More companies are looking for Identity and Access Management (IAM) solutions to automate the process of creating, supporting, updating, provisioning, and removing user accounts across various IT systems and landscapes. Companies in need of an IAM solution are looking for a way to manage users’ identities in a streamlined manner, introduce single sign-on authentication, and adhere to security standards. Chances are that you have clicked this article because you are part of that exact group. If that’s the case, you might already have a high-level overview of what an Identity and Access Management System is. Even so, I would still recommend reading this article we have written on the subject first, since it is a good starting point for this topic. As soon as you are ready to get to know reasons for Identity and Access Management solutions in your IT landscape, I’m looking forward to taking you on this journey.
Why would you need an Identity and Access Management Solution?
If you’re actively trying to answer the question whether you need an Identity and Access Management integration, you have probably been in one of the following situations.
Imagine this scenario: Your colleague has worked in your company for years – they’ve been dealing with quite important data, such as billing or employee salaries. That colleague has now left the company – maybe they have been hired by another employer or possibly they’re just enjoying their well-deserved retirement. The problem is that the employee has had a lot of critical access rights but the IT experts in your company will need a substantial amount of time to remove them all manually to satisfy data protection requirements. The employee doesn’t even need to leave the company – just a team change is enough to call for a redistribution of access rights. You might already guess what could be helping in this case: a well-integrated Identity and Access Management solution that can handle such processes automatically.
Let’s look at another scenario: A colleague working in Controlling has the possibility to create and execute money transfers. But what happens if that colleague is defrauded by social engineering and convinced into transferring a large amount of money to an external asset? In such a case, we need a four-eyes principle and segregation of duties. This suggests that one colleague can create such a money transfer while another one can only execute it. This is not a hypothetical case, either: If you would like to read about a massive fraud that happened to the German wire manufacturer Leoni, you can do so here. Of course, that’s just one of many examples for such a case.
The fact that Identity and Access Management Systems can simplify user account support can’t be denied. But it’s not just simplification that is important. Some may even say that nowadays, the integration of an Identity and Access Management System is necessary. Views may differ but there are good arguments to make for this case.
The Advantages of a well-integrated IAM Solution
Certainly, there are many advantages resulting from the configuration of an Identity and Access Management solution.
At first glance, user data is more complex than it might seem. A newly created user account might need to be provisioned into different systems for distinct reasons, such as specific access rights or roles. Additionally, user accounts also need to be deprovisioned at some point, which means that they need to be deactivated or removed. An account usually stays active until someone in IT support manually removes the account or disables it, including revoking all rights it had. An Identity and Management System can automate all these processes using a workflow that automatically provisions and deprovisions all accounts as necessary.
One overly critical topic is the question of how to follow regulatory requirements imposed on the industry. In Information Technology, one of the most crucial factors is GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), Europe’s data privacy and security law that must always be adhered to.
Non-compliance with such regulations can result in fines or, surely the worst alternative, a data breach. Each company needs to adhere to at least one security regulation – an Identity and Access Management System can help with the data protection necessary to satisfy the needs of GDPR laws. With technology continuously evolving and thus getting more and more complex, the number of potential threats rises. This is a problem an IAM system could surely mitigate.
Improved and more intricate technologies demand a solution that can aid in preventing security issues, such as data loss or breaches: an Identity and Access Management solution can help with that.
Improved User Experience
With the help of an IAM solution, IT administrators can set up a unique digital identity for each user, which ends the need for managing all these accounts manually. Additionally, users can access the required services regardless of time, location, and electronic device. This aspect also ties in with the integration of single sign-on SSO, at least partly.
Streamlined Access with the Help of Single Sign-On Authentication
Ideally, users don’t want to login every time they intend to authenticate with a webpage or product using the exact same credentials they have just used to access another product of the same company. This is what single sign-on (SSO) was made for: It is an authentication service that allows a user to login only once with their credentials to access multiple services or applications. Explaining the technical requirements for that would probably go a bit too far for this article. It is important to note, though, that an Identity and Access Management system can also streamline such authentication requirements.
Yet, there is a catch: Most Identity and Access Management solutions don’t offer all the above features and an SSO integration. But you can surely combine two different IAM or IGA (Identity Governance and Administration) solutions to suit all these needs.
Many people interested in IAM solutions might be asking what this will cost them. Using a single IAM platform to manage all user access and mitigate security risks might mean more work upfront to get everything in place but eventually, this will save a lot of time and money.
How to implement an Identity and Access Management System
Now that you know why an Identity and Access Management system is essential nowadays, there’s only one question left: How would you go about implementing such a solution? With these three straightforward steps you’ll be able to use your own IAM implementation rather soon.
Assessing the As-is Situation
The first step to implementing your own IAM solution is to investigate the current state of the environment you’re using right now. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Which apps are your users utilizing?
- Which users and groups need to authenticate with which software and resources?
- What is your current process of granting access to users and groups as well as revoking it again when necessary?
- How are you presently provisioning specific user data between different systems?
- What are your ongoing costs for supporting and managing all user and group identities in your environment?
As soon as you can answer all these questions, you’re ready to go ahead with step two and think about the IAM approach that is right for you.
Evaluating the Target State
Now that you know the as-is situation you can figure out what exactly you need the IAM solution to do for you. The following questions can help you make a first evaluation:
- Which compliance standards and security concerns do you need to follow?
- Do you wish to deploy your services on-premise or in the cloud?
- Are you satisfied with an out-of-the-box solution, or do you prefer a custom approach?
- Will you require reporting and re-certification?
- Do you need a combination of different systems to also support SSO?
- Do your application providers support the authentication standards SAML, OAuth, and OpenID Connect?
- Do your application providers support the user management standards LDAP, SOAP, SCIM, and REST (among others)?
- What are you willing to spend and how does this align with the costs of your preferred IAM solution?
Having addressed all these concerns, you’re ready for the decisive step: the implementation of the IAM solution.
Implementing the Identity and Access Management Solution
Implementing your IAM solution is the most critical and complicated step. Factors you need to keep in mind when doing so include stakeholder awareness, single sign-on implementation, multi-factor authentication, a strong password policy, and gradual implementation of the system. You might even require two interconnected systems to deal with all your needs. Of course, there are a few other factors to also consider, and this is where an IAM expert would be the best point of contact for you.
If you’re still reading this article, you might be interested in an actual implementation of an IAM solution. Without a contact person, the project is not too easy to implement but luckily, you have come to the right place: We have experts who can guide you through all necessary steps of working on an IAM implementation. Don’t hesitate to call or mail us, we’ll happily assist you with all questions you have about the perfect IAM solution for your business!