An Introduction to Identity and Access Management

Identity and Access Management (IAM) is a system with one or more applications to store and manage user identities in a centralized repository. IAM ensures that users who they say they are (authentication) and they can access the applications and resources they have permissions to (authorization). IAM also audits user access for every application accessed by the user for future reference.

How does it look like without Identity and Access Management?

  • Every organization will have 100+ of web applications and building authentication and authorization capabilities in each of these web applications is very time consuming and it will be very costly.
  • End Users who need to access more than one application in the organization should have an account created for each application, managing the credentials for the numerous applications will be very difficult for the end users as they need to remember multiple passwords and reset the password frequently to be compliant to password standards.
  • There will be considerable impact on the productively of the end users as they need to login to each application as there will not be any seamless navigation between these applications. 
  • In the digital technology world, there is a need to access vendor hosted applications more frequently than ever before to allow the business to be more agile, efficient and scalable. Due to this trend, the perimeter-based security protecting the entry and exit points of the network has become obsolete.

Why is identity and access management important? 

Below are the benefits of implementing IAM solution in an organization.

Centralized Access Control: 

  • Identity and Access Management will provide a centralized authentication, authorization and audit mechanism which can be leveraged by all the applications in the organization.
  • We can always make sure right user (Authentication) will have access to the right application (Authorization) at the right time (Time based policies) at the right place (IP Address based policies).

Enforce Security Standards:

  • IAM Solutions can enforce latest security standards effectively in the entire organization as IAM is a centralized solution for the organization

Reduce Data Breaches: 

  • IAM solutions like Web Single Sign-On (SSO), Federation SSO and Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) drastically reduce the number of passwords the user must remember to access applications. 
  • IAM solutions also use encryption & digital signatures to protect sensitive data across the various systems within IAM.
  • The above IAM solutions dramatically reduce the risk of compromised user credentials, which is the number one cause of security breaches.

Improves user experience:

  • Security is critical to any organization but so is convenience. User experience and productively of the employees can be greatly improved with the centralized IAM solution.
  • Organizations with Identity and Access Management (IAM) solution can provide great user experience via Single Sign-On (SSO) as the users can log in to one application and access many other applications with the same protection level via seamless navigation. 

Reduced Cost:

  • There is significant effort involved in keeping the entire organization secure, with all the applications, all the users, all the devices and more on the way. 
  • Identity and access management standardizes identity management, authentication, and authorization which will save time and money and reducing risk to the business.

How can IAM solutions help various stakeholders in the organization?

Employees & Contractors:

  • IAM solutions for employees ensure that every worker can be productive as the required applications can be accessed seamlessly with a single login.  
  • IAM solutions also provide an additional layer of security with Multi-Factor Authentication by challenging the users with MFA questions / One Time Passwords (OTP)

Customers: 

  • Customers will always look for a great end-user experience and easy access to the required applications. 
  • IAM solutions can provide access to the various applications with the highest security and at the same time by providing the great end user experience.
  • IAM solutions can manage millions of user accounts and can provide thousands of concurrent logins at the same time.

Partners: 

  • Most organizations use the services provided by other companies/vendors to provide the best possible services to its employees and customers.  
  • Organizations need to ensure that these vendors based applications are accessed securely, seamlessly and at the same time right data is shown to the right user.
  • IAM solutions like Federation Based SSO can quickly enable access to vendor-hosted applications quickly and securely. 
     

Authored By -Gopi Natha Reddy Irala
TCS Cyber Security Practice

Rate this article: 
Average: 4.3 (7 votes)
Article category: