What Is Identity and Access Management (IAM)?

What Is Identity and Access Management (IAM)?

Introduction to Identity and Access Management (IAM)

In enterprise IT, Identity and Access Management (IAM) is about identifying and controlling individual network users’ responsibilities and access rights and the situations in which such privileges are given (or denied) to users. These users may be customers (customer identity management) or staff (employee identity management). A single digital identity per person is the central goal of IAM programs. After the digital identity has been developed, it should be retained, updated and tracked during the access lifecycle of each user.

Management of identity and access (IAM) is a common concept that encompasses goods, practices, and policies used by an enterprise to handle user identities and control user access. Two critical IAM terms are “access” and “user.” Access refers to behavior that a user is allowed to perform (like view, create, or edit). Users may be staff, associates, vendors, suppliers, or consumers. Workers may be further segmented depending on their positions.

IAM systems offer resources and software for managers to adjust the position of a user, monitor user behavior, produce reports on user activities, and execute policies in real time. These systems are intended to provide a way of controlling user control across an entire organization and to ensure that organizational policy and regulatory requirements are complied with.

How Does Identity Access Management Work?

Typically, when logging into a system, the user is required to enter their username as the first step towards validation of their credentials. This step is followed by an automated process of identity verification using knowledge-based mechanisms, which include passwords, along with other techniques, such as multi-factor authentication (MFA) and even biometrics. Once the authentication is successfully completed, the identity & access management system takes over. In this phase, the IAM ensures that the user is granted access only to the sections that he/she is authorized for by enforcing access restriction policies.

IAM technologies assist you in many areas, from meeting the criteria of leading compliance legislation through effective evaluations to solving many emerging IT security threats. However, the result of a successful IAM integration depends on its implementation. Here are some of the key IAM implementation practices every organization should know about:

  1. Create clear IAM objectives

A mix of technical technologies and enterprise procedures for identity management and access to organizational data and applications is the essential foundation for effective IAM deployment. From the idea stage itself, it’s best to start tying in business processes with your IAM software.

Map company function control rights, recognize disproportionate privileges, accounts, and classes that are redundant or dead. Ensure that all auditing standards are fulfilled in order to conform with regulatory guidelines, privacy, and data governance policies. This will help you make better decisions for the teams.

  1. Robust integration

This includes a thorough assessment of the functionality of the IAM product and its alignment with operational IT assets. An efficient risk management structure in both corporate applications and networks should follow this course of action. Identify operating systems and third-party applications and map them with the features provided by the IAM program.

  1. Step-by-step implementation

Keeping in mind the above two steps, the ideal way to execute a successful IAM strategy is to conduct a stage-wise implementation to avoid future complexities.

  1. Identity is the vanguard

Organizations should move from the conventional emphasis on network protection to the key security perimeter of identity concern. The network perimeter has become particularly vulnerable with the emergence of the cloud and remote working culture, and thus mere perimeter security cannot be successful. Centralize access policies over the identity of customers and utilities.

  1. Prioritize multi-factor authentication

Enforce multi-factor authentication (MFA) for ever user, including C-suite executives and administrators. MFA is an important part of controlling identity and entry as it checks various facets of a user’s identity, rather than just the sign-in aspects.

  1. Enforce a zero-trust policy

Until confirmed, the zero-trust model assumes that every access request is a hazard. Prior to granting authorization, access requests from both inside and outside a network are carefully validated, authorized, and investigated for irregularities.

Difference Between Cloud and On-Premise Systems

The fundamental distinction between cloud and on-premise computing is simply where it operates. On-premise software is built locally on the machines and networks of the organization, whereas cloud software is hosted on the server of the provider and is accessible by a web browser.

There are a range of other factors, other than usability, that need to be weighed before reaching a choice. This includes ownership of software, ownership costs, software upgrades and other resources, such as support and deployment. Some key differences between cloud computing and on-premise systems are:

  • Cloud computing

In one important aspect, cloud computing varies from on-premise applications. In an on-premise ecosystem, a business hosts everything in-house, while a third-party vendor hosts all the data of the organization in a cloud environment. This enables businesses to pay on a need-centric basis and to scale up or down efficiently based on the overall usage, customer needs, and the organization’s growth.

