Back to Blog

What is Identity & Access management and Why everyone on the internet should know about it?

Naresh Kini

Gone are those days where all office data were stored externally in hard disks CDs etc, Today, most of the organization’s work is done in the cloud with multiple devices, which means the data can be accessed from anywhere by the company personnel.  Now the real problem arises here! What if someone else who doesn’t even belong to the organization accesses it? The thought itself would horrify some! So, to prevent this we have to come up with new ways to manage the employees’ identity so that only the right person will have access to the data. But adding too much security measures will smother the productivity.

So, to find the right balance with security and productivity Identity and Access Management (IAM) comes into picture which helps us to keep up with the phase of digital transformation. The core objective of IAM systems is one digital identity per individual.

What is an IAM?

According to Gartner, “identity and access management is the security discipline that enables the right individuals to access the right resources at the right times for the right reasons”.

Identity and access management is a framework for the business process which defines and manages the access privileges digitally. It includes the policies which help an organization to manage digital identity and hence supports identity management. Identity management is beyond sticking to user-login and password. Access management is all about authentication and authorization.

Now, the question strikes us, What IAM does? IAM  basically allows businesses to operate more efficiently by reducing the effort, time and money that is required to manage access to their networks manually or individual access controls that aren’t connected to centralized management systems. Identity and access management are closely related in terms of governance and identity of data. Systems used for identity and access management include single sign-on systems, multifactor authentication, and access management. These technologies also provide the ability to securely store identity and profile data as well as data governance functions to ensure that only data that is necessary and relevant is shared. The figure below shows the relationship between identity and access management with users and resources.

Within the IAM paradigm, the users (Employees, Contractors, Customers and Business Partners) access resources through the Access Management layer. The Access Management layer has Authentication, Authorization, Access Policies, Single Sign and so on.  

Components of IAM:

Identity and Access management is part of IT security functions in an Enterprise Business. There are various aspects to IAM which are explosions in the below section.

  • User Provisioning: It is an important aspect of identity management procedures, and it defines the different ways of managing an individual’s digital identity, authentication and authorization rights. The user provisioning may include the recipients of the service or the end-users.
  • Privilege: In an enterprise business, users gain secured access to different resources through various permission.
  • Data Governance: It  is the overall management of the availability, usability, integrity and security of data used in an enterprise. A sound data governance program includes a governing body or council, a defined set of procedures and a plan to execute those procedures. Businesses benefit from data governance because it ensures data is consistent and trustworthy. This is critical as more organizations rely on data to make business decisions, optimize operations, create new products and services, and improve profitability.
  • Authentication: Users are given secure access to resources in the organization through various security measures. This is known as Authentication.

Forrester Identity Management Maturity Model:

This is the model which helps us to understand the frailty and security gap to assess risk management. It explains how one can understand the potential gap and incorporate changes in the existing security systems. It can be explained in four different levels.

  • Non-existence: In this level, there is zero security and hence there won’t be an identity management system. This level does not require any user logins.
  • Repeatable: This is done when the entire process is documented. For example, when a new employee joins an organization, the organization will give new employee id and access to information required for his/her job role.
  • Measured: In this level, it discards manual involvement. When a new employee joins he/she will be provided access company details with an appropriate level of access rights. Once they resign they will be deprovisioned from the access.
  • Optimized: Here identity plays a key role. This will be accompanied by many dashboards which will help an organization to analyze what is going on. It helps to know how many people signed in, how many are actively using.

How IAM works?

The basic elements of IAM are a database of the user’s data the system uses to define individual users; tools for adding, updating and deleting that data; a system that authenticates user access; and an auditing and reporting system. Regulating user access has traditionally involved a number of authentication methods for verifying the identity of a user, including passwords, digital certificates, tokens and smart cards. Hardware tokens and credit-card-sized smart cards served as one component in two-factor authentication, which combines something you know (your password) with something you have (the token or the card) to verify your identity.

