Identity and Access Management (IAM) products are being integrated into businesses now more than ever before. These tools and technologies provide IT managers to control user access to critical information within businesses.
These have created excellent barriers of defense against hackers as IT managers are able to block departments in businesses from accessing files and programs that aren’t necessary for them to do their job. How this helps is that if an employee gets hacked, the cybercriminal would only have access to what that employee has been authorized to access.
But while these systems are great, there is still some resistance being met – namely in peoples love/hate relationship with passwords. Too many of us have too many passwords which can make the temptation of sharing login accesses a problem.
Even with that problem, the pandemic has caused IAM systems to be more widely adopted and becoming an essential part to a business.
How IAM Works
Several years ago, a typical IA comprised of four elements:
- A directory or identity repository of personal data to define users.
- A set of tools for adding, modifying and deleting data (pertaining to access lifecycle management)
- A system that regulates and enforces users access
- And an auditing and reporting system.
Regulating user access typically falls down to passwords, digital certificates, hardware and smartphone software tokens. Some of these emerged in 2005 and can now be found in iOS and Android smartphone apps from Google, Microsoft and many other IAM vendors. Modern approaches have evolved to biometric elements and support such as Fast Identity Alliance (FIDO).
With technology evolving so much, strong passwords and usernames aren’t able to cut it any longer. Things like multi-factor authentication has been integrated into IAM products. Today, IAM has some biometrics involved along with machine learning and AI as well as risk-based authentication.
How It Keeps Everything Secure
IAM has several critical roles in the security system of a company. That being said, IAM isn’t delegated to a single IAM team. It’s spread out to development teams, IT infrastructure, operation managers, legal department and more.
IAM techniques are really only the start of managing a secure network. Companies need to define access policies, who has access to which data and applications, and under what conditions they have access to them.
That process has evolved over time and it results in overlapping rules and role definitions. IAM forces companies to look back through some over those outdated and incorrect placements and revoke extra privileges.
With that in mind, you can see that IAM is able to connect to all parts of a business and that aspect is crucial in order for it to become relevant within in a business.
And you will want to be doing that because IAM – when done right – can protect users by requiring authentication keys that are from non-human entities. Application keys, APIs, secrets, agents and containers. These provide way more security that make hacking into systems that much harder to pull off.
Are There Challenges And Risks To IAM?
Despite the higher level of security that’s available, IAM’s presence can be a blessing or a curse. IAM isn’t able to cover absolutely everything. One issue users run into is “birthright access”. These policies evolve over time and these company policies outline what people have access to as soon as they begin working with a company.
The issue with these policies is they touch on many different departments. Simply delegating these to the appropriate people or managers becomes an issue as well. IAM systems are meant to detect access rights changes automatically but so very often they don’t.
Having these tasks automated is essential because the alternative is manually adjusting access privileges and controls for hundreds or thousands of users. It’s just not feasible to do that.
Another problem is that while zero trust networks are popular, these trust relationships will still need to be monitored. Those applications and procedures need to be part of a corporation’s infrastructure.
Lastly, IT managers will need to be building in identity management from the ground up with any new applications that this brings.
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