Identity and Access Management (IAM) is an advanced security structure for business processes, policies, and technologies that helps organizations to manage electronic/digital Identities of Workforce & Customers”. With an IAM structure in place, IT admin can make certain that the right people (Organizational employee, end-user) can access the tools they need to do their daily grind. Simply stating, based on the individual role defined, they will get access to a set of application resources. For illustration, in an Organization, the account team will get access to all resources related to accounting and finance while sales and marketing will get access to the marketing-related tools to work on. Therefore, IAM Implementation eases the efforts of admins by automating it to manage roles, identity, and access of each user individually without logging into each app as an administrator.
In addition to identity management and access management, multiple security technologies and tools are used in IAM to maintain the security, integrity, and confidentiality of the organization. These include technologies like Single Sign-on, Two-factor authentication/multi-factor authentication, Adaptive Multi-Factor Authentication, and Provisioning. These all mentioned IAM technologies let organizations securely store identity and profile data as well as data governance functions to ensure that only data that is necessary and relevant is provided.
Primarily, IAM encircles the following aspects:
- How users will be identified in a system
- Based on the identified user how roles will be defined in a system and how it will be assigned to each individual
- Adding, Removing, and Updating users roles and access levels in a system
- Assigning different levels of access to users based on groups and roles defined for the individual
Protecting the organization’s sensitive data within the system and securing the overall system itself.
Why does your Organization need IAM?
Identity and access management is a must as startups, mid-level organizations, and enterprises are shifting over to advanced technologies, applications, and tools to streamline their processing. As these services provide multiple offerings, it also brings up multidimensional security challenges. Although organizations keep no gravestone unturned to keep their users’ data safe with robust security protection, it still becomes delicate to cope up with distinct cyber pitfalls within the cyber world. Due to this, business leaders and IT admins are always under increased pressure to manage and protect access to their corporate resources.
As a result, they can no longer rely on manual and error-prone repetitive processes to manage, assign and track user privileges. IAM automates all these tasks and enables secure access control and auditing of all assets, cloud or on-premises. IAM, which has an ever-increasing list of features- SSO, MFA, Provisioning, Adaptive behavior analytics suits the hardships of the new security landscape. IAMs tight control of resource access in dynamic environments aligns with the industry’s transition from firewalls to zero-trust models. While many professionals think that IAM is for larger organizations with bigger budgets, in reality, the technology is accessible for companies of all sizes with budgeted pricing according to their requirements and conditions.
The two major reasons which epitomize your doubt Why do companies need Identity and Access Management? Companies need IAM to provide online security and to improve employee productivity.
- Security: Traditional security often has one point of failure that is password. If a user’s password is breached – or worse yet, your organization becomes vulnerable to cyber-attacks. IAM services narrow the points of failure and backstop them with tools to avoid mistakes when they’re made.
- Productivity: Once you dive in through the IAM portal, your employee no longer has to worry about having the password or right level of access to perform their duties. Not only does every employee get access to the exact suite of tools for their job, but their access can also be managed fluently.
How does IAM Work?
Identity management basically works in a way that
- Firstly, IAM confirms that the user, software, or hardware is who they say they are by authenticating their credentials against a database or an Identity Provider. IAM identity management is more secure and flexible than traditional username and password authentication.
- Identity access management systems grant only the exact level of access based on the individual role. Instead of allowing access to an entire software suite, IAM narrowed down the access level and portioned it out as a publisher, i.e. publisher, editor, viewer, and commenter in a content management system.
What does IAM do?
IAM systems provide these core functionalities:
|User identity Management||The IAM system can also operate as a single directory that creates, modify and delete users, or it may integrate with one or more other directories (IDP, Azure AD, LDAP) and synchronize with them. Identity and access management can also create new specialized identities which demand high level access to an organization’s tools.|
|Authenticating users||IAM systems authenticate a user by confirming that they are who they state they are to be (Username and Password). Today, secure authentication means multi-factor authentication (MFA), Passwordless Authentication, and adaptive authentication.|
|Authorizing users||Access management ensures a user is granted the exact level and type of access to the resources they’re entitled to. Users can also be grouped based on roles so that a large number of users can be granted similar privileges.|
|Provisioning/Deprovisioning users||Permitting access to resources based on roles defined (publisher, editor, viewer, commenter) to an individual is called provisioning. IAM tools allow admins to provision users by their role, field, or another specific group to which they belong. Since it is time-consuming to manage and specify each individual’s access to every resource manually, identity management systems enable provisioning via policies defined based on role-based access control. Users are assigned one or more roles, usually based on job function, and the IAM system automatically grants them access. Provisioning also works in reverse (Deprovisioning); to avoid security risks presented by ex-employees retaining access to systems, IAM allows your organization to quickly remove their access.|
|Single Sign-On||Identity and access management solutions with Single Sign-On (SSO) provide a unified platform to authenticate user identity instead of many different resources. Once authenticated, the IAM system acts as the source of identity truth for the other resources available to the user, removing the need for the user to remember multiple passwords.|
|Reporting & Auditing||IAM tools generate timely reports after most actions are taken on the platform (like login time, systems accessed, timestamp, unique user count, and type of authentication) to warrant compliance needs and access security risks, if any.|
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.
