Identity Governance Blog

Building on a Strong Identity and Access Management Framework

Today’s distributed and insecure threat landscape requires strong Identity and Access Management. Learn how IGA helps support more secure access.

March 26, 2024

As today’s workers use the tools and data they need to perform their duties, organizations have to ensure there’s a secure access process in place for these digital identities. The goal is to implement identity and access management with as little friction as possible. That goes for on-site as well as remote and hybrid employees – using work-issued or personal devices – as well as for partners, vendors and contractors. We offer a hassle-free solution, with the only IGA solutions that can be deployed in 3 months. More SaaS applications and the evolving nature of the workplace and the workers– including remote work, contract help and seasonal staff – create increasing complexity for identity and access management. And greater complexity requires an updated security approach. Enter Identity and Access Management (IAM).


What is Identity and Access Management?

Access Identity Management is an essential aspect of modern cybersecurity strategies, managing access control, identity management and overall security governance. Though commonly confused with identity IGA, it is important to understand the difference between IAM and IGA to ensure that members of an organization have the access to the systems and applications they need to fulfill their roles and that they are satisfying compliance requirements. Unauthorized access to sensitive information can lead to data breaches and security compromises. Identity access management tools offer strong authentication and authorization mechanisms so that only authorized users can access specific resources. Adhering to regulations and compliance standards often requires strict control over access to sensitive data; cloud IAM helps organizations enforce compliance by implementing access controls, audit trails and ongoing access reviews. Companies that deploy cloud identity and access management enjoy stronger security, increased user productivity and a centralized management approach.

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IAM identity access management ensures that everyone who needs access privileges has them, at the right time and at the appropriate level. With this kind of access and identity management, organizations strengthen their cybersecurity stance by verifying every access attempt.


How the identity and access management framework works

As its name implies, there are two facets to IAM compliance:

  1. identity management manages user identities from creation to maintenance to deletion. It involves processes such as user provisioning and de-provisioning, as well as ensuring the accuracy of user information.
  2. access management controls user access to specific resources, applications or systems a user needs to perform their duties. It involves permissions, authentication and authorization to ensure that users have the right level of access based on their roles and responsibilities.

Cloud identity uses an identity management database to verify login attempts. This database is a living record of all the people who are allowed access; it needs ongoing updating and Identity Administration to keep current with these individuals as they onboard, change job duties and leave.

An identity management database stores sensitive information like the names of employees, who their manager is, who their direct reports are, and their non-work email addresses, job titles and cellphone numbers. Authentication is the process of matching up an individual’s username and password with the identity residing in the database, and is essential to IAM identity access management.

Many organizations follow a zero-trust IAM approach and take the additional step of implementing multifactor authentication (MFA) for identity verification. It’s a more secure option than just the standard username and password because it requires an additional login step to verify the person’s identity. MFA uses verification methods such as email addresses and phone numbers, with the IAM system facilitating the sending of a one-time code for authenticating users. Then the person has a short timeframe in which to enter that code at the login page.

That’s the identity management piece. Now we move on to the access management piece of IAM. Once the IAM system validates the identity of the person or device that is trying to access corporate resources, access management kicks in. It knows and tracks the data and applications each individual or device is allowed to access. Most organizations set up a tiered system of access to their digital assets, with levels of access based on project, security clearance, job title, tenure and/or other things.


Identity access and control

There are three primary types of access and access control:

  1. Role-based access control (RBAC) – This optioError! Hyperlink reference not valid.n enables owners to assign access to the network based on defined user profiles, which are based on their job roles.
  2. Policy-based access control (PBAC) – This option assesses access rights and entitlements that can be adjusted based on new company policies, which tell the IGA solution what to do and how to enforce access.
  3. Attribute-based access control (ABAC) – This option is an offshoot of RBAC but provides more specific access control. It allows application or line managers to use attributes, or characteristics about the access request, user or entitlement.

Learn more about the different types of access control systems


Authentication of identity takes place, followed by the conferring of the appropriate amount of access. This is the process of authorization. If organizations have set up their access identity management system properly, each time a user attempts to get access, authentication and authorization happen to strengthen corporate security and keep those critical assets safe.


