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Identity and Access Management

At the interface between the offline world and its digital representation, secure accessibility still depends on trusted intermediaries like cidaas to effectively bridge the "last mile" between a digital application and a business user, device, or event.

Before discussing cidaas' core IAM capabilities and how we've spearheaded the Identity-as-a-Service market, here's an overview of the what, why, and how of Identity and Access Management (IAM) in the fast-paced digital world.

Robust and Secure Access is the backbone of business assets and modern-day enterprise platforms and applications.

However, Secure Identity and Access Management have evolved and become more sophisticated over the years.

Sensitive user information like email addresses, passwords, digital signatures, etc., can quickly become a complex issue to track when there are vulnerability risks and no proper control systems in place. With the enormous amount of data stored, processed, and transmitted, many scenarios requiring access permissions arise daily.

Meeting these demands across a wide variety of on-premise and cloud applications requires reliable and flexible Access Control Solutions.

This is where Identity and Access Management (IAM) comes into play.

IAM Definition

Identity and Access Management (IAM) in enterprise IT defines and manages the roles and access privileges of individual network entities like users and devices to cloud-based business applications. The users include customers, partners, and employees; devices include computers, smartphones, routers, servers, controllers, and sensors.

The core objective of IAM solutions is one digital identity that is unique to a user, or a session, or a particular application or device. Once that digital identity is established, it is maintained, modified, and monitored throughout each user’s or device’s access lifecycle with more features and enhancements.

Thus, the overarching goal of identity management is to grant context-specific access to the enterprise assets for the allowed users and devices. This includes onboarding users and systems, permission authorizations, and offboarding users and devices efficiently and securely.

Why Use Centralized IAM Services?

Businesses need to set up and handle a diverse landscape of users across numerous disparate applications while ensuring intelligence-driven verification, authentication, and authorization. This is a time-consuming feat and requires an experienced and established service provider in the Identity Management space.

Identity and Access Management Today

Businesses rely on agile systems to adapt to on-demand access, which poses genuine security issues. Facing attacks on critical applications inside and outside the traditional security perimeter is inevitable, but data vulnerabilities can be kept at bay when authorized service providers tightly regulate access.

IAM strategies are often siloed in various departments, including information security, application development, and regulatory compliance. However, access privilege customization is the top priority when it comes to diverse applications and user needs. It takes care of provisioning, integrations, extensions at multiple levels while improving application efficiency and business value.

However, partnering with a SaaS-based centralized platform like cidaas is the recommended move to deploy a robust IAM solution for your enterprise-wide needs successfully.

Types of Authentication IAM Platforms Support

An essential task of IAM systems is to authenticate that an entity is who or what it claims to be. The most basic authentication happens when a person enters a username and password into a login screen. However, modern authentication solutions provide more sophisticated approaches to protect user accounts and assets on business applications.

Single Sign-On

With Single Sign-on, you can set up applications in minutes to connect users to their applications and achieve hybrid IAM. Improve productivity and make logins frictionless while switching between multiple applications with SSO. With SSO, you can connect to SaaS applications in minutes, use open, modern authentication standards, and apply adaptive access policies and governance workflows to on-premises and cloud-based web apps.

Multifactor Authentication

MFA adds another layer of access protection to users by providing two or more ways of identifying credentials. With MFA, you can add a layer of security or go fully passwordless to provide higher security assurance levels. In addition, you can infuse user authentication mechanisms per resource (based on the user's preference) beyond SMS/email one-time passwords (OTP), including time-based OTP, mobile push notifications, and biometric options like fingerprint and face recognition.

Biometric Authentication

Biometric authorization relies on a human biological trait unique to each user, like fingerprint, retina, face or iris recognition, etc. This IAM method offers strong authentication on multiple devices like tablets and mobile phones.

Risk-based Authentication

Known as Adaptive Authentication, RBA prompts the user for authentication only when a high-risk vulnerability or threat (like malware) is detected.

