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How To Use Identity and Access Management Systems Efficiently

Oct 23, 2020
4 min.
From IAM and EIAM to CIAM and workforce SaaS – where are identity and access management systems used? And what variants are there?
Alina Fill

As digitalisation continues to make inroads and influence all aspects of our lives, it is all the more important to take the issue of data protection seriously. This is not confined to the personal data of each individual. On the contrary, ensuring that sensitive information and confidential customer data held by companies and government agencies is effectively protected against unauthorised access is a top priority. In addition to the compliance violations that have such serious implications for companies these days, IT infrastructure is vulnerable to external attacks by hackers, malware, phishing and ransomware. 

In the age of digitalisation, the ability to provide full protection for identities and sensitive data on the web as well as in government agency and corporate networks has never been more important. At the same time, there is a need to bring data security, privacy protection and the expectations regarding user-friendly applications under one roof. No matter what we do in a professional, private or official capacity – be it shopping (online), accessing information on the company intranet, completing bank transactions, negotiating a claim with an insurance company or integrating IoT devices in our smart home – we want to complete these tasks immediately, with guaranteed security and without having to spend time entering login details or performing similar tasks. Sometimes, even the tedious process of entering passwords can diminish the positive user experience.

“The priority these days is to find that perfect balance between efficient data protection and the best possible user experience.”

Digitalisation calls for efficient data protection tools 

Many traditional companies – irrespective of size and headcount – have been working for many years to finally get their processes up to speed for the digital world. And this applies not just to their internal production and HR management, but also to their business partner and customer processes. 

Digitalisation coupled with data protection requirements that have become even stricter due to the GDPR are forcing companies and government agencies alike to question how they can process the personal data of citizens, employees or customers securely, efficiently, economically and in a legally compliant manner that is also user-friendly. The most powerful solutions in this context include software-based identity and access management (IAM) systems that can manage large numbers of identities as well as access authorisations both centrally and securely.

However, organisations often lack the internal resources and detailed knowledge they need in order to concentrate on administering and maintaining user accounts and managing the authorisations of users for applications and systems.

“IAM systems make it possible to administer user accounts and protect sensitive data efficiently and in compliance with legislation.”

Identity and access management (IAM) actively supports government agencies, companies and e-commerce providers in administering user accounts securely and efficiently. 

But how do IAM, EIAM, CIAM and workforce SaaS systems differ?

IAM: secure data access for authorised persons only

The primary functions of IAM systems for identity and access management are to authenticate and authorise users to use specific systems or applications. 

Authentication can be performed in the traditional manner with the help of user names and passwords, although this does not offer the required level of security. The preferred option is to use more complex multi-factor procedures that incorporate factors like unique biometric identification features.

After successfully authenticating the users, the identity and access management system authorises them and assigns corresponding user rights so that they can access the data that has been approved for them. Access rights can be issued individually or based on roles. They can also be withdrawn – either manually by an IAM administrator or automatically according to previously defined rules.

In order to successfully manage digital identities and access rights, IAM systems start by integrating seamlessly into the existing IT infrastructures of government agencies, companies or e-commerce providers. 

The basic components of an IAM system are

  • Password management tools
  • Management of access authorisations for many internal and external users
  • Functionalities for processing biometric identification features
  • Functions for implementing security policies
  • Reporting and monitoring functions

IAM systems have now become established across all sectors. Identity and access management is used by government agencies as well as in companies and in the e-commerce arena. This is because identity and access management makes the comprehensive and secure administration of user accounts and access rights as well as the reliable adherence to statutory provisions and compliance regulations simpler and faster. Once IAM systems are smoothly integrated into the IT infrastructure, they also play a key role in boosting productivity without sacrificing security.

How do enterprise IAM and workforce SaaS systems differ?

The key objectives of enterprise IAM (EIAM) and workforce SaaS are to minimise risk and maximise process efficiency. The approach is as follows: The employer specifies who is allowed to access which information, systems and software. Users enter a single password to log in and gain access to a whole range of tools. This eliminates the need to maintain multiple user profiles with different passwords.

Whereas EIAM is an integrated in-house solution that large companies can adapt to their individual requirements, workforce SaaS is a cloud-based solution that is more suitable for small to medium-sized companies because the investment for this concept is more reasonable. 

What is customer identity and access management?

With CIAM (customer identity and access management), everything revolves around the end customer – from customer registration to account management, single sign-on and multi-factor authentication all the way to access management. The focus here is on managing customer data in total security while at the same time offering the best possible user experience. Digitalisation and the experience of online shopping have made customers more demanding. Nowadays, manufacturers can no longer rely on brand loyalty as a means of retaining customers. Instead, the successful provider is the one whose web presence or web shop makes them the best at identifying and the quickest to meet customer needs. That’s why striking the optimum balance between security and user-friendliness is so important. The latter can also be enhanced with modern technologies that enable registration using biometric data such as fingerprints or face recognition. This also eliminates the need for the passwords that many users regard as inconvenient. Another key factor is the scalability of the system, so that it can handle millions of customer accounts containing extensive data records without difficulty.

“Customers these days expect a seamless user experience at any location, at any time and across all channels.”



The differences between EIAM and CIAM at a glance

 

EIAM

CIAM

Advantages

  • Greater efficiency and security for user account management 
  • Authentication and secure access by company employees to internal resources and applications according to the respective user role
  • Automatically takes legal provisions and compliance regulations into account
  • Less susceptible to errors
  • Can be used on a PC, smartphone or tablet
  • Efficient tool that helps attract and retain customers
  • Greater efficiency and security for customer account management
  • Automatically takes legal provisions and compliance regulations into account
  • Less susceptible to errors
  • Can be used on a PC, smartphone or tablet

Scalability

Thousands of users

Millions of users

Identities

Internal users: employees, suppliers, partners

External users: customers, patients, partners

Data protection

Employee data

Customer data

Key characteristics

Integrated into the corporate IT infrastructure, security, comprehensive information about employees, comparability

Security, user-friendliness, performance, supports as many communication channels as possible



Summary: IAM systems offer better data security, efficiency and transparency for everyone involved 

These days, most government agencies and companies must manage a large number of identities and access authorisations. In this regard, they carry an enormous responsibility to ensure adherence with the current strict data protection regulations. This is where software-based identity and access management offers an efficient and secure way of optimising the organisation and management of personal and sensitive data while meeting all statutory requirements pertaining to data protection. Transparent IAM, EIAM, CIAM and workforce SaaS systems are important tools for building trust among citizens, employees and customers, thereby promoting positive communication with government agencies and companies in the long term.

What Is CIAM

 

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