Identity & Access Management (IAM)

Identity & Access Management (IAM)

What is Identity and Access Management?

The term Identity & Access Management (IAM) describes all processes within an organization aimed at managing users, authorizations, and access within your organization’s digital network. This involves validating the identity of users on one hand, and precisely setting up the access rights and procedures that grant users access to company data and applications on the other.

On this page of our knowledge base, you will read everything about IAM, the role of IAM technology, and considerations when choosing a suitable IAM solution.

Management of users and access rights within an organization

IAM is indispensable in today’s digital landscape. A very wide range of company systems and data can be accessed digitally. For keeping these digital assets secure, adequate identity and access control is of crucial importance.

Also, digital systems are importantly interconnected. This means, for example, that if an attacker once inside an organization could potentially gain access to very diverse data and applications in the worst case. With an adequate IAM process, you prevent this, among other things, by checking the identity and access rights of users at each application and all data they wish to access.

Why IAM is essential for the security of company systems and data

Various reasons make the use of IAM an absolute necessity today. Think of reducing security risks, but also of compliance with relevant legislation. We outline the main reasons:

Improve security and reduce risks

Traditionally, many company systems were accessible to all users. However, this is no longer the case. The impact of a data breach can be significant, not only on users but certainly also on affected companies.

With IAM, you elevate the digital security within your organization to a higher level. By continuously checking the identity AND access rights of users, you ensure that only authorized users gain access to specific digital assets. Important, as it significantly reduces the risks. With IAM, you ensure that users can access the information and systems they need, but never have more access than strictly necessary.

Comply with compliance and regulatory requirements

Taking adequate measures around cybersecurity is also crucial for compliance with laws and regulations. A well-known example is the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which states, among other things, that personal data must be adequately secured.

This means in practice that organizations must use modern techniques to secure personal data, with the Data Protection Authority explicitly pointing to access management.

Improve efficiency and user experience

A well-known and good advice is the use of unique passwords for each account. However, an undesirable side effect of this measure is that users must remember a large number of passwords, which affects the user experience and efficiency. IAM also offers a solution in this area. Thus, an IAM solution ensures that users gain access to all company applications and systems they need in a user-friendly and efficient manner. This without having to log in again and again. With IAM, you combine optimal identity and access control with a user-friendly approach that lifts productivity to a higher level.

Core components of IAM

IAM consists of several core components. We take a look at the different components.

Management of identity lifecycle

A workforce is never static and thus continuously changes. For example, employees may leave the company for various reasons, such as retirement and moving to another organization. At the same time, new employees may join or the roles of employees within your organization may change. This means in practice that the identities within your organization undergo a lifecycle, also known as the identity life cycle.

Within an IAM solution, you manage this lifecycle. This means in practice, among other things, that you continuously adjust the identities you work with within your organization to changes in your workforce.

Management of authorizations

Authorization management plays a crucial role in IAM. It involves the process in which users are assigned specific rights to access specific data, company applications, and systems.

Just like the identities within your organization, authorizations are continuously in flux for various reasons. You might switch to a new application, create new roles that require new authorizations, or new insights may demand different authorizations.

Management of access

Employees often work with a wide range of applications and systems. As previously noted, the advice is to use a unique password for each service or application. This approach offers

significant security advantages and prevents, among other things, the leakage of login details from, for example, one service from giving malicious individuals access to other services and applications.

At the same time, this approach can put pressure on efficiency. Thus, employees must remember a large number of unique passwords, while they cannot simply write these down on a Post-It note for security reasons.

Access management – also called access management – is therefore a core component of IAM. An access management solution can provide a lot of convenience for users, thereby greatly improving efficiency. Adequate access management ensures that users only need to log in once to gain access to all the applications, systems, and data they need.

The solution ensures that users’ access is optimally secured, without them experiencing any inconvenience. The advantages are broad. Thus, employees no longer need to remember a large number of unique passwords, they can work more efficiently, and you elevate the security of your organization to a higher level.

Auditing and reporting

With regard to legislation such as the GDPR, it is not only important that you optimally secure your systems and data, but also that you can demonstrate this. Thus, organizations must be able to show that their processes are designed in accordance with laws and regulations. In addition, all actions performed by users must be traceable. It must not only be clear which actions have been carried out, but also which users have done so.

