An identity crisis can hit us when we are at a low point. Many of us will seek the counsel of friends and relatives, but when an identity crisis befalls your organization, an Identity and Access Management (IAM) system will be your only counsel.
So if you are unaware of who is connected to your business’s information systems, then your security is in jeopardy. Read on to find out how you can change that can take back control of your organization.
Identity and Access Management System
Simply put, an IAM is the management of identity and access to the organization’s information system.
It can be a set of policies, tools, or a combination of both. These policies and tools are mechanisms that track the identities of users on the information system. While also granting access to the right users at the appropriate security level.
The primary role of an IAM is to perform two essential tasks, and those are:
- Authentication: The IAM should make correct judgments that the users trying to access the information systems are genuine. This is essentially the identity part of the IAM.
- Authorization: Once the authentication protocol has passed, the IAM should then grant access (authorize) to the user.
Why do you need an IAM system?
Cyber Attackers are taking advantage of weak authentication and authorization mechanisms to access your business’s information system. These vulnerabilities are the primary reason why you will need an IAM system.
Attackers can often exploit these vulnerabilities by:
- Spoofing the identity of users: attackers will exploit weak authentication protocols to masquerade as a genuine user who, in most cases, would grant them access to secure information systems. They can also take advantage of this usurped identity to carry out social engineering attacks on the staff or high-level decision-makers.
- Using dormant accounts: many organizations will not clean up inactive users. With an IAM, it is possible to set up a policy that deletes inactive users after a certain period. Attackers will take advantage of these dormant accounts if the company does not delete them.
- Abusing admin privileges: without an IAM or subsequent policy, the admin user account may be vulnerable to cyberattack.
- Bypass weak authentication protocols: inadequate or non-existent authentication means easily crackable information systems.
- Compromised credentials: Attackers will often exploit the lost or stolen login credentials of users, granting them access to organizational systems. Lost or stolen credentials are also the leading cause of data breaches. Suppose the organization does not have a policy or solution to eliminate inactive users or compromised passwords. In that case, attackers can take advantage of the lost or stolen information to access sensitive or business-critical data.
Other than patching possible vulnerabilities, an IAM can help in compliance management.
Like the GDPR, regulations require user access controls to personally identifiable information (customer identity and access management). But it is the onus of the organization to ensure that the users requesting access controls are genuine.
With an IAM, it is possible to tailor a policy that allows data subjects to access their personal information while also not falling prey to spoofing or social engineering attacks.
If your organization is also attempting to comply with either:
- NIST cybersecurity framework
- NIST 800 SP
- ISO 27001
Then an IAM is essential to full framework compliance. Many of the frameworks listed will provide some IAM systems mapping techniques, but the IAM ecosystem is ever-evolving, and there are many types out there. In the coming section, we will explore some of the most common types of IAM systems.
Types of IAM systems
When it comes to assessing the types of IAM systems, you will need to consider which is most appropriate for your industry. Generally speaking, there are two subcategories of IAM’s and those are:
- On-premises (on-prem): these types of IAM are, as the name suggests, on the organizational premises. The organization directly controls servers, firewalls, information systems, and others.
- Cloud (IDaaS): third-party providers provide cloud or Identification as-a-service IAMs. They will use their proprietary solutions to handle the authentication and authorization of users.
When it comes to picking which is right for you, you will have to consider your needs. On-prem IAMs are more controlled and don’t rely on a third-party. It could be more flexible, and in some cases, more secure. This is especially true if your organization deals with critical infrastructure; on-prem IAMs might be required by law.
Cloud IAMs benefit from being cheaper. For many organizations running an on-prem IAM can be costly, not only monetarily but in resources and time. With a cloud IAM, your organization will be saving time and money.
The only downside is that you leave the security responsibility on the third-party provider, so you must ensure that they employ security best practices. So there will be some degree of third-party risk management involved with cloud providers.
Multi-factor authentication has quickly become an industry standard for many businesses, with two-factor authentication being the default. It is a highly secure IAM tool that many companies employ in password management and device authorization, and it’s pretty easy to implement. This IAM tool can come both in the form of on-prem and cloud IAM.
Role-Based Access Controls
The NIST organization has said that the Role-Based Access Controls (RBAC) address many governments’ and public bodies’ authorization issues. RBAC works by assigning roles to users, and through the roles, they are granted access to the appropriate section of the information system. This limits users with low-level functions from access to higher-profile users and sensitive data.
Single Sign-On (SSO) is a common IAM tool. Password management tools will often use SSO, securing the user’s account with hashing and other cryptographic tools. This account then becomes the administrative account for the IAM system. Which will authorize and authenticate other users.
In password management tools, this account will grant access to the credentials of various accounts and information systems.
Knowing the identities, digital or otherwise, of individuals accessing your organization’s information system is key to its security.
The techniques employed in frameworks and specific regulations will require that the organization use an Identity and Access Management (IAM) system.
As discussed in this article, the basic components and the primary function of an IAM system is to:
- Authenticate users and;
- Authorize users
By combining company policy, procedures, and software solutions, IAM’s will form part of its overall cybersecurity architecture.
RSI Security can help you strike that balance between policy and software. Integrate the best of both worlds and let us create the best possible Identity and Access Management system that is right for your organization.
Get in contact today and book a free consultation.