As the world continues to evolve and become more mobile friendly with the adoption of new technology, the need to provide a safe and secure place to store identifiable information becomes more and more prevalent to organizations of all sizes. This demand can be met by properly implementing an effective identity and access management program. Identity and access management (IAM) is defined as “the set of business processes, information and technology for managing and using digital identities.” It encompasses everything ranging from password management to single sign-on.
What Is IAM?
IAM encompasses various technologies from the IT world, such as single sign-on, profile management, multi-factor authentication, and password management. Single sign-on is a federated identity service that permits a user to use one set of login credentials to gain access to multiple systems and applications. This way, users do not need to provide their credentials multiple times when they switch between systems. Multifactor authentication (MFA) leverages the general factors, something you know, something you are, and something you have, to verify identities. This method of authentication requires users to verify their identity through more than one set of credentials. For example, an MFA system may require users to enter a password and one-time pin.
IAM also helps identify and maintain user profiles. You can ensure users are who they say they are and that they have the appropriate authorization to access the applications and resources they request. Moreover, profile management allows enterprises to ensure that user data is up-to-date and accurate. For instance, in a healthcare environment when a healthcare professional needs to look up patient information, they must first present the appropriate credentials to the system. Next, the system looks up the information it was provided and ensures the user’s information is current. Once the credentials are verified, the requestor will be granted access to the file based on the authorization the user has permitted.
Why Is IAM Important?
The importance of IAM is clear thanks to recent surveys and research which show that over 70% of breaches are tied back to either weak or mismanaged credentials. User information, whether it is passwords or email addresses, can quickly become a complex issue to track without a proper control system in place. IAM helps protect against security breaches by allowing administrators to automate numerous user account related tasks. An IAM system can also help track many of the auditable items required by industry policies and standards, such as access control implementation and monitoring. This includes the ability to have automated workflow for onboarding of employees, granting access to systems and applications they are authorized access to, based on their role. It also includes “one button” control to remove employee access from all systems they were granted access to through the IAM platform.
IAM solutions help organizations meet industry compliance requirements and help them save costs by minimizing the time needed to deal with user account related issues. Identity and access management standardizes and even automates critical aspects of managing identities, authentication, and authorization, saving IT time and money and reducing risk to the business.
The varying aspects of protection offered by IAM solutions are key to building a strong information security program. These are just some of the areas security professionals must consider while developing strong identity and access control systems to protect their organizations. The ability to be able to control who comes in and out of your organization’s network is vital to securing the environment. More importantly, IAM helps enterprises meeting regulatory compliances and meeting industry best practice standards.