Want to know how cidaas implements MFA for enterprise apps? click here for more

Protecting and Personalizing Customer Experiences in Multiple Ways

Today’s complex application environments for Single-page, Non-interactive, iOS, Windows, & Android-based apps, etc., need heightened security. A strong username and password don’t cut it anymore. The most notable change has been the integration of Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) into IAM products. Today, you can customize Identity Management Systems to incorporate elements of biometrics, risk-based authentication, and support for the Fast Identity Alliance (FIDO).

1. Companies can define their access policies and specifically outline who has access to which data resources and applications and under what conditions.

2. IAM can be set up and connected with different business areas like analytics, business intelligence, customer and partner portals, and marketing solutions for continuous value delivery.

3. IAM protects not just user accounts and identities but can include authenticating application keys, APIs, and secrets, agents, and containers.

4. IAM Solutions leverage adaptive authentication and evolving MFA tools instead of just passive biometrics, digital signatures, and identity orchestrations.

Important IAM Considerations for Modern Apps

  • Every IAM solution should support basic workflows like offboarding of users, user self-service, and continuous proof of compliance.
  • A centralized IAM platform should continuously enhance the performance of a zero-trust network at scale as new applications are introduced to a business infrastructure.
  • IAM services must promote adaptive authentication with core features like:
    • Automatic provisioning of user accounts.
    • Workflow and self-service management Password management.
    • Single Sign-On (SSO).
    • Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) / Access governance.
    • Audit and Compliance

IAM Open Standards

IAM works on various open standards that businesses can leverage to track and enable user authentication.

Authorization messages between trusted partners are often sent using Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML). This open specification defines an XML framework for exchanging security assertions among security authorities.

SAML achieves interoperability across different vendor platforms that provide authentication and authorization services. SAML isn't the only open-standard identity protocol.

The others include OpenID and OAuth, which let a user's account information be used by third-party services such as Facebook without exposing the password.

FIDO offers a variety of hardware security keys, biometric methods, and smartphone profiles for IAM services.

OpenID Connect

OpenID Connect (OIDC) is an authentication protocol based on the OAuth 2.0 family of specifications. It uses simple JSON Web Tokens JWT, which you can obtain using flows conforming to the OAuth 2.0 specifications.

While OAuth 2.0 is about resource access and sharing, OIDC is all about user authentication. Its purpose is to give you one login for multiple sites. Each time you log in to a website using OIDC, you are redirected to your OpenID site where your login is and then taken back to the website.

For example, if you chose to sign in to cidaas using your Google account, you used OIDC. Once you successfully authenticate with Google and authorize cidaas to access your information, Google will send back to cidaas information about the user and the authentication performed. This information is returned in JSON Web Tokens (JWT). In addition, you'll receive an Access Token and, if requested, an ID Token.

The OpenID Connect specification defines a set of standard claims. The set of standard claims include name, email, gender, birth date, and so on. However, if you want to capture information about a user and there currently isn't a standard claim that best reflects this piece of information.

How it Works?

cidaas is seamlessly integrated into your existing web portal or across all your digital services, where your end-users need to register/login; that is, the user interface will be designed as per your business specifications.

Benefits of Identity Management (IAM)

IAM ensures regulatory compliance, enables cost savings and simplifies customer interactions with your apps by enhancing their experience.

The main benefits of partnering with an integrated IAM solution provider include:

Easily Accessible Anywhere

Nowadays, people need their identities all the time to use services and resources. In that sense, they require access to any platform without limits using their IDs, thus eliminating barriers for customers to enter the platform anytime, anywhere.

Ensures Business Integration and Continuity

While Digital Transformation needs a strong cohesion between people, processes, applications, and devices, IAM ensures continuous connectivity with managed security.

Authentication and security benefits are core to Identity and Access Management while being extendable and ready for scalability are also ensured.

