What Is Identity and Access Management (IAM)?

Identity and access management (IAM) helps you securely control who has access to your systems, applications, and data within your organization, as well as where they can go within those systems.

With proper IAM solutions in place, organizations will be able to define who has what level of access. This shrinks the attack surface and prevents data leaks because user privileges are closely moderated.

What Is IAM?

Identity and access management encompasses a lot, but at its core IAM is about identity. IAM is set of policies, procedures, and protocols used to secure access to computing resources. Its primary purposes are security, compliance, and business continuity.

IAM is set of policies, procedures, and protocols used to secure access to computing resources.

The identity part of IAM is the methods by which an organization can verify that an individual is who they say they are. The access part of IAM refers to the process of determining how each individual should be allowed to access specific information, hardware, or software tools within an organization’s infrastructure.

The purpose of IAM is to provide access control to IT resources by managing user accounts, devices, applications, files, services, systems, and networks. In doing so, an organization can ensure that all business data is secure. IT can also create data policies that prevent data loss or theft.

Components of Identity and Access Management

But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s break down exactly what identity and access management entails. There are four basic components:

  • User provisioning
  • Privileged Access Management (PAM)
  • Account security
  • Integration

An enterprise should have at least three to five goals when choosing an IAM solution — and again, these will depend on your unique needs. A good way to tell if your system is outmoded or inefficient is by monitoring login success rates. Ideally, your success rate should be above 95%. If it’s hovering around 75% or less, then something is wrong!

Read more: VPNs, Zero Trust Network Access, and the Evolution of Secure Remote Work

How to Choose an IAM Solution

IAM solutions can provide improved control over who has access to what. However, if IAM tools are deployed without regard to best practices, these solutions can actually become a source of problems. When adopting IAM software, it’s important to address your unique business challenges with a multi-tiered strategy that maps back to strategic goals.

If IAM tools are deployed without regard to best practices, these solutions can actually become a source of problems.

There are many ways to implement IAM strategies; it all depends on your specific needs. For example, one company might require only Windows authentication for all its accounts, while another might also want multifactor authentication included in its IAM package.

And if your enterprise relies heavily on cloud services, incorporating those into IAM will be essential as well. Do you need a single sign-on (SSO)? What about directory integration? Answers to these questions will help determine which software vendor would best suit your needs.

Read more: Access Control Security Best Practices

Top IAM Solutions

Most solutions offer either an on-premise or cloud option. On-premise solutions are usually catered toward larger organizations, because installation often requires customization. Cloud solutions are great for smaller businesses that don’t have dedicated IT departments, because everything is managed remotely.

Whether you choose to go on-prem or cloud, be sure to factor in IAM costs, including both annual subscriptions and associated fees.

Centrify PAM

Centrify LogoCentrify PAM offers a variety of a cloud-based identity and access management tools, including multi-factor authentication to protect all of your business’s digital assets from cyberattacks.

Centrify PAM platforms feature an easy-to-use dashboard that gives IT control over who can access what in real-time. In addition, Centrify PAM can integrate with many third-party applications.

Microsoft Azure AD

microsoft logoAzure Active Directory (Azure AD) is a cloud-based directory and identity management service that enables users to manage user access, passwords, and multiple types of identities from one place.

It provides single sign-on capability for your online apps; Azure AD can be integrated with most applications. It can also be integrated with other IT systems to provide authentication across cloud and on-premises resources.

Oracle IAM

Oracle logoOracle provides several identity management solutions that integrate with its suite of enterprise software products. For instance, Oracle Single Sign-On enables access to numerous applications, databases, and networks.

When users log in using their usernames and passwords, Oracle Single Sign-On logs them into multiple systems without prompting for additional credentials. It also offers an organization more control over privileged accounts by giving IT administrators granular access policies.

IBM Security Verify

ibm logoIBM Security Verify is a cloud-based identity and access management solution that provides secure, easy-to-use access management capabilities to any environment.

It enables seamless application integration, control of information sharing, auditing, strong authentication support for mobile users, and customization options for end users to ensure they have access only to what they need — all while still complying with regulatory requirements.

ForgeRock

ForgeRock logoForgeRock is a cloud-ready IAM platform that gives organizations complete control over user access to all systems, including databases, SaaS applications, mobile apps, physical assets, and more.

Using ForgeRock for secure identity management allows organizations to minimize security risks from bad actors using stolen credentials. Additionally, it enables compliance with regulations such as GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation).

See more IAM Solutions on eSecurity Planet: Best IAM Tools & Solutions for 2021

Why IAM Matters

Identity and access management helps you keep track of all the identities across your organization — employees, contractors, vendors, and customers — and manage their access to resources. No matter how big or small your business, investing in IAM is crucial.

Aminu Abdullahi
Aminu Abdullahi is an award-winning public speaker and a passionate writer. He writes to edutain (Educate + Entertain) his reader about Business, Technology, Growth, and everything in between. He is the coauthor of the e-book, The Ultimate Creativity Playbook. Aminu loves to inspire greatness in the people around him through his actions and inactions.

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