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Identity Access Management – An Essential Guide

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In this first of a series of blogs, we explore the fast evolving field of IAM and discover why it’s becoming such a vital aspect of enterprise IT.

In a nutshell, identity access management (IAM) is an important security and business discipline that ensures the right individuals access the right resources, at the right times, and for the right reasons.

While it might not sound very exciting, IAM is becoming an increasingly important aspect of enterprise IT that makes it possible to:

  • manage digital identities
  • control and manage the resources, applications and information these identities can access
  • make it easy for users to access the data and apps they need, and
  • undertake regulatory monitoring and reporting to ensure compliance.

Now while that might all sound pretty straightforward, the growth of cloud computing and an increasingly distributed and mobile workforce means that IAM is becoming ever more complex

What’s the problem?

In today’s fast-paced world, IT staff are under pressure to provision information resources quickly and seamlessly to users, no matter where they are. But this expectation for on-demand access creates a very real security issue – one that keeps IT managers up at night.

Let’s explore why. Firstly, IT managers need to be certain that access to applications is tightly controlled so they can minimise attacks on critical applications and ensure enterprise data stays secure.

It’s a task that’s further complicated when various departments – including information security, application development and regulatory compliance – often customise access privileges to best suit their individual business needs.

All of which can result in a complex patchwork of access provisioning and de-provisioning, lost workforce productivity and the potential risk of security breaches.

Other complicating factors

The business IT environment is constantly evolving. With more devices and services to be managed than ever before, the prevalence of cloud computing, mobile apps and BYOD are adding to the IT department’s headache. But that’s not the only challenge.

As employees migrate through different roles in an organisation, it becomes increasingly difficult to manage identity and access. Privileges granted when an employee’s duties change are often not revoked when no longer required. This leads to an accumulation of privileges known as privilege creep – and privilege creep creates a security risk.

Employees may end up accessing applications and data in an unauthorised or potentially unsafe manner. And if a cyber criminal gains access to the account of a user with excessive privileges, they will be able to do more harm.

Finally, poor identity management can lead to individuals retaining privileges well after they are no longer employees.

Get IAM right

The good news is that implementing a comprehensive IAM strategy, featuring an appropriate and robust technology solution – can generate measurable business value.

Everything from increased security and operational efficiency to simplified regulatory compliance, and enhanced employee satisfaction.

In our next blog, we’ll take a look at what a good IAM system should include.

If you’d like to find out more about how to implement a holistic yet effective enterprise data security platform for your company, get in touch with one of our experts today.