Identity Management improves Productivity

IAM can be automated to reduce authentication and access times considerably. This improves business agility through quality-focused access management.

Optimized User Experience

Single sign-on (SSO) allows customers and partners to access different internal and external applications with the same access method. That way, the user experience will not be affected.

Secure your brand at all levels

Detailed verification of all identities using an application is performed using token-based authentication per session. Additionally, to limit access levels, you can implement various licenses.

Want to implement IAM-based adaptive authentication for your business-critical applications? Contact us today!

What IAM terms should I know?

Here are a few key terms in the Identity Management space worth knowing.

Access management: Access management refers to the processes and technologies used to control and monitor network access. Access management features, such as authentication, authorization, trust, and security auditing, are part and parcel of the top ID management systems for both on-premises and cloud-based systems.

Active Directory (AD): Microsoft developed AD as a user-identity directory service for Windows domain networks. Though proprietary, AD is included in the Windows Server operating system and is thus widely deployed.

Access Tokens: Access Tokens are credentials that can be used by an application to access an API. Access Tokens can be an opaque string, JWT, or non-JWT token. Its purpose is to inform the API that the bearer of this token has been authorized to access the API and perform specific actions (as specified by the scopes that have been granted).

Biometric authentication: A security process for authenticating users that relies upon the user's unique characteristics. Biometric authentication technologies include fingerprint sensors, iris, and retina scanning, and facial recognition.

Context-aware network access control: Context-aware network access control is a policy-based method of granting access to network resources according to the user's current context-seeking access. For example, a user attempting to authenticate from an IP address that hasn't been whitelisted would be blocked.

Claims: JWT Tokens contain claims, which are statements (such as name or email address) about an entity (typically, the user) and additional metadata.

Credential: An identifier used to gain access to a network such as a user's password, Public Critical Infrastructure (PKI) certificate, or biometric information (fingerprint, iris scan).

Digital identity: The ID itself, including the description of the user and his/her/its access privileges. ("It's" because an endpoint, such as a laptop or smartphone, can have its own digital identity.)

Entitlement: The set of attributes that specify an authenticated security principal's access rights and privileges.

Identity as a Service (IDaaS): Cloud-based IDaaS offers identity and access management functionality to an organization's systems that reside on-premises and/or in the cloud.

Identity synchronization: The process of ensuring that multiple identity stores—say, the result of an acquisition—contain consistent data for a given digital ID.

ID Tokens: The ID Token is a JSON Web Token (JWT) that contains identity data. It is consumed by the application and used to get user information like the user's name, email, and so forth, typically used for UI display. ID Tokens conforms to an industry-standard (IETF RFC 7519) and contain three parts: a header, a body, and a signature.

JSON Web Tokens - Click here to know more.

Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP): LDAP is an open standards-based protocol for managing and accessing a distributed directory service.

Multi-factor authentication (MFA): MFA is when more than just a single factor, such as a user name and password, is required for authentication to a network or system. At least one additional step is also required, such as receiving a code sent via SMS to a smartphone, inserting a smart card or USB stick, or satisfying a biometric authentication requirement, such as a fingerprint scan.

Native applications: These are clients installed on a device such as a desktop application or native mobile application.

Redirect URL: After a user successfully authorizes an application, the authorization server will redirect the user back to the application with either an authorization code or access token in the URL.

The best way to ensure the user will only be directed to appropriate locations is to require the developer to register one or more redirect URLs when they create the application. The authorization endpoint typically redirects the user back to the client's registered redirect URL.

You can specify multiple valid URLs by comma-separating them (typically to handle different environments like QA or testing). Make sure to specify the protocol, HTTP:// or HTTPS://. Otherwise, the callback may fail in some cases.

Single sign-on (SSO): A type of access control for multiple related but separate systems. A user can access a system or system without using different credentials with a single username and password.

This completes our discussion on the importance and types of IAM. Click here to know why cidaas is the most preferred B2B and B2C Cloud Identity Service Provider.

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