This is possible through audits and reports. An adequate IAM solution thus offers extensive possibilities for drafting reports and conducting audits. An example is our IAM solution HelloID, which offers this possibility through its Service Automation module. This module ensures that all request and approval processes can be properly followed.

The solution effortlessly provides you with the evidence with which you can demonstrate that you comply with the applicable standards in the field of information security.

Pillars of IAM

IAM consists of several pillars: identification, authentication, and authorization. In this paragraph, we delve deeper into the different pillars.

  • Identification
    Identification forms the first part of the IAM access process. With the help of identification, you ensure that a system, a service provider, or an organization can determine your identity. An entity such as a user, application, or device thus makes its digital identity known.
  • Authentication
    Authentication is the second step in the IAM access process. It is one of the security processes that is part of the IAM framework. The term includes the processes and mechanisms we use to verify the identity of an entity. In this step, you thus check whether the digital identity that an entity provides matches the data known to you, so you can validate the authenticity.
  • Authorization
    Authorization forms the third step in the IAM access process. In this process, roles and rights are central. This step thus determines what users get access to. After a user has identified themselves and this identity has been authenticated, the authorization step ensures that entities gain access to desired systems or data.

What is the difference between identity management and IAM?

Identity Management (IdM) and Identity and Access Management (IAM) are two terms that are often mentioned in the same breath when it comes to managing digital identities within organizations. Although they are intertwined and often used synonymously, strictly speaking, they each serve their own and crucial role within IT security and business processes. Below we explore the nuances between these two concepts and the interplay between them.

Identity Management

Identity Management (IdM) forms the foundation of digital identity, focusing on the management of user identities and access rights. It ensures that each identity is unique within the system and deals with what those users are allowed to do once their identity has been established and verified. This process includes creating, managing, and phasing out user accounts, assigning attributes necessary to recognize and verify the user, and assigning access rights that determine which applications and information the user has access to.

Access Management

Access Management (AM), seen as the second half of the IAM puzzle, focuses on managing the authentication of users within an organization. While Identity Management focuses on the correctness and management of user identities and what they are entitled to, Access Management ensures that users have access to the right data, at the right times, and for the right reasons. This includes the process of logging in,

The two processes are thus essentially different. For example, if you impose strict requirements for authenticating users, it does not necessarily mean that you also impose strict authorization requirements.

The role of IAM within a broader security strategy

IAM is a security method that has a lot of synergy with other security measures. Ideally, IAM is also integrated into your broader security strategy. We outline several examples of security measures that seamlessly connect to IAM:

Zero Trust

Zero Trust is a principle that was developed in

2010 by John Kindervag. The basic idea is: ‘never trust, always verify’. This means in practice that you no longer assume the existence of a secure internal network, a thought that was central to IT security for a long time.

With zero trust, you basically trust no one. You proceed from segmentation, dividing the network into, for example, several small secured networks. You then give users access to parts of your network, but (almost) never your entire network.

At zero trust, authentication and authorization are central, according to the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC). These concepts also play an indispensable role in IAM. It is therefore no surprise that IAM and Zero Trust closely align and have synergy.

Least Privilege

With Least Privilege, the principle is that users get as little access as possible to information and systems. You limit access to the data and applications that users actually need to perform their work. Access to all other systems is standard blocked.

Least privilege contributes significantly to increasing the security of your organization. For example, if malicious individuals unexpectedly get hold of an employee’s login details, they will, in the worst case, only gain access to the data and systems accessible to this user, while all other systems remain shielded. You thereby limit the damage from a cyber attack.

IAM has a lot of synergy with least privilege. Thus, with the help of an adequate IAM policy, you ensure that users only gain access to systems and data that they actually need.

This means not only that you precisely tailor rights to individual users or user groups, but also that you revoke rights that users no longer need as quickly as possible. IAM can thus form the technical foundation on which you build your least privilege policy.

Single sign-on (SSO)

Single sign-on is an authentication method that allows you to give users easy and secure access to all systems they need for their work. Characteristically, users only need to log in once, after which they gain access to multiple systems and information sources.

The approach has important advantages. Thus, employees can use strong unique passwords for each application and system, without having to remember a range of passwords.