Types of Digital Authentication used in IAM
With IAM, enterprises can implement a range of digital authentication methods to prove digital identity and authorize access to corporate resources.
Unique passwords: The most common type of digital authentication is the unique password. To make passwords more secure, some organizations mandate longer or complex passwords that require a combination of letters, symbols, and numbers. Unless users can automatically unify the collection of passwords behind a single sign-on entry point, they typically find remembering unique passwords tedious.
Multi-Factor Authentication: Multi-factor authentication means that your IAM provider asks for more than one type of proof that you are who you say you are. A typical example is requiring both a username-password and a fingerprint. Other MFA choices include TOTP, Authenticator-based Authentication, and physical tokens like Yubikey. Adding Passwordless Authentication adds an edge towards MFA security where individuals can authenticate themselves without passwords.
Pre-shared key (PSK): PSK is another type of digital authentication where the password is shared among users authorized to access the same resources, think of a branch office common Wi-Fi password. PSK is less secure than individual passwords. The only concern with shared passwords like PSK is that frequently changing them can be cumbersome to tackle.
Behavioral (Adaptive) authentication: When your organization is dealing with highly sensitive information and systems, it becomes a necessity to implement behavioral authentication to get far more granular and analyze user characteristics. By setting up adaptive Authentication which is the latest trend in IAM systems, organizations can quickly recognize if a user falls outside of the specified factors and can automatically lock down systems. Factors here define an individual’s device IP, Time of access, and Place from where he is trying out to get access to the resources.
Biometrics Authentication: Modern IAM systems use biometrics for more precise authentication. Biometrics and adaptive authentication together have an extra edge and seem to be more effective than passwords.
An IAM system can Integrate with many different systems. That’s the reason, there are certain standards or technologies defined that all IAM systems are expected to support: Security Access Markup Language, OpenID Connect, and System for Cross-domain Identity Management.
- Security Access Markup Language (SAML)
SAML is an open standard used to exchange authentication and authorization information between an identity provider system such as an IAM and service Provider/application. This is the most used method for an IAM to provide a user with the ability to log in to an application that has been integrated with the IAM platform. Learn more about SAML.
- OpenID Connect (OIDC)
OIDC is a newer open standard that also enables users to log in to their application from an identity provider. Its workflow is very similar to SAML but is built on the OAuth 2.0 standards and uses JSON to transmit the data instead of XML which SAML uses.
- System for Cross-domain Identity Management (SCIM)
SCIM is basically used to automatically exchange identity information between two systems. SAML and OIDC can pass identity info to an application during the authentication process, SCIM is used to keep the user information up to date whenever new users are added to the service or application, user data get updated, or users are deleted. SCIM is a key component of user provisioning in the IAM spectrum.
Cloud versus On-premises IAM
IAM systems can be deployed in multiple ways: On-Premises, handled by a third-party vendor through a cloud-based subscription model or deployed in a hybrid model (Combination of On-Premise and Cloud).
In the past, most identity and access management were managed by a server on the physical premises of an organization, which was called on-prem. But nowadays most IAM services are managed by a provider in the cloud to avoid physical maintenance costs to the organization, as well as to ensure uptime, distributed and redundant systems, reduced costs (Pay according to user count), and short SLAs.
IAM and compliance
When the talk is around implementing IAM security for the organization, most think that improving security means piling up multiple restrictions and security processes. But it’s not like that, though it sounds simple to state the fact is “It is difficult to prove and demonstrate that the security technologies that you are implementing are indeed providing a more secure environment” which we state as compliance.
IAM meets the compliance standard by enacting one common principle which states as “Least privilege” where users are provided access to only the resources which they require in their Work Duty. Adding more to compliance standards, it also follows the principle “One Person is never responsible for all tasks”. Modern IAM technologies like miniOrange promise the security of an Organization by implementing compliance with critical requirements, including SAMA, Data protection standards like Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation and HIPPA, and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in the U.S, and Privacy Act, among others. With a combination of pre-determined and real-time access control tools, IAM enables organizations to meet their regulatory, risk management, and compliance mandates.
