With the increase in demand for information security over the Internet, managing digital identities and access to data becomes a crucial responsibility to be addressed. In the case of an organisation, providing employees access to the company resources like software, data and applications is imperative, irrespective of the work location.
It is here that Identity and Access Management System (IAM) comes in, providing users secure access to company resources while ensuring that sensitive information is not made available to them. In other words, IAM is a branch of cybersecurity that deals with the management of digital identities and granting permission to resources on a computer network.
How Does IAM Work?
In most cases, IAM’s responsibilities cover two areas in particular:
● Confirmation of the user’s identity
Also known as Identity management, this aspect of IAM ensures that the user, software, or hardware trying to gain access to any organisation’s resources is providing their real identity and not a false one. This is done by authenticating the credentials of the user against the identity management database, which comprises a continuous record of every account with access to the said organisation’s resources.
These cloud identity resources are not simply limited to ordinary username and password solutions, but cover names, job designations, direct reports, id numbers, login credentials and much more. The database has to be constantly updated as there is a steady influx of new members, as well as resignations of former members, and the development and expansion of the organisation.
For the aforementioned reasons, sometimes, the organisation might opt for added security in the form of multi-factor authentication(MFA), where users have to provide at least two or more identifying factors in order to confirm their identities. Such MFA markers range from fingerprint scans to security codes and one-time passwords.
● Access Management
To ensure that only an appropriate amount of access is provided to the users, IAM verifies whether the user requesting permission to use a certain resource actually can be granted to use it. For instance, most users of a company’s database or resources might have only the lowest level of access to the company’s resources, and that too for a limited period. Once the timeline is over, the privileged access can be revoked.
Whether one user should be granted privileged access is determined by several factors, like their job title, experience, project role, and information security clearance. An appropriate example would be the different levels of access provided to viewers, commentators, and editors in content editing and managing software.
IAM Solutions: Technologies and Tools
IAM technologies have come as a blessing for those companies which require bulk handling of information access management in a streamlined manner. A significant departure from the previously used point solutions, the present-day IAM tools are all-encompassing, centralised platforms. Examples include centralised integrations with external directories, automated workflows with multiple review levels for regular monitoring of individual access requests, and enabling access for users at all levels.
Nowadays, for more dynamic control of authentication services, especially SSO(Single sign-on) and multi-factor authentication(MFA), artificial intelligence and machine learning are used. Artificial Intelligence can be used to detect unauthorised login by remote users or multiple failed attempts to log in. Accordingly, AI can take the necessary steps to prevent data breaches, such as requesting additional identification factors or blocking access.
Why is IAM Important?
In simple terms, IAM is essential for providing information security and thereby enhancing the performance of the employees. Cybersecurity experts have been increasingly emphasising the need for IAM to help with essential protective functions like regulatory compliance, data security and digital transformation.
Providing the utmost security is the primary purpose for employing IAM. With the rapid evolution in technology, cybercriminals are also developing new techniques of hacking and data breaching. The criminals primarily target users who already have access to the database, hence IAM is needed to screen the users with privileged access to the organisation’s internal systems.
Furthermore, with IAM, companies can enforce policies for regulating access to data depending on the purpose, especially to ensure compliance during an audit. Not just that, in a multi-cloud system, companies can use IAM to manage user access to multiple resources in a centralised manner, thus maintaining the security of the network without interrupting the experience of the user.
Benefits of IAM Systems
A company can make use of the technologies of IAM to create and record user identities while modifying the permissions with any manual intervention. The benefits of IAM systems are as follows:
- Right kind of access privileges for the people: Depending upon the policies outlined, access is provided to the people, and all users and services are properly audited and authenticated. IAM systems can establish centralised regulations and decide access privileges, thus providing users only that much access they require, without leaking sensitive information.
- Unbridled productivity: Along with security, one also needs to keep in mind the question of user experience and productivity. While extremely intricate and complex security systems can be a shield against data breaches, the need for multiple logins and countless passwords, especially OTPs can act as a hindrance to a smooth user experience. Using IAM solutions like single sign-on(SSO) and consolidated user profiles can give the users completely secured access to multiple resources bypassing multiple log-ins.
To create an ideal identity and access management system, it is essential to have expert input. Companies often hire a cybersecurity expert as a consultant or lead of the IAM system. If you are interested in pursuing a career in data protection and privacy, then Imarticus Learning’s Post Graduate Programme in Cybersecurity might be just the right fit for you.
Designed by top-level industry experts in this field, this 6-month-long course is ideal for those who are aspiring to become cybersecurity professionals. With the perfect balance of lab sessions for real-life situations and theoretical exposure to Cybersecurity Analysis, Ethical Hacking and SOC team functions, this course will guarantee your placement in your dream company. To know more, click on the link provided in this article and sign up before the seats run out!