What is Identity and Access Management (IAM)?
What does Identity and Access Management mean?
Identity and access management (IAM) in the simplest terms, is the management of electronic or digital identities. With a fully functional identity and access management solutions framework in place, IT admins can take a control of users’ access to sensitive information, also known as access management within that organization. It is a business structure that enables organizations to secure their data and protect their users from all kinds of security threats; additionally, it also adheres to all regulatory compliances.
IAM is a broad term that comprises a range of technical solutions and related processes within it. These solutions ensure the protection of an organization’s assets and ensure only the right users have access to the right kind of resources and systems.
As per a report by Fortune Business Insight, the identity and access management market is predicted to expand and grow from USD 13.41 billion in 2021 – to – USD 34.52 billion in 2028. In current times, there has been a rapid surge of data theft, leaks, insider attack, and numerous related issues arising. And so IAM solutions are rapidly gaining popularity.
It is imperative for businesses to find the right identity and access service providers, depending on their requirements. Some of the top identity and access management solution providers are – OKTA, IBM Security verify, miniOrange, JumpCloud, etc.
Basic components of IAM
Let us now take a look at some of the components of Identity and Access Management solutions.
The first step toward deploying an IAM system is managing a database for all the identities. Every user has a unique identity that needs to be stored in order to track user activity. Moreover, for every device, the user’s login session, their devices, and location also need to be managed.
Provisioning and Deprovisioning
Every user needs to be provisioned or de-provisioned, it all depends on what is the status of that particular user in the organization. It enables a user’s log in from multiple devices, in case, any one of the devices gets damaged/ stolen, it needs to be removed from the database.
Authenticating a user
Authentication means recognizing a user if they are a member of the organization. Various methods are used for authentication, including passwords, tokens, OTPs, and biometrics. IAM usually deploys a multi-factor authentication that combines more than one method.
Authorization of a user
Once a user had been granted the required access and rights to a system, they need authorization to access specific files or resources. Every user is granted specific permissions depending on their role in the organization.
There are different levels of permission for every individual in an organization. After the role of an individual is defined, and they are given access to the required files, permission needs to be updated for every individual. These permissions can be viewed, edited, or shared depending on the individual’s process. For e.g., ‘view only’ permissions are given to a client, whereas ‘edit permissions’ are given to employees.
Reporting and audit
Reporting is an important aspect of Identity and Access Management. An audit report can contain a number of elements such as the login and browsing history of a user, the types of privileges that are granted to an individual, or any other type of user activity. Proper reporting and audits are required to track all user activities and identify unusual behavior if any.
Benefits of IAM
Let us now take a look at some of the primary benefits of identity and access management and understand why is it important.
Enhances user experience
SSO eliminates the need of entering multiple passwords to access various applications of an organization. For e.g. with the help of biometrics or smart cards, users can easily log in to the system without having to remember passwords.
Strengthens the security of a system
This is the most crucial benefit an organization can get from IAM. If the user’s access is controlled, organizations will no longer have to face issues of identity theft, data breaches, or unauthorized access to any information. IAM helps to make an organization more secure by preventing any kind of cyber-attack, denying any unauthorized access to a company’s private network, and protecting against hacking and phishing too.
Enables a secure way of collaboration
With the help of IAM compliance, it is possible for organizations to grant access to outsiders, such as suppliers, users, and visitors, without compromising on security.
Helps to streamline the workload of IT admin
With the help of IAM, it is now possible to grant access to privileges across organizations that can be altered in a single sweep, whenever any security-related policies get updated. It also helps to reduce the number of IT tickets that are sent to the IT help desk, thus automating redundant and tedious tasks for the IT admin.
What is the difference between Identity Management and Access Management?
Identity management confirms that you are you by authenticating and storing information about you. An identity management database holds information about your identity – for example, your job title, stream and authenticates that you are, indeed, the person described in the database.
Access management uses the info about your identity to determine which resources you’re allowed access to and what you’re allowed to do when you access them. For example, access management will ensure that every employee within the Finance group has access to all related apps for payment processing and data analysis, but not so much access that they can do confidential banking.
An IAM system can smoothly integrate with various different systems, for this very reason, there are some technologies/ standards that all IAM systems are designed to support. Let us look at them one by one.
Security Access Markup Language (SAML)
Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML), is an open standard that enables (IdP) – identity providers, to forward the authorization credentials to the service providers (SP). It enables a user to login into various, applications and software using a single set of login credentials. A user has to manage just one set of login credentials rather than separately logging in to every application such as CRM software, mail or Active Directories, etc.
OpenID Connect (OIDC)
OpenID Connect (OIDC), an open authentication protocol provides users with a single set of login credentials and gives them access to other sites. Working on top of OAuth 2.0, ODIC is a new security protocol designed to secure mobile-based applications, APIs, and browser applications. OIDC enables individuals to perform SSO (single-sign-on) to access other websites by using OpenID Providers (Ops), like – social networking sites or email providers to authenticate the users. For e.g. if you want to create a Spotify account you can either register yourself in Spotify or directly sign-up through Facebook.
System for Cross-domain Identity Management (SCIM)
SCIM is basically an automation system that works towards exchanging user identity information between two systems /IT domains. SCIM works towards keeping the user information updated, whenever a new user is added to the system or when a user leaves the system. For example: when a new user is onboarded, SCIM is used to automatically add or remove them from the organization’s active directory(user provisioning or de-provisioning).
A good IAM tool should give you these offerings:
- How easy are the tool implementation and its administration?
- How easy or complicated is it to enforce password policies
- Does it offer cross-network and cross-application authentication?
- Is it capable of handling hundreds and thousands of accounts that might be spread around the globe?
- Which accounts should have what levels of access? Allocation of correct roles, privileges, and levels of access is important.
- Once users are granted access their actions need to be monitored so that they keep the track of users with malicious intent.
- Helps in achieving compliance with HIPAA and GDPR regulations, which have strict security rules.
The future of IAM with miniOrange
IAM solutions by miniOrange aim toward simplifying user provisioning, access management, and account setup functionalities. With miniOrange it is now possible to execute these processes in a controlled manner with minimal errors and no data breaches. IAM offers a robust solution to manage user access and provision identities. Solutions designed by miniOrange have been helping businesses create a robust, secure environment by denying unauthorized access.
In case of any queries about IAM, reach out to us at email@example.com
Difference between Cloud VS On-Premise IAM
Essentially, the basic difference between cloud vs on-premise IAM software is where it is residing. While the on-premise solution is installed on specific devices such as servers and computers and can be operated in absence of any external network access. The Cloud solution is hosted on a server and can be accessed from anywhere, through a web browser, and needs a stable internet connection to have access to the resources.
How IAM helps in Compliance ?
An IAM system helps organizations in many ways such as by ensuring that only the intended users get access to sensitive information, along with granting account privileges. Similarly, GLBA compliance looks over Role-based management as it ensures that access is given based on roles rather than individual users. SoD compliance takes control of risky access situations.