IAM seamlessly connects to SSO. Thus, with an adequate IAM policy, you can precisely determine which authorizations a user is assigned and thereby which systems are accessible. SSO is one of the methods that fall under authentication, which is a crucial part of IAM.

What should you look for when choosing an IAM solution?

When choosing the right IAM solution, there are various factors to consider. For example, it is of great importance that the solution you choose is user-friendly. This way, you can quickly and efficiently get started, and prevent the IAM solution from causing additional complexity.

The provider ideally offers extensive support in case you get stuck or have questions. A local party that can speak to you in your own language can be a great advantage here.

In addition, it is crucial that the IAM solution you choose covers all facets of IAM, ranging from identification to authorization. Also, pay close attention to the source and target systems that the solution supports. After all, you want to be able to rely on your trusted workflow, which means that the IAM solution must support the source and target systems you use.

Example: Choosing between IDaaS and On-Premises IAM for a growing company

Imagine you are a rapidly growing technology company with a mix of internal and cloud-based applications. You have a small IT team that is already overloaded with managing the existing infrastructure and supporting the growth of the company.

In this scenario, an IDaaS solution like HelloID might be an attractive option. With IDaaS, you do not need to invest in additional hardware or software, and you do not have to worry about maintaining the IAM infrastructure. This can relieve your IT team and enable them to focus on other important tasks.

Moreover, HelloID offers maximum security with regular audits by Deloitte Risk Services, which is of crucial importance for a technology company dealing with sensitive data.

But what if your company has specific requirements that require a high degree of customization, or if you want full control over your IAM system and data? In that case, HelloID can also be implemented in-house, giving you the flexibility to customize the solution to your specific needs and have full control over your IAM system.

It is important to remember that the best choice depends on the specific needs and circumstances of your organization. It is always a good idea to seek professional advice before making a decision.

Popular IAM tools

Those looking to get started with IAM will quickly realize that the landscape of IAM tools is very broad; there are many popular IAM tools available. Some examples include SolarWinds Access Rights Manager, Oracle Identity Cloud Service, IBM Security Identity and Access Assurance, SailPoint IdentityIQ, and Ping Identity.

Tools4ever offers HelloID, a modern and secure IAM solution that runs entirely in the cloud. The solution answers all your IAM questions. It helps your organization comply with increasingly strict laws and regulations regarding audits and security. Additionally, the solution is quick to implement, partly because HelloID is available from the cloud and the implementation does not require customization. The investments required for HelloID are therefore very limited.

A significant advantage of HelloID is that the IAM solution is made in the Netherlands. This means, among other things, that the solution fully complies with the laws and regulations applicable in the Netherlands and the European Union (EU). The Dutch team, with extensive local knowledge, ensures short lines of communication and direct points of contact. This way, they can serve you optimally.

Indispensable for optimal security

IAM is an indispensable part of optimal digital security. With the help of this technology, you can precisely control which user gets access to which systems and data. It also ensures that your organization is fully compliant with relevant laws and regulations, something that you can also easily and transparently demonstrate through reports.

Curious about the possibilities of HelloID and want to experience the solution in practice yourself? Book a demo now!

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Identity & Access Management (IAM) is a term that describes all processes within organizations related to the management of users and their authorizations. This includes validating the identity of a specific user as well as assigning the correct rights.

IAM enables organizations to minimize access to corporate applications and data. It ensures that users have access to the resources they need for their work while unnecessary assets remain shielded.

This guarantees that sensitive data is only accessible to users who actually need access to it.

IAM offers significant benefits. Every organization deals with data, part of which is highly sensitive, such as customer information and trade secrets. IAM allows you to determine in detail who has access to which data.

The advantages are substantial. For example, should an attacker gain access to a user’s account, the damage is limited to the data and applications to which this specific account has access.

IAM can also be indispensable for compliance with laws and regulations.

Not implementing IAM carries significant risks. If you do not adequately verify the identities of users, you cannot ensure that applications and data are accessible only to authorized individuals.

This could lead to data breaches and security incidents, resulting in reputational damage to the organization.

Moreover, it could lead to violations of laws and regulations, with associated fines. For instance, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requires organizations to adequately secure personal data.

Various processes are part of IAM. These include the onboarding or offboarding of user accounts or processes related to the management of identities within your organization.

This also involves authenticating users to verify their identity and authorizing users, checking whether they have access to specific data or applications.