What is Identity and Access Management?

Modern enterprises currently need fast, easy and secure access to IT resources, from anywhere and at any time, provided with effective security controls on IT assets that protect from both internal and external threats. Advancement in technologies like IoT (Internet of Things), M2M Communication, Bring Your Own Device (HOD) pose a variety of internal and external threats and vulnerabilities to the organizations. Identity and Access Management solutions have become an important part of IT strategic planning and organizations need to use IAM solutions to prevent and protect their IT assets from various malicious attacks.

Also Read : Network Security Controls

What is IAM?

Identity and Access Management (IAM) is a framework for business practices that consists of users, procedures, and software products to manage user digital identities and access to resources of an organization. It ensures that the right users obtain access to the right information at the right time.
IAM systems are used for automated creation, recording, and management of user identities and their access privileges. It is linked to the policies, procedures, protocols and processes of an organization. It provides identity management functions such as controlling user access to organizational secure systems and ensures that all users and services are properly authenticated, authorized and audited.
IAM Framework IAM comprises of two modules, namely, access management module and identity management module.

Access Management Module

It covers authentication and authorization components of IAM. It provides organization-wide authentication of resources by verifying access privileges of the users at the time of access.

Identity Management Module

It covers user management and enterprise directory service components of IAM. It provides capabilities like monitoring, recording, and logging of user behavioural activities.

The services provided by IAM are classified into four distinct components:

Authentication: This component provides authentication management and session management. Through this component, the users provide their login credentials to access the applications and resources of the organization. It provides services such as single sign-on, session management, password services, strong authentication and multi factor-authentication.

Authorization: Authorization provides access control to various organizational resources. Access control includes role-based, rule-based, and attribute-based authorization services. Once the user is authenticated authorization component verifies whether that user is allowed to access a particular service or not. The user access request (generally in the form of URL for Web-based applications) is validated based on authorization policies stored in lam policy store. To provide this service authorization makes use of complex access control mechanisms based on organizational security policies such as user groups, user roles, action performed, channels accessed, types of resources, time, external data and business rules.

User Management: It provides administrative services such as delegated administration, user and role management, user provisioning and de-provisioning, password management, self-service, and compliance audit. Delegated administration improves the accuracy of the system data within an IAM by distributing the workload among different user departments. Many of the user management functions are centralized and some of these functions are delegated to end-users. User and role management provides administrative services such as user identity creation, propagation and maintaining user identity and rights. It also performs user life cycle management that helps an organization to manage the lifetime of user accounts, from the initial phase of provisioning to the final phase of de-provisioning. An organization can maintain update and accurate user identity information using self-service, which provides user profile management functions including user’s self-registration and automated password reset. Compliance audit service logs and tracks user behavioural activities.

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Enterprise Directory Services: The directory service provides a central user repository that secures use- identity information and enables other components and services of IAM to retrieve and verify user credentials submitted by various client systems. This component provides the logical structure of all the user identities of an organization. It provides a single point of administration and services such as data synchronization, Meta directory and virtual directory, which are used to synchronize and manage user identity data from databases, applications, networks, and systems in real-time. lAM directory services implement standards such as Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) and Simple Cloud Identity Management (KIM).

What are the benefits of IAM systems

Implementing identity and access management and associated best practices can give you a significant competitive advantage in several ways. Nowadays, most businesses need to give users outside the organization access to internal systems. Opening your network to customers, partners, suppliers, contractors and, of course, employees can increase efficiency and lower operating costs. 

Identity management systems can allow a company to extend access to its information systems across a variety of on-premises applications, mobile apps, and SaaS tools without compromising security. By providing greater access to outsiders, you can drive collaboration throughout your organization, enhancing productivity, employee satisfaction, research and development, and, ultimately, revenue. 

Identity management can decrease the number of help-desk calls to IT support teams regarding password resets. Identity management systems allow administrators to automate these and other time-consuming, costly tasks. 

An identity management system can be a cornerstone of a secure network because managing user identity is an essential piece of the access-control picture. An identity management system all but requires companies to define their access policies, specifically outlining who has access to which data resources and under which conditions they have access. 

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People also ask Questions

  1. Which cloud service access management is used to authenticate users?
  2. How do you verify users?
  3. What are identity management tools?
  4. What does IAM aim to ensure?

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