The Role of Identity and Access Management in Strengthening Security for Enterprises

    Identity and access management (IAM) is the system of tools used to control user access to systems, applications, hardware, or information. IAM solutions help enterprises implement a zero-trust network, reduce security risks with unified and controlled access policies, and more.

    IAM starts with authentication, verifying that an employee is who they say they are before granting access privileges. This is typically done through a login process with multifactor authentication.


    The foundation of any identity management solution is strong authentication. It verifies that the person, software, or device seeking access is who they claim to be, not some other entity. IAM solutions often support multiple forms of authentication, including passwords, biometrics, or smart cards, to provide the greatest level of security possible. This reduces the number of traditional points of failure in a cybersecurity ecosystem, including hacking attempts, accidental exposure of password recovery information, or simply human frailties when creating easy-to-remember but easy-to-crack passwords. With all its benefits, it’s essential to understand how does identity and access management increase security. IAM solutions also support a zero-trust approach to managing access to technology systems, applying the principle of least privilege so that the enterprise only grants the minimum level of access required for an activity and only to those tools needed to accomplish it. This centralized access management greatly simplifies IT operations, allowing expert IT professionals to shift focus to projects that require their skills and attention.

    IAM solutions also automate low-risk functions such as onboarding, offboarding, and modifying access as employees join or leave the organization. This increases IT team effectiveness and efficiency, reducing the risk of error and the time it takes to manage these tasks manually. Additionally, IAM solutions provide advanced tracking of abnormal behavior to detect and stop suspicious activities that can lead to breaches.

    Access Control

    Identity and access management solutions must confirm whether users have the right credentials to access specific tools or data. This is usually done through multifactor or adaptive authentication, which combines something a user knows (like passwords) with something they have or are a part of (like mobile devices and facial recognition). Some IAM solutions support Single Sign-On (SSO) so that users only have to verify their identities once to access all authorized tools.

    Once a user’s identity is verified, access control determines what permissions they will have and what actions they can take within those tools. These permissions are often based on roles, departments, or other established groupings. This helps enterprises get granular in their licenses and avoid giving access to users who don’t need it, a practice that can lead to security breaches.

    In addition, IAM solutions are often used to manage privileged accounts, which give employees access to confidential and sensitive data on systems, networks, or databases. These accounts require the highest level of security and are crucial to meeting requirements set by regulatory bodies. IAM provides the means to secure these privileged accounts, track who has access, and ensure that only those with necessary permissions can access information.


    Identity management tools often include reporting functions that provide visibility into how and when access is granted to applications, files, systems or cloud infrastructure. This information is critical to understanding potential risks and helping internal audit teams prioritize the areas they should focus on during an assessment.

    For example, when a user is provisioned or deprovisioned, IAM can help the enterprise identify the tools to which the user has entitlement based on role, department or other criteria and automatically grant that level of access. Automating this low-risk function helps the enterprise increase efficiency and ensures that users have access only to what they need to do their jobs. It also improves security and allows the IT team better protect organizational data. IAM solutions also confirm that a user is who they say they are by authenticating the identity of a person or device with secure, multifactor authentication technology. This helps to prevent identity theft and other forms of cyberattack. Additionally, IAM solutions can help the enterprise manage the entire lifecycle of a user account, including onboarding, provisioning, and termination. This streamlines processes and helps to increase productivity, improve data security, and simplify compliance.


    The core of IAM is the ability to monitor and control access to digital resources (like data, applications, hardware, and devices). When a team member, customer, machine, or robot attempts to access a company resource, IAM confirms the entity’s identity and provides access based on policies and authorization settings.

    IAM solutions often have advanced capabilities like authentication, authorization, and auditing. They may also include tools that help users manage their identities and permissions, such as single sign-on (SSO) and the ability to manage passwords. IAM also helps in compliance by providing reports that support compliance with industry regulations and internal security practices.

    In addition to confirming that someone is who they say they are, IAM systems allow IT departments to specify which tools and what level of access to grant to users (like edit, viewer, or administrator). This process, known as provisioning, can be automated using role-based access control. For example, it makes no sense for one HR employee to have access to confidential salary and payroll files; another worker in the same department should be able to handle those duties.

    IAM solutions help organizations automate low-risk functions to reduce manual effort and focus expert IT teams on the more complex tasks of securing the organization. They also provide reporting to support compliance and security by recording activities like login times, systems accessed, and type of authentication.

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