Implementing IAM in the enterprise
Before any IAM system is rolled out into the enterprise, businesses need to identify who within the organization will play a lead role in developing, enacting, and enforcing identity and access policies. Implementing IAM covers up every department and every type of user (employee, partner, supplier, customer, end-users, etc.), so it’s essential that the IAM team comprises a mix of corporate functions.
IT professionals implementing an IAM system, mostly on-premises employees, should become familiar with IAM flow patterns. The pattern lays out the architecture of how various roles interact with IAM components as well as the systems that rely on IAM. Policy enforcement and policy decisions hold a major difference from one another, as they are dealt with by different elements within the IAM framework.
Organizations that want to integrate Cloud IAM for non-employee (end users) should follow these steps to build on an effective IAM architecture:
- Make a list of usage, set of applications, services, components, and other elements users will interact with. This list will help validate that usage assumptions are correct and will be instrumental in selecting the features needed from an IAM product or service.
- Understand how the organization’s environments, such as cloud-based applications and on-premises applications, link together.
- Knowing the specific areas of IAM, covering it will add an extra edge to the business.
Answering the following questions will help:
- Is MFA security required for your organization?
- Do customers and employees need to be supported in the same system?
- Is automated provisioning and de-provisioning required?
- What standards (SAML, OAuth, OpenID) need to be supported?
Implementations should be carried out with IAM best practices in mind, including documenting expectations and responsibilities for IAM success. Businesses should make sure to centralize security and critical systems around identity management. Most importantly, organizations should streamline a process they can use to evaluate the efficacy of current IAM controls
Benefits of IAM
IAM technologies can be used to register, save and manage user identities and their related access permissions in an automated manner. Implementing IAM helps out Organizations with the following benefits:
- Access privileges are granted according to policies and groups set, and all individuals and services are properly authenticated, authorized, and audited.
- Organizations whose identities are properly managed have greater control of user access, which reduces the risk of data breaches both internally and externally.
- Automating IAM systems allows businesses to operate more swiftly by decreasing the effort, time, and money that would be required to manually manage user access to their resources.
- In terms of security, the use of an IAM structure can make it easier to enforce policies around user authentication, validation and privileges, and address issues regarding privilege creep.
- IAM systems help companies better comply with government regulations by allowing them to prove corporate information is not being misused. Companies can also demonstrate that any data needed for auditing can be made available on-demand for security checks and audits.
Companies can also gain a competitive edge by implementing IAM tools with best practices. For example, IAM technologies allow the business to provide non-employee users outside the organization like customers, partners, contractors, and suppliers access to its network across mobile applications, on-premises applications, and SaaS without compromising security. This enables better alliance, improved productivity, efficiency, and reduced operating costs.
IAM implementation with miniOrange
IAM solutions by miniOrange are designed to simplify the access management, user provisioning, and account setup process. Enacting IAM with miniOrange reduces the time it takes to complete these processes with a controlled workflow that decreases errors and the potential for breach while allowing automated account fulfillment. It also allows administrators to instantly view and modify access roles and rights whenever required. miniOrange IAM task operations help to balance the speed and automation of their processes with the control that administrators need to monitor and modify access rights. Simultaneously, to manage access requests, the central directory needs an access rights system that automatically matches employee job titles, business unit identifiers, and locations to their relevant privilege levels. Multiple review levels are included as workflows to enable the proper checking of individual requests. This simplifies setting up appropriate review processes for higher-level access as well as easing reviews of existing rights to prevent privilege wriggle, which is the gradual accumulation of access rights beyond what users need to do their jobs. The miniOrange IAM technology is used to provide flexibility to establish groups with specific privileges for specific roles so that access rights based on employee job functions can be uniformly assigned.
The system also provides request and approval processes for modifying privileges because employees with the same title and job location may need to be customized, or slightly different, access.
Considering the need and efficacy required for the Identity and Access Management of users within the Organizations, IAM becomes one of the mandates for organizational infrastructure. Along with automated task management, it adds great value to your organizational security which protects you from cyberattack vulnerabilities. IAM also helps you to comply with the new latest security standards and aligns with the mandatory compliance for the security concern. So if you are looking to implement an IAM solution for your organization, miniOrange fits in here with world-class 24 *7 support and budgeted price.