To host a company’s apps offsite, a cloud-based server uses virtual technology. There’s not much financial investment required as it is possible to routinely back up data, and businesses only have to pay for the services they use. The cloud has a huge potential for those organizations that plan for a rapid push on a global basis, because it enables them to connect with clients, partners, and other companies with minimal effort anywhere.

  • On-premise

On-premise software allows a company to buy a license or a copy of the software to access it. Because the software is licensed and it remains within the property of an enterprise, there is typically better security than for a cloud computing infrastructure. The drawback to on-premise ecosystems is that it costs can run exponentially higher than a cloud storage environment because of the costs associated with maintenance and retaining what the solution entails.

To assist and handle possible challenges that could occur, an on-premise configuration includes in-house server infrastructure, software licenses, integration expertise, and IT personnel on hand. This doesn’t even account for the number of repairs an organization is responsible for when anything fails or doesn’t work.

How Does Identity and Access Management Help in Shoring Up Security?

Successful IAM architecture and technologies help businesses develop safe, effective, and profitable access to technology services through complex networks, while at the same time providing multiple primary benefits:

  • Comprehensive data security:

Centralizing the authentication and authorization functionality on a unified platform offers a standardized and reliable way for the company and IT experts to control user access within an enterprise during the identity lifecycle.

For example, when employees leave an organization, the centralized IAM system provides IT administrators the opportunity to remove their access with the assurance that the withdrawal will take place instantly across all business-critical systems, along with the services that are incorporated within the organization. This would ensure that no remaining access remains with the system-removed users and thereby greatly strengthens the company’s overall information security ecosystem.

  • Lesser security costs

To control users and their access, deploying a unified IAM portal in an enterprise enables IT to conduct its work more effectively. In today’s environment, as part of their work, each employee has access to a number of systems and services. Imagine if an IT administrator needs to manually assign access to the programs when an individual enters the enterprise and then repeals the accesses manually from each system when the user exits the company. Managing these on-boarding and off-boarding procedures would be a massive headache for IT employees and also a massive budgetary burden for the corporation.

This challenge can be effectively addressed by an efficient centralized IAM solution. Implementation of such a system can result in enormous savings in terms of both time and money for the company. By automating identity protocols that absorb IT assets, such as on-boarding, password resets, and access requests, a robust IAM system can reduce total IT costs, while removing the need for support desk tickets or calls.

  • Limited access privileges

    Least privilege access is an effective systems and information management technique to restrict users’ access privileges to the absolute minimum so they can fulfill their job duties. As most data breaches involve an insider, it is absolutely vital to ensure that access to the organizational resources is protected and granted using the least privilege concept.

It is common in a business for personnel to shift around various positions within the organization. If the given rights are not removed when the employee changes the position, it will lead to the accumulation of certain privileges, and this can pose a risk for a variety of reasons.

This level of access privilege accumulation makes it possible for cyber hackers to target the user as his or her disproportionate privileges can be an easy backdoor for attackers to access the majority of sensitive infrastructure and services of the business. This could inevitably become an insider threat where an employee has the capacity to commit data theft. By using the least privilege concept to a significant degree, a well-developed and a unified IAM approach can assist organizations to eradicate insider vulnerability challenges.

  • Enterprise-level IT administration:

Modern IAM technologies and systems allow user access policies, such as separation-of-duty (SoD), to be implemented, establishing clear administration controls and removing access breaches or over-entitled users by automated controls of governance. It will guarantee that corporations are consistent with the compliance and regulatory requirements of the industry and government, such as HIPPA, SOX, EU GDPR, etc. Not adhering to these requirements could result in millions of dollars in fines for enterprises.

Identity and Access Management Tools

Identity and access management tools include password management tools, device provisioning, frameworks for implementation of security protocols, reporting and tracking apps, and servers for identity. On-premise applications, such as Microsoft SharePoint along with cloud-based applications like Microsoft Office 365 are widely used across enterprises to implement robust identity and access management practices. Some of the most prominent IAM tools are:

  • API security

The protection of the API enables IAM for B2B commerce, cloud integration, and IAM architectures focused on microservices. Forrester envisions API protection strategies among mobile devices or user-managed access being used for single sign-on (SSO). This will allow IoT system authentication and management of personally identifiable data to be handled by security teams.

