Knowing the Fundamentals of Access Control and Identity Management

IAM enables companies to secure their most critical systems and data resources at the identity level. It can be accomplished with centralized management of identities or through identity-as-a-service. It also reduces the IT department workload …

Knowing the Fundamentals of Access Control and Identity Management

IAM enables companies to secure their most critical systems and data resources at the identity level. It can be accomplished with centralized management of identities or through identity-as-a-service.

It also reduces the IT department workload by automating common helpdesk requests like password resets and access requests. It frees IT to focus on implementing Zero Trust throughout the business.


Authentication is the process by which digital solutions verify a person’s identity to ensure they have access to protected data and applications. It is an essential function of identity and access management (IAM). It helps companies control who gets to what and when by verifying user accounts and permissions on a large scale. It includes onboarding new users and systems, approving access requests, and offboarding or changing permissions as people leave the company.

It also helps businesses meet regulatory compliance standards, like GDPR in Europe and PCI-DSS in the US, by setting and enforcing formal access policies and tracking activity to demonstrate compliance during audits. IAM solutions often feature authentication capabilities, including multifactor or biometric verification, to increase security and reduce risk.

They may also be integrated with privileged access management (PAM) tools to enforce most minor privilege access policies and limit the lateral movement of hackers by requiring multiple layers of authentication before allowing full access to sensitive data.

One of the best things about IAM is that it can help improve employee productivity by ensuring they can quickly get the information they need. It is crucial in a collaborative work environment, where employees often share and work across teams, platforms, and devices. IAM can support this by enabling SSO so that users can sign in once with their credentials and then use the platform as a portal to other software suites they can access.

Access Control

Authentication is critical in ensuring that the right people access your company’s digital resources. IAM technology manages the process of confirming user identity, granting or revoking permissions, and removing those rights as users leave or change roles. Without a robust IAM solution, cybercriminals can use the access rights of existing users to break into other systems.

An IAM platform can manage access for humans, applications, and devices, as well as for non-human entities like software, Internet of Things (IoT) hardware, and robotics. It can also help you manage the complexity of your IT infrastructure by enabling your technical team to work more efficiently.

A robust IAM solution can support multiple user sources and authentication factors, integrate with any system through APIs, and leverage the most secure industry standards for authentication and authorization. It can even automate some of the most time-consuming tasks of managing security and compliance.

The most effective IAM systems are centralized, reducing data silos and allowing administrators to monitor all the different parts of an IT infrastructure from one single view. However, IAM implementation can be a complex project for mid-sized businesses that must involve workflow and mindset changes at all levels of the organization. That’s why partnering with a vendor that has set up an IAM framework fully customizable to your company’s specific needs is essential.

Single Sign-On (SSO)

IAM solutions can help organizations meet the demands of today’s changing business environments. IAM techniques enable companies to manage data access for employees, partners, customers, and other stakeholders while ensuring compliance with strict regulations.

The correct IAM technology is essential to the success of digital transformation initiatives. A key factor is establishing its role in the organization and how it will be used. Once a framework is in place, choosing the correct features, products, and services will make it easier to meet long-term goals.

In addition to confirming a user’s identity, IAM systems can also help them gain access to corporate resources without having to re-enter credentials every time they use an application. SSO enables end users to access several applications by logging into a single portal. It reduces employee frustration and improves the customer experience while helping businesses comply with industry regulations.

Another vital aspect of IAM is quickly and easily modifying users’ permissions when their job functions change. IAM systems can implement a zero-trust policy and allow administrators to grant access appropriate for an individual’s role, not just their title or department. It will enable companies to rapidly meet regulatory requirements such as enforcing the least privilege, conducting regular access reviews, and documenting all changes.


Once an IAM system has authenticated a user and verified they are who they say they are, it can grant access to the resources that their permissions allow. It is known as identity governance, a core component of an IAM framework. For example, it might limit a manager’s access to only specific software suites or apps to approve timesheets from their direct reports but keep company data or systems the same.

Most IAM solutions also offer multifactor authentication (2FA) as a standard to ensure the security of user credentials. This process requires users to provide multiple factors to prove their identity, such as a security code sent to their mobile phone, a physical security key, or biometrics like fingerprint scans.

Many IAM solutions also support risk-based authentication, where an IAM system will consider a user’s previous login failures or other indicators of suspicious activity to trigger additional security checks or even automatically restrict access to company resources.

IAM systems can be hosted on-premises, through a cloud-based model (known as identity-as-a-service, or IDaaS), in a hybrid cloud setup, or through a combination of these options. How you implement IAM will depend on your specific needs and will be shaped by any compliance initiatives your business is subject to. Whatever you decide, you must consider your IAM strategy’s implications and choose a solution that can scale to support your business’ growth without increasing your vulnerability landscape.

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