Identity and Access Management (IAM) and Why It’s Important

identity management

Identity and access management (IAM), also known as identity management, is a framework, security discipline, and solutions used for digital identities management. 

It encompasses authentication and securing of identities, provisioning, and de-provisioning of identities, and the authorization to access sources in order to perform certain actions. 

Two vital concepts of IAM are “user” and “access”. 

“Access” refers to certain actions that need to be done by a user. These actions can be to change, view, create, or anything else.

“Users” may include partners, employees, contractors, suppliers, or customers. Employes can also be segmented further depending on their roles.

IAM was designed to perform the following key tasks: authenticate, identify, and authorize. This means that only the right person is supposed to have access to computers, software apps, and other IT resources.

What are the components of the IAM framework? Here they are:

  • IAM tools that are used for modifying, creating, monitoring, and deleting access privileges
  • A system used for auditing login and access history
  • A database that contains users’ access privileges and identities

 

Usually, the functions of the identity and access management fall under IT sections or departments that are responsible for data management and cybersecurity.

What Are The Objectives of Identity and Access Management?

The primary objective of IAM is to make sure that there is only one digital identity for each user. Once the user has been created and registered in the system, it is monitored, altered, and registered in the system through the entire time of the user’s access to the system, which is known as “access life-cycle”.

Another Important objective of IMA is to control the user’s access to operational information and other important information that may potentially play an important role for a business. 

IAM provides access control through assigning roles of users, which allows administrators to monitor and identify access to different applications and systems.

What Tools and Techniques Are Used in IAM?

Organizations use different IMA tools – from privileged access management tools to access intelligence tools on cloud, premise, or through a hybrid model. Here is a list of the most common IMA tools that are important to be aware of:

  • Identity Governance and Administration. Its purpose is to create, automate, manage, and certify user accounts in order to streamline user policy management, provisioning, access governance, and access reviews.
  • Privileged access management. A critical security control that helps organizations to simplify how they define and manage privileged access across the IT systems infrastructure, and applications. Privileged Access Management makes sure that users get the access they need.
  • Access intelligence. It allows organizations to keep a continuous view of their systems and prioritize access risks.

What Are The Benefits of Identity and Access Management?

Here is a list of reasons why IAM is so important:

  • It improves security. This is one of the primary reasons why many organizations use IAM. It allows companies to control user access, which helps them reduce instances of data breaches, illegal access to confidential information, and identity theft. It prevents the spread of compromised login credentials, provides protection against ransomware (a form of malware encrypting a victim’s files), and avoids unauthorized access to the network of organizations.
  • It enhances collaboration and productivity. It gives an opportunity for companies to provide outsiders (visitors, suppliers, and customers) access to their network without jeopardizing security.
  • It improves user experience. There is no need to enter different multiple passwords to receive access to multiple systems under SSO. If smart cards or biometrics are used, there is no need for users to remember complex passwords.
  • It helps in compliance. By using IAM, companies can easily meet requirements of industry regulations (GDPR or HIPAA for example) or implement the best practices of identity and access management.
  • It makes the IT workload smoother. IAM helps reduce the number of tickers that are sent to the IT help desk regarding password changes. There are even systems with an automation set of tedious IT tasks.
  • Allows easy access wherever you are. With the help of IAM users can get access to all interconnected systems, regardless of their current physical location. This is especially beneficial for large businesses and companies by providing easy access to partners, employees, and clients.

The Step To Set Up an IAM System For Your Network

Setting up an IAM network is a project-specific process. But here is what you need to do for successful implementation:

  • Get access to your current IT architecture and future requirements.
  • Make a list of in-house versus standard applications, including version details, that have to integrate with identity and access management.
  • Make sure that the current operating system is compatible with web servers, third-party applications, and IAM tools
  • Select user roles and define the access privileges and restrictions of each group and individual
  • To make sure that IAM fits the enterprise, you need to access the required level of customization

Conclusion

Identity and Access Management is an important and useful practice that helps protect business data and systems. If it is implemented and used properly, it is able to make sure that only authenticated and authorized users have access to the systems and data that they need to perform their roles at work. 

Any IMA starts with an evaluation of an organization’s needs that include access requirements, the definition of roles, and others, as well as with the creation of a policy. 

There is a big variety of IMA solutions and tools that can help with the execution of an IAM program. Whichever tool you decide to use, it should meet the use cases for the environment.

It is also recommended to prioritize the tools with highly automated workflows to clarify IAM administration and determine identity management tools that work well with other security technologies and systems, including PAM. 

The better IAM tool fits within your environment and other security tools, the more likely you will be able to improve your business operations and close security gaps.

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