The Definition of Identity, Credential, and Access Management
August 15th, 2021

Imagine a situation where anyone could unlock your car without your knowledge or authorization, drive around and use it for who knows what, then return it before you even knew what happened. What if a random person could withdraw funds from your bank account without your permission? That’s exactly what happens when unauthorized parties access your confidential business resources in an Identity, Credential, and Access Management breach. 

If that happens, your business is opened up to a world of reputation damage, lawsuits, or fines. That can all be avoided by employing Identity, Credential, and Access Management (ICAM) protocols. Before we continue, here’s a concise Identity, Credential, and Access Management definition. 

ICAM is a set of security disciplines which ensure that everyone in your organization accesses the correct resources at the right time and for the right reasons. This is not to be confused with IAM (Identity and Access Management System). We'll unpack the ICAM concept further by highlighting the three main principles that embody it and wrap up with the reasons that ICAM is crucial for your business continuity.

Identity Management

The first principle in ICAM is Identity Management. As mentioned earlier, the idea is for your organization to ensure that system users are viewing protected information that they are authorized to access. That’s why the first step is to identify which user accessed which information and at what time. 

To do this, Identity Management comes into play. This is a framework of practices your business uses to establish user identities. Over and above ascertaining the user, you have the authority to maintain and terminate identities as you see fit. After the system identifies a user, it is then responsible for identity proofing. In this case, the system verifies that the users are who they say they are. 

It’s also important to note that identities change. Case in point: Let’s say a particular employee was previously allowed to access certain information based on their role or level but then gets reassigned. He or she may no longer be allowed to access certain information they were once privy to. But that doesn’t mean their identity has expired. It simply means that organizational systems may need to revise that employee’s access or even terminate identities where necessary.

Credential Management

The next principle of ICAM involves Credential Management. After identifying users, their credentials come into play. Credentials, in the strictest sense of the word, are authoritative evidence that supports a user's claim to a particular identity, according to their role, responsibility, and level within your organization. 

Credentials come in different forms, such as passwords, pins, or biometric fingerprints, depending on your organizational policy. Under Credential Management, organizations use a set of practices that help them issue, track, update, and revoke user credentials. 

Unlike identities, credentials tend to expire. But they can also get lost or compromised. Whichever the case may be, your business should be in a position to effectively pick up any anomalies and issue new credentials, if need be. 

Access Management

Access Management is the last component in the ICAM trio. Just as the name implies, this principle deals with a set of practices that enable businesses to give users access to perform certain functions. 

Be they customers, suppliers, or employees, such users need access to certain information in your business to carry out their roles effectively. Under this principle, your business needs to be in a position to effectively manage who has the right to perform which actions after accessing the necessary information. Some users can only view, while others have the authority to create or change the information that they are authorized to work on. 

To ensure this process runs smoothly, effective policy management and authorization practices are crucial. Your business should be governed by a set of clearly laid down rules and regulations that can be used to create access policies. These policies should decide who performs which action through authorization from relevant authorities.


After all is said and done, the goal of Identity, Credential, and Access Management is to ensure that users have access just to the information they are allowed to see at all times. Having such measures in place will ensure that information sharing within your organization occurs securely and that information reaches the correct individuals. 

To accomplish this, your business needs to adhere to strict ICAM practices and systems that enable it to effectively manage and control information sharing across different applications and platforms. Not only will this keep your information secure, but it will increase operational efficiency and ease user frustration for a better user experience.

For further reading, check out our other articles like Identity and Access Management Roles and Responsibilities