Identity and Access Management: All You Need To Know

Over the past decade, global businesses have scaled to great heights. There are multiple business functions, each with its own team, generating and working on a plethora of files. A large workforce and an even large amount of data cause great confusion about who is supposed to access which files.

Moreover, businesses experience some data security concerns when the critical files are up for grabs for any employee. Intentionally or not, the employee can cause business information to be leaked or lost, causing great damage to the organization.

In this day and age, data is a paramount asset to any business. Hence, its integrity should be intact at all times. This calls for a solution that can manage the users accessing the company’s IT assets and put restrictions on them. One such solution is Identity And Access Management (IAM).

Identity and Access Management: All You Need To Know

Identity and Access Management is a system that manages and monitors access to applications, data, and services. It facilitates the identification, authentication, and authorization of identities from different domains and regions.

Difference between Identity and Access

IAM is a combination of two different factors – Identity and Access. Although these two are related, you can’t use them interchangeably.

Identity – When we talk about identity, it usually means – who is accessing the business services? He or she can be anyone – an employee, contractor, management, or client. Moreover, if you have deployed a cloud solution, the users can login from different devices, be it their smartphones, laptops, or home PCs.

IAM enables identity management that establishes user identity, keeps track of their activity and devices. The identity of a user should be unique across all devices.

Access – Once the user identity has been established, it is imperative to define what the user can access. The user might be your employee or some other stakeholder, but no one needs to have access to all the files. Having access to only the relevant files or storage drive minimizes the threat of unauthorized access.

Identity and Access Management (IAM) manages access controls according to the user’s role in the organization. The access can also be updated with certain privileges that the user needs to accomplish his or her tasks.

Components of IAM

Identity and Access Management is a complete access solution that encompasses multiple components. Some of them are-

1.Managing Database

The first step towards 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, every device the user logs in from, and their location also needs to be managed.

2. Provisioning / Deprovisioning

The users need to be provisioned or de-provisioned depending on the user’s status in the organization. Moreover, a user can login from multiple devices. If one of their devices gets stolen or damaged, it needs to be deleted from the database.

3. Authentication

Authentication means recognizing a user if it is 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.

4. Authorization

Once a user gets access to the system, the user needs the authorization to access specific services, files, and folders. The user is given specific permissions according to the role in the company.

5. Permissions

Once the roles are set and access to the files are given, permissions must be updated for each user. The permissions can be edit, view, comment, or share, depending on the user’s process. For instance, clients can be given only view permissions, whereas the employees can be given edit permissions.

6. Reporting

Reporting is another essential component of Identity and Access Management. The report may contain the user login history, privileges, user activity, among others. A proper audit must be done to identify any unusual behavior.

Why do you need it?

To understand the need for IAM better, let’s understand some real-life scenarios.

  • If an employee’s password is compromised, it can be used by any unauthorized user to access the company’s data assets on their device.
  • An employee can delete some important file by mistake that does not even belong to his/her process.
  • A user can get access to financial files and sell the information to the competitor.
  • A hacker gets access to the account of an employee and tries to access the company database.
  • A user needs to remember multiple passwords for each application, forcing users to save them somewhere.

Benefits of IAM

Identity and Access Management helps make your security foolproof by mitigating all the security loopholes mentioned above.

1. Reduced Threat of Employee Mistakes

IAM ensures that the right employee gets access to the right files. With IAM, you can give or deny access to a particular file or folder. Since an employee cannot access a particular file or folder, he or she cannot delete it accidentally.

2. Low Threat of Data Breaches

Data breaches happen when a malicious user successfully breaks your security system and gets access to your business data while in transit or at rest. IAM comprises an efficient password and device management system with MFA (Multi-factor Authentication) and SSO (Single Sign-On). Hence, even if a person steals your device or gets access to your password, he or she will still need to login through another method.

3. Centralized Access Control

IAM offers businesses a centralized platform to manage users, devices, authentication methods, roles, permissions, and locations. This gives your security team the convenience of keeping track of all user activity efficiently.

4. A Compliant System

Businesses need to adhere to various compliance regulations, such as GDPR, HIPAA, and CCPA. These compliances demand a certain level of data privacy, protection, and protocols. IAM ensures compliance with the required regulations by offering a complete data security solution.

Final Note

Identity and Access Management (IAM) is a robust solution to manage and provision user identities and access. It helps businesses create a robust and compliant security environment by preventing unauthorized access and employee mistakes.

IAM will be an ideal solution to facilitate remote working in the present COVID-19 scenario.

If you have any questions about IAM, do let us know in the comments section below.

About Nolan Foster

With 20+ years of expertise in building cloud-native services and security solutions, Nolan Foster spearheads Public Cloud and Managed Security Services at Ace Cloud Hosting. He is well versed in the dynamic trends of cloud computing and cybersecurity.
Foster offers expert consultations for empowering cloud infrastructure with customized solutions and comprehensive managed security.

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