What is an IAM (Identity and Access Management) software?


  • IAM
  • identity access management

What is an IAM (Identity and Access Management) software?

An IAM (Identity and Access Management) software is a tool that defines who the users that can access a network are and what they can do, see and use

The principle is that of the airport security officer: the IAM software is its digital version, and it checks your identity and if you can enter the country. With the only difference that it doesn’t just check if you can enter a particular state, but also in which regions, provinces or municipalities. In this way, it helps to ensure the protection and security of the people who live within it. In our case, people are company data and information that must be protected and not made accessible to anyone.

Immagine decorativa. Impronta digitale sul tasto "Enter" di una tastiera.

immagine proveniente da Pixabay

In more technical terms, an IAM software manages the identities of groups of users and the access privileges of the system for each of the identities created. Its reason for existence is the need to improve the security of company data. With the increasingly widespread use of cloud software, it is no longer possible to physically isolate the company, which creates problems and vulnerabilities. The users themselves become targets of attacks aimed at stealing access credentials, and therefore policies and tools are needed to manage identities and access to a network. Just think that 82% of violations occur by stealing credentials from users because the passwords used are weak or repeated.

Identity management with IAM software

First and foremost: what is a digital identity? It is the collection of data and information within a network that defines a real person. They are the cornerstone upon which the subsequent phase of authorization and access management to the system is based. In fact, once their digital version is authenticated, the physical person can use the appropriate resources (applications or data) whenever they need it, with the devices they prefer, and from wherever they want.

The management of digital identity begins with the person’s insertion into the organization. It grows by undergoing changes to access or revocations to new information, and reaches its end with the exit from the organization. During this entire period, the criticalities are numerous and digital identity must be managed in such a way as not to create vulnerabilities in the system. Especially because the consequences can be serious: data loss and data breaches are becoming increasingly common, dangerous, and the damage caused is becoming increasingly exorbitant for organizations: from loss of reputation, to the cost of verifying data integrity, to possible penalties for violation of GDPR. These are just some of the possible consequences of inappropriate security management.

For these reasons, we have moved from where to who, it is no longer just important to know where the resources are and to fortify them. On the contrary, it becomes increasingly relevant the user who has access and their protection. This is because protecting access also improves data security.

What does it mean to manage access in the IAM context?

Managing access with an IAM software means establishing authorization to the various digital resources of the organization based on the digital identity of the person who requests access. In this way, the user will be guaranteed access to the necessary resources for their work, also improving their productivity. Just think that for the IT department it will no longer be necessary to recreate credentials every time someone loses or forgets them, it will no longer be necessary to repeat the provisioning process for each person, and every new arrival in the organization will immediately have the ability to be 100% operational from the start.

There are two methods to establish the two types of access: total or role-based.

In the first case, the user has total access to the system and can make any kind of change. It is reserved for users such as administrators or developers for whom a restriction on access could only be a problem. Consequently, these are the most important accounts, which also need to be protected with additional security policies.

In the second case, access privileges are delimited by the role or job. This allows the authorization process to be replicated with a click for a new user with the same role and an improvement in productivity for System Administrators. In this way, they will only need to decide what authorization to establish for the role and not for each individual user. This applies to the creation of new users, for modifications such as revocations or creation of additional access, and for deletion once they have left the organization.

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