Identity management, also known as identity and access management (IAM), is a framework of policies, processes, and technologies that enable organizations to manage and control user identities and their access to systems, applications, and resources. It encompasses the entire lifecycle of user identities, including provisioning, authentication, authorization, and deprovisioning. Here are the key components of identity management:
User Provisioning: User provisioning involves creating, modifying, and disabling user accounts and their associated privileges. It includes processes for onboarding new users, assigning appropriate access rights, and managing user roles and permissions.
Authentication: Authentication verifies the identity of users attempting to access systems or applications. Common authentication mechanisms include passwords, multi-factor authentication (MFA), biometrics, smart cards, and digital certificates. Strong authentication methods enhance security and mitigate the risk of unauthorized access.
Single Sign-On (SSO): SSO enables users to access multiple systems and applications with a single set of credentials. Once authenticated, users can seamlessly navigate between various resources without re-entering their credentials. SSO improves user experience while reducing the need for multiple passwords.
Access Control: Access control mechanisms determine what resources users are authorized to access and what actions they can perform. It involves enforcing policies based on user roles, permissions, and attributes. Access control measures may include role-based access control (RBAC), attribute-based access control (ABAC), and least privilege principles.
Directory Services: Directory services, such as Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) or Active Directory (AD), store and manage user identities, attributes, and group memberships. Directories provide a central repository for user information, making it easier to manage identities across multiple systems and applications.
Privileged Access Management (PAM): PAM focuses on managing and securing privileged accounts, such as administrator or root-level access. It involves implementing controls, monitoring privileged access, enforcing session recording, and ensuring least privilege principles for privileged users.
Identity Governance and Administration (IGA): IGA encompasses processes and tools for managing user identities, roles, and entitlements. It involves defining and enforcing policies, conducting access certifications, and ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements.
Federation: Federation allows for secure authentication and authorization across different organizations or domains. It enables users to access resources in trusted external systems using their existing credentials, eliminating the need for separate accounts.
User Lifecycle Management: User lifecycle management encompasses processes for managing user identities throughout their lifecycle, including onboarding, role changes, transfers, and offboarding. It ensures that user access remains appropriate and aligned with their roles and responsibilities.
Auditing and Compliance: Identity management systems generate audit logs and reports to track user activities, access requests, and changes to identities and permissions. These logs help with compliance audits, security investigations, and detecting anomalous or suspicious behaviour.
Effective identity management enhances security, improves user productivity, and ensures compliance with regulatory requirements. It requires a well-defined strategy, robust processes, and the implementation of appropriate technologies to manage user identities, their access rights, and the protection of sensitive data and resources.