Identity Governance
Erin Geiger, Director of Content at Lumos

Access Management Protocols

Explore key IAM protocols and tools that can help enhance your organization’s security and efficiency.

It’s a tale as old as…well, not time, but certainly a common story for start-ups and tech companies: you’ve found yourself at a security crossroads. Initially, with a small team, managing access to your systems was straightforward. After all, there’s only three people working here! But as you scale, your digital footprint grows and the access needs of your company become increasingly complicated. Without a solid identity governance structure, you’ll quickly open yourself up to significant security lapses—sensitive data inadvertently exposed to unauthorized staff, bad actors impersonating employees and gaining access to your systems…these types of breaches can have a high financial impact as well as damaging your reputation. 

This scenario highlights a critical reality: for businesses, access management protocols aren’t just a good-to-have; they’re indispensable. A recent statistic from the Identity Defined Security Alliance underlines this urgency, revealing that 90% of organizations experienced at least one identity-related breach in the past year. It’s clear: you need identity and access management to safeguard your digital assets while supporting your business growth. 

What is IAM?

Identity and access management (IAM) refers to the frameworks and technologies used to manage digital identities. IAM helps maintain security by giving you precise control over who has access to your digital assets. When properly implemented, IAM can improve productivity as employees are fully provisioned with the tools they need to do their jobs.

The easiest way to put an IAM framework in place is to use an end-to-end solution like Lumos. With the help of this technology, you can easily manage digital identities across your tech stack, using features like role-based access control (RBAC) to automatically assign the level of access according to the specific employee role. This type of functionality helps prevent unauthorized access and streamlines IT processes by reducing the number of individual user permissions that need to be reviewed. 

IAM solutions also include capabilities for digital identity creation, management, monitoring, and deletion. A platform like Lumos can help you secure access at every point and improve user experience by simplifying the login processes with methods like Single Sign-On (SSO) and Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). Choosing the right IAM solution is essential for reducing the burden on your IT team and your employees, as well as protecting your sensitive data from external and internal threats and mistakes. 

What is an access management policy?

An access management policy is a document that outlines how access rights are managed within your company. This policy is the foundation of a secure IAM framework, laying out who can access what resources and under which circumstances. 

Your access management policy should include procedures for granting, revising, and revoking access to systems and data. Each action should be traceable and aligned with corporate security guidelines—as well as any relevant regulations that you must comply with. It typically includes definitions of necessary roles, the scope of their access rights, and the procedures for handling access requests. Effective access management policies are in line with zero-trust and/or least privilege philosophies—giving each role the exact level of access to perform their duties efficiently without exposing the organization to unnecessary risks. 

Another important note: your access management policy is a living document. It shouldn’t be a “set-it-and-forget-it” situation. It’s important to regularly revisit this policy and update it to accommodate new security challenges and business needs—like shifting regulatory requirements that require sensitive information to be strictly controlled and monitored. 

What is an example of an access management policy?

Let’s take a look at an access management policy example in a healthcare setting. For a busy hospital, their access management policy would include different staff members with access rights tailored to their specific needs. For example, a nurse could access the electronic health record of each patient since they need to be able to enter medications and notes. However, that same nurse’s login wouldn’t let them access the financial system since nurses don’t need to do any billing. However, the billing department has the opposite setup: access to financial information but limited or no access to the electronic health record. 

An access management policy for this hospital would also include the process for granting access, which might include approval from department heads and mandatory security training. It would also specify the circumstances under which access should be adjusted or revoked, like job changes or employment termination. 

Let’s consider another example: an access management policy for a SaaS company. In this setting, there are several different teams, each with their own responsibilities and accompanying tools. Sales needs access to the customer database and the software that stores marketing leads. Marketing needs to send emails, create graphics and images, and access website and social media data to know which of their campaigns are most successful. Product needs to work with the code, with engineers and developers needing different levels of access…the list goes on and on. There’s a lot of data floating around in a SaaS company—it’s important to ensure that each employee can only access the tools and information that is appropriate for their role. 

What are IAM protocols?

IAM protocols, or identity protocols, are specific standards and technologies used to secure identity and access management systems. Access management protocols examples include things like OAuth for authorizing specific access rights to various applications without exposing user passwords and RADIUS, commonly used for network access. Access management protocols like LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) and SAML (Security Assertion Markup Language) provide processes for authenticating and authorizing users. Authentication protocols have their place as well, with methods like biometrics and hardware tokens enhancing security by adding layers that require physical presence or biometric verification. 

