What is Identity Management?

identity access management

Identity management may sound like the process of simply recording employee details and credentials. However, if performed correctly, it facilitates so much more than that. Identity access management allows for centralized control over who can access which company resources at any given time. In the context of today’s increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks, it is an invaluable tool for minimizing and containing potential threats. This article walks through the features of identity management solutions, and outlines the benefits of implementing such a tool.  

What is Identity Management?

Identity management is the practice of creating a unique digital identity for each employee, which is then used to identify, authenticate, and authorize their access to the organization’s IT resources. The digital attributes of an employee’s identity are stored in a central database, making it easier to instantly and securely verify their access and activities. 

Identity management is most useful when used in tandem with access management, which we’ll dive into below. It is particularly valuable for maintaining security in remote or hybrid work environments, where employees may be accessing company assets from a variety of locations and devices.  

What is Identity Access Management?

Identity Access Management (IAM) is the practice of providing employees with access to company resources based on their digital identity profile. Identity management and identity access management are two terms that are often used interchangeably. However, the main difference between the two is that identity management focuses on the user’s identity, while identity access management determines what resources each identity has access to. Rather than giving all employees access to all areas, this allows for a more secure approach of only granting access to what each individual needs. 

The identity access management framework is comprised of two access components. The first part is authentication, which deals with issues like managing active sessions, sign-on options, and providing strong authentication through biometrics or token-based algorithms.

The second component is authorization, which involves a user record that defines attributes, roles, and rules to ensure a particular user, application, or device has the necessary permissions to access a resource. 

Identity Access Management Solutions

The following are some of the types of user authentication that identity access management solutions rely on:

Single Sign On (SSO): These identity access management solutions help improve productivity and reduce friction for employees. The user has one set of credentials for authentication and only uses the username and password once in order to access several platforms, making it easy to switch between different systems seamlessly.

Multi Factor Authentication: Popularly known as MFA, multi factor authentication creates an additional layer of security, requiring employees to present additional identifying credentials on top of their login before accessing information. For example, the system sends a code to your email or phone after entering your login credentials.    

Risk-based Authentication: Also known as adaptive authentication, this identity access management solution requests additional multi factor authentication when it detects suspicious users trying to access the organization’s information. For instance, when the employee’s IP reads from a different location than usual, it requests the user to provide further authentication. 

Why Do You Need Identity Access Management?

Most employees alternate between two and four passwords to access over 100 platforms and applications. This means IT administrators in small and medium-sized businesses have their hands full managing employee credentials in a secure way.

It is widely acknowledged that a significant proportion of cybersecurity breaches are caused by identity access issues such as hacked or stolen credentials. Adopting an identity management system reduces this risk and ensures identity access is centralized and automated to reduce errors. 

Using identity management solutions also helps your IT team to control, track, and monitor users that have access to the organization’s sensitive data while maintaining highly secure authentication protocols. As well as adding a layer of protection, this process improves collaboration and efficiency at your organization.  

4 Benefits of Identity Management Systems and Solutions

Security, productivity, and regulatory compliance are among the main reasons most businesses adopt identity management systems. However, these solutions can sometimes be complex to implement and manage in-house, particularly if your organization is operating with limited resources. By outsourcing to a managed IT solution, you can realize the following additional benefits of identity management:

Simplified user experience

Managed IT providers are well versed in the various approaches to setting up a successful identity management solution. Leveraging their experience will benefit your organization and employees through easy-to-use identity management processes. They can also create a custom solution that will meet the requirements of any employee while consolidating logins and making the sign-in process easy and fast. 

Saves costs and time

Developing and maintaining an identity management system for your company can be a time-consuming and expensive process. Outsourcing this service to experts who have access to the latest technologies is typically more cost-effective, plus they will be able to guide you on the most appropriate solution and service levels for your needs.   

Uphold regulatory compliance

In a world where data security standards are updated regularly, you need to ensure your business upholds the required measures. This can be challenging for small and medium-sized companies that don’t have a dedicated IT team to focus on compliance issues. Third-party identity management specialists can alleviate this stress, as they are more likely to be up to date with the latest regulatory compliance requirements.  

Reports and historical data

Without an identity and access management solution, it is almost impossible for business owners to keep track of the devices and users accessing their organization’s data at specific times. Third-party solution providers generate reports based on historical data, which are highly critical when assessing data breaches or cyberattacks.

Optimize Your Identity Access Management 

At Electric, we can handle the administrative work involved in application and cloud management for your employees. From monitoring user permissions and fulfilling employee file-sharing policy requests, to providing full visibility into access configurations, you’ll enjoy streamlined identity management and a lighter internal workload. Contact us today to learn more.

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