Managing access to IT systems and data is vital for businesses. It reduces IT workload, ensures security, and enables compliance.
IAM includes security features like multifactor authentication, single sign-on, privileged access management, and data governance. IAM also enables organizations to meet increasingly rigorous compliance requirements. It prevents hacking by preventing stolen credentials and mitigates the risk of breaches and data loss.
How IAM increases security? IAM solutions offer a centralized way to verify user identity when they access a company’s apps, networks, and systems on-premises and in the cloud. This approach helps businesses extend access to new employees, contractors, and customers without compromising security.
IAM also reduces the need for employees to write down passwords on sticky notes or use easy-to-remember passwords. This boosts productivity by making it quicker and easier to sign in while improving security by reducing the number of compromised user credentials that are part of data breaches. Many IAM solutions contain password management features that help security admins enforce strong password standards, including minimum character lengths and regular updates.
With the rise of remote work, it’s increasingly essential for companies to be able to share information with employees securely. If a cybercriminal gains access to employee logins, they can access a company’s sensitive files without penetrating the network perimeter. To avoid this, IAM systems use granular permissions to grant users access to only the resources they need to do their jobs, which can be verified through authentication and authorization.
IAM also supports zero-trust architectures that allow for more secure and efficient access to web applications, cloud services, infrastructure, and other on-premises systems through a single gateway. This is an especially critical component of IAM implementations that support a company’s move to the cloud, as it allows them to keep their existing infrastructure while adding new technologies and extending user access.
IAM tools secure access to a company’s applications, networks, and cloud services. They help companies define clear access and audit policies, protecting the integrity of internal and external data. IAM also ensures that users are who they say they are by implementing secure authentication (which is often multifactor and adaptive) and authorization.
The access control part of IAM works by linking digital identities to immutable identifiers, like usernames and passwords, that hackers cannot change. It combines these and other factors to confirm a user’s identity, preventing unauthorized access to data or systems.
Some IAM solutions provide methods for securing privileged accounts, which employees use in roles with elevated permissions over databases, servers, or other system resources. IAM solutions that include privileged access management (PAM) can use credential vaults and just-in-time access protocols to secure these accounts.
As regulatory compliance and industry mandates like SOX, HIPAA, GDPR, and more have increased in complexity, organizations need to implement strong security practices. IAM can automate processes for access reviews, auditing, and reporting to meet these compliance standards. In addition, IAM can help companies adhere to Zero Trust principles by verifying identities explicitly and relying on the principle of least privilege for access permissions. This means that users only get access to the minimum required for their role, and those permissions are revoked as soon as the task is completed.
Role-based access, or RBAC, grants end-users permissions based on their role in the organization. It helps reduce cybersecurity risk by ensuring that only employees who need access to specific data can have it. It also minimizes the possibility of unauthorized users performing unauthorized tasks. This can help a company reduce the time and cost associated with managing and granting individual permissions to users.
Administrators can define relationships and permissions by implementing a set of rules. These rules include who, what, where, and when. For example, you can restrict an employee’s ability to edit a file if they are outside of the office, or you can require an administrator to have access to every single system in the company. This is also known as the separation of duties.
When defining roles, administrators should start with an inventory of all data and applications to identify which ones need protection. They should also think about what types of work will be done. For example, a law firm would want to grant paralegals the ability to read data but may only need them to keep everything the same.
It’s essential to avoid creating too many roles, as this can restrict user access to the point where they can’t do their jobs effectively. You’ll also need to collaborate with other departments, primarily HR, to determine what roles should have overlapping responsibilities.
Access auditing is an essential step in reducing security threats and maintaining compliance. It provides the information that allows security officers to see who has access to what systems and data. By identifying those who have inappropriate access, the ability to remove it can be revoked. This can reduce the risk of insider threats, such as employee theft, and outside attacks, such as account hijacking.
To complete an access audit, security administrators should review the logs that tell them who accessed what systems and data and when. Ideally, this includes both a read and write audit log. This can reveal important information such as who accessed what application or database, what command they used (e.g., SELECT), and what time it happened. It can also be helpful to see what kind of error occurred (e.g., connection refused).
A well-planned access review process is essential to reducing security risks and complying with regulations such as GDPR. Having the right tools in place can make this process easier and faster for everyone involved. This helps reduce the chance of a security breach, damaging a business’s reputation and losing customers. It also helps to ensure that the most critical systems are protected against cyberattacks so companies can continue to serve their customers confidently.