Identity and access management tools play a critical role in an enterprise’s security infrastructure, requiring users to pass authentication tests for each session. IAM solutions allow organizations to manage all network users and set policies to control their access to sensitive applications. For enterprises seeking to tighten access to applications, particularly those with important data, selecting the right IAM tool is an important first step.
What is identity and access management?
Identity and access management, known as IAM, requires all application users on an enterprise network to authenticate themselves by using information they know, have, or are. IAM technology requires users to prove their identity so application, system, or network access is limited to only those who absolutely need to have it.
IAM helps businesses be aware of who has access to that company data. Often, organizations must be able to show that they know who specifically can access data in order to be compliant with regulations; otherwise, they risk being fined.
IAM gives enterprises a single tool for managing user access, so they are able to handle all user logins for a variety of enterprise applications. It offers features like single sign-on (SSO), identity management, and user provisioning.
Also read: Top Single Sign-On Solutions
Best IAM tools comparison
|Enterprise server access management||Active Directory integration||Fraud or threat detection solution||User lifecycle management|
Okta is an IAM tool for medium to large businesses, and it was designed for remote work security, cloud migration assistance, and third-party partner collaboration. Gartner named Okta a Leader in its 2021 Magic Quadrant for access management.
Okta uses single sign-on to authenticate users. Once users log into the tool, all enterprise applications connected to Okta are available on its dashboard and ready to access without a separate login. However, it can take significant time to get an application approved for use on the Okta dashboard.
Image credit: Okta
Okta’s prices may be high for smaller businesses; its SSO tool is $2/user/month, but the rest of the solutions purchased in conjunction can add up. The Advanced Server Access product, at $15/user/month, allows users to extend SSO to enterprise servers using remote desktop protocol (RDP) and secure shell (SSH) protocols. Okta also offers integrations with DevOps tools like Terraform and Ansible to help businesses with their cloud migration.
Okta has intense security compared to other IAM tools: its default session time lasts two hours, which can be changed by a company admin, and user reviews cited both the exceptional security and the annoyance of being logged out regularly during the workday. Enterprises that want particularly stringent access controls will benefit from heavily enforced brief sessions. Because Okta automatically sets sessions to end quickly, the chances of a threat actor gaining access to a sensitive business account using an active session decreases.
- Access solution for larger organizations or enterprises with IT professionals who have experience and time to configure its settings
- Enterprises can set strong security policies, which include choosing when they want users to be automatically logged out of their Okta dashboard
- Advanced Server Access for enterprises, which provides zero trust IAM features for both cloud and on-premises environments
- API access management for securing APIs, which removes that burden from developers
JumpCloud is a cloud-based directory-as-a-service solution for organizations of all sizes, but it’s a good choice for smaller businesses in particular because it offers a free plan for up to ten users and devices. JumpCloud supports Cloud LDAP and Cloud RADIUS protocols. It also integrates with Azure Active Directory and Okta.
The JumpCloud platform combines identity and access management with mobile device management (MDM). The zero-touch enrollment feature for Macs allows new users to be automatically configured, so they can start working from their new computer once they’ve logged in with their JumpCloud Identity.
User lifecycle management features include group-based access controls, remote user management, and password and SSH key management. Businesses that need a wide range of user and device management features will benefit from JumpCloud’s array of options; businesses with Apple devices will benefit from its MDM solution.
Image credit: JumpCloud
For IT administrators, the ability to manage both new user accounts and new devices removes some of the complexity associated with onboarding employees. Businesses using the JumpCloud platform have the option to add or deactivate user identities and manage their laptops from the same software.
- MDM solution within the JumpCloud platform
- User lifecycle management solution
- Free plan for up to ten users, a good option for smaller businesses
- Integration with both Active Directory and Okta, two other IAM tools
Also read: Top MDM Software & Tools
OneLogin is a platform for unified access management, which provides access to both cloud and on-premises applications without requiring separate directory solutions. OneLogin was named a Leader in the 2021 Gartner Magic Quadrant for access management.
Automated user provisioning reduces manual management by providing and restricting access based on attributes like user role and department. OneLogin also offers OneLogin Sandbox, a testing environment for businesses to stage configurations with no deployment implications before they finalize a change.
Image credit: OneLogin
To securely access software running on-premises, a user’s session access passes through the OneLogin Cloud Directory, the firewall, and the Access Enforcement Point, which serves as a gateway for customer-managed applications. HTTP headers make a cloud-based access request understandable to the on-premises application. These include both commercial applications like Jira and Oracle PeopleSoft and organizations’ custom applications. Consider OneLogin if your business needs a cloud-based directory service but also still uses a lot of on-premises applications or databases.