  • Customer identity and access management

CIAM facilitates a robust user control and authentication; self-service and profile management; and integration with CRM, ERP, and other customer management systems and databases.

  • Identity analytics

IA enables security teams — using rules, machine learning, and other predictive algorithms — to identify and avoid dangerous identity habits.

  • Identity as a service

IDaaS provides software-as-a-service (SaaS) technologies that provide SSO on single sign-on service to online apps and native apps from a portal, as well as a degree of optimization of user accounts and control of access requests.

  • Identity management and governance

IMG supports the identification life cycle with automated and replicable ways of regulating it. This is essential when it comes to compliance with regulations on identification and privacy.

  • Risk-based authentication:

RiRBA frameworks form a risk score in the sense of a user session and authentication.

What Are the Challenges or Risks of Implementing IAM?

  • Hard to explain

It is difficult to explain exactly how important your data really is to your business. Your reputation may be damaged by a breach, there may be fines and you may lose substantial sums of money, proprietary information, and more in a cyber-attack. But the violation reaches far beyond that. For starters, records provided by the government, such as social security numbers, are considered highly confidential data and is related to the right to buy big things, such as a home, or seek new work opportunities.

  • Takes a toll on the budget

It is tough to request budgetary support for identity governance systems. If IAM is difficult to understand, it’s even harder to attempt to allocate funds for an IAM solution that you can’t really explain. Think about the periodical access analysis process for a second. If you perform this exercise manually on a weekly, semi-annual, or annual basis, you typically have an entire team of managers and device owners who waste hours collecting user samples, editing files, inserting contextual details, and sending files back and forth via email before the due date.

  • Cloud integration

The use of cloud-based software has accelerated, making for a globally linked workforce facilitated by cloud services. As several cloud services are used, however, deciding who has access to information becomes more complex. This will reveal personal data and expose agencies to hacking.

  • Reuse of passwords

Online accounts are used by commercial, state, and federal institutions to complete vital business operations, forcing users to build different keys. However, since people prefer to use the same password for various accounts, if one account is hacked, others are likely to be compromised as well.

What Is Federated Identity Management?

Federated Identity Management (FIM) is an agreement that can be formed between different organizations to allow users to access the networks of all the businesses in the collective using the same identification information or credentials. In many instances, this system of sharing identification data across organizations is known as identity federation.

The identity federation connects the identity of a user throughout various security domains, each of which supports its own identity management system. The user can validate in one domain and then access services or resources in the other domain. This removes the need for individual login processes, thus saving time and streamlining operations across domains.

Benefits of Federated Identity Management

Identity federation can be formed by companies working collaboratively on a project that enables the users of these multiple organization to gain easy access and share information. While the users are granted cross-domain access, the IT administrators can still regulate the amount of access in their own domains at each organization in the collective. Identity federation aims to do away with the barriers that stop users from accessing the resources they need when they need them securely and easily.

Users of identity federated systems don’t have to create new accounts for each domain, which means they can securely access systems in different domains without having to remember credentials for all of them. As they move from one domain to another, users don’t have to re-enter their credentials.

IT administrators can also prevent a range of challenges using identity federation when they work on integrating multi-domain control, such as designing a particular method to make it easier to access an external organization’s services. Identify federation is equally effective integrating applications that requires access to services and resources across multiple security domains.

Managing a company’s safety is a never-ending job, as more and more advanced cyberattacks arise every day. Security departments operate to prevent companies from losing vital and proprietary information as a result of cyberattacks. If you’re on the lookout to upgrade your skills in IAM and other related fields of study, a certification course is the best way forward.

EC-Council’s Certified Chief Information Security Officer (CCISO) program will improve your cybersecurity skill sets and enhance the expertise you offer to your company. At EC-Council, we’ve developed the most adaptable and cost-effective training curriculum to assist you in gaining the qualifications and knowledge you’ll need as a CISO striving to protect your organization.

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