Identity Governance
Erin Geiger, Director of Content at Lumos

What Is the Difference between IGA and IAM?

IGA and IAM are a dynamic duo. Learn the role each plays in an organization’s ability to minimize security risks, increase their efficiency, and save money.

For modern SaaS companies, it’s difficult to overstate the importance of keeping data, applications, and systems secure. And yet, all too often, security vulnerabilities exist—which can lead to what are often preventable problems.

What’s needed is identity governance, also known as identity governance and administration (IGA). By selecting the right IGA tools, and combining them with identity and access management (IAM) controls, SaaS companies can keep their assets secure and reduce their costs, among other benefits. 

What Is Identity Governance?

At a high level, identity governance refers to the efficient management of user accounts and identities, as well as specific access management protocols. Whether you choose to call it identity governance or identity governance and administration (IGA), its basic purpose relates to visibility, access management, and maintaining the proper level of security and compliance. 

By keeping tight identity governance controls, companies can significantly reduce their risk.

But while identity governance sounds like something any business should already be paying attention to, the reality is that it’s not always so simple to implement. Even for established organizations, there are still certain challenges that arise, like:

  • The ever-increasing number of SaaS applications used by businesses.
  • The sheer number of identities/users/accounts to manage (often on an app-by-app basis).
  • The fundamental need for increased visibility into apps, access, and controls—and the difficulty of achieving a full view into the tech ecosystem.

IGA vs IAM: What’s the Difference?

While they are closely related and work best in tandem, the biggest difference between IGA and IAM relates to their focus and scope. Between the two, IGA has the broader scope—it deals with things like creating and managing policies, mitigating risk, enabling compliance, and leveraging the right toolset for keeping systems secure. 

IAM, by contrast, has a narrower scope—it’s often thought of as a complement to (or subset of) IGA. It focuses on the technical and logistical aspects of verifying each user’s identity and managing their access. 

What Is an IGA Tool?

As defined by Gartner, IGA tools are used to “manage digital identity life cycle and govern user access across on-premises and cloud environments.” They not only provide visibility into how and when various applications are being accessed and used, they also “aggregate and correlate disparate identity and access rights data that is distributed throughout the IT landscape,” something that would be incredibly time-consuming to do without the help of the right tool or tools.

What Is the IGA Identity Lifecycle?

The IGA identity lifecycle consists of the various aspects of not only creating new user accounts and permissions, but also managing or modifying them over time and de-provisioning systems access when an employee changes roles or leaves the company. Each stage of this lifecycle comes with cybersecurity implications, underscoring the importance of comprehensive IGA and IAM solutions.

What Are IAM Tools Used For?

More than a single tool or function, IAM is best thought of as a framework for efficiently and effectively managing digital identities. An appropriate IAM framework consists of well-defined processes and policies, as well as one or more technological tools for managing identities, accounts, and access. 

Within an organization, IAM tools make systems administrators’ lives easier by providing the functionality to manage various applications without requiring them to log into every application (as an admin) every time an employee needs their access privileges reviewed or changed.

It was recently reported that up to 75% of cloud security failures each year were, more or less, preventable with stronger IGA processes in place (and IAM policies to standardize and enforce them). Implementing the right IAM tools is a first step any organization can take to maintain a controlled environment and prevent security failures, which can be costly and disruptive.

With Lumos, You Can Prevent the Preventable

As much as we wish it weren’t so, the unfortunate truth is that “breaches and cyberattacks are nonstop,” as Forbes notes, adding that ”just throwing more security tools at the problem is akin to putting a Band-Aid on a broken leg.” In other words, the time to enhance your security with a robust IGA/IAM program isn’t when you’re faced with compromised systems—it’s before any unauthorized access can occur.

If you’re looking for the best IGA tools for your organization, start your search with Lumos: the only all-in-one access management platform. Within our platform, you’ll find user-friendly and intuitive tools for setting up basic access controls, streamlining and automating certain IGA workflows, and so much more. Learn more about our comprehensive toolset and what it can do for your organization by requesting a demo today!