What is Identity and Access Management (IAM); and identity governance and administration?

Many people have a general idea of what IAM is, or may think they do, but do not fully understand the entire picture or concept. Though many believe that Identity and Access Management is about security, that is only a small part of it!

Gartner defines IAM as “The security discipline that enables the right individuals to access the right resources at the right times for the right reasons. IAM addresses the mission-critical need to ensure appropriate access to resources across increasingly heterogeneous technology environments, and to meet increasingly rigorous compliance requirements. This security practice is a crucial undertaking for any enterprise.”

Let’s also take a look at the different parts of IAM broken down into sections:

Account Management: Generally organizations have to manage the user accounts for their employees in several different systems and applications. Different industries including financial, education, healthcare etc. all use different types of applications in order to complete their jobs. The management of these user accounts includes, provisioning or creating accounts when an employee first begins employment, making changes when their personal information or position within the company changes, and removing them from their company’s network once they are no longer employed there.

Access Management: System administrators at an organization also have to manage the access rights for the employees and ensure only the correct employees have access to critical systems and data. For example, a manager needs more advanced access and administration rights in order to make changes and access information when needed for their position.

Authentication/Password Management: Each employee in an organization has a set of credentials associated with their accounts, applications, systems, etc. Often, there are numerous issues that are commonly associated with managing passwords including employees forgetting their credentials, dealing with the hassle of entering them for each system they are accessing, or being locked out of their accounts. Managing these passwords and the complexity of them as well as the issues that come along with them is usually handled by either the IT department or the helpdesk, depending on the size of the organization.

Overall, the administration of all of these processes make up Identity and Access Management. An IAM solution provides an organization with solutions for many of the issues that arise with IAM, or simpler ways of managing these processes, since they are often handled manually.

Read more about IAM including:

IAM for Small Business

The Many Issues with Creating and Disabling Accounts

Dealing with Password Issues