You need a strong cybersecurity network. This cannot be overstated. The primary purpose of a secure network is to protect personal information regardless of the industry. What some businesses might not think about is their employees and the information they have access to. Some information does not need or should be readily available to all employees, and this is where Identity Access and Management (IAM) comes into play.
If you aren’t clear on the ins and outs of IAM are or want to ensure that your identity and access management framework is adequate, this guide will give you all the information you need.
What is IAM
IAM is the acronym for identity access and management. In simplistic terms, it limits employees’ access to protected information but allows them to view, copy, and edit data pertaining to their jobs. This information can be anything from protected data to details that pertain only to the company. For example, the majority of the workforce does not need access to employee HR files but certain individuals do.
The identity management framework outlines the IT security protocols and the solutions implemented to manage digital access. The framework requires that everyone secures and authenticates their identities before gaining access to digital information. While it protects data from unauthorized access, the framework also ensures that employees have the information they need to perform their company roles.
Identity management addresses five policies that must be included in the framework for it to be successful.
- How the system identifies employees/individuals.
- How the roles are identified and assigned to employees.
- The system must allow for adding, removing, and updating employees and their roles.
- Allow groups or individuals to be assigned specific levels of access.
- Protect sensitive data and keep the system secure from breaches.
These five policies – when correctly implemented – will give employees access to data they need, while still ensuring that businesses are in compliance with all privacy acts. However, it’s not always easy to implement IAM protocols.
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How to Implement Identity Management Framework
Identity and Access Management policy framework is usually implemented through technology that integrates with or replaces previous access to the system. This is done by changing which employees have access to certain systems, data, and applications. A central directory – created by the business – that lists employees, their roles, and pre-decided access levels will determine who can view, copy, and edit what data.
IAM basically uses “role-based access control” (RBAC). The role of an individual determines their access to data and systems. When new individuals join the team or a system user’s role changes, the framework should be able to reflect this. It should also allow for exceptions if the individual’s role temporarily expands outside the scope of their job.
When a company is implementing the IAM technology and wants to simplify the framework and management of individual passwords there are a few systems that can help.
Common IAM Programs
There are three systems that are commonly used as part of an IAM program. These systems do depend on password management which is part of the identity access framework.
Single Sign-On (SSO)
This is the basic access and login system. It is still a secure system that allows users to authenticate their identity for granting access to systems, software, and data. Since it is RBAC based, users don’t have to “log-in” for each network area. Once the user is logged-in, they will have access to all data that applies to their role in the company.
This goes a little beyond SSO. It not only requires the user’s password but also a preapproved “token”. This can be anything from a company-issued i.d. badge to a fingerprint scan. This IAM framework gives companies added cybersecurity protection, while still ensuring individuals can access the data needed for their roles.
Privileged Access Management
This system is designed to integrate with the employee database and provide access to the data they need to perform their jobs. It differs from the other two systems since it is cloud-based instead of in-house. The IAM technology is still performed on the premise, only the information is stored in the cloud. This system is common in larger companies with an extensive workforce and the ability to afford the expense of securing personal information stored off-premise.
These systems are designed to work for most types of businesses, without weakening the effectiveness of the existing security protocols.
IAM and Existing Cybersecurity Protocols
IAM, when it’s properly implemented, can boost cybersecurity within the workforce and third-party vendors. It can do more than blocking or allowing individuals access to systems and data. Some examples include,
- Restricting access to data subsets: Some employees can be assigned partial access to data and systems according to their roles. This allows employees to perform their roles while still securing data that could be privileged or beyond the scope of their job.
- View access only: Some employee roles only call for viewing the data not copying or editing it. This helps to eliminate the risk of in-house security breaches.
- Limit platform access; Users can only access platforms they are approved for. This eliminates access to operational systems but not ones that are being developed or are in testing stages.
- Prevent the ability to transmit data: Employees have access to edit, delete, and create new data but are prevented from sending data that’s in the system. This means that it cannot be shared with third-parties, preventing a security breach.
The identity management framework is vital for any company’s cybersecurity. It puts an additional layer of protection over systems and devices used by suppliers, customers, employees, and third-party associates. However, the framework also needs to work with other security systems that might be already in place.
IAM and PAM
Privileged Access Management (PAM) or Privileged Identity Management (PIM) are security protocols that govern who has access to controlled information. In order for IAM systems to be secure, they need to be in constant contact with the existing PAM/PIM program.
PAM/PIM security systems are usually layered over IAM. The identity management framework gives authorized individuals access to information through the use of passwords and other security steps. It also limits access to data that is beyond the scope of an individual’s job. The main issue with the IAM framework is that it can be too broad when authorizing access. It is not capable of limiting or recognizing access abuse.
Access abuse is when personnel that should be unauthorized can still access, copy, edit, delete, and share information that is deemed privileged. Misuse of privileged information is often the reason a security breach occurs. Integrating the privileged information (PAM) with the IAM framework will streamline a business’s control over their privileged and non-privileged data.
Even though there are several benefits associated with implementing an IAM system, there can also be a few risks that businesses need to be aware of.
Benefits and Risks of the IAM Framework
There are several benefits associated with implementing the IAM framework that outweigh the few risks. Automating user access to systems and data will,
- Removes confusion concerning who has access to privileged or non-privileged information.
- The risk of external and internal data breaches are reduced.
- Automated IAM systems save businesses time and money that would have been spent keeping networks secure.
- Preventing cybersecurity breaches can save companies time locating and resolving the breach and prevent expensive fines/penalties.
- The IAM framework can make it easier to enforce existing and new security policies.
Another advantage associated with the IAM framework is that it can give companies an edge over their competitors. IAM technology can give users outside the company access to the data they need to perform their services without compromising security protocols.
The downside to implementing IAM technologies is mainly monetary, though there is also a security aspect. It can be expensive and time-consuming to implement the IAM system, even with help from a third-party like RSI Security. Using cloud-based services can cut down on time and expense, but the information still needs to be secure.
Employees can also be a security concern since all the data is stored on the IAM system. If the authorized user doesn’t follow all the password and identification protocols information can be leaked. Another issue with data being stored in one place is if the system is hacked, all privileged information could be compromised.
IAM and Password Strength
Since the identity access management framework is password-based, it is vital that organizations use ones that are considered “strong”. The strength of a password denotes how easy it is to crack, and businesses do not want their employees to create their own. Personal passwords are often familiar names, places, or dates of specific events and these are often easy to break.
To protect PAM/PIM that is stored in-house or in-the-cloud, organizations need to create separate passwords for each employee that work across all networks and devices. Passwords that are generated by the system are usually considered to be “more secure” than ones chosen by the user. The password may be more difficult to remember than using a mother’s maiden name or birth date of a friend or family member, but it will also be harder for hackers to break.
The main purpose of an identity management framework is to protect information from security breaches. The framework is password-based. This means that it is only as strong as the employee access code. Setting up and implementing an IAM system can be time-consuming and costly, regardless of the size of the business. It also needs to support and be supported by the existing security systems.
To minimize disruption to employees and the business, many companies are turning to IT security experts to help them design and implement the IAM system. The certified experts at RSI Security are ready to help and have the experience companies need to prevent potentially costly data breaches.