What is Identity and Access Management (IAM)?

Identity and access management, which is usually shortened to IAM, is a set of computer security measures designed to enable the right level of access for individuals who want to use a company’s resources.

As use of the internet by businesses has mushroomed over the last few decades many more types of individuals require access to a certain levels of information, and this can be internal staff within a company to external businesses, customers and other types of client.

Due to the excessive amount of information now available, online security for businesses has become of paramount importance. This has prompted the development of a range of IAM solutions products and applications that can provide a business with robust measures to control who sees what data.

How Does IAM Work?

The core objective of IAM is to categorise people as different levels of user and assign them the correct permissions. For instance, a senior member of staff may obviously have access to many more levels of data and much more comprehensive information than a customer would do.

The systems have been developed and implemented by companies with expertise in IAM solutions who will advise on the most appropriate systems and management processes.

Once implemented the identity access management technology can be administered by allocated staff in the organisation. These appointed people will be equipped with the technology and tools necessary to manage roles, track user activity and support and maintain policies on use of the system.

IAM Technologies

The technology broadly consists of tools to manage passwords, security policy applications, provisioning software and apps for keeping track of use and monitoring activities so that this can be managed and reported on. However, this is not a definitive list as the systems are becoming ever more sophisticated and can be tailored to a company’s requirements, and also reflect a response to the need for stringent cybersecurity measures.

Compliance Management

There is increased expectation from governments, businesses, overarching bodies and customers that a company will have in place the appropriate systems to ensure security measures are inbuilt into all their online transactions and communications.

With the introduction of recent new regulations such as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which is a European initiative that will be effective as of May 2018, certain standards will be expected of businesses who will have to ensure they conform to relevant legislation.

An example of why the need for a rigorous identity access and management system is so crucial can be illustrated by a substance abuse facility in Baltimore who had it’s database hacked last year, with information on patients being released on the Dark Web.

Obviously this is an extreme case but is it not an isolated incident, and consequently governments in some countries such as the U.S. have introduced regulations including Gramm-Leach-Bliley and Sarbanes-Oxley with other countries likely to follow suit in the not too distant future.

Therefore, there are multiple reasons why it will soon be mandatory for businesses to ensure they are fully compliant with regulations and keep one step ahead of developments in identity and access management.