Identity & Access Management: What Is It & Why Does My Organization Need It? 

Identity and Access Management (IAM) security is an essential part of any IT department’s security protocols. IAMs manage digital identities and access the rights to data, systems, and resources within an organization. For example, every employee probably has the credentials to login to the workplace server, but not all employees have access rights to all areas of that network. That is where Identity and Access Management comes into play. 

What is Identity and Access Management? 

According to Digital Guardian, “Identity and access management (IAM) is a collective term that covers products, processes, and policies used to manage user identities and regulate user access within an organization.” With IAM the terms “access” and “users” are critical to determining who can enter your digital workplace as well as who can aspect critical areas of that workspace. “Users” could include: employees, vendors, partners, suppliers, contractors, and/or customers. “Access” refers to actions permitted to be done by a user. For example, is that specific user granted access to view, create, or change a file?  There are three key tasks that an IAM system will do to keep your business safe: identify, authenticate, and authorize. These tasks can be done so that the correct person can have access to computers, software apps, hardware, and any of your company’s IT resources. 

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How Identity and Access Management Works

The main components of any IAM includes: a database containing users’ identities and access privileges, tools for creating, monitoring, modifying, and deleting access privileges, and a secure system for auditing login and access history. The audits and access history log can help determine if someone (either from outside your organization or within it) has attempted to access areas that they are not permitted to access.  Some examples of how this works includes the routine practice of checking login credentials against the database as users login. This is a way to verify if the entered credentials match the ones stored in the database. Then, through this database, access can be restricted or granted dependent upon the determination of admin and business leadership.  For instance, only specific users in many organizations are allowed to access and handle sensitive information. Or perhaps many employees can view the materials but not make edits or changes. 

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Benefits of Identity Access Management

Security is paramount for businesses across the country and globe. Identity access management systems have many benefits that can help increase your security from both internal and external threats that bombard small and medium-sized businesses on a daily basis.  By allowing administrators to automate numerous user account related tasks in order to protect against and potential security incidents, IAMs can be a life saver in the ever-increasing cyber crime world. Given the growing scope and complexity of modern identity environments many IT leaders are looking ahead to see what IAMs can do to keep all aspects of their organization safe from both external and internal threats.