Stealing passwords and hacking into networks is easier than ever with advances in modern technology, emphasizing the importance of identity and access management (IAM). A hacker can crack a four-letter, two-digit password in less than a second. More importantly, if your data is not on a completely private server, a breach anywhere on the server could compromise everyone’s data.
Why Is IAM Important?
IAM comprises systems and processes that allow the IT administrator to assign one digital identity to each entity, authenticate all long-ins, authorize access to specific resources and monitor and manage those identities. In other words, managers in the company can control which categories of employees have access to which applications or data, adding an extra layer of security to your business’ network.
IAM systems are as complex or straightforward as you want them to be with personalization options that reveal certain documents, files and records. Implementing IAM services is proactive if your team consists of numerous departments with unique roles. Only the users you choose can access the company portal, and they’ll be able to see the information you want them to see. The concept of identity and access management technology makes it more difficult for an outside party to view, manipulate or steal sensitive data.
IAM systems help you keep track of employee activity. Only certain employees can view programs and applications, making it challenging for unauthorized persons to gain access. You can also set system parameters to catch any suspicious transactions, communications or errors that might otherwise go undetected.
Besides employees in your company, IAM systems provide secure access for business partners and contractors, mobile and remote users and customers. A well-established IAM system enhances productivity and the smooth operation of the business’s digital system. Employees can work seamlessly regardless of their locations with the centralized management granting them access to necessary tools. Contractors, consumers and suppliers also benefit from the improved efficiency and reduced expenses.
Identity and access management systems appeal to companies that plan on expanding their staff. Gradually grant permissions to new hires as they climb the corporate ladder with updated titles and qualifications. Utilizing IAM reduces risks of sudden changes in the workplace and sets you up for success in the following areas:
- Stopping the spread of malware
- Opening the company portal to potential clients
- Monitoring employee productivity
- Improving the overall user experience — single-sign-on or multi-factor credentials
Different Types of User Authentication
The primary purpose of IAM systems is to authenticate that an entity is what it says it is. Modern authentication solutions offer complex methods to better secure your assets. The three main approaches to user authentication are:
- Multifactor authentication (MFA): This approach creates an additional layer of protection by directing users to provide two or more verification factors besides the username before they gain access. It’s a core component of a strong IAM policy. Typically, the system will ask you to enter extra information such as a temporary code sent to your phone as a text or an email.
- Single sign-on (SSO): This method enables users to secure or authenticate multiple websites and applications with just one set of credentials. The one-time verification of the username and password gives the individual access to multiple applications and allows them to switch between the applications seamlessly. The SSO solution increases productivity for users.
- Risk-based authentication (RBA): RBA applies varying stringent levels to the authentication depending on the perceived risk. It prompts the MFA user only when it detects higher risks. For example, when the user’s IP address shows a different location than the one that is expected, the system will prompt the user to verify immediately.
3 Ways to Use IAM to Protect Your Data
As discussed in our whitepaper “Beyond The Password: Identity and Access,” there are three ways to use identity and access management to protect your data:
- Centralized IAM, where all access decisions are concentrated in one location, whether a physical location or a virtual identity server.
- Decentralized, where various regional entities make access decisions.
- Federated, where every organization agrees on a common set of procedures and standards for user management.
Many entities prefer the federated model because it offers the benefits of a centralized system without putting too much control in one place.
What Are the Benefits of IAM?
The benefits of identity and access management include the following:
1. Improves Data Security
IAM is a critical cybersecurity function that organizes all sizes of privileged access management. It boosts security and provides greater control of user access to your system. This helps organizations mitigate data breaches, identity theft and illegal access to sensitive corporate information.
The system protects valuable information accessible through multiple devices such as mobile phones, personal computers, controllers, sensors and router servers. When the IAM system establishes a single identity for a person or item, that identity is updated and monitored throughout the individual user’s access lifecycle.
2. Helps With Compliance
Embedding IAM security strategies into your business operations helps you keep up with regulatory compliance. Your IAM plan must accommodate user authentication methods, user access reviews and user access to resource locations.
The regulatory compliance laws your company may encounter include:
- Gramm-Leach Bliley Act
- Sarbanes-Oxley Act
- The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard
- General Data Protection Regulation
- Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
- The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act
- North American Electric Reliability Corporation
3. Reduces the Chance of Human Error
Identity and access management tools eliminate manual privileges and permission settings that sometimes lead to errors. It frees the IT team from the burden of manually managing access rights to data, which can be tedious. IAM is a fully automated management solution that reduces cost and streamlines operations, reducing the chance of human error.
4. Provides Data Confidentiality
Confidentiality is an integral part of every business. The relationship between parties and other legal requirements directs people to keep certain information private, regardless of how delicate or sensitive they are. IAM tools are the most secure way to grant access to selected persons to use and view certain applications or files while limiting or completely restricting others.
5. Streamlines IT Workloads
Identity and access management allows your IT team to change all access privileges across the organization at the same time when security policies get updated. As a result, IAM cuts down the number of tickets workers send to IT for password resets.
Optimal IdM for Data Security and Identity Access Management
If you’re concerned about breaches affecting your data or the data of your customers and want a reliable identity access management solution, contact Optimal IdM, a global provider of identity and access management solutions.
Our OptimalCloud offers a higher level of security than other solutions because our system works without having to sync data, meaning there is no co-mingling of data with other dedicated private servers. Therefore, there’s no chance for breaches in those servers to infect your data repository.
To learn more about protecting your data with Optimal IdM, download the whitepaper “Beyond The Password: Identity and Access” or contact us today!