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What Exactly Is Identity Access Management (IAM)?

Ensuring a proper system to handle access permissions on private networks is one of the most important things an organization can do to protect its data. Thanks to the advancements in the cybersecurity sector, there are now capable methods and services that effectively arrange access permissions.

One of these is, of course, Identity Access Management (IAM) which is solely dedicated to regulating access within a private network to make security easier for IT security teams. Let’s have a closer look at IAM to understand what it exactly is, and how you can utilize it on your network.

What is IAM and how does it work?

If we were to start by explaining what an IAM does and what’s its main purpose; we can say that IAM is used to monitor access on private networks and to regulate the access levels of employees and tools used in the network. This is usually used to categorize access based on the confidentiality of the data and to ensure sensitive data is not in the hands of everybody or everything within the system.

Identity Access Management controls access permissions based on the identities, as you can imagine. It enforces company policies on resource access and makes sure that only authorized personnel can view or use a resource after they are sufficiently identified.

If you implement an IAM solution into your network, you are basically layering access so that your network is not a flat surface where everyone in it is able to do anything at any given time. IAM provides improved security thanks to this feature, you can set up privilege levels and give certain (higher level) access clearance to supervisors or IT personnel while the rest of the team can only reach what they really need to.

The policies and permissions that guide the IAM system are set up by the IT security team of every organization. What’s more, is that the IT team can always review their network, monitor to see if everything is as it should be, and make the necessary changes on the access levels. This ensures flexibility, which is a crucial asset in every private network.

We are now living in a world where remote work is a trend, so companies need to figure out ways other than providing company-based devices with restrictions in order to ensure network security. Identity Access Management comes to the rescue for such companies. Now they can segment their network to adjust it to the remote work model thanks to advanced identification technologies that identify users based on biometrics, SSO, or MFA.

Components of IAM

All IAM solutions need to consist of several components in order to work properly. Although it is a straightforward and highly effective security method, you still need to make sure you have all the things below so it is a complete system.

1. Managing the users

Before you do anything else, it is important to know your users and to store a database with their identification information. You need a clear pathway to understand how they act within the network and what they need to use to continue their operations smoothly. This is the first step to any IAM solution, you have to create a database to track their activities.

2. Managing allowed devices

In a remote work model, users usually will have their devices to connect and access the necessary resources. They may have more than one device depending on the situation, so all authorized devices need to be provisioned to ensure operational continuity.

That’s not the only reason to have a database of the allowed devices, you also want to be able to have de-provisioning ability so you can immediately cut access if a device is stolen or compromised.

3. Setting up policies & permissions

Now you have a bulletproof database of who your users are and how to identify them based on devices and other security methods. After that, you need to set up the necessary policies and permissions to structure your IAM.

This step will start by acknowledging what they need to do and what they should not have access to. You can organize this based on individuals or departments. For example, you can allow the IT security team more privileged access while other departments can only access a significant part of the network.

4. Identification & Authoriziation

This is basically the core of every IAM system; users first need to be identified and authenticated so IAM can decide if the user is allowed into the network or not. But identification is not sufficient, they also need to be authorized to certain resources so they only have access to what they really need.

If you want to layer access, authorization plays a crucial role. Your system should be able to enforce the permission levels of users. This will provide improved visibility to your IT security team.

5. Auditing and monitoring the network

After you have an up and running IAM system, your IT security team needs to audit the network and monitor it all the time. They already have the tools to effectively monitor user activity and detect any impurities on the network access permissions.

So what they need to do is constantly check on their network and make necessary adjustments on access levels, identify users best they can, and improve security overall. IAM is a flexible system on the IT team’s end, so they can use it to all its potential.

Conclusion

Identity and Access Management is one of the most beneficial things you can put in place to ensure network security and full access control. Using a proper IAM solution can provide improved visibility on networks and advanced identification of the authorized users.

Not to mention that your network will be a layered and organized structure when you utilize IAM. This will also assure your IT security team that they have what is needed to monitor the network closely and effectively eliminate inside threats. Make sure to take a look at IAM which can be more useful than you think.

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