What are Identity and Access Management (IAM) solutions?

Cybercrime will cost more than $6 trillion in 2021 and continually tops the CIO priority list. When it comes to cybersecurity, Identity and Access Management…

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Dennis McDermott

February 20, 20207 minute read

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Cybercrime will cost more than $6 trillion in 2021 and continually tops the CIO priority list. When it comes to cybersecurity, Identity and Access Management is one of the most important tools available. It’s responsible for delivering exactly the right balance between keeping your data secure and providing access to those who need it. This blog looks at IAM and the benefits it brings to an organization.

As companies digitally transform, they rely more and more on the data held within their systems. Estimates suggest that this data is now more valuable than oil. Data is now longer a tool, it’s an enabler. Getting the right data to the right people at the right time is the difference between success and failure. But that must be done securely. This is where IAM tools come in.

In the first six months of 2019, there were over four billion data breaches. When you consider there were five billion breaches for the whole of 2018 then the scale of the cybersecurity issue becomes apparent. In 2019, 80% of hacking-related breaches still involve compromised and weak user credentials and passwords. Having effective an enterprise IAM software and cloud strategy is an essential component of IT security armory for extended enterprises.

So, what is IAM?

An Identity and Access Management definition

Although there are different Identity and access management concepts, it’s relatively simple to provide an IAM definition. Ensuring that the right people, systems and things have access to the right resources at the right times for the right reasons are the Identity and Access Management basics. The best IAM solutions manage both employee identities within an organization and across an extended business ecosystem of customers, suppliers, contractors and partners. In an increasingly digital and omnichannel world, your IAM capabilities must also be able to manage the identities of mobile and IoT connected devices.

The key Identity and Access Management capabilities

Given the importance of IAM, it’s no surprise that there is a wide variety of IAM products. However, not all IAM software has been created to fulfil the same need (see below) and may not meet the requirements for modern, digital Identity and Access Management. Some core IAM features that you should look for include:

Identity management

The best IAM manage the comprehensive, end-to-end Identity and Access Management lifecycle for employees, customers, business partners, and consumers.

Authorization management

These IAM capabilities establish access and IAM authorization administration, delegation and policy management and validate users are who they claim to be. The best IAM software also establishes trust across domains using single sign-on or multi-factor authentication (MLA).

Identity intelligence

You should select an Identity and Access Management solution that inspects identity, access and endpoint data and converts it to actionable information and insights. Identity Governance Administration can be embedded into the IAM architecture to simplify and strengthen compliance with information security and data privacy regulations, such as GDPR and CCPA.

Application and directory integration

The best IAM solutions provide comprehensive directory services and the capabilities to integrate and synchronize directories and identity-related data across enterprise and cloud applications and systems. This IAM capability is essential for modern business that needs to quickly extend third party access to enterprise data.

What are the top Identity and Access Management benefits?

When you are creating your Identity and Access Management strategy, what benefits should you look to achieve with an effective IAM framework?

Secure access and improved user experience

The best IAM tools minimize friction for users while still establishing needed levels of trust.  Single sign-on removes the need to remember and input multiple passwords to access different applications and resources. Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) takes secure access a stage further by introducing another IAM authentication layer based on factors such as Biometrics, SMS notification or geolocation.

Easy Access Anywhere from any device

An Identity and Access Management platform allows users to securely access corporate systems and resources from any authorized location or device. Organizations with a global reach need to enable fast and timely access to employees, partners, customers and contract staff. They also need to be able to deprovision those IAM services as soon as they are no longer required.

Increases Productivity and Reduces IT Costs

Modern Identity and Access Management solutions offer a comprehensive set of IAM components to help reduce the workload of your IT team while empowering the user to take more control and responsibility for their own security and access rights. The best IAM tools not only allow users to authenticate from anywhere anytime, they also provide the extensive audit trails, IAM metrics, access rules and policies that effectively automate Identity and Access Management inside and outside the enterprise.

Improved collaboration across any value chain

Your IAM system should provide secure access for external business users to internal and cloud-based backend applications. The IAM role is to streamline collaboration across extended value chains such as supplier networks as well as B2B Exchanges where multiple enterprises utilize a common set of suppliers and value chain partners.

Speed and scalability

The IAM solution manages the full identity lifecycle, from identity creation to access revocation, even for transient users requiring frequent on-boarding and off-boarding. Establishing new Identity and Access Management security credentials must be achieved quickly from a few to many thousands. One of the key IAM challenges is to provision and de-provision IAM services accurately so that no user or system credentials are active for any more than the minimum time required.

Types of Identity and Access Management solution

Traditional IAM software answered a very simple question: How do you allow employees to safely access corporate resources inside your firewall? This is sometimes known as the IAM concept of ‘inside out’ access. However, Identity and Access Management vendors have had to evolve their IAM products and solutions to meet a very different digital world.

Today, many companies rely on innovation and agility driven through collaboration with suppliers and partners. They need for customers and partners and other third parties to have greater access to their systems. They need to control and manage access across platforms including mobile, social and IoT. The result is a new ‘outside in’ approach to Identity and Access Management.

The competing business pressures and growing IAM challenges have led to the development of a number of different flavors of IAM. You are able to select mobile IAM, Cloud IAM or Customer Identity and Access Management – there’s even Identity and Access Management for small business.

IAM for the extended enterprise should have an Identity and Access Management platform that includes all these capabilities. As IAM requirements become more complex, organizations are turning to IAM providers that can deliver flexible and cost-effective Identity and Access Management managed services.

What is the future of Identity and Access Management?

As digital transformation gathers pace so does an organization’s need to secure access to the newly-digitized information assets and digital business processes. The most successful digital transformation initiatives target growth as well as operational efficiencies. As such, the highest growth area in IAM is securing access for external user communities: supply chains, partner ecosystems, customer and consumer portals, and industry exchanges. These are also the most challenging use cases from an IAM perspective, in contrast to B2E scenarios that can leverage employee onboarding processes for identity proofing, corporate firewalls, and static organizational hierarchy that simplify role- and attribute-based access control.

IAM technology is changing fast to accommodate new driving forces in digital Identity and Access Management.  Growth in extended enterprise ecosystems and partner networks demand advanced outside-in IAM approaches that are able to establish needed levels of trust, govern access entitlements, provide a sensational user experience and reliably scale across millions of people, systems and things. Other important trends in IAM revolve around the integration of disruptive technologies into IAM.

While its adoption is still low, blockchain in Identity and Access Management is gaining visibility as a technology that can deliver new levels of data security. However, the major growth area is in Cloud IAM as companies look to enable performance and scalability in an environment where they need to allow both internal and external access to systems. For IAM, Cloud also allows you to explore the benefits of IAM managed services from your chosen provider.

Find out more about the Identity and Access Management platform from OpenText™.

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Dennis McDermott

Dennis McDermott heads product marketing for OpenText Identity and Access Management and Supplier Portal solutions. Formally trained in human-centered design and research, Dennis has over 25 years of experience in aligning technology product offerings with core buyer needs and preferences and has led marketing and sales organizations in identity and access management for the past 15 years.

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