A Complete Guide to Modernizing Identity and Access Management (IAM) for Your Business

As per statista.com, data breaches in 2022 cost USD 4.35 million per incident on average- an increase from USD 4.24 million in the previous year. Hence, now the IT department of many large organizations understands the pressing need to improve security around sensitive enterprise assets and data.

But, error-prone manual procedures are not cutting it anymore for protecting data and tracking user privileges efficiently. With ongoing data breaches, identity theft, and cyber frauds wreaking havoc, businesses need to implement a robust Identity and Access Management (IAM) system to manage identities and establish security controls. 

In this blog, let us discuss what IAM is, how it works, the importance of modernizing IAM, its benefits, and the keys to successfully doing it with best practices. 

What is Identity and Access Management (And, how it works)?

Identity and Access Management (IAM) is a software system that manages and monitors enterprise network resources and user accounts. It involves internal processes that authenticate users and ensure their right to access is under control. 

When you sign up for a system, you need to submit details such as your social security number, email address, and phone number, to create a digital identity. So, whenever you attempt to access the system, your access request will undergo identification of you as a user through authentication and authorization protocols. After successful validation, the user can perform certain tasks and access specific resources (software, applications, or hardware). 

The Importance of Modernizing IAM 

To understand the importance of a modern IAM, you need to understand the access management approach of legacy systems. Under conventional infrastructure, an organization manages user identity and access privileges separately. For instance, if you need access to different web applications, you should create two separate accounts. These accounts would need usernames and passwords. However, what commonly happens in this situation is that users use the same password (that’s easy to remember) for all accounts, dramatically increasing the cybersecurity risks for the organization. 

Modern identity and access management solutions resolve several shortcomings of the legacy approach- from data theft risks to bad user experience. 

Benefits of a Modern IAM

Using a modern IAM system that leverages automation, organizations can record and manage user identities and permissions. Here are the possible advantages of such features: 

  • Strengthens Security

Hackers execute data thefts by infiltrating a vulnerable security system and accessing sensitive company data. A modern IAM provides strong authentication using features like multi-factor authentication (MFA) and single sign-on (SSO), reducing security risks. So even if they steal your password, they will need to undergo additional security layers for verification. 

  • Streamlines Work

An advanced IAM system enables you to manage all user identities in one place and implement any changes in policies across the entire organization smoothly. For instance, if there is an update in the security policy, you can change the access privileges in the system. The IT department can shift its focus from handling tedious password resets to more crucial tasks. 

  • Improves User Experience 

Even when the user has a good memory, it is not easy to remember multiple usernames and passwords for different web applications. An identity and access management solution eases this challenge by providing SSO to access various systems. SSO features of a modern IAM are user-friendly and help customers and partners to access the network without remembering complicated passwords. 

  • Centralizes Access Control

Since the access privileges, user locations, devices, permissions, and authentication methods are all under a unified platform, it is easier for enterprises to keep track of user activity. Moreover, several aspects of identity access management can be automated, allowing organizations to run processes smoothly and reduce costs, effort, and time. 

  • Ensures Compliance

Many Government regulations (for instance, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) for the healthcare industry) enforce fines in case of incorrect data use and mishandling. Thus, organizations need to meet set data protocols and data privacy levels. IAM can help meet audit requirements by implementing policies to control access requests, identity authentication, and review/certification processes. 

The Key to Success: IAM Implementation and Modernization

The IAM market is not slowing down in the future. In fact, it is expected to grow from $7.6 billion in 2020 to $ 15.3 billion by 2025. So, if you want your business to succeed at identity access management, you should undertake the following best practices for successful implementation and modernization: 

  • Prepare for Infrastructure

All the users on the corporate network should be managed and verified. Therefore, IAM is connected to various functions of an enterprise, from HR to finances to IT operations. Given the IAM requirements encompass the entire organization, you should assess the existing security environment and then take steps toward significant planning and project management to prepare for the desired end infrastructure.

  • Long-Term Road Mapping

Once you have identified your desired end state for IAM implementation, you need to bridge the distance between where you stand and your goal. In creating your identity access management strategy and roadmap, you should outline a timetable, get all the stakeholders on board, implement the project in phases and conduct periodic maintenance to ensure the system operates at its full potential. 

  • Utilize Multi-Factor Authentication

The misuse of passwords is a crucial driver for hackers to execute data thefts and security attacks. Modernize your IAM with Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) to add an extra layer of security. A few examples of MFA include a verification code or OTP sent to mobile, facial recognition, and fingerprint authentication. 

  • Use a Zero-Trust Security Approach

In the modern business landscape, it is best not to trust anyone until the identities are proven trustworthy. A zero-trust security model continuously authenticates users and tracks activities to expose the risk level associated with every session. It helps to detect abnormal user behaviors across your identity and access management system, exposing potential breaches or violations. 

  • Review User Privileges Regularly 

It is essential to audit an IAM system regularly to review user privileges across your workspace, communication channels, and cloud storage. By checking user privileges regularly, you can ensure no employee has access beyond their required roles. 

Build a Robust Security Infrastructure for Your Enterprise!

Every business should consider identity access management an essential part of its cybersecurity strategy. In a digital environment where data breaches are rampant, IAM enables enterprises to restrict and verify who can access your sensitive resources. 

With secured identity and access management services from Wipro, you can ensure the data privacy of every employee and client in your system. With proper implementation methods and best practices to modernize, we help you build a robust IAM ecosystem that nips data threats in the bud. 

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