Introduction

Identity and Access Management in Cloud Computing is a buzzword that every Cloud enthusiast must learn about. This article aims at explaining Identity and Access Management for beginners. We shall try to answer questions like – What is Identity Access Management? What are the various IAM tools? Why is IAM vital for organizations?

  1. What Is Identity Access Management?
  2. What Are The Components Of IAM?
  3. What Are The Various IAM Tools?
  4. Benefits Of IAM
  5. Why Is IAM Vital For Organizations?
  6. Top IAM Systems For Companies

1. What Is Identity Access Management?

In this section of the article, let us try to answer the following question – What is Identity Access Management? IAM majorly deals with access authorization. A third-party provides an Identity and Access Management framework for organizations to station it on their premises. It is possible with the assistance of Cloud-based models or hybrid models. Using an Identity and Access Management framework, administrators regulate user access to specific organizational networks, systems, or applications.

It is often also referred to as Identity Management (IDM) and involves the authentication, identification, and authorization of users allowed to access the company resources. Depending on the severity of the information resource, managers can grant or deny the right to perform a definite task like viewing, creating, or modifying a resource to various employees and customers. Moreover, IAM can control the digital identities of the system’s devices as well as applications.

To facilitate data management and security, Identity and Access Management provides each individual with a unique digital identity. These identities are associated with respective access life cycles that are regulated by the ones in authority. Each of these life cycles consists of seven stages – Provisioning, Authentication, Authorisation, Self-Service, Password Management, Compliance along with De-provisioning.

Identities are established based on the user’s position, power, and responsibility within the firm. With the help of various Identity Access Management tools, it becomes possible to carry out these regulations without much hassle. Before comprehensively addressing these tools, let us first get an in-depth understanding of the various components of IAM.

2. What Are The Components Of IAM?

The three principal sections of an Identity and Access Management architecture are – Identification, Authentication, Authorization. These divisions contain the main components of IAM.

A) Identification

This is the first process in the sequence. In the Identification process, the users enter the credentials for the system to identify them. In the next step, the system authenticates the user.

B) Authentication

Authentication deals with the initial user access into an organizational network. The user must provide the necessary credentials for successful authentication. After the submission of credentials, a session creation takes place. With the help of the id and password provided by this session, the user interacts with the system. The session terminates when a timeout occurs or when the user signs out. The user uses the single-sign-on(SSO) service to log into another system within the same Identity and Access Management framework.

C) Authorization

Authorization takes place after successful completion of the Authorization process. Provision of access depends on a user’s role in an organization. The resource access request’s value gets checked against an IAM policy store’s authorization policies. Authorization is quite complex compared to Authentication. It provides access controls depending upon policies that include user attributes, user roles, access channels, business rules, etc.

Primarily speaking, Identity and Access Management in Cloud Computing incorporates the following components:

  • The way by which user identification occurs in an enterprise’s system
  • The means to identify roles in an enterprise’s system
  • The assignment of roles to various users
  • Adding, eliminating, and renewing users as well as user-roles in a system.
  • Specifying access levels to users or user-groups
  • Shielding intra-organizational susceptible data
  • Protecting the system from threats

3. What Are The Various IAM Tools?

The Identity Access Management tools comprise password-management tools, enforcement applications for security-policy, reporting and monitoring apps, and identity repositories. They make the process of account setup a lot simpler.

Some IAM tools used for authentication are noted below.

A) Behavioral Authentication

Behavioral authentication enters the scene when organizations are concerned with sensitive resources. It examines keystroke dynamics or mouse-use properties by the implementation of AI. This allows firms to lock systems when suspicious behavior is tracked.

B) Authentication Via Unique passwords

The Identity Access Management model addresses the issue of weak passwords right at the time of password creation. It enforces the requirement for long and complex passwords containing letters, symbols, and numbers.

C) Pre-shared key (PSK). 

For the purpose of accessing identical resources, authorized users are presented with PSKs. Pre-shared keys are not as secure as private passwords.

D) Biometrics

Using Biometrics, Advanced IAM systems provide highly critical authentication. By assembling fingerprints, irises, palms, faces, voices, and other biometric characteristics, Identity Access Management solutions provide unmatched security.

According to Forrester’s Tech Tide: Identity and Access Management, Q4 2017, the following IAM technologies possess high current business value despite their low maturity.

A) API security 

By using API security, IAM can facilitate trade between businesses. Using API security, the single sign-on service can take place between mobile applications. It also assists in integration with the cloud and the Identity and Access Management architectures that are based on microservices. Management of IoT device authorization and Personally Identifiable Information (PII) will become a lot easier.

B) Customer Identity And Access Management (CIAM)

As per the report, the complete user management and authentication, self-service, profile management, and integration with Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), and other customer management systems and databases can be allowed using CIAM.

C) Identity analytics (IA)

Identity Access Management in Cloud Computing also provides us with a feature called Identity analytics. With the assistance of IA, security teams can detect and stop detrimental identity behaviors by implementing Machine Learning algorithms.

