What Is Identity Management?

Identity and access management (IAM) is a framework of processes, technologies and policies implemented within a business’s core structure to protect critical information and maintain control over user access to data.

Written by Anthony Corbo
Published on Dec. 15, 2021
What Is Identity Management?
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Chris Avvisati | Aug 11, 2022

Commonly used IAM measures include two-factor authentication, multi-factor authentication, single sign-on systems and privileged access management.

What is the role of identity management in information security?

  • Identity and access management plays a critical role in business, with IT managers responsible for controlling user access to company data.

Maintaining security over company data of any magnitude is crucial to facilitating business success and continuity in any industry. Identity and access management (IAM) puts this premise at the core of what it provides, utilizing a variety of tools and frameworks to provide layers of security that help keep data only accessible to authorized personnel. This includes tools such as single sign-on systems, two-factor authentication systems and multi-factor authentication, all designed to keep parties outside of the organization away from sensitive data. 

Additionally, privileged access management helps identify individuals in a system to grant permissions to only specific users within an organization. This adds control and efficiency to information security processes and streamlines the role that IT plays in onboarding and offboarding activities.

What are some IAM tools?

  • IAM tools continue to grow in ability and popularity, with common tools including two-factor authentication and pre-shared keys.

Many IAM tools exist and are often designed to be used in coordination with each other to provide a multifaceted approach to digital identity solutions. At the heart of every tools is an IT or IAM administrator who can instantly view and change evolving access roles and rights to data. Through the use of single-sign on systems, two-factor authentication, multi-factor authentication and privileged access management, combined with a strict set of policies determining who has access to specific data, IAM administrators can keep full control over its organization’s data access. 

Additional types of digital authentication utilized in identity and access management include unique passwords, pre-shared keys, behavioral authentication and biometrics.

What is the difference between IAM and PAM?

  • IAM (identity and access management) and PAM (privileged access management) both provide support and play large roles in identity security.

Both identity and access management and privileged access management play large roles in the identity security field, helping dictate permissions to data based on the user’s access status and role, but the two do so in different ways and often for different audiences. 

IAM focuses on managing the access that general users like customers receive and determines the type of experience they are meant to find within a website, application or data source. It can be thought of as something of a “shop door” for customers to enter through. PAM, on the other hand, is responsible for defining and controlling the administrative roles of admin users and can be viewed as “back office” access. Both are crucial to maintaining the Principle of Least Privilege and limits the amount of access IAM users can receive while funneling more authority to PAM users.

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