5 Ways to Streamline Your Business’s Identity and Access Management

Updated on January 24, 2023

Limiting and restricting unauthorized access to organizational data is critical to businesses worldwide. It helps them maintain data integrity, allows them to comply with security regulations, and helps reduce the risk of cyber threats. Businesses currently use numerous methods, such as firewalls and encryption tools, to ensure organizational and customer data security. 

However, identity and access management (IAM) solutions remain the most relied-upon option for restricting unauthorized access and maintaining an effective security posture. In fact, recent forecasts have shown that businesses worldwide are expected to spend a total of $20 billion on IAM solutions in 2023. However, organizations must understand how to streamline IAM solutions before making such investments. 

What Is An IAM Solution?

An IAM solution is a security tool used for authentication, authorization, and access management. It allows businesses to ensure that organizational users have the required level of access to networks, resources, and applications. In addition, it also allows them to manage other identities. Some of them include: 

  • Software 
  • Hardware 
  • Internet of things (IoT) devices. 

IAM solutions also allow administrators to manage employee applications without requiring individual logins for each one. They help businesses enforce user authentication and validation protocols. 

In addition, these tools also help businesses align security measures to ensure regulatory compliance. The automated access management resulting from these tools allows businesses to reduce access processing time resulting in increased productivity. 

How Do IAM Solutions Work? 

For a comprehensive understanding, The functionality of these tools can be divided into identity and access. The identification aspect of these solutions looks at the digital representation of an employee using their social login, work email address, or personal email. Whereas the access aspect of these solutions ensures that the correct level of access to resources and applications is given.

An IAM authenticates an employee’s identity by verifying their login credentials against a database containing identities and user rights. The access request is either approved or denied based on the verification. If the access has been approved, an IAM considers the rights and privileges assigned to that user. It then allows users to access the resources. 

However, it ensures that their capabilities are limited according to predefined privileges. In addition, IAM solutions also use single-sign on (SSO) to provide an additional layer of security. This allows organizations to have faster authentication processes and helps them provide faster access. 

How Can Businesses Streamline Their IAM? 

IAM solutions help businesses to limit, in some cases eliminate, unauthorized access. This allows them to: 

  • Prevent data breaches. 
  • Reduce the risk of cyber threats.
  • Limit lateral movements in case of an attack. 

These solutions use various authentication protocols to ensure the correct level of access to users. However, inadequate knowledge of these solutions can hinder their effective implementation. Therefore businesses must learn how to streamline their implementation and usage.

IAM solutions are an integral part of the Zero Trust security philosophy and should be implemented and used using similar principles such as least privilege. Five ways businesses can streamline their IAM solutions include: 

Aligning Security Needs and Business Goals

Before implementing an IAM solution, businesses must ensure that their security needs and business goals are aligned with each other. To do this, organizations must envision what a successful implementation of IAM solutions for them will be. IT security teams should analyze their current IT infrastructure and look to build upon it. 

IT managers must audit and review compliance and access requirements for user roles and attributes. This will allow them to determine where IAM solutions need to be deployed. In addition, it’s also important to consider how the current implementation of IAM solutions will support scalability in the future. 

Implementing IAM Solutions In Stages

Ensuring that IAM solutions are thoroughly integrated with an organization’s network, resources, and application is highly important when it comes to streamlining. Therefore businesses must ensure that they adapt to a stage-based approach when implementing such solutions. 

Adapting such an approach will allow businesses to ensure that the solution and its functionalities are suitable for the predefined priority zones. In addition, a stage-wise implementation will also allow them to analyze how the IAM solutions perform. Insights gained from these observations can be used to implement any required changes. 

Using Multi-factor Authentication 

Organizations must use multi-factor authentication (MFA) protocols after implementing an IAM solution. Implementing and using MFA authorization protocols will allow organizations to ensure that users undergo multiple verification processes once to gain access. 

Doing so will help organizations prevent vulnerabilities such as stolen login credentials from being violated. Login credential servers as a basic layer for protection, and the increasing complexity of cyberattacks dictates that come have more than that to ensure data security. Some MFA methods that can help do so include: 

  • Inherence- users’ fingerprints or facial recognition. 
  • Knowledge – a series of questions used for authentication. 
  • Possession – a one-time password sent to users’ devices. 

Enabling Automation 

Businesses can also enable various automation protocols to streamline their IAM usage. The tools are equipped with various features that allow organizations to automate numerous tasks. Some of these tasks include creating accounts, changing passwords, and granting or revoking access. 

These automation protocols allow organizations to reduce human errors, streamline workflows, and maintain regulatory compliance. It also allows organizations to easily log, audit, and generate access reports. In addition, automation also helps reduce helpdesk requests and allows businesses to better leverage IAM solutions. 

Leveraging Access Policies

Businesses considering to streamline IAM solutions must focus on using both role-based access control (RBAC) and attribute-based access control (ABAC). RBAC policies determine access control based on the user’s role. This helps organizations ensure that all users have the necessary level of access. 

However, using RBAC control policies is insufficient unless combined with ABAC, as it requires frequent manual access provision. ABAC allows access based on filters and attributes assigned to a user. Using the two in combination allows organizations to automate the provisioning and revoking of access in various cases. Some of them include: 

  • Users joining the organization. 
  • Users leaving the organization.
  • Or a change in users’ organizational roles. 

Final Thoughts 

Protecting business and customer information is highly important to organizations worldwide. Businesses often use various tools such as encryption software, firewalls, and VPNs to safeguard sensitive data. However, using IAM solutions is a relied-upon option for businesses all over the globe. IAM solutions allow businesses to authenticate and authorize users’ access to organizational networks, resources, and applications.

Using such solutions allows them to ensure that all organizational users have the correct level of access. However, businesses must focus on various aspects of IAM implementation and usage to get streamlined results. Some of the many things that can be done to streamline IAM tools include using MFA, leveraging access policies, and aligning security needs and goals. 

Article by:
Sarah Adedun
Sarah Adedun is a technology enthusiast. When she is not reviewing tech products, you can find her sharing personal thoughts on Medium and researching ways to merge Finance and Technology together.

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