 365, Salesforce, Google Suite, and Adobe. 

A report from a prominent recruitment firm indicates that the average employee uses around 8 SaaS applications, and companies' spending on SaaS tools has increased by nearly 18% since 2022 to about $3,500 per employee (Forbes, 2023). These figures highlight how quickly the costs associated with unmanaged digital accounts can accumulate, even when only a small number are overlooked. 

Fortunately, a robust Identity and Access Management (IAM) solution like Bravura Identity can prevent the over-provisioning of user accounts. Such systems are designed to adapt to changes in the user lifecycle, deactivating accounts when individuals change roles or leave the organization. The ROI from implementing an IAM solution can be significant and realized within a short timeframe. 

Orphaned Accounts: A Drain on IAM Resources 

Beyond the immediate financial implications, orphaned and dormant accounts pose a substantial security risk. A single compromised account can provide an entry point for attackers to begin reconnaissance activities, potentially leading to widespread security breaches and ransomware attacks. 

The higher education sector is particularly vulnerable to such risks due to the complex and ever-changing nature of student, faculty, and staff roles. Managing identity and access within this environment is a nuanced task, with the potential for accounts to become inactive or orphaned as individuals move through their academic journeys. 

Manual, sporadic, and outdated security and governance systems are increasingly inadequate for the complex cycle of university life. The implementation of a stateful IAM system offers a streamlined and efficient alternative to traditional processes, preventing the misuse of inactive and orphaned accounts. 

The Hidden Risk: Orphaned Accounts and IAM Security 

In both higher education and financial services, the management of identities, entitlements, and credentials is a dynamic process. With constant changes, there is a heightened risk of error, leading to mismanaged or abandoned accounts. Automating access control with an IAM system can greatly reduce this risk by ensuring the proper provisioning and timely deactivation of accounts. 

Streamlining Access: The Power of Automated IAM 

An effective IAM system provides: 

  • Detection of orphaned and dormant accounts. 
  • Identification of user profiles without associated accounts. 
  • Location of inactive accounts with no recent sign-in activity. 
  • Discovery of user profiles composed of inactive accounts. 
  • Initiation of requests to disable or delete these accounts, with options for automatic or manual approval. 

For higher education institutions, with their intricate web of affiliations, as well as for financial institutions, managing access manually can be overwhelming. An IAM system, enhanced with a comprehensive analytics dashboard like Bravura Cloud, enables more effective account monitoring and the elimination of outdated access rights, transitioning from cumbersome manual processes to streamlined digital governance. 

Securing Your Legacy with Smart IAM Solutions 

While universities are celebrated for their storied traditions and financial institutions for their stability, it is essential that they stay vigilant in preventing orphaned and dormant accounts from becoming a part of their legacy. Adopting an IAM solution is a strategic move to ensure that the institution's digital environment is orderly, efficient, and secure, guarding against the unnecessary costs and heightened security risks associated with account neglect.


IAM Lifecycle  Orphan Account Prevention Diagram