Identity and access management (IAM) is a security approach of business technologies, policies, and processes that facilitates the management of digital and electronic identities. With an IAM security protocol in place, IT administrators can manage user access to private information within their companies. This is not to be confused with customer identity and access management.
Security approaches deployed by IAM systems include privileged access management, two-factor authentication, single sign-on systems, and multi-factor authentication. These frameworks allow IT admins to store identities and profile data securely. They also promote data governance, ensuring that only data that’s relevant and necessary is shared.
IAM systems can be used by businesses to promote data security, and are provided by third-party vendors via cloud-based subscription models or deployed using hybrid models. These systems encompass the following elements:
Restricting access to data is older than the human race. Even animals keep secrets about the location of their food supply or living area.
The most obvious way to limit access to information is to keep it physically secure and to only share sensitive information with authorised persons who can be personally and physically identified.
The first step to controlling access to vulnerable information is to verify that those transmitting and receiving the information are authorized. Different methods have evolved over the years to address this need including:
In the past, access management was achieved through encryption to make sure vulnerable data didn’t land in the wrong hands.
The use of cryptography to limit access to sensitive information dates back 3,500 years to Mesopotamia when a craftsperson encrypted a valuable recipe for a pottery glaze. Simple forms of cryptography were also used in ancient Rome, Greece, India, and Israel. In the 8th century, Arabs made significant developments in both cryptography and cryptanalysis (the technique for breaking codes).
Cryptography was also popular in the late 19th century and early 20th century with the invention of the telegraph and radio communications.
IAM frameworks have always been a fundamental component of corporate computing. And as cyber attacks became more complicated, the demand for IAM exploded. Today, IT admins consider IAM a crucial integrated protocol because sensitive data is only as secure as the weakest link in a network.
The fundamentals of IAM include:
Historical security approaches actually had digital components that are leveraged in IAM security systems today:
IAM has come a long way since the early days—and it’s here to stay. As your business goes digital; adopts new technologies and stores more data in the cloud, IAM is a crucial way to secure sensitive information and manage account users while staying up-to-date with current trends.
For more information about IAM, check out this article on Identity and Access Management Implementation Plan.