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Many organizations and IT departments feel the pressure to improve the security around their sensitive company assets and data. According to a 2021 global report by IBM, “Data breaches now cost surveyed companies $4.24 million per incident on average—the highest cost in the 17-year history of the report.”

Fallible manual procedures aren’t cutting it anymore when protecting data and tracking user privileges. With the ongoing threats of data breaches, identity theft, and fraud, you’ll need robust identity proofing protocols in place.

What is Identity and Access Management?

Identity and Access Management is a system that manages and monitors an organization’s corporate network resources and user accounts. The internal processes involved include managing the authentication of users and ensuring that access rights are under control.

How does IAM work?

When you sign up for a system, you create an identity within that system. Upon submission of details, such as your social security information, email, and/or phone number, they will be combined to make up your digital identity.

Whenever you attempt to access a system, your access request will undergo identification of you as a user, authentication (are you the user you claim to be?), and authorization (are you allowed to access the system?). Once authenticated and authorized, your user account will be able to perform certain tasks and access specific IT resources, computers, software, apps, or hardware.

Why is IAM important?

To understand the importance of IAM, you should be familiar with the traditional access management approach. An organization manages your identity and access privileges separately in the conventional infrastructure.

For example, if you wanted to access different web applications in your organization, you’d need to create separate accounts for each. These accounts would each need usernames and passwords. What commonly happens in this scenario is that users will use the same or easy-to-remember passwords for all accounts. Each user must remember each log-in credential, which dramatically increases the risk profile for the organization as a whole.

A comprehensive identity and access management solution solves all the traditional approach’s shortcomings, from data breach risks to bad user experiences.

Benefits of Identity and Access Management

Your organization can automate IAM systems to record and manage user identities and permissions. Here are the possible benefits you can acquire from such features:

1: Tightens security

Hackers execute data breaches by successfully infiltrating your vulnerable security system and accessing your sensitive company data. With IAM, these security risks are reduced using strong authentication.

IAM technologies commonly utilize multi-factor authentication (MFA) and single sign-on (SSO) features. If anyone gets access to your password or steals your device, they will need to go through additional security layers for verification.

2: Streamlines work

You can manage all user identities in one place and implement changes in group policies or across the entire organization. For example, if there’s an update in the security policy, you can change all access privileges at once. The IT department will also handle less tedious IT concerns like password resets and focus on more important tasks.

3: Improves UX

No matter a user’s age or tech knowledge, it isn’t easy to keep track of multiple usernames and passwords across different platforms. This is even more true if a user is following good password practices with secure, unique passwords for each account. IAM can ease the challenge by using SSO to provide access to various systems. SSO features are user-friendly for customers and partners alike to get into internal and external applications. The same access method allows users to access networks without remembering complex passwords.

4: Centralizes access control

Access privileges, covering users, locations, devices, permissions, roles, and authentication methods, are all under a centralized platform. It makes it easier for you to manage and keep track of all user activity. Plus, some aspects of IAM can be automated, allowing your organization to run more efficiently and cut costs, effort, and time.

5: Helps with compliance

Government regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) helps facilitate correct data use and enforces fines in case of mishandling. You’ll have to meet certain data protocols, privacy, and protection levels.
IAM can help meet audit requirements through set policies that can control user access requests, identity authentication and review/certify processes.

IAM Implementation Keys to Success

While IAM helps many companies, not everyone implements their system effectively. To know how you can properly integrate IAM into your organization, here are some aspects you need to get right:

1: Infrastructure preparedness

IAM can be connected to various aspects of your organization, from human resources to IT operations, since all users on the corporate network need to be managed and verified. Given that IAM requirements are interwoven all through your company, you must first understand the existing security environment and nail down your vision on the desired end state.

Implementing IAM requires a significant amount of planning and project management expertise. Everyone should be on board with this change and understand the benefits this technology can bring so that the execution will go smoothly and successfully.

2: Long-term road mapping

Once you know your desired end state with IAM implementation, you need to bridge the gap between where you are and your goal. In creating your road map, you should outline a timetable, project phases, and deliverables. Review and discuss process changes and see how they affect and update your existing internal processes.

3: Get the right people involved

Get representatives from different departments involved with your project. This includes your end-user community, executives and business owners, application owners, and marketing staff. You need to ensure that all stakeholders understand and are in board with the benefits of this technology.

When the representatives are all on the same page, they can relay the correct information to others and lessen the project’s probability of being redone.

4: Implement the project in phases

Fully integrating an IAM solution can take several months to complete. To take advantage of the project as soon as possible, you should implement it incrementally.

You can start the rollout by taking a sample group first for testing, then move to a larger group before deploying the system to the whole company. By doing this, some people can enjoy the benefits and get the feel of IAM sooner, which is also helpful in identifying any premature issues. The internal word of mouth regarding ease of use (or lack thereof) can also provide helpful impetus in your execution and internal adoption. If there are struggles in the use of your solution, identifying it early and with a small group makes it easier to fix before wider adoption.

5: Conduct periodic maintenance

You can get the full value from your solution by conducting a routine inspection of your IAM systems every six to nine months, or every quarter. You always need to check on changes in the IT environment, new IAM technologies or product versions, fixes or patches, and optimization. The solution needs to be updated on a routine basis to operate at its full potential.

Identity and Access Management Best Practices

The market for IAM isn’t slowing down anytime soon. It’s expected to grow from $7.6 billion in 2020 to $15.3 billion by 2025. If you want your business to succeed with IAM, you should incorporate these best practices:

Use multi-factor authentication

The misuse of passwords is the key driver for hackers to execute data breaches and attacks. Implementing MFA adds an extra layer of security whenever you log in to different devices and applications. A few examples of MFA include pairing your password with fingerprint authentication, a verification code (OTP) sent to your mobile device, facial recognition software, or push notifications.

Use a zero-trust approach to security

In a modern business infrastructure, it’s best not to trust anyone unless their identities are proven trustworthy. A zero-trust model continuously authenticates users, tracks their activities, and evaluates their risk levels every session. This will help identify abnormal behaviors that indicate breaches or violations.

Go passwordless

A passwordless login improves UX as users no longer need to memorize or note any credentials. It saves time, increases productivity, and provides more robust security. Some passwordless login approaches include biometrics-based login, email-based login, and SMS-based login.

Remove orphaned accounts

There’s always change within an organization. Some users will inevitably leave the company. When they do, their accounts are abandoned and become orphaned. These still contain the user information that are assigned to nobody. You must offboard these accounts properly or establish an offboarding hygiene process so hackers can’t exploit these identities to attack your system.

Regularly review user privileges

It is recommended to schedule a platform audit at least twice a year. Take this time to review user roles and privileges across your workspace applications, communication channels, cloud storage, and platforms. By checking user privileges regularly, you ensure that you aren’t granting access beyond the user’s required role.

Create a Robust Security Environment

Identity and access management should be an essential part of your business’s cybersecurity strategy. In an era when data breaches are prevalent, IAM enables you to limit and verify who can access your sensitive resources, preventing crippling security breaches. With proper implementation and best practices in mind, you can create a robust IAM infrastructure to avoid various threats.

For improved security, authentication solutions utilizing biometrics will help guard your operations and prove the identities of your employees or customers. With secure identity management systems by Q5id, you can ensure the data safety of every staff member and client in your system. Get in touch with us today to learn more about implementing IAM in your business.