Identity management enables the enterprise to securely open its systems and services to employees, contractors, vendors, customers, and IoT devices without exposing the network to risk. This requires on boarding processes, access provisioning, permission authorizations, and off-boarding when the relationship ends.
IAM solutions also support productivity and security outcomes by providing tools like single sign-on and unified access policies with multifactor authentication enablement.
When an employee tries to log in to a company system, identity management systems check the login information against a database that records every user’s digital identity. This includes information like a person’s name, job title, manager, direct report, phone number, personal email address, etc. Then it matches that digital identity with the person’s access privileges to see whether they are authorized to enter the network.
This is called authentication, and it ensures that each individual can only access the data they are supposed to be able to access. This is especially important in today’s hybrid work environments, where employees may work on-site and remotely simultaneously.
Some IAM systems also handle privileged access management (PAM), which deals with permissions for highly privileged accounts like admins who oversee databases, systems, or servers. These accounts are a target for hackers because they allow them to do anything within the system. Hence, These identity management tools use credential vaults and just-in-time access protocols to isolate these accounts and limit their functionality. This makes them harder to breach. Additionally, these solutions simplify managing credentials for individuals who change jobs or even organizations. All this is done to prevent hackers from using identifying data they have obtained to hack into corporate systems and steal sensitive information.
It’s crucial to keep people connected securely wherever they are in a world where remote work is more widespread than ever. IAM solutions guarantee that the appropriate individuals can access the appropriate information while protecting it from hackers. In addition to the identity, IAM enables administrators to authenticate and authorize users and their devices based on the circumstances of the login session.
This helps prevent security breaches caused by password reuse or other forms of bad password hygiene. Integrating IAM with privileged account management (PAM) further enhances the security of users and their systems by ensuring that privileges are only granted when necessary.
Another important function of an IAM solution is to track changes to user accounts within the enterprise. This can be as simple as a human resources representative changing an employee’s pay grade or as complex as an IT administrator updating an application with the addition of a new feature. IAM tools allowing centralized management of these changes can make it easier for IT to monitor user activities, close security gaps, and improve productivity.
It’s also important to remember that authentication is not the same as authorization. Just because an identity is verified as being on the network doesn’t mean it has full access to every system in the organization. An IAM solution that integrates with PAM can consider a user’s risk score when accessing systems and blocking or reporting activity with high risks.
Employees who work on-site, remotely, or on their own devices require access to company systems and data. Robust enterprise identity management practices ensure that users have the right level of access to keep their work moving while keeping corporate assets secure.
A strong IAM solution will allow administrators to track and report on user activities. It will also include technologies for granting and revoking access levels and privileges throughout the lifecycle of an account. Those changes might come from a new hire or an adjustment in the role, a human resources representative granting additional access to an employee, or an administrator adjusting access for a terminated employee.
In addition, the right identity management tools will automate many processes that might otherwise require manual effort. This will free up IT staff for bottom-line-focused projects and speed up the time between onboarding and when an employee can access system resources from days to minutes.
IAM processes might cut down on security risks, halt internal cyberattacks, and meet regulatory requirements. The least privilege principle, which asserts that identities should only be allowed access to the systems and data they need to perform their job tasks, is adhered to by strong IAM rules and processes. Private information is, therefore less likely to get into the wrong hands.
The IAM framework also provides a single point of control for managing privileged accounts (users with elevated privileges) and their accounts, permissions, and rights across the enterprise. This helps to thwart the most common cause of breaches — privilege misuse or abuse.
IAM plays a critical series of roles at several points in an organization’s security “stack.” It provides a foundation for security policies and controls, identity access management, authentication, multifactor authentication, user self-service, and continuous proof of compliance. IAM is also central to the modern identity governance and security infrastructure, which includes federated ID, identity as a service, password management, access policy development, and advanced anomaly detection.