IAM provides the policies, processes and tools for administering digital identities – from onboarding to provisioning (including deprovisioning). Furthermore, it enacts security best practices like least privilege access that restricts company insiders or external threat actors from accessing systems or data without authorization.

IAM solutions generally incorporate authentication factors, multifactor authentication enablement, directory services, user provisioning and single sign-on as key capabilities that help reduce risk and meet compliance standards. These capabilities help minimize risks while supporting compliance obligations.


Authentication is the process of verifying who a person or system claims to be. This can be accomplished using various means such as passwords, smart cards or biometrics – the aim being to achieve high levels of security without impacting user experience.

Authentication can be achieved using either knowledge factors (password, PIN or pattern) or possession factors (smart card or access token), eliminating the need to write down passwords and decreasing theft risk. Something You Have is most often an access card or key fob which serves to verify identity when connecting to networks or services – this form of multi-factor authentication often used alongside other types of verification.

Once authenticated, users can then be granted permissions to access various resources within an organization’s technological infrastructure. Identity and Access Management systems typically employ role-based access control as a method of allocating users different levels of access based on their predefined job roles – this ensures only those who need specific information are granted it and discourages hackers from accessing or moving laterally in the network.

IAM systems go beyond providing access; they also monitor user activity to enhance security and user experience, particularly where regulatory compliance, such as GDPR or PCI-DSS standards, is involved. Automated onboarding, updating and deprovisioning identities as well as auditing helps businesses comply with such requirements, increasing security by eliminating human errors which might otherwise lead to incorrect permission assignments.

IAM systems can be implemented as single directories that replace or integrate deeply with existing directories, or they can serve as tools to manage and synchronize existing ones. Furthermore, these systems support multiple open standards for exchanging authentication and authorization information – most popularly Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML), but there are other alternatives such as OpenID Connect or WS-Federation which offer more options than SAML.


Identity and Access Management (IAM) authorizes people according to their roles within an organization, to access appropriate technologies. This aspect of IAM plays an integral part in protecting data and networks from unauthorised access by keeping out unauthorized users from gaining entry. IAM tools can assist large enterprises as well as small businesses automate this process, as well as manage identities across locations, devices and computing environments.

To accomplish this task, IAM solutions validate user identities by requiring them to submit credentials such as usernames and passwords or biometric features like fingerprint or facial recognition. The information gathered is then verified by a central authority to ensure that whoever attempts to log-in is who they claim they are. Adaptive authentication offers additional layers of security against compromised credentials or suspicious activities like sudden changes in behavior of the user.

IAM systems also provide access control policies to determine the permissions attributed to users or third parties, using various techniques like Role Based Access Control (RBAC), which uses predefined job roles as access rights criteria. RBAC can be particularly beneficial when changing or adding jobs within an organization – it helps dictate which access rights each job needs in order to do their jobs successfully. Some IAM systems also offer dedicated PAM (Privilege Access Management) mechanisms using secure credential vaults and just-in-time access protocols centralized systems for administering highly privileged accounts like administrators that oversee databases or systems – making IAM essential tools in these instances.

IT networks have become more complex over time, increasing both complexity and threats to sensitive data. IT teams must ensure they can securely and swiftly authorize and manage access to IT resources – be they internal or cloud based – reducing time needed for identity management applications while improving efficiency, productivity and business results. IAM solutions also can assist organizations meet compliance and audit requirements by offering visibility into how identities and activity impact their IT environment.

Access control

IT systems’ security depends upon providing users with appropriate privileges. Permissions such as NTFS permissions in Windows file servers and application security in Java regulate which files users can open, which applications they may use and which areas of the network they may access. IAM processes and technologies ensure these permissions remain current so employees can work productively while their data remains safe from unauthorised access.

IAM encompasses more than just protecting people; it involves authenticating non-human entities such as application keys and APIs, agents, and containers. According to Gartner’s recommendations, these non-human entities should be treated as first-class citizens by cross-functional teams responsible for their identity management and governance; this ensures they remain secure, audited, and available only to authorized individuals or processes.

IAM systems provide efficient and automated processes for managing digital identities. These include onboarding (creating new identities), updating, and offboarding (decommissioning). Automated processes help reduce human errors which could otherwise compromise security.

Entitlement Management (EM) is a subfield of IAM that allows administrators and owners to decentralize access decisions based on identity attributes; sometimes known as attribute-based access control.

Benefits include secure business processes across cloud and on-premise applications and services, while IAM solutions that support zero trust architecture help businesses meet ever more stringent data regulations.

IAM allows businesses to leverage single sign-on technologies for easier single sign-on for employees, helping reduce the number of login credentials employees need to remember and increasing productivity while decreasing vulnerability attacks that exploit human error.

Integral to Identity Access Management is its ability to integrate with federated identity management solutions, enabling businesses to share digital identities among trusted partners. This enables access to more applications and services – decreasing time to work and making collaboration between departments easier for employees.

Privileged access management

Privileged Access Management (PAM), as part of IAM, deals with user accounts with elevated privileges that can gain access to sensitive data or perform applications or transactions that compromise an organization’s cybersecurity. PAM involves protecting these user accounts that hold elevated privileges from being exploited by hackers who seek an edge against its security. PAM accounts may be held by people, systems or even IoT sensors on machines – and their vulnerability represents one of the greatest dangers a company must guard against.

PAM solutions that excel are not limited to identifying and authenticating users; they also manage passwords, monitor privileged activity to detect threats and provide continuous alerting of suspicious activity, automate access grants/revokes to those needing it and utilize discovery, monitoring & auditing as well as self-service capabilities so privileged accounts only use when required.

As such, they help minimize the time and effort required to manage multiple privileged accounts across an environment. Since most breaches involve exploiting these credentials, implementing a PAM solution is vital to protecting privileged credentials from misuse.

PAM solutions that are most effective offer scalable, automated solutions that eliminate manual processes like regular attestation or access certification. Their purpose is to identify privileged identities and their dependencies so you can implement security policies for applications, services, servers, databases devices or resources quickly and easily. They can also monitor changes to identity lifecycle activity to detect any unauthorized changes quickly.

A good PAM solution employs just-in-time privilege elevation controls (PEDM) to grant users temporary granular privileges that meet their specific needs, thus preventing attackers from exploiting unnecessary privileges that have built up over time. PEDM may also help meet regulatory compliance standards.

Today’s digital business environment requires privileged access in multiple areas – both on-premises and cloud. This includes commercial-off-the-shelf apps, IoT sensor data and RPA tools – all of which increase attack surface area while complicating access management efforts. Therefore, an effective IAM strategy must incorporate effective privileged access management practices to account for these non-human identities while safeguarding assets of your organization.

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