What is Identity and Access Management (IAM)?

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What Is Identity and Access Management (IAM)?

Identity and Access Management, or IAM is the most valuable information technology service to safeguard internet security. It can be defined as a process of providing customers with secure access to physical resources while they are in use.

The IAM security discipline enables organizations to securely control access to resources. IAM encompasses the policies, technologies, and processes used to manage identities and grant access to resources.

What is the definition of IAM?

IAM is a process of managing digital identities. It includes the creation, maintenance, and use of digital identities. IAM also refers to the technologies and processes used to manage these identities.

IAM systems are used to store and manage user credentials. They can be used to authenticate and authorize users to access systems and data. IAM systems can also be used to track user activity and monitor compliance with security policies.

IAM can be used to manage internal users, external users, or both. Internal users are employees, contractors, or other individuals who have been granted access to an organization’s systems and data. External users are customers, partners, or other individuals who need access to an organization’s data but do not have a direct relationship with the organization.

The term “identity” refers to the attributes that identify an individual. These attributes can include a user’s name, address, date of birth, social security number, or other information that can be used to identify an individual. The term “access” refers to the ability of an individual to gain access to systems and data. Access can be granted based on identity attributes such as job title or department.

The benefits of IAM

There are many benefits of using IAM, including:

  • Improved security: IAM can help organizations control user access to systems and data, making it more difficult for unauthorized users to access sensitive information.
  • Increased efficiency: IAM can automate many tasks related to managing user access, such as provisioning and de-provisioning accounts, resetting passwords, and managing permissions. This can free up time for IT staff to focus on other tasks.
  • Improved compliance: IAM can help organizations keep track of user activity and ensure that only authorized users have access to sensitive information. This can help organizations meet various compliance requirements, such as the EU GDPR.

The five basic IAM functions

The five basic IAM functions are:

  • Identification: The process of identifying users and devices within a system. This can be done through the use of usernames, ID numbers, or biometrics.
  • Authentication: The process of verifying the identity of a user or device. This is usually done through the use of passwords but can also be done through the use of digital certificates or other forms of authentication such as biometrics.
  • Authorization: The process of granting access to resources based on the identity of a user or device. This typically includes defining what actions a user or device is allowed to perform on specific resources.
  • Accounting: The process of tracking and logging all activity within a system. This can be used for monitoring and auditing purposes, as well as for billing and resource usage planning.
  • Auditing: The process of reviewing all activity within a system to ensure that it meets compliance requirements. This can include reviewing configuration settings, user activity logs, and resource usage reports.

The IAM lifecycle

The identity and access management (IAM) lifecycle is the process of provisioning and managing user identities and permissions to access resources in an organization. The IAM lifecycle typically includes the following steps:

1. Create user accounts: This step involves creating user accounts in the organization’s directory service, such as Active Directory or LDAP.

2. Assign roles and permissions: This step involves assigning roles and permissions to user accounts. Roles define what a user can do within the organization, while permissions define what resources a user can access.

3. Provision resources: This step involves provisioning resources, such as servers or applications, that users need access to.

4. Monitor activity: This step involves monitoring activity to ensure that users are only accessing the resources they are authorized to access.

Choosing an IAM solution

When it comes to choosing an IAM solution, there are a few key factors you need to consider. The first is what your organization’s needs are in terms of security and compliance. There are a number of different IAM solutions on the market, each with its own set of features and capabilities. You need to make sure that the solution you choose offers the level of security and compliance your organization requires.

The second factor to consider is ease of use. IAM solutions can be complex, and you need to make sure that the solution you choose is easy for your users to understand and use. Otherwise, they will simply bypass it altogether.

Finally, you need to consider the cost of the solution. IAM solutions can vary widely in price, so you need to make sure that the solution you choose fits within your budget.

Building an IAM system

When it comes to identity and access management (IAM), there are a few diverse ways to approach building an IAM system. The most common way is to use a centralized directory, such as Active Directory, which can be used to manage user accounts and permissions. Another option is to use a decentralized approach, where each application has its own user database.

There are pros and cons to both approaches. A centralized directory can be easier to manage, but it can also be a single point of failure. A decentralized approach can be more difficult to manage, but it is more resilient. The best approach for your organization will depend on your specific needs and requirements.

If you decide to go with a centralized directory, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. First, you need to make sure that the directory is well-protected against unauthorized access. Second, you need to make sure that the permissions associated with each user account are properly configured. Finally, you need to make sure that the directory is regularly backed up so that you can recover from any accidental deletions or corruptions.

If you decide to go with a decentralized approach, there are a few things you need to keep in mind as well. First, each application will need its own user database. This can add complexity when it comes time to managing users and permissions. Second, you need to ensure that each application has proper security measures in place so that only authorized users can access it.

IAM best practices

There are a few best practices to follow when setting up and using IAM:

1. Use a strong password policy. This includes using a mix of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols. Avoid using dictionary words or easily guessed phrases.

2. Set up multi-factor authentication. This adds an extra layer of security by requiring another form of authentication, such as a code from a physical token or generated by an app, in addition to your username and password.

3. Don’t use the same password at multiple sites. If hackers get ahold of your password from one site, they can try to use it to access other accounts you have. Using different passwords helps protect against this.

4. Keep your software up to date. Software updates often include security fixes that can help protect against new threats.

Lateral Movement FAQ

What is identity and access management (IAM)?
IAM is a system of policies and technologies that enables an organization to manage its digital identities, access control, and authentication. IAM can help organizations improve security, compliance, and efficiency while reducing costs.
What are the benefits of using IAM?
There are many benefits to using IAM, including improved security, compliance, and efficiency; reduced costs; and better management of digital identities.
How does IAM work?
IAM works by managing the identification, authentication, authorization, and auditing of users who access an organization’s systems and data. IAM can be used to manage both internal and external users.
What are some common features of IAM solutions?
Common features of IAM solutions include identity management, access control, password management, Single Sign-On (SSO), two-factor authentication, and auditing.
How do I choose the right IAM solution for my organization?
When choosing an IAM solution for your organization, you should consider your needs and objectives, the size and complexity of your environment, your budget, and the capabilities of the solution. You should also consult with experts to get advice on which solution is best for your organization.

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