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What is Identity and Access Management?

What is Identity and Access Management?

Identity and Access Management (IAM) is the umbrella term for the structures and processes within any organization that administer and manage resources. Predominantly for IT resources, these processes mostly deal with network access rights, privileges, and AD group memberships.

Users must be provisioned with all of their appropriate resources based upon their role(s) and responsibilities. Standard resources include, but may not be limited to, file shares; downstream software, applications, and systems; business intelligence; and more.

Identity and Access Management governs users by enforcing both authentication and authorization. Authentication verifies a user’s identity. Once authenticated, the verified user may use any of the resources their account is authorized to access.

IAM Authentication

Authentication occurs whenever a user attempts to initially access your organization’s network. The user must verify their identity before being granted entry for information security purposes.

Providing a login window with unique credentials remains the most common authentication method. Verified credentials serve as a digital passport of sorts, proving a user’s identity to various systems.

Organizations may include sophisticated or additional authentication methods to provide advanced information security. If the authentication process requires additional steps, it is referred to as multi-factor or two-factor authentication (MFA or 2FA).

Standard methods pair a unique username with a password (“something you know”). Sophisticated authentication practices may require the user to also provide another factor of authentication. These additional factors can be a physical object (“something you have”) such as a key card or OTP token, or a part of the user’s body (“something you are”), such as a fingerprint, or a facial recognition scan.

IAM Authorization

Authorization carries out the rest of an organization’s identity and access management processes once the user has been authenticated. Users are granted authorizations according to their role at an organization.

Authorizations determine a role’s resources and level of access in the network. These items may include systems, applications, file shares, printers, and more. For example, an accounting department employee who regularly works with payroll software must be authorized to do such. If authentication resembles a passport, authorizations are the things you can access with it.

While authentication is fairly simple, authorizations and their management are far more challenging. Authorizations consist of complex sets of rules, rights, groups, and permissions explicitly configured per user account.

IAM Identity and Access Management Systems

The core of Identity & Access Management (IAM) oversees all authentication and authorization processes. As such, IAM systems are valuable management solutions for all departments. IT may manage your authentications and authorizations, but your entire organization feels it if your access rights and processes are misaligned.

Identity and Access Management software streamlines the entire process of managing user accounts. This functionality consists of:

  • Automatic User Provisioning
  • Workflow Management and Self-Service
  • Password Management
  • Single Sign-On (SSO)
  • Role Based Access Control/Access Governance
  • Audit & Compliance Requirements

Tools4ever's cloud-based Identity and Access Management Software Suite secures digital identities across the above areas - as both an Identity Provider (IdP) and Service Provider (SP).

Identity Governance & Administration (IGA) as the new term for IAM

There has been a shift towards using the more aptly-named Identity Governance & Administration (IGA) in place of IAM. This is because access governance delivers far more granular control over your environment than more traditional user administration and provisioning.

Gradually, the term change is being adopted by both industry and research organizations. Companies like Gartner now use IGA to describe solutions that offer both identity and access governance along with traditional user account lifecycle management across multiple systems.

Tools4ever is dedicated to IGA & IAM solutions

For over 20 years, Tools4ever has developed solutions dedicated to streamlining account management tasks. Our goal is to ensure our partners have the right software tools to manage their environments and processes. From managing identity and access controls to improving IT security to unburdening helpdesks worldwide, Tools4ever delivers quality IGA & IAM solutions.

Explore our suite of Identity Governance and Administration solutions below.