IAM and Zero Trust: The Dynamic Duo of Security

While the industry is moving toward a zero trust model, where “never trust, always verify” is the motto, adopting a modern Identity Access Management approach can be a foundational step for companies who want to bolster their identity and access management systems and eventually adopt what is becoming an industry standard.

As IT leaders seek to integrate IAM that supports today’s business needs into their IT architecture as part of their zero trust journey, what questions should be asked and what are the important steps to take along the way?

Grab our guide, ‘Modern Identity Access Management as the Foundation of the Zero Trust Model’ and discover steps to take to implement IAM as a solid springboard and critical aspect of your zero trust adoption.

Introducing Lumos

IT teams spend way too much time tracking help desk tickets for routine access requests. And employees spend way too much time waiting to get access to the apps they need to do their jobs.

Lumos Is on a Mission To Change That

Lumos takes access management and the IT experience to the next level by combining the workflow automation power of an identity governance and administration tool with the visibility and cost management controls of a SaaS management solution.

The result: a single solution that helps IT teams achieve compliance, drive productivity, and manage costs with workflow automation that handles employee access requests, access reviews, and SaaS app license removals.

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Onboarding + Off-Boarding Automation

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Identity Access Management: What it is, why it matters, and how to do it right

Most companies use some form of identity access management, or IAM, to protect and secure data, apps, the corporate network, and other company information. Having the right identity access management security solutions and processes in place is critical to make sure employees can access the things they should–and not the things they shouldn’t. While identity access management is imperative for companies of all sizes; it’s certainly not simple. As the amount of data, applications, and tools grow, so does the vast web of permissions needed for employees to do their jobs. But more employees plus more technology makes it increasingly difficult to maintain security and compliance. And it can be daunting for IT teams.

Think about it this way: Employees use an average of 110 SaaS apps for work, up from eight just five years ago–and that number is growing all the time. One wrong move can compromise access, yet finding a simple, scalable solution to check all the IAM boxes hasn’t traditionally been easy. Now, new tools and new IAM systems are helping IT departments automate access management–and freeing up their time without compromising security.

What is identity access management?

First, it’s important to answer the question: What is identity access management? The simple definition of IAM is how companies determine who has access to what information. Companies put tools, frameworks, and processes in place that are designed to maintain least-privilege access, or the minimum amount of access to company data, applications, and devices that employees or other stakeholders need. Each user is assigned a role or digital identity, and the person’s assigned role determines the amount of access they have. For example, a new employee with the title of HR manager is assigned a role in the IAM system, and that role has a set of predefined permissions that gives the user access to tools like Workday or any other apps.

Companies use IAM tools to organize and manage different levels of access, including onboarding, offboarding, and role changes. If the person changes roles or leaves, the IAM system automatically changes permissions accordingly. These tools use a variety of security levels, including two-factor and multifactor authentication and privileged access management. They can be deployed in the cloud, as a hybrid, or on-premises. Having an identity access management architecture in place safeguards company data, systems, and information from both external and internal threats to make sure users only have access to relevant information.

Why is IAM important?

IAM is important because companies need a methodical, scalable, and secure way to manage access. The sheer number of apps plus users make it impossible to manually assign, track, and change access levels and permissions. Not only are most IT teams already strapped for time, but humans also make mistakes–and even one seemingly small error can have devastating consequences. IAM uses role-based access control, or RBAC, to provision and deprovision users by group and job duties so IT doesn’t have to manage access on an individual level. IAM isn’t just important for big companies; automating the IAM process helps employees stay productive while making sure organizations of all sizes maintain security and identity access management compliance.

How does IAM work?

What is identity access management architecture and how does it work? IAM solutions authenticate user credentials against a stored database of personal information and use that information to regulate access. That information includes job titles, roles, and more, all of which allow IT teams to granularly control what the person can see and do with company information, apps, and tools. IT teams can also add, change, or delete user data as they onboard, change roles, or offboard. When the user logs in, the IAM system matches the login information to the person’s online identity in the database, or profile, and determines the person’s level of access. Users can only see the tools or perform the actions that match the roles they’ve been assigned, such as being able to view certain information but not edit. IT teams can easily use the information stored in an IAM system to run reports or perform audits.

While IAM systems are available as on-premises solutions, cloud-based options have become more popular. Not only are they more cost-effective, but they also enable remote support in identity access management.

The basics of IAM security

Next, it’s important to answer the question: What is identity access management security? Many companies today are moving to an identity access management model to work with zero-trust security and maintain compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley, ISO 27001, GDPR, and other standards. IAM systems manage all user identities and centralize provisioning and deprovisioning, no matter where the employee or device resides. Not only does centralized access management simplify the lives of IT teams everywhere, but it also provides visibility and oversight to thwart both external and internal threats, makes it easier to enforce company policies, and helps prevent privilege creep.

So what is identity access management network access? Unlike traditional models that live and die by the password, users log in to a centralized portal that gives them access to the identity access management network. Once inside, they only have access to the apps and tools they need, all of which are regulated by IT, tracked, and audited.

How to implement identity access management

The first step to implementing an identity access management solution is to set up the central directory of user information that matches job titles, locations, and more. Then, IT teams should work with managers to create various roles within each department and assign permissions accordingly. Any system should offer enough flexibility for IT teams to create the roles and permissions they see fit for the organization, but also allow for some level of customization for users who need additional rights that don’t necessarily line up with their job titles. The system should also include a method for users to request access, gain approval, and have privileges revoked.

While establishing a directory, creating roles, and granting access is a great start, that’s just the first step. Companies are dynamic, and employees are constantly coming, going, and changing positions. An IAM solution should have continual review processes in place to ensure that least privilege access is maintained.

The challenges of IAM

IAM is an important step for companies of all sizes, but it’s not without faults. Every user’s digital identity must be meticulously maintained and audited–and not just a few times per year. If companies don't have automated deprovisioning processes, former employees can maintain access long after they’re gone. What’s more, even if IT departments revoke access to most apps or company assets, there’s a lot of room for error. Users’ digital footprints are growing every day, which means IT departments can easily miss a few apps when deprovisioning–and even a sliver of access can be an opportunity for bad actors to wreak havoc using company information. The deprovisioning process must be both quick and thorough.

While IAM systems can automate on and offboarding, they don’t solve the problem of IT support tickets. Users submit access request tickets all day every day, often burying IT teams in the process. If IT can’t get to those tickets right away, employees can’t be productive.

IAM and self-service

When IAM automation is used in conjunction with a self-service, centralized company appstore, employees can discover apps that are relevant to their roles, request access, and access the apps they need–without IT help. A company appstore can also automate onboarding requests, “email group” requests to create groups or add members, and automate offboarding request workflows so no employees have leftover or inappropriate access.

The best part? Self-service saves IT teams time by still maintaining security and compliance. In fact, the median TTR of an access request submitted through an appstore is just three minutes, saving 230 employee days every year.