What is Identity and Access Management (IAM)?
14 November 2021

Identity and Access Management in regards to cybersecurity refers to a framework of policies, processes, and technologies that enable organisations to define and manage the roles and access privileges of users and devices. As a cyber security best practice, IAM is a critical component of IT infrastructure that reduces identity-related access risks within a business.

With the proliferation of IoT devices, identity management has gone beyond users (customers, partners and employees) and must also cater for devices (smartphones, routers, servers, controllers and sensors). IAM software equips administrators to administer user access across an entire enterprise and to ensure compliance with corporate policies and government regulations through tools to change a user’s role, track user activities, create reports on those activities, and enforce policies on an ongoing basis.

Prior to 2020, the threats of poor identity management were already a mountain to climb but have since become just a tip of the iceberg. Needless to say, hybrid working environments have heightened the criticality of IAM. With more and more employees working from home and accessing internal systems, the threats associated with poor identity management have multiplied. Without a central identity management system, the more data sources there are, the higher the risk involved in their secure storage and maintenance. Furthermore, in a multi-system environment, the role, group, and authorisation levels are independently implemented and efficient data verification and control becomes quite difficult and cumbersome.

One of the most prevalent causes of security issues is excessive employee access due to there being no clear role definitions or as a result of inaccurate identity classifications. An example would be an employee retaining access to data from an old department after being moved to a new department. These are precisely the kinds of loopholes that are exploited by malicious actors. Many other threats can arise in processes such as on-boarding employees, off-boarding employees or even misconfigurations resulting from the mishandling or lack of security controls. Misconfigurations have risen in the cloud era as a consequence of human error in the complexifying cloud environment.

Ultimately, the underlying issues that give rise to the above threats are a lack of central visibility and automation founded upon best practices. Solutions such as Quest’s One Identity Tools  allow you to govern identities and access for all users for your on-prem, hybrid and cloud environments from a central console. It is important to highlight that the success of IAM goes beyond having the right tool but also includes developing the right processes to be enforced by that tool. Processes should be based on best practices whilst being bidirectionally complementary to the IAM tools in use.

When done right, the benefits of IAM are unquestionable. For instance, IAM provides a common platform for access and identity management information. You can apply the same security policies across all the operating platforms and devices used by the organisation. IAM assigns one digital identity to each user or device. From there, the solution maintains, modifies, and monitors access levels and privileges through each user’s access life cycle.

According to Quest, “You achieve security only when you ensure the right people get the right access to the right resources at the right time, in the right way, and you can prove it. You can do this only when identity is at the core of your security strategy. See how our integrated portfolio enables this like no other.”.

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Post by: DGITUser
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