A good IAM tool will provide a flexible administration that allows you to specify which tools each employee should have access to and make editing guidelines easier. It will also ease registering new users and removing accounts at the end of their contract.
Unbridled access can be a security risk, while too restrictive access can hamper productivity. IAM systems strike a balance between these needs.
Authentication confirms that someone logging in to company resources is who they claim to be. IAM solutions use this information to prevent unauthorized access by establishing an identity before granting permissions and securing a permit. It can be as simple as verifying an employee’s physical identification items and requiring them to enter a code before giving them access or as complex as using adaptive authentication that adjusts to the context of a login based on time, location, device, and more.
Once verified, IAM systems permit users to access the software suites they need to do their jobs. Most identity access management products ensure that users have the appropriate permissions to perform their tasks without being given unnecessary access. They follow the principle of least privilege, meaning that users receive the minimum amount of access required for their job, and their permissions are revoked as soon as they are no longer necessary. This eliminates overprovisioning and helps to maintain a secure environment.
As an added benefit, IAM solutions streamline processes and simplify user workflows so they can move seamlessly between applications throughout the day with a single set of credentials. This helps improve productivity and reduce the risk of unauthorized access and data leaks. It also helps ensure that security and IT can identify and mitigate potential risks early before they become a problem.
In addition to ensuring that users’ credentials are valid, IAM solutions also control the tools and information they can access. This allows for granular permissions to be set for various user types. For example, IAM can enable a policy that only allows specific users to send data to a certain application. This helps prevent security breaches caused by employees and contractors misusing access privileges.
In IAM, the authentication process involves three factors:
- Something a person knows (such as a password).
- Something they have (such as a mobile device with an authenticator application).
- Something that proves who they are (such as a thumbprint scan).
IAM tools make it possible to streamline the provisioning and de-provisioning of users, saving IT teams time. This enables them to focus more on non-automated projects and ensures a good user experience for everyone in the enterprise. This includes remote workers, partners, customers, and even robots in operational technology (OT) systems. This also eliminates traditional points of failure, such as human error and a lack of structure around password management – a major cause of many recent security breaches. Ultimately, an effective IAM solution is a necessity for true enterprise security.
A central component of an identity access management system is its ability to audit and monitor user activity. This allows IT teams to spot anomalies that could be signs of hackers attempting to gain unauthorized access and identifies those who have abused their privileges. It also helps with regulatory compliance by showing that businesses have complied with policies such as those mandated by GDPR or PCI DSS.
To conduct an audit, a user usually needs to provide three types of information: something they know (like a password), something they have (like a mobile device), and something they are (like a thumbprint). This combination ensures security and accuracy in the auditing process. These factors help IT teams identify who is trying to access company data. Then, based on the access rights assigned to that individual, IT can ensure that only authorized users can view or use certain information.
The ability to audit is also vital for IT teams to comply with regulations such as those mandated by PCI DSS and HIPAA. While technology cannot replace the human qualities of evaluation, analysis, and judgment required in auditing, it can give those people a way to focus more on high-level tasks to be more effective when examining data for signs of security breaches and other issues. It also helps them discover new opportunities to tighten security by reducing unnecessary access, essential to avoiding data loss or fraud.
More flexible workplaces and remote work policies require companies to open their networks to more employees, contractors, business partners, customers, and more. While this increases productivity, it also increases security risk if the proper identity access management solutions still need to be implemented. An IAM solution will help businesses secure their applications, systems, and network infrastructure, both on-premises and in the cloud.
The best IAM solutions will also allow businesses to get granular with their user permissions. Using RBAC, they can set a wide range of conditions for how users can access specific services and data, including what time of day or location they can log in to those services. This reduces the number of user help desk requests and allows IT staff to focus on securing other areas of the enterprise.
An IAM system can also provide advanced tracking capabilities to identify and block anomalous user activity. This is particularly important in mitigating insider threats, a growing source of breaches in many businesses. By ensuring that users cannot escalate their privileges without IT oversight, an IAM system can prevent these attacks from happening.
Finally, the best IAM solutions will provide simple and secure registration processes and account configuration procedures for new and existing employees. This makes it easier for IT to manage privileged accounts.