What is the best practice for IAM?

Best practices for IAM center around following established IAM protocols and using comprehensive identity management tools like Lumos. With the right protocols and technology, you can effectively implement and maintain a strong IAM posture, securing your digital assets. Other best practices include: 

  • Scheduling regular audits and updates to access permissions, making sure the level of access is appropriate as roles evolve within the organization
  • Leveraging automation as a part of the identity lifecycle management process to reduce the administrative burden and minimize human error. 
  • Implementing strong authentication measures to make sure that the user accessing your system is the person they say they are. 
  • Conducting regular security training to empower employees to manage their credentials responsibly. 
  • Consider the scalability of your IAM solution to accommodate growth, keeping a close eye as your business changes.  

Which IAM tool is best in the market? 

The best IAM tools include a comprehensive range of features for robust security, ease of use, and operational efficiency. Here at Lumos, we’ve designed our IAM platform to include essential features like: 

  • Role-Based Access Control (RBAC): Enables the definition and management of access rights based on roles within your organization. With RBAC, you can make sure that each user has the right level of access for their job—nothing more, nothing less. 
  • Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): Enhances security by requiring multiple forms of verification from users before granting access to systems, significantly reducing the risk of unauthorized access.
  • Single Sign-On (SSO): Allows users to log in once and gain access to multiple systems without needing to re-authenticated. Using features like SSO helps improve the user experience and reduce password fatigue, making it more likely that users will comply with IAM policies. 
  • Audit and Compliance Reporting: Provides tools for tracking and documenting access patterns and history to support compliance with regulatory requirements and internal policies. 
  • User Lifecycle Management: Facilitates the entire process of user identity lifecycle from onboarding to offboarding, automating the provisioning and de-provisioning of access.
  • Self-Service Capabilities: Empowers users to manage certain aspects of their identities, like access requests for specific apps, reducing the administrative burden on IT staff.
  • Real-Time Monitoring and Alerting: Provides real-time data of access events and security incidents, with alerts to notify administrators of potential security breaches. 
  • Scalability and Flexibility: Ensures that your company’s growth will never be hindered by your IAM solution. 

Features like these ensure that your IAM tool can not only protect your sensitive data and resources from unauthorized access but also enhance operational efficiency and user satisfaction. 

But the tool itself isn’t the only thing you should consider. Don’t forget that the best IAM tools are created by the best vendors—investing in a solution is starting a relationship with a specific company. When selecting your solution and vendor, it’s important to evaluate reviews, case studies, industry reports, and other resources to make sure that you’ve found the right partner. Another vital step is scheduling a demo or talking with the vendor’s experts in order to evaluate if their business is a good fit for your needs. 

Which IAM tool is easy to learn?

One of the core strengths of Lumos is our commitment to simplifying the complex processes associated with IAM. Our platform provides an intuitive user interface that allows your IT to manage access controls, monitor user activities, and enforce security policies efficiently. We’re dedicated to reducing the learning curve and minimizing your operational burden, making it easier for you to adopt and scale your IAM capabilities as you grow.

Lumos: Access Management Made Easy 

With Lumos by your side, you can easily implement and enforce access management protocols with one comprehensive platform. 

You’ll have the tools you need to: 

  • Enhance your security posture by managing and securing digital identities and access rights, keeping unauthorized users at bay. 
  • Improve regulatory compliance and audit processes with deep analysis capabilities and one-click audit reporting.
  • Create operational efficiency through automating routine provisioning tasks, saving time and reducing errors.
  • Gain better visibility and control over who has access to what within your organization (not to mention, the ability to uncover shadow IT!).
  • Reduce your IT costs by cutting down on manual, repetitive tasks, freeing your IT team to focus on more strategic initiatives. 
  • Improve productivity and satisfaction with features like a self-service catalog, minimizing downtime and frustration for your team. 
  • Easily scale with a flexible solution as your organization grows and your identity management needs evolve.   

With Lumos, you can harness the power of IAM to create a more secure, efficient, and compliant company. We’re here to help meet your unique challenges with a customizable approach to identity and access management that evolves alongside your business.

To see Lumos in action, book a demo today. Or, if you’d like to dive even deeper into the nuances of IAM (doesn’t everyone?), download our free IAM guide