Compliance and regulations are a priority in today’s identity and access management (IAM). IAM can help businesses achieve security and compliance objectives while improving productivity and lowering costs.
A robust IAM program includes policies defining how users can access company data and systems. Regular account reviews and monitoring ensure policy compliance, appropriate privileges, and accountability.
The identity access management life cycle creates, manages, and secures the enterprise’s digital identities (usernames). This includes identifying users and granting them access to the systems and applications they need to do their jobs.
This involves matching a user’s login information (username, password) with their identity in a database and ensuring they are who they say they are. It’s a crucial step in the authentication process.
It also helps to ensure that only the right people can access resources and data within an organization. This can be done through role-based access control (RBAC), which allows IT staff to create a policy that automatically grants users access based on their job functions and roles.
As users change jobs or projects, they often require new access permissions. This is where IAM solutions come in handy.
These systems allow IT teams to specify the tools and access levels they need for different types of users. They can also use policies to quickly remove user access once a user leaves the company or no longer needs it.
This process is a crucial part of IAM, as it helps to prevent “privilege creep” and “permission bloat.” These issues occur when user accounts grow too large with permissions, not in line with the “Principle of Least Privilege” in an organization’s security policy. Regular account reviews help track this and adjust privileges as needed.
Verifying that the user is the correct person is essential when conducting identity access management activities. This process is called authentication and can be performed through passwords, digital certificates, hardware tokens, or smartphone software tokens.
Authentication is often the first step in the login process. During this stage, systems talk to each other to determine whether the user is authorized to perform an action they seek.
Authorization is the second step in this process and is critical to ensuring that users only have access to the necessary resources. It also helps businesses ensure that they meet compliance and regulatory requirements.
In an increasingly connected world, users expect to be able to use a variety of login methods for a wide range of devices and applications. This can create large security attack surfaces if a company fails to implement an effective IAM solution.
Identifying users and granting access to their data is a complex task. It requires a central identity repository to collect and store user information from multiple sources and to deliver it to other systems. This data is usually synchronized in real-time to keep user information up to date and avoid duplicate records. The central identity repository can also provide additional security measures such as multi-factor and step-up authentication.
Identifying users, provisioning access to essential apps and systems, and revoking user permissions when they leave or lose their devices are significant burdens on helpdesk managers and IT administrators. These tasks can quickly become time-consuming and frustrating, especially if done manually.
A comprehensive ILM process is necessary to reduce this overhead and maintain proper user access throughout the identity life cycle. This includes implementing identity governance and automating the approval workflows to ensure only active employees are granted access.
It also involves managing non-human identities like application keys, SSH keys, APIs and secrets, agents, containers, and IoT devices. These non-human identities can pose risks to an organization if not adequately controlled.
World-class identity governance focuses on controlling the use of these non-human identities and their associated privileges. Privileged Access Management (PAM) solutions are essential to any identity management strategy.
These controls must be applied to both human and machine identities. For example, new employee and contractor accounts should only be created with the lowest privileges required to perform their job or specific task. For machines, PAM tools should be able to enforce the least right by detecting compromised or orphaned devices and ensuring that their privileges are not used. This also helps in reducing the privileged security attack surface.
Keeping user access privileges up-to-date for hundreds or thousands of users can be challenging, but staying on top of this critical function is vital. When it needs to be managed correctly, it can result in costly errors and security breaches.
Identity life cycle management solutions automate user account creation, management, and renewal to reduce the risks and inefficiencies associated with manual processes. They also enable self-service portals for user access requests and updates, reducing help desk and security team workloads.
IAM tools support the Authentication, Authorization, and Accounting (AAA) model to verify user identity and authorize controlled access to applications, systems, and data. This framework enables companies to comply with compliance requirements and industry standards while providing a foundational layer of security.
Privileged access management (PAM) is another way IAM can help prevent unauthorized user access and control sensitive credentials such as passwords, tokens, and keys. These credentials can be a critical factor in data breaches that impact the business.
Role-based access management (RBAC) is a form of IAM that allows organizations to define permissions for user categories based on job functions, responsibilities, and other factors. It can be beneficial for large enterprises that must accommodate a variety of users and roles across the organization.
IAM solutions often include intelligence and automation features that support security and compliance efforts by analyzing usage log data and identifying suspicious activity. These capabilities allow organizations to remember blockages and errors, respond to alerts, and take action as needed.