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What Is An Identity and Access Management So-lution and How Can Businesses Benefit From It?

How businesses can benefit from the adoption of an identity and access management solution.

Businesses that use outdated manual processes to grant and control access to their IT resources are getting left behind. This article describes what an identity and access management solution is and how it can benefit your business.

Identity Is the New Perimeter

Businesses combine on-premises with cloud-hosted applications. Employees access corporate resources using multiple device types from disparate locations. You can’t simply bring people into the office and trust that the network perimeter protects your information.  For modern corporate networks, identity is the new perimeter.

Across a hybrid cloud network, identity is the common link that can protect or expose your valuable information. The following statistics on data breaches and enterprise security provide important context to the importance of managing user access to corporate resources:

When user access is improperly or insufficiently managed, hackers can exploit easy entry points into your network. Every business needs a robust solution that provides access to distributed resources while maintaining the privacy and security of their information.

What Is An IAM Solution?

An identity and access management (IAM) solution helps businesses manage the lifecycle of digital identities and secure the resources they can access. With an IAM solution, you can provide secure access to systems and assets on your network or beyond, in the cloud.

Some crucial functions an IAM product performs include:

  • Onboarding new users, whether they are employees, contractors, or business partners
  • Provisioning access to applications, databases, and other IT assets
  • Authenticating users to verify that they are who they claim to be
  • Controlling access by granting privileges to perform certain functions depending on a user’s role or other contextual information
  • De-provisioning access for employees who no longer need it in a timely manner
  • Generating reports for assessing security risks and ensuring compliance

All of these IAM features are critical for protecting your data. Consider the ability of an IAM solution to de-provision access promptly. If you lack an IAM solution, it’s harder to keep track of access. Even when employees leave, their user accounts (and access levels) can persist on the network and pose a security threat.

Relying on IT helpdesks to perform all of these IAM functions manually is a recipe for disaster. User experience is almost guaranteed to suffer when people need to submit access request tickets and wait for overburdened staff to provide the access they need. It’s not uncommon for new employees to be left lacking access to crucial systems because IT staff aren’t sure what access the person should have.

Types of IAM Solutions

There are two different core types of IAM solutions that differ in how they’re implemented:

  • On-premise: Sometimes referred to as legacy IAM, on-premises solutions are hosted from your own IT infrastructure.
  • Cloud: Cloud-based access management solutions are accessible as services delivered as software-as-a-service.

As with any other cloud service model, there are some compelling reasons to migrate to a cloud-based IAM solution. These reasons include flexibility, improved compliance, easy scalability, lower costs, and rapid implementation.

Moving from an existing on-premises solution, such as Active Directory, to a cloud-based one is often a difficult undertaking. According to an article on modernizing IAM environments, the four key steps to migrating from legacy IAM solutions to cloud-based access management are:

  1. Take inventory of all on-premises and cloud services that need protection
  2. Map out controls based on who accesses particular resources and how sensitive the resources are
  3. Identify current authentication controls in on-premises and cloud apps
  4. Prioritize implementation based on specific apps or user groups

Benefits of IAM Solutions

The broad goal and benefit of IAM solutions is that they help your business manage user identities and access permissions in a secure way . Here are some more specific benefits to expect whether you opt for an on-premises or cloud-based solution.

Security

The broad security benefit is the ability to monitor, authenticate, and control user access easily and quickly. It’s also trivial to remove inappropriate access privileges with IAM in place. IAM tools ensure the right people have the right levels of access at all times, which is critical for security purposes.

IAM solutions can enhance security using features such as contextual/adaptive and multi-factor authentication. Bearing in mind how many data breaches arise from stolen credentials, requiring an extra category of evidence before users can perform certain actions in specific contexts adds an extra security layer.

Productivity

Productivity gains benefit both IT teams and the rest of your employees. For IT teams, there are marked productivity gains from automating much of their administrative workflows with an IAM solution. Employees are also able to spend more time being productive in a world where password reset requests are reduced, access requests are swiftly responded to, and single-sign-in is facilitated.

User Experience

IAM solutions simplify both getting access to corporate resources and signing in to enterprise services. Role-based access provisions help to automate and speed up new user onboarding. Features such as single-sign-on enable users to sign in to every application they have access to with one password while maintaining security through multifactor authentication. 

Conclusion

Physical network boundaries no longer protect sensitive corporate data from prying malicious outsiders. In combination with a sensible access policy, IAM solutions work for your business and protect your valuable data from costly breaches all while enhancing user experience.

About the author: By Ronan Mahony

Follow me on Twitter: @securityaffairs and Facebook

Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – hacking, Access Management)

The post What Is An Identity and Access Management So-lution and How Can Businesses Benefit From It? appeared first on Security Affairs.

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