An effective Identity and Access Management strategy provides secure, controlled and flexible connections between people and the data, systems and resources your business uses online.

Identity and Access Management comprises a set of processes, tools and best practices to manage digital identities from onboarding through provisioning (including updating) to offboarding.

Verification

As a business owner, it’s important to understand how an Identity and Access Management (IAM) strategy fits into your overall security plan. IAM solutions help protect digital identities and reduce risk by limiting the number of people accessing your data and systems.

An IAM system provides authentication and authorization for users in a secure, controlled environment. These are typically human users, such as employees. However, they can also be non-human users, such as IoT devices, automated workloads or APIs. An IAM solution uses a combination of factors to verify an identity and then grants permissions based on the confirmed identity.

The first step in auditing identity and access management is assessing your security gaps. This will provide a clear picture of implementing an IAM solution’s potential costs and benefits. You’ll need to consider the types of apps your team currently uses, the users who will be using these apps, and their needs. You’ll also need to look at your organization’s various layers of security and how they can be improved with an IAM solution.

An IAM solution can help your business improve security, streamline password self-service, meet compliance requirements and detect threats. It can also increase efficiency and agility by allowing your teams to work as needed with a single set of credentials.

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Authentication

The best identity and access management strategies have a solid authentication process that prevents hackers from getting into your network. Authentication is typically accomplished by verifying a user’s identity through login processes that require strong password policies and multifactor authentication (MFA) if possible.

Once verified, the IAM system will determine what systems and data a user can access. This will be based on the roles and attributes assigned to them. IAM technologies use tokens to communicate identity and access data to systems. This helps to secure information while allowing users to access what they need to do their jobs.

Tokens are often encrypted to protect the security of the user’s information. IAM systems also utilize authorization to connect a user’s role to the level of access privileges. This is especially important for privileged access management (PAM) accounts like admins with broad network access. PAM tools limit users’ access to specific assets and can monitor their activity for signs of hacking.

Implementing IAM requires a change in business culture and security practices. Stakeholder buy-in can be challenging, but a strong working relationship between stakeholders and project teams can help ensure everyone understands the benefits of a comprehensive IAM strategy. A well-designed plan can balance security with convenience and support business goals without adding unnecessary workflow complexity.

Authorization

When you create an identity management strategy, it’s important to focus on security and access controls. Your IAM solution should only allow authorized users to use company resources and systems. This will help protect data from hackers while ensuring that employees can do everything they need to do.

IAM tools can also improve business processes. This includes providing a single sign-on to apps and services for employees, customers and partners. This reduces the number of usernames and passwords that need to be remembered, lowering the threat landscape. IAM solutions can also provide multifactor authentication and other security features to keep attackers out.

Implementing an IAM tool that helps you comply with regulatory standards like GDPR and CCPA is also a good idea. This will reaffirm to consumers that their personal information is safe and secure with your company.

IAM strategies should include the ability to audit access across all areas of your IT infrastructure. This will help you identify security gaps and close them. Including privileged user accounts in the audit is also helpful, as these are the primary targets for external attackers. In addition, you should use IAM to monitor and audit cloud environments, databases, Kubernetes and other systems. These will help you ensure that IAM and PAM tools work correctly in all IT infrastructure parts.

Access Control

Today’s corporate networks connect to on-premises, remote apps, data sources, and SaaS and IoT devices. These environments expose organizations to a wide range of attack surfaces, which can be targeted by cyber attackers looking for opportunities to compromise team members or the company as a whole. IAM technology is designed to keep hackers out by establishing trust levels for users and ensuring authorized employees can access the data they need and nothing more.

An IAM framework consists of technologies, tools, processes and policies that work together to verify identities, authorize access in line with an identity governance strategy and account for usage through monitoring, activity logging and maintaining records. This is also known as the Authentication, Authorization and Accounting (AAA) model.

One of the most important aspects of a successful IAM deployment is enterprise single sign-on (SSO). This feature enables users to access all on-premises and cloud-based applications using a single set of credentials. This is made possible by an IAM platform that integrates with on-premises and SaaS directories and PAM tools that support the authentication process.

In addition, an IAM system should incorporate a zero-trust model that assumes no device or user is trustworthy until proven otherwise. This is more proactive than the traditional approach that relies on multifactor authentication (MFA) to help protect sensitive data.

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