As technologies have improved over the years, a new set of security needs and solutions arose. Especially with the new wave of digital businesses, identity and access management methods have gotten older. This issue has brought significant risks to enterprises leaving even more vulnerabilities.
Nowadays, identity and access management should secure and handle both on-premise and cloud access. Additionally, the deployment of IAM solutions has its challenges. Enterprises need to learn what is identity and access management (IAM) in the first place to understand the challenges and best practices to solve them. Challenges and threats are inevitable since IAM design, deployment, and management take great attention throughout the whole process.
Identity and Access Management (IAM)
Identity and access management is a framework of tools that enables controlling access to resources on the network. It organizes access levels of individuals to specific resources and manages the authentication of those identities.IAM systems administer access privileges and limitations on the network resources, data, and tools while ensuring secure and authorized access through specific authentication and verification procedures.
These processes may include SSO (single sign-on), two-factor authentication, biometrics, multi factor authentication, and many more. In addition, the identity and access management system secures the gateway and prevents potential malicious activities. Access restrictions reduce the attack surface since only specific users can access confidential data.
Identity and access management ensures continuous visibility. So that the administrators can monitor the users, applications, accessed data, location, exact date and time, and what the user is doing with the accessed data. In other words, This allows the framework to detect anomalies faster and ensure up-to-date compliance with security regulations. Companies must keep up with the frequently changing compliance standards and manage certification accordingly. With the IAM system, full compliance can be achieved.
Overall, the IAM system automates tracking user login information, managing identities on the database, and assigning and removing access rights. In order to accomplish all these, the IAM system encompasses the identification of users, identified roles, how the roles are assigned, and updating identities, roles, and access privileges. The automation of IAM enables companies to work more efficiently without compromising security.
IAM framework should be managed properly to get these benefits. Some common challenges arise within the deployment of the IAM, especially regarding identity management. Before applying access and identity management best practices, companies should understand the challenges.
Improper management of the IAM system includes many aspects such as lack of management support, poor role management, and improper access management. This includes both users and administrators.
As time passes, resources may shift between different projects due to the change in businesses’ priorities. Management support should be present in supporting stakeholders and proper communication mediums between all. Aside from overall management support, a strong executive sponsor is required to help the IAM system run smoothly.
One of the most significant aspects of the IAM system is the role identifications assigned to the identities in the system. Because user roles determine the authorization, level of access, and permissions. On top of that, authentication of access may differ for different resources. When a user’s role changes, the set of given permissions and access should be assigned according to the new role. That’s why proper role management is needed.
For role management, corporates must determine business objectives, roles, and tasks. Then, roles should be assigned according to what is needed for accomplishing certain tasks. Each role can access limited resources. Lack of thereof or poor management may lead to loss of productivity and privilege creep. Also, proper access management checks various aspects of access such as device owner, location, date, time, and resources the user requests to access.
Planning is a significant part of every project and implementation. Companies need to conduct assessments to properly plan out the employment of IAM since it can take years. IAM system has various assets concerning the whole enterprise. Like in every planning, the first step is understanding the project objectives. Failing to do so can cause significant issues in identity and access management and leads to crucial vulnerabilities for the enterprise network. For instance, internal sabotage, and phishing attacks. Unnecessary and excessive user permissions increase the attack surface on the framework.
Another aspect that needs to be taken into consideration is mapping out the identities, resources, and data to get full visibility of the network. This helps to determine the users to give access and authorization to specific resources. Determining authentication processes, security of the framework, type and level of access needed, resources, and applications in use is crucial. All these should be taken into account for picking the right IAM solution.
But there is more to planning an IAM deployment and design. It is crucial to understand future IAM needs, and have ongoing assessments and discussions with stakeholders throughout the deployment process. Overall, the plan should be built considering the potential challenges and risks while maintaining solid communication between stakeholders.
3- Stakeholder Engagement
Considering the needs of different departments, implementing IAM requires the full attention of all stakeholders. IAM employment is a process that might extend over a few years. At each step, project objectives and reassessments should be communicated across all stakeholders and corporate.
Since different challenges and risks arise over time, an assessment for modifications is needed to overcome these. That’s why stakeholders should reevaluate throughout the whole process. Stakeholder engagement is crucial along the way with proper planning. Also, relevant stakeholders commonly include data and system owners, network managers, security analysts, server admins, auditors, etc. So, implementation objectives concern engagement of all relevant stakeholders throughout the plan.
Improper planning may lead to sourcing incorrect technology as well. Incorrect procurement can damage the whole deployment process in the beginning. It should be decided considering the scale and strategy with a comprehensive perspective.
5- Lack of End-user Guidance
New solutions and technologies may be seen as hard to use due to a lack of user guidance. Regarding new authentication implementations, this is a significant challenge since solutions must be according to the needs. Since not all authentication processes can be transparent, management should help users handle daily challenges and understand the lack of transparency.
In a cloud-based environment, businesses must assess their own needs and improve their identity and access management. The most common challenges of IAM concern the whole enterprise and all stakeholders. Overall, building a resilient IAM system and avoiding potential threats are possible by addressing these challenges.