Identity and access management framework principles

A comprehensive identity and access management framework encompasses a myriad of solutions, tools, protocols, and technologies strategically crafted to uphold the integrity of enterprise assets. Its primary objectives include ensuring authorized individuals possess appropriate access rights, facilitating seamless management of user lifecycles, and fortifying defenses against both internal and external threats. The foundational components of an IAM framework, revolve around the following key principles:

  1. Identification or Authentication: Verifying the identity of users seeking access to organizational resources is paramount. Authentication mechanisms, such as Single Sign-On (SSO), play a pivotal role in this phase by confirming or refuting user identities.
  2. Administration and Management: Once a user’s identity is authenticated, the next crucial step is authorization—determining the scope of actions they’re permitted to undertake within the enterprise ecosystem. Role-Based Access Controls (RBAC) stand as a prominent methodology in this domain, delineating users’ privileges based on predefined roles. Efficiently provisioning and managing user accounts across their lifecycle stages—from initialization to deactivation—is a cornerstone of IAM. This encompasses adhering to compliance mandates, regulatory requirements, and facilitating access across diverse computing environments, encompassing on-premise setups, Software as a Service (SaaS) platforms, as well as various operating systems like UNIX, Windows, iOS, and Android.
  3. Monitoring and Auditing: Continuous surveillance and audit trails are indispensable for gauging user activities and detecting anomalies. Metrics such as password resets, account correlations, login failures, and instances of privileged account misuse are meticulously monitored to uphold security standards and ensure compliance.
  4. Security and Protection: Shielding enterprise assets from an array of threats—including external breaches and internal subversions—is a perpetual endeavor within the realm of IAM. Robust security measures are deployed to safeguard corporate devices, networks, data repositories, and software applications from unauthorized access and malicious activities perpetrated by both external adversaries and disgruntled insiders.

By adhering to these foundational principles and leveraging an IAM framework tailored to organizational needs, enterprises can fortify their security posture, streamline user management processes, and mitigate the ever-evolving landscape of cyber threats.


How IGA fits in access information management

IAM enables companies to keep their data, apps and systems available, confidential and reliable. This helps with regulatory compliance and helps reduce the threat from cyber incidents like attacks on privilege. Identity Governance and Administration (IGA) manages user identities and access rights for an organization’s data, files, apps and systems. IGA does this by gathering and associating various access rights, accounts and identities to govern user access.

IAM tracks who has access to what in its role as executor for access of identities. Identity Governance and Administration (IGA) is the “brains” or strategy for policies about access, roles, separation of duties policies, compliance policies and so on.

Modern identity governance drives more efficient IAM solutions. Oftentimes, IGA performs additional functions, such as managing passwords, managing roles and policies, and conducting audits. IGA solutions draw from data sources like HR and Directory services. Among its many benefits, IGA helps enforce identity policies for stronger security, helps meet regulatory compliance by providing controls and documentation for user access, and reduces risk of data theft by both external and internal bad actors. All of this lays a sturdy foundation for effective IAM infrastructure.

One important aspect of digital identity management is taking control of access rights when people onboard, change job titles or departments, and offboard. At each of these stages, IGA automates identity management. It also makes identity management more efficient by providing a quick way for users to request access and for managers to grant access. IGA accurately shapes policies, contexts and roles to align with the organization’s need, making this process optimally easy to use and relevant. These elements result in effective IGA, but that’s not all. They also lay the groundwork for privileged access management (PAM), Identity Threat Detection and Response (IDTR), Cloud Infrastructure Entitlement Management (CIEM) and other solutions related to IAM to positively affect IAM strategy in a significant way.


A guide to more secure access

Clearly, there are a lot of moving parts involved in creating an effective IGA program. We’ve had a great deal of experience on this topic in the past 20+ years as we’ve deployed IGA in mid-sized and large organizations around the world, and we think we’ve cracked the code for the five most important reasons that your organization should implement IGA today.

Read 5 Reasons For Identity Governance and Administration


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