Identity and access management (IAM) is a framework of policies and technology that authenticates and authorizes access to applications, data, systems, and cloud platforms. In basic terms, it helps ensure that the right people have the right access, for the right reasons.
Why is IAM Important?
Cybercriminals no longer break into enterprise organizations through the network perimeter. Instead, they target users like employees, contractors, vendors, and even software bots. If a user account is compromised, the cybercriminal can then access anything that user has privileges to. That’s why it’s critical to make sure users only have the privileges they need to do their jobs.
Addressing this issue at scale can be challenging. Considering that a typical enterprise business is comprised of thousands of users, with hundreds of applications, along with a significant number of files containing sensitive data in the cloud and on-premises storage, an automated solution is key to a successful IAM program.
Many organizations turn to identity management and IAM tools to increase productivity, securely enable access, and ensure that access is always compliant with regulations—such as SOX, HIPAA, or the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), to name a few. Access management solutions have turned these challenges into strengths.
Identity and Access Management Best Practices
Create Individual Identities
A common mistake companies will make is assuming they only need one username or password to access the various applications and platforms within their organization. This not only exacerbates the risk of a breach—it creates an overly simplified approach to giving the right users the right access. Individual identities in an IAM system ensure that employees are only gaining access to the resources they need—so that in the event their digital identity is compromised, the cybercriminal’s access rights will be limited to the permissions of one user.
Even with a cloud-powered IAM solution, regular audits are the only way to ensure your access management strategy is airtight. As companies grow, their organizational structure and active directory begins to splinter into an even more complicated security problem. Resources multiply, niche roles are created, and the organization as a whole begins to saturate—making it more important than ever that new employees are only given permissions to what they need. Reviewing your access system regularly helps you stop major oversights before they become worse.
Add an Extra Layer of Protection
Companies that deploy a multifactor authentication system have a far better chance of protecting their platforms. Multifactor authentication is when a user is asked to provide factors beyond username and password to gain access to an application. Some companies use a secure single sign-on approach, where a digital IAM system then sends a code to a separate device to confirm the user’s identity. Your second factor can also be biometric, leveraging technology for facial recognition or thumbprint confirmation. IAM implementation can help automate this process.
IAM Technologies and Tools
As an administrative IAM tool, this automates the process of adding or removing permissions from a user’s digital profile based on their role—auditing all resources in your system to confirm appropriate access.
This tool allows enterprises to automatically create or remove digital identities for users based on the roles they’re stepping into. An IAM system is able to collect relevant information to give a new user access privileges while saving you time during onboarding.
Even when a user has access to a privileged or confidential file, this tool ensures that a user cannot perform fraudulent activities with that file. Building nuance into your security strategy helps you put the right information in front of the right employees without worrying about what actions they take.
Used primarily to separate access between employees, contractors, and third-party vendors—this is an automation tool that seamlessly grants or removes permissions from user profiles as they reach the end of their particular role’s lifecycle.
These technologies can be combined using identity security, which provides the foundation for automated workflows and processes. A full-service workflow management tool refers to automation across your entire identity management process, using all IAM technologies and tools in concert to ensure your company is proactively defending itself from cybersecurity threats.
Secure Your Business with IAM
In a global economy, employees need 24/7 access to be productive. But it’s impossible for manual IT processes to keep up with access control demands. Identity management helps organizations move forward—quickly, securely, and confidently.
While other security tools focus solely on anti-malware, firewalls, intrusion detection, and prevention software, identity management provides powerful security by controlling who has access to resources.
Secure user access with identity security.
Learn how SailPoint can help.