A smart card has an embedded integrated circuit chip, it secures the microcontroller. It also has an equivalent intelligence with internal memory. Software tokens can exist on any device with storage capacity, from a USB drive to a cell phone. The complex computing environment, along with alarming security threats, strong username and password is not at all sufficient. Identity management systems often incorporate elements of biometrics, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and risk-based authentication. At the user level, user authentication methods are helping to protect identities in a better way. The best example which supports this explanation is the popularity of Touch ID-enabled iPhones. It familiarized people using their fingerprints as an authentication method also Windows 10 computers offer fingerprint sensors or iris scanning for biometric user authentication.

How will IAM benefit the Organization

We know that better customer experiences lead to higher revenue growth for your company. To deliver great customer experiences identity and access management gives a good platform. It helps businesses to give access to information system like mobile apps, SAAS tools to outsiders without compromising the security. By opening the company’s network it helps the company to operate on lower costs and also increase its efficiency. For effective identity management, the company has to define very clearly who has to access the data resources and the conditions to access it.

Ensures data security

IAM is a cornerstone of a secure network, as it manages user identity as an essential piece of the access-control picture. An identity management system requires companies to define their access policies, specifically outlining who has access to which data resources and under which conditions they have access. Consequently, well-managed identities mean greater control of user access, which translates into a reduced risk of internal and external breaches. This is important because, along with the rising threats of external threats, internal attacks are all too frequent.

Gain more users

In a  B2B or B2C, to attract new users following things must be considered:

  • Setting up an attractive ad for social media and with a platform like AdEspresso to get the best results from your ad budget.
  • Reconfiguring the onboard process to help people realize the value of your product from their first session.
  • Running extensive mobile analytics for your new app to figure out exactly what you need to tweak to make it better.

But just these traditional channels like ads and analytics isn’t enough. The most effective, but forgotten way to drive conversions is simply to change login.  Keeping user-friendly login options like single sign-on and social login can make a big difference in how many people actually sign up — to the tune of a 20% increase in conversions.

New marketing trends

Selling a product means to have a clear picture of the interests of customers, and their behaviours. The problem is, frequently  a customer’s information is spread out over different platforms. There might be one platform for analytics, one for email messaging, one place where you store login information. Ultimately, the more you utilize customer information, the more platforms you’ll have.

What you need is the ability to consolidate this information to create a powerful, information-rich profile.

Easy access and increased productivity

There’s a lot of new technology coming up every day. Accepting the future of login helps us to be prepared to use biometric data in a rapidly growing Internet of Things.

Staying on top of these shifting technologies is key to business (especially startup) success. That’s why  outsourcing identity management can continue to return value to business in the long run. An IAM solution will help  to keep up with changes in social login, add relevant features as and when they are adopted, and keep yourself on the cutting edge of internet security.

Share on social media: 

More from the Blog

How Video KYC will help Banks and Financial institutions

What’s the first step that a customer has to take when he wants to avail any service from a Bank or a Financial institution? It is the Know Your Customer (KYC) process. KYC is a process where a financial institution verifies the identity and personal details of a potential customer. The RBI has made it mandatory for all companies to undertake KYC before offering any services to customers. While it has had a positive effect of reigning in unscrupulous activities like money laundering and fraud, it has its drawbacks too.

Read Story

Ensuring business continuity through V-CIP

With social distancing as the key preventive measure in the going global pandemic, expecting customers to come to the branches of RE’s, i.e. Banks, NBFCs, etc. seems out of the question. The biggest casualty of this situation would be the Know Your Customer (KYC) process which needs verification of documents and other aspects of a customers’ identity.

Read Story

Reintroduction of eSign based eMandates: What does it mean?

The NPCI (National Payment Corporation of India) has reintroduced eSign based electronic NACH (National Automated Clearing House) mandates. This latest update shared via a circular dated May 26, 2020, is bound to cheer Banks, Lenders and other institutions.

Read Story