Identity and Access Management (IAM) is the process that is responsible for the administration and the management of user’s access to the company’s resources generally through automation. It deals with the privileged access, network access rights, group memberships, etc., of each employee. It is used to ensure that only authenticated and authorized users have access to the resources. Identity Access Governance (IAG) is the policy and framework that provides the guidelines that determine which user/ employee has access to what resources/ information in an organization. It enables and secures the digital identities of all the users, the data, and applications. It allows the organization to provide automated access to various technological assets while simultaneously managing the security and compliance risks. IAM is a subdomain under IAG that emerged due to the constant evolution and changes of the policies and regulations in the organization to comply with the updated requirements.
Are IAM and IAG the Same?
Though Identity and Access Management (IAM) and Identity Access Governance (IAG) sound similar, they do not mean the same. IAG designates processes that allow organizations to ensure user’s identities and security are properly managed, tracked, and well protected. IAG is entirely responsible for the technical, legal, and regulatory concerns of the organization. IAG is responsible for correlating, consolidating all the user’s identity and data access and reviewed by the higher authorities, ensuring that Segregation of Duties (SOD), least privilege, and need-to-know principles are implemented. On the other hand, IAM is responsible for the management of the identities and access rights of the users to the vast applications and other resources of the organization. IAM executes and implements all the IT processes related to the organization’s IAG policies. IAM completely controls all the access within the network for all the systems, applications, resource folders, and files a user can access.
Four components make up the IAM. They are as follows:
1. Account/User Management
It deals with creating accounts and providing access to them, and making necessary changes whenever needed. It is also responsible for deleting/ disabling accounts when a user leaves the organization.
When an automated process is configured, the IAM solution can recognize and detect the changes made to the source system, like the creation of a new user. When the changes are detected, the associated process and the relevant data are uploaded to all the systems by the IAM Solution. Some functions should be centralized, while the rest should be delegated to end-users. The delegated management allows the enterprise to directly allocate the workload to the user departmental units. Delegation is also responsible for the improvisation of the system’s accuracy by assigning access and authentication to the users who are closer to the situation and information of a particular process. Self-service request functionality allows the user to request permission to access a specific resource, file, or document related to their work.
Authentication is the process of verifying the user’s identity. Authentication is used to ensure that the authorized users are allowed to access their respective resources or documents. A user name and password implement the most common method of authentication. IAM solutions enforce access controls concerning authentication. An organization can configure the access control and restrict authenticated login if a user tries to log outside the organization’s network. Different verification methods are used for logging in outside the organization’s network. Password management is important when it comes to authentication. Self-service functionalities, securely storing passwords, and complexity requirements are a part of password management.
3. Access Controls
An organization consists of various levels and types which have different access levels. The access control management is responsible for determining which user has access to the resources and data. There are four methods by which access control can be enforced. They are
- Role-based access control (RBAC)- Users are assigned specific roles within the network and access permissions based on their role’s necessity.
- Attribute-based access control (ABAC)- Access is determined by the many attributes assigned to a user’s digital identity.
- Rule-based access control (RBAC)- Access is determined based on the rules associated with the data.
- Remote Access control (RAC)- Access controls determined and monitored remote login.
4. Compliance Management
Access to the systems, applications, and data, impact the organization’s compliance. By controlling the access controls, compiling audit logs, the organization can manage the compliance efforts. Audit logs are the most crucial factor that conducts the access reviews for every digital identity present in the organizations. The reviews are used to ensure that ongoing compliance is followed concerning the IAG’s strategy.
What Is SSO?
Single Sign-On (SSO) is an authentication process that allows a user to log in and is given access to multiple applications and resources using only a single set of login credentials. This enables the user to log in only once to access any application in the network. SSO helps reduce the number of login credentials used for various applications by streamlining the process of signing in without the need to log in every time. The user requests to access the various applications/ websites which is from the service provider. On receiving the access request, the service provider redirects the SSO request to the Identity Provider for authentication. On authenticating the user’s credentials, the Identity Provider reverts the SSO response to the service provider. On receiving the SSO response, the user is granted access to the application/ resources. All other applications/ resources can be accessed by the service provider configured for the SSO.
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Difference Between SSO and IAM
Many organizations prefer SSO and see it positively impacting and assuming that the SSO meets all the standard identity and access necessities. Though SSO can be an effective solution, it is essential to know that a full-featured IAM is accompanied by various functions and advantages that extend beyond SSO capabilities. Though SSO and IAM are mainly similar, the major difference is that SSO is a subset of the larger IAM system. A complete IAM solution has automated provisioning and de-provisioning, secured authentication, and identity governance features lacking in SSO.
Identity Governance and Administration
Identity Governance and Administration (IGA) is a policy framework and a customary security solution that allows the organization to monitor and alleviate access-related threats and risks. IAG is responsible for the creation, management, and access rights for all the users in the organization. Identity governance enhances the security posture, meets the increasing demands, and scales for growth simultaneously. Identity Governance is vital in an organization as it helps in:
- Reducing access related risk
- Adapting to business challenges
- Meeting regulatory compliance
Various tools provide IAG services. A few of the IAG Solutions are as follows:
- Fischer Identity
- IBM – IBM Security Identity Manager
- Identity Automation
- Micro Focus
- One Identity
IGA and IAM go hand-in-hand and are an essential aspect of every organization. It is vital to manage and monitor the access control and user privileges to control access threats and risks of compromising confidential data and resources from within and outside the organization. The CISO of the organization manages the IAM. A CISO is responsible for assigning the access controls and assigning user privileges and monitoring the access audit logs. It is very important to ensure that the access rights are assigned based on their roles and positions, and necessities as it is very sensitive. To handle the security governance and monitor and find accurate mitigation plans, one must be a trained CISO officer. Many certification courses can be opted to become a trained CISO officer. One such course is the EC-Councils Certified Chief Information Security Officer (CCISO), which offers an extensive in-depth course about the roles and responsibilities of a CISO.