D) Identity-as-a-service (IDaaS)

Identity as a Service (IDaaS) incorporates the software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions. They offer SSO between a portal and a web application as well as a native mobile application. User account provisioning and access request management also get provided to some extent.

E) Identity Management and Governance (IMG) 

Implementation of IMG can give automated means for governing the identity life cycle. These methods can also be repeated as per needs.

F) Risk-based authentication (RBA) 

The report says that RBA solutions form a risk score using the user session and authentication. If the users have a higher risk score, they can be prompted for two-factor authentication (2FA), and if their risk score is low, they can authenticate with a single factor like their username and password credentials.

4. Benefits Of IAM

Identity Management and Access Control in Cloud Computing provide a variety of benefits. Let us discuss some of them in this section of the article.

  • Secured Multi-factor Authentication

These include technologies like Iris Scanning, Fingerprint Sensors, Face Recognition, and much more. Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) ensures that the user provides at least two sources of evidence to confirm their identity. This leads to a reduction in the risk of identity theft.

  • Eradication Of Weak Passwords

Numerous data breaches result due to passwords that are either stolen, default, or weak. By implementing best practices in credential management, Identity and Access Management systems can effectively eradicate the possibility of a weak password being set by a user.

  • Advanced Tracking Of Malicious Activity

State-of-the-art IAM systems offer advanced tracking of malicious behavior using Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and risk-based authentication. This enables organizations to prevent online attacks and avoid financial loss.

  • Affordable Security Expenses

IAM assists in reducing the amount needed to invest in security. For example, a Cloud-based Identity and Access Management solution diminishes the requirement of an on-premise foundation.

  • Increased Security Measures

With the help of IAM technologies, organizations can efficiently distinguish and alleviate the risks associated with security. Such technologies allow instant access revocation to all business-critical systems for those who are in charge.

  • Easy Distribution Of Security Policies

This particular feature of the IAM model provides a common platform to apply security policies to all organizational systems with ease.

  • Profitable Collaboration With The Government Norms

IAM solutions let firms display that their information is not being ill-treated. The data required for the purpose of auditing gets provided by these organizations. Thus IAM solutions ensure adequate compliance of firms with government regulations. The company and the government mutually benefit due to these solutions. 

5. Why Is IAM Vital For Organizations?

Identity and Access Management is crucial for organizational security. With the ever-increasing rise in Cyber threats like Phishing, Hacking, Malware, and Ransomware attacks, etc., enterprises do not have any other option except investing in their organizational information security. The implementation of an IAM system ensures resource protection by enforcing necessary policies and rules.

It allows administrators to track employee activities. In addition to that, an IAM framework is well-suited for small-scale organizations. Why? Cybercriminals often target such organizations due to their lack of advanced security. Since IAM solutions are pocket-friendly and dynamic in nature, they are ideal for diverse organizations.

To last in the competitive industrial rat-race, companies need to heighten their productivity. IAM systems not only promise leading-edge security solutions but also boosts business productivity. Automated governance controls and other IAM features ensure that only authenticated users can access resources.

These systems are the vanguard of security management. They establish steady control over resources and provide technologies like separation-of-duty (SoD) services. Segregation of duties (SoD) involves a set of defensive internal controls in a company’s compliance policy that decreases error and fraud risks in accounting statements. Here, multiple individuals are required in assignments involving business transactions. 

6. Top IAM Systems For Companies

Identity and Access Management (IAM) solutions are designed for providing centralized visibility and power, allowing (IT) administrators to regulate the risks involved in a system. A few of the top-notch IAM solutions have been discussed below.

  • Courion

The Courion Access Assurance Suite contains diverse modules licensed separately. Every module is required to carry out a distinct function. Account management, access request management, self-service password management, compliance management, etc., are some features that Courion provides.

  • Oracle

Massive organizations prefer the Oracle Identity Governance Suite. This Identity Management and Access Control solution uses analytics to regulate user administration, privileged account management, etc.

  • IBM

IBM Security Identity Governance and Administration include management of user access, management and governance of roles and identities, and regulatory evaluation of compliance.

  • RSA

RSA is the Security Division of EMC. It incorporates management of access certification as well as access requests. It involves administering data access and managing various business identities.

Conclusion

In conclusion, IAM systems are an integral aspect of the industrial world as they contribute to efficient and secure data and resource management. They have multifarious tools and technologies that aid in the safe and controlled distribution of resources across a company network. Numerous benefits of Identity and Access Management make it a one-stop organizational solution.

With the upsurge in diverse cybercrimes, organizational security becomes exigent. Identity Access Management solves the problem at hand and also reduces the costs involved in building secured systems. It enhances productivity, making it the best option when it comes down to organizational security and management.

With the increasing organizational demand for Cloud professionals, enthusiasts need to keep themselves updated to last in the competition. Jigsaw Academy offers a Postgraduate Certificate Program In Cloud Computing that enables learners to gain expertise in the AWS Platform and become Cloud professionals in no time. The online course runs for a period of 6 months and also offers a joint certification from Jigsaw Academy and Manipal Academy of Higher Education.

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