What Are Data Leaks?
Data leaks occur when sensitive data is unintentionally exposed from within an organization. Data leaks can refer to both the leakage of digital data, meaning anything that can be transmitted through the internet, as well as...
Updated on February 15, 2023.
With the rising trend of digitization, many companies are moving processes into the cloud and allowing employees the option to work from home, either part of the time or all of the time.
While hybrid and fully remote work models have opened up a world of opportunities for both employees and businesses, they’ve also broadened organizations’ potential attack surfaces. The more things a company puts online, the more opportunities threat actors have to breach the company’s systems and data. For this reason, it’s more important than ever for companies to implement Identity and Access Management (IAM) solutions to help protect team members’ digital identities and the business as a whole.
Keep reading to learn more about identity and access management and why it’s important to your business.
Identity and Access Management (IAM) is a framework of policies and business processes that ensure authorized users have the necessary access to the technological resources they need to perform their jobs. IT and security administrators use IAM solutions to administer user identities and control access to enterprise resources, particularly sensitive organizational systems and data.
Privileged Access Management (PAM) is a subset of IAM that focuses on users with access to particularly sensitive systems and data, such as servers, databases and administrative controls.
IAM works through the implementation of policies and processes aimed to restrict access to users based on the Principle of Least Privilege (PoLP), also called “least-privilege access.” The idea is that any user – whether that user is human or a machine or application – should have the minimum amount of system privileges necessary to do their job, and no more.
Least-privilege access enhances security by protecting against both insider threats and external threat actors. Company insiders can’t purposefully or accidentally access systems and data they aren’t authorized to view. Meanwhile, external threat actors who breach a system by stealing login credentials are also limited to what the breached account has access to.
IAM solutions enhance security, support compliance efforts and optimize employee productivity.
Identity and access management solutions strengthen an organization’s security across the data environment by making it more difficult for threat actors to compromise employee credentials. Additionally, even if a threat actor manages to compromise a set of working credentials, IAM solutions make it more difficult or even impossible to use them. For example, if Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is enabled, a stolen password is useless without the additional authentication factor(s). IAM solutions also make it more difficult for threat actors to escalate privileges within a compromised system.
IAM supports compliance efforts by allowing organizations to demonstrate that only authorized personnel can access sensitive data. Identity management compliance requires documentation for audits. This means that if your organization happens to be audited, having a strong and solid IAM program can demonstrate that order is in place to help to mitigate any risk of misuse or theft of sensitive data. An example of this would be HIPAA compliance.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a federal law that created standards to protect patients’ sensitive information from being shared without the patient’s consent or knowledge. Organizations that deal with patient information must have security measures in place and follow them to ensure HIPAA compliance. HIPAA compliance ensures that the patient information is only available to those who require access to help the patient or those who the patient has authorized to share it with.
IAM tools help optimize productivity by making it simpler for employees to access the resources they need to do their jobs. For example, enabling Single Sign-On (SSO) for your entire network frees employees from having to re-enter their login credentials every time they need to access an application or system. Additionally, SSO minimizes help desk tickets for resetting lost passwords, freeing up IT administrators and staff to focus on other priorities.
IAM solutions also optimize the productivity of IT staff by allowing them to automate many IAM processes. This leaves them with more time to help users solve issues and work on other internal projects.
Organizations looking to build out their identity and access management strategy have many solutions to consider. Examples of popular IAM tools include SSO, Privileged Access Management (PAM) and Enterprise Password Management (EPM). Let’s take a closer look at each of these tools.
Single sign-on is an authentication and authorization solution that allows users to log into multiple systems and applications with a single ID.
A common example of SSO in action is when a user logs into a third-party website using their Google, Twitter or Facebook credentials.
One of the main advantages of SSO is convenience. Users aren’t required to memorize different usernames and passwords. However, not all sites and apps support SSO, and that’s where a password manager is incredibly beneficial. Similar to SSO, password managers require users to memorize only one master password, which is used to access a digital password vault containing all of the user’s other passwords. We’ll talk about password managers in more detail below.
Privileged Access Management (PAM) provides control over elevated (“privileged”) access and permissions for users, accounts and systems across an IT environment. PAM is used to restrict and monitor access to an organization’s most sensitive information and systems.
While SSO focuses on general user access, PAM is more concerned about permissions, Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) and other tools to prevent the misuse of high-level credentials.
PAM should not be confused with Privileged Session Management (PSM), which focuses on monitoring, recording and controlling privileged sessions. While PAM is about access control, PSM refers to the period of time that privileged access is granted to an account, service or process.
Enterprise password management refers to the secure storage of credentials for organizational accounts, services, systems, applications and more. An enterprise password manager helps businesses monitor employee password usage, set role-based access controls, reset and update passwords, and manage shared accounts.
Businesses do not have to choose one solution over the other, and in fact, they should not. A comprehensive IAM strategy combines SSO with PAM, an EPM solution and additional tools, such as MFA:
Keeper offers a PAM solution that provides all of these features and more.
Investing time and resources into IAM strategies can prevent cyberattacks and data breaches.
Keeper can play a leading role in your company’s identity and access management strategy. Our solution enables a zero-trust environment and zero-knowledge security architecture. Our admin console offers role-based access controls so that IT and security administrators can delegate access to appropriate team members.
We also have Keeper SSO Connect, a cloud-based Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) 2.0 service that seamlessly integrates with existing SSO and passwordless solutions.
Protect your business and employees by building out your IAM strategy today. Keeper’s PAM solution protects your business from cybercriminals and strengthens your security posture.
Reach out to a Keeper team member to request a features demo.
Identity management focuses on managing the attributes of a user while access management focuses on controlling access to a user, based on their attributes. A team member can have attributes based on their department, role and duties. For example, developers need to securely access numerous DevOps tools. Meanwhile, human resources need access to payroll and benefits platforms. With IAM, employees in different departments have access to the different systems they need, but just enough access to do their jobs.
There are many IAM solutions available. Before diving into the first option available, take these steps to get started with IAM:
Determine your organization’s IT priorities for the year and identify gaps. Focusing on how your company operates will help IT managers identify the best solutions for their team and determine the organization’s pain points. Find out which areas need improvement, and brainstorm ways to solve those problems.
Some people may use Identity and Access Management (IAM) and Privileged Access Management (PAM) interchangeably. However, these concepts focus on different areas within an organization.