OneLogin has tools for customer identity and access management, too. The CIAM offers APIs to developers so they can customize customer authentication requirements.
- OneLogin Sandbox for risk-free configuration testing
- Single IAM solution for both cloud and on-premises applications
- Customer identity and access management solutions
- One-click access for phones and tablets
Ping Identity is an IAM solution for businesses and their customers, offering SSO, identity verification, and risk management. Gartner also selected Ping Identity as a Leader in its 2021 Magic Quadrant for access management. Ping integrates with many popular business applications, including Slack, Zoom, Atlassian, and Google Workspace.
The fraud detection product records and studies data points gathered from user traffic to identify the differences between authorized and fraudulent users. Ping notices incomplete user behavior data such as mobile attributes. It has a machine learning algorithm that grows depending on the fraud data that business customers collect over time.
Ping’s multi-factor authentication feature reveals how many enrollments the business has completed for a certain time period, as well as the type of enrollment. It also shows how many failed MFAs have occurred.
Image credit: IT Business Edge
Web and API access security allows businesses to set policies for accessing all of their web and mobile applications as well as their APIs. It also helps companies migrate from legacy web access management solutions, which allows them to use Ping in conjunction with an older solution if they haven’t been able to sunset the legacy platform yet.
Ping offers its own no-code orchestration service, PingOne DaVinci. Users are able to drag and drop elements to design their user experience without needing programming experience. They can also test UX before deploying final user flows. If your team has limited development resources, or the UI/UX team isn’t experienced in programming, DaVinci provides a relatively simple user journey design method.
- No-code orchestration platform for inexperienced developers to design user experience journeys
- Integrations with many popular business applications
- Choice between coarse, medium, and fine-grained API security policies
- Fraud detection analytics that draw data from user interactions so businesses can detect threats with less reliance on user-facing features like CAPTCA
Auth0 is a secure access platform owned by Okta.The solutions are two different tools, though they’re both owned by the same company. Auth0 was named a Leader in the 2021 Gartner Magic Quadrant for access management (entered separately from Okta). It offers businesses five products within its platform: access management, authentication, security, extensibility, and user management.
Image credit: Auth0
The passwordless feature allows business users to authenticate themselves using something they have (their device that supports the Auth0 passwordless feature) and something they are (biometrics). Going password-free eliminates the dangers that automatically come with passwords, namely reusing and unsafely sharing them.
Machine-to-machine authentication is a feature for non-interactive third-party applications to safely access APIs. Auth0 allows enterprises to authenticate Internet of Things (IoT) transactions based on the identity of the IoT device itself, rather than the user. For enterprises that heavily rely on the Internet of Things, Auth0 provides client authentication rather than user authentication: it uses a client ID and a client secret as the two means of requesting access.
Auth0 also notifies users when a third-party application has been breached or a password has been compromised, letting them know when it’s time to change a password. Businesses also have the option to block breached accounts until the credentials have been updated.
- Passwordless authentication
- Machine-to-machine authentication for third-party applications to access APIs
- Password breach and compromise notifications
- Drag and drop editor, VS code editor, and version control for developers
- Auth0 marketplace for finding available integrations
Why is IAM important for enterprises?
When security threats like brute force attacks and vulnerabilities such as weak passwords are common, employees and customers must be able to prove their identity. IAM includes simple protective measures like multifactor authentication, but it also involves more advanced protection. IAM solutions require humans to prove they have access to a system, rather than assuming every user can be trusted.
Ensuring users’ identities through multiple authentication methods and protecting systems through access controls helps to slow any threat actors’ progress through an enterprise network. IAM solutions help businesses segment their critical applications—if access is regularly, consistently required, threat actors will have fewer opportunities to move laterally over the network.
Also read: IAM vs. PAM: What are the Differences?
How to choose an IAM solution
If you’re in the selection process of buying an IAM tool, consider the following questions:
- Do you want a highly customizable tool? If you want to be able to add many features or integrations to your IAM solution, look for software that has APIs for connecting to additional tools.
- Will your users be working regularly on mobile devices? If you’re going to need your IAM solution to work on phones and tablets, choose software that’s particularly renowned for its mobile functionality. Customer reviews are a good way to learn this. You could also ask the vendor for a demo of their solution on mobile.
- How much additional customer support does your business need? If you have a limited IT team, or few employees with experience using security software, look for a solution that receives